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Olympic Deluge!

Day 1 and the skies are on our side!

Well hello! Sorry about the long pause; not sure what happened there? Oh yes, now it’s coming back to me. That little sporting event, yes that was it.

For the past 2 months I’ve been in ‘Olympic Hibernation’. In fact I could’ve won Gold for it. I’ve barely spoken to friends or family having been completely immersed in the task at hand, just like Jessica, Mo, Chris, Helen, Bradley and so on, everyone at Mecco deserves a medal for commitment and sacrifice!

And the category I’m talking about is catering. Hospitality catering to be precise at Horse Guards Parade for the oh-so-hot-ticket-in-town, the Beach Volleyball, and the equally brilliant, elegant equestrian events in Greenwich Park. Both were mighty venues hosting exciting sports. The grandstand at Greenwich soared majestically over the stunning view of practically the entire London skyline from the City landmarks of The Gherkin and the new and incredible Shard, sweeping over the skyrises of Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, past the Dome or whatever it’s called these days and out, Eastwards, down-river towards the rising sun. Just beautiful.

Greenwich south grandstand view – eat your heart out Manhattan!

The incredible sight of the Beach Volleyball Arena from above (and unbelievably from an iphone!)

And back at the volleyball the not-too-shabby sight of rock-hard, bikini-clad goddesses (there were short-clad gods too but I’m not sure anyone cared) was off-set by the gleaming up-lit beauty of the Household Cavalry Museum and the Old Admiralty buildings, with the London Eye twinkling in the twilight as the atmosphere built and the crowd were whipped into a frenzy of anticipation for the moonlight sessions. When I escaped from my tiny, windowless office/cupboard my daily view was of the volleyball practice courts usually glimpsed through a wall of male backs (preferable to the sight of their gawping, drooling faces!)

After the longest year of planning and meetings and spreadsheets and red-tape-bureaucracy-gone-mad-form-filling that felt like it would never end, we finally made it on site, tired, stressed and anxious; but as the mountain of teething problems eventually began to subside somehow this monster, this thing so much bigger than the sum of its parts started to take over. It became infectious and as it turned out, no-one was immune. The medals began to notch up and the excitement of our guests crescendoed, the staff relaxed and I finally felt a part of the moment, and what a moment it was. Wow… This is actually happening. We’re here and all is going well, everyone is safe, it is exciting, electric, amazing, awesome, and above all, so so so very HAPPY!

What a cool way to serve breakfast to 600 guests!

Stunning sea bass dish from the awesome Mecco chefs

Rainbow summer puddings ready on the jack stack

Pit-stop at Cicchetti for a life-saving Bombardino!

Now THAT’S how to cook a fillet!

And a few hours off at the park to watch Bolt. Awesome.

I’m not sure I’m supposed to post these pictures due to one of the billions of rules the organising committee created. To quote Usain Bolt on not being allowed to take his skipping rope into the athletes village “there are a lot of rules, oh my God. You can’t do anything. It is just very small rules that don’t make any sense to me”. I quite agree so sod it, I want to show them to you!

And now I’m back in the land of the living, sitting in my sunny and de-spider-webbed kitchen that is soon to be home to a new member of the clan. I’m getting a puppy. She’s called Bo and in light of the timing, I’m going to keep that name but add an extra bit – Farah. She’s moving in with us in September and I can’t wait, the Olympic legacy will live on in our gorgeous, golden Bo Farah.

The new love of my life, Bo, with the other love of my life, wine!

 

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Pavlova and Panzanella

Panzanella Paradise

Well the pavlova turned out awesomely though I do say so myself. It didn’t go chewy in the middle like my mum’s but was really light and marshmallowy so I’m half way there; I’ll ask for her tips on chewyness at my next attempt. I pimped some of the berries with edible silver spray too just for a bit of extra Jubilee bling and well, as you can see, the result was IMMENSE!

My first ever Pavlova, complete with silver raspberries!

Ruby’s patriotic triple-decker chocolate and raspberry cake

A Jubilee Porker! (and I’m not referring to myself on this occasion ok!)

Anyway it got polished off along with Ruby’s chocolate cake by the villagers once the pig roast had well and truly done itself justice. God, the crackling was outrageous – it just exploded into airy, crunchy, porky heaven in your mouth. Totally lush.

We were asked to take salads and in my parallel life I’m an Italian ‘mamma’, spending my days in my vegetable garden overgrowing with mediterranean plants, burnt and freckled shoulders Read the rest of this entry

Happy Jubilee!

Me in the rain, on the river bank, complete with flag and merry disposition!

Well it’s Jubilee Sunday on June the third and I’m sitting on my sofa in front of a log fire having turned the central heating back on. And this afternoon I was standing on a bench on the banks of the Thames in Putney watching the pageant in the freezing drizzle, futilely jumping up and down to try to beat the cold, layered up in every item of clothing to be found kicking around the car boot. But despite the all-too-predictable conditions we still shouted, whooped and waved our little hearts out as the endless stream of vessels passed by farting steam from their funnels, honking their horns and firing water cannons to a fairly excitable crowd who weren’t even close to the start line, let-alone along the official stretch. Read the rest of this entry

Magical May Day

The magical maypole glimmering in the sunshine

“Summer is acome unto day”

For a lot of people stumbling upon the goings on in Padstow on the first of May, having never witnessed it before, they might find themselves running back to the car park as quickly as possible and getting the hell out of there. For me and my sister however it feels like the most natural thing ever but that’s because of our slightly alternative upbringing. Whilst my friends were packing their bikinis and getting on their Thompson planes to enjoy self-catering with a shared pool in Majorca, the Greenwood family were in Austria walking through the mountains a lá The Von Trapps, Read the rest of this entry

41 at The River Cafe

Carlos!

Exactly a year ago I was driving home from Stansted having flown back from Ibiza the morning after the best day of my life and a long lunch at one of the happiest places in the world, The Blue Marlin.

My birthday lunch last year involved 9 hours; a white sandy beach; 1 fabulous handsome and charming waiter, Carlos; 5 luscious women; a single petrified geezer; several magnums of Provence Rose and ice-cold Albarino and an obscene quantity of the most delicious strawberry cocktails. Read the rest of this entry

We’re Cruising! Dukan Part 2

New season’s asparagus from down the road with ‘Dukan Hollandaise’!

Ok so I’m nearly 5 weeks in now and the attack stage certainly fulfilled all its promises. I weigh over a stone less (actually 17 and a half pounds less) than I did at the start and my work trousers no longer dig in so badly that I lose feeling in my midriff, or get munched up my butt in such a highly embarrassing way. I don’t even have to grimace to get them done up. Read the rest of this entry

The Magdalen Arms

Brilliant. Thank Christ. Finally! Ladies and Gents after years of suffering the mainstream, chainy, below-average culinary desert that, inexplicably, has been Oxford’s food scene for a good long time with few exceptions, there is now somewhere to go for delicious, original, gorgeous tasty cooking and a menu that makes you want to order everything on it. Read the rest of this entry