Last weekend, we took the short hop over to London to attend Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place Festival in Chiswick House and Gardens. We stayed with good friends’ Aoife and Ben in Hackney and had a lovely weekend eating great food, drinking wine, chatting and exploring. Here are some observations from our couple of days away:
The Pride of Ireland
Maura Higgins flies Ryanair. Yes you are reading this correct, the first observation on a food/wine blog is about a Love Island participant. It’s a big deal though, the pride of Ireland was sauntering around Dublin Airport with a pretty hefty body guard. She managed to stay under the radar (except for Ali spotting her very quickly) until the Ryanair staff looked for a picture. She gracefully accepted all requests for pictures and seemed to be genuinely good craic.
Hackney is lovely. Aoife and Ben live in the hipster haven that is Hackney Wick. A London suburb, it’s full of creative people with some of the most amazing graffiti. The food offering is exceptional and, being on the tube line, it would make a great base for a London visit. Victoria Park is a gem of a place with room for everyone to do as they please and the Broadway Market is well worth a visit – just make sure you haven’t eaten first as you may want to eat EVERYTHING there!
Good Asian food is everywhere! I generally stay clear of Asian food at home – it’s one of many cuisines that Newbridge doesn’t excel at. Over the weekend, we ate almost entirely Asian and it was all magnificent. A beautiful Vietnamese bowl from the Broadway Market for lunch was followed by a delicious dinner at My Neighbours the Dumplings. After the festival on Sunday we got a Thai takeaway and it was nothing like home – it tasted of far more than MSG!
Young Nebbiolo – Yuck!
Regardless of what the guy in the wine shop says – Nebbiolo shouldn’t be drunk young! I decided to get a nice bottle of red for Aoife and Ben’s on Saturday evening. Having spotted a 2017 Langhe Nebbiolo on the shelf, I enquired as to whether it’s good for drinking now or needs to be aged. I got a pretty long winded spiel about how Nebbiolo has a bad name for being astringent and it’s all about the producer. He reckoned this was drinking well now but after trying it I couldn’t disagree more – puckeringly tannic and not at all enjoyable.
Don’t leave your phone on a counter – it may get robbed! We stopped off for a drink at the Broadway Market and I had my phone on the counter in front of me. A man came up and put a sheet of paper over it, you know the type – it has a little story about how he needs money. I said no and he moved the sheet. I noticed that my phone didn’t come out from under it so lifted it up to find his fingers wrapped around the phone trying to take it. I took it back and he swiftly left.
Happy Place is a lovely little festival. I wasn’t sure what to expect in attending this. I’m quite into meditation and mindfulness but have a cynical streak that can occasionally come to the fore. Although the food offering left A LOT to be desired, the festival itself was very enjoyable. Nursing a hangover, I attended a few talks before lying in the middle of Chiswick Gardens and looking at the sky for a couple of hours – there’s not too many places that you can do that without some funny looks.
Flying at 6.30 in the morning is too early…..
Massive thank you to Aoife and Ben who put us up for the weekend and went out of their way to show us all that the area had to offer. We don’t get to see each other too often and it was really lovely to get a full weekend with them.
***Pictures from Happy Place Festival by Ali Behan Lee