Paralympic Dressage, noodles and early birthday celebrations

This weekend has been glorious for culinary delights and catching up with fabulous friends!  Not only did I get to two of my favourite eateries yesterday, but I also discovered a wonderful watering hole at Waterloo East and had the utter pleasure of witnessing first hand, the transformation of Greenwich Park from leisurely urban green-space in the city to Paralympic power venue.  I have grown up in Greenwich Borough and spent many happy hours in Greenwich Park; from the sledging in the winter to teenage summer picnics and the time I played Jesus no.7 (as a member of Greenwich Youth Theatre) in Tony Award winning director John Doyle‘s ambitious Passion Play in Greenwich Park to celebrate the millennium.  I have a long and happy history with Greenwich Park, and I was desperate to get to some Equestrian during London 2012 Olympics or Paralympic games.  Thanks to Chris’s mum I was lucky enough to attend the Paralympic Dressage yesterday, which was utterly incredible.  I have ridden ponies for a hobby since my eighth birthday when I had my very first lesson at Mottingham Farm Stables.  I know how difficult riding can be and especially if you are challenging in the balance department as I was then (subsequent core strengthening exercises have helped a little with this!).  Myself and my friend Lisa were blown away with the abilities, skill and courage of all the competitors, their mounts and their teams.   It was amazing to see the control and poise with which they completed the tests, and how strong was the bond between horse and rider.

Greenwich Park itself was transformed into a sleek Paralympic venue, with airport style security, catering vans and this wonderful sand-school arena.  It was very exciting to see how this beautiful historic park could modified to play host to top level Equestrian in such a spectacular fashion.  The setting was unique and the dressage captivating.

Afterwards myself and Lisa headed to my (and I found out, also her) favourite noodle bar Tai Won Mein, another Greenwich classic which has been part of my life since it opened many years ago.  It is a great place to go for a quick bite, with benches and long tables; you are often sat next to a number of different diners and it can be a hugely liberating and enjoyable dining experience.  With plates of fried noodles coming in at £3.40-£4.50 a plate and portions still large, it is inexpensive and delicious!  My personal favourite is the fried noodles with vegetables and egg, with a mixed fruit juice to wash it down.  Fresh flavours with al dente green beans and broccoli; I absolutely love it!  Be warned this is no frills dining, but it is a fantastic staple of Greenwich life which has so far survived the arrival of Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Wetherspoons and McDonalds.  Also you can ONLY PAY in CASH, so stop off at the LloydsTSB cashpoint just around the corner for £20 which will cover a meal for two.

After the thrill of the Equestrian and our trip to Greenwich, it was off to my second favourite part of London, the South Bank.  I love the happy mix of tourists and Londoners to be found along the river, the diverse and often amusing conversations to be overheard, the outside art and theatre (outside the National Theatre, National Film Theatre and Royal Festival Hall), and that there is always something new, exciting and/or crazy going on… this time there was a beach party(!) on the banks of the Thames!

We started out in a delightful pub names The King’s Arms, which I admit does not sound extraordinary; however it was a very smart, yet relaxed drinking hole with all manner of good beers and wine available.  I have yet to try the food here, but will make this a priority in coming weeks as it was a comfortably busy, yet not overrun establishment with warm, friendly staff and seating for everyone.  Perfect!  It was also very close to the restaurant I had booked for dinner; Gourmet Pizza at Gabriel’s Wharf, it boast award winning pizzas and gorgeous pastas.  It is centrally located and affordable.  Ten of us ate last night, shared five starters, had a main each and probably about eight puddings as well as wine and beer for all and it came to c. £25 per head.  It was a lovely dinner, I had my favourite Salmon and Prawn pasta with courgette chunks!  YUM YUM YUM!!!!

Chris went for the Macho Pizza which he claimed (despite the chilli) was not spicy enough (he likes his food hot), so he was reaching for the jar of chilli provided on the table along with a small bowl deep with grated parmesan cheese!

Today we ended a glorious weekend of eating with a lovely family meal at the Vintage Inns owned, Lion pub in Farningham, Kent.  This does good old fashioned British staples and we were not disappointed with the Roast Turkey and Fish and Chips, followed by Eton Mess!

Think I’m back on the salads this week, in anticipation of a weekend in Edinburgh next weekend!  Where I am very much looking forward the some fabulous Scottish food!

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