Gaskella’s Midweek Miscellany #10

I’ve not been very active on the blogging front the past week – but I have had other things on my mind. I had a one of those big birthdays with a zero on the end this weekend, and surprised myself by being rather pre-occupied with it. I really didn’t care when I was forty, but this next one got under my skin a bit. So I’ve decided that I shall not get wound up by birthdays any more by reverting to being 36 for as long as I can get away with it!

As it happened though, I had the most marvellous weekend. Firstly, I got to meet loads of lovely book-bloggers at our get-together in Bloomsbury – arguably the literary heart of London. It was so nice to put faces to names. A special thanks to everyone for not getting fed up with me for saying it was my birthday(!), and to SimonT for organising the event. We’re already talking about another one, possibly in Oxford later in the year, and we’re researching venues …

Some of us met up at the Persephone bookshop first which was a great way of celebrating the tail end of Persephone Reading Week which has been hosted by Claire and Verity.  I bought three titles, Miss Ranskill comes home by Barbara Euphan Todd; The Hopkins Manuscript by R C Sherriff; and Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple.  I did actually manage to read a Persephone book last week too – my review of Little Boy Lost by Marganita Laski will follow eventually.


My real birthday treat came on Sunday though, when OH took me and daughter Juliet together with best friends Sue & Neil to Raymond Blanc’s pad which happens to be less than thirty minutes away from us.  Sunday lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons was a wonderful experience, (that I hope to repeat when OH is *0 too, if not sooner). Us grown-ups ordered the full ten course Menu Découverte. I can honestly say that although I’m notoriously picky with food, I ate all but a couple of mouthfuls it was that delicious – I even ate the duck liver terrine, which came with toasted brioche, ginger cream and lemon marmalade – a brilliant combination.

My veal with asparagus, caramelised shallot and garlic cream

The food was exquisitely presented and by the end of the afternoon we were comfortably full, not to mention slightly sozzled. I also got a birthday candle on my last pudding (of three) with a sugarwork  Happy Birthday plaque which they boxed up for me as a souvenir – very subtle.

Juliet’s children’s menu was also lovely including pan-fried fish and chips wrapped in an Asterix comic.  She got taken into the kitchen (with me too of course) to choose her ice-creams for pudding which was a real treat – I recognised the chef who served her from M.Blanc’s recent TV series.   There was a big bronze head and torso of Raymond surveying his kitchens just inside the door too.  By the way I can recommend Raymond’s memoir A taste of my life, which I reviewed back here.

Service was attentive and unobtrusive, although our waiter was a real laugh; the sofas in the lounge before and after were suitably squashy – and Alastair from The Restaurant was in there too.  Afterwards we walked in the gardens which will be wonderful once in full bloom and the vegetables are well underway. To end on a bookish note, there were bronze statues everywhere including this one.

I feel very lucky to have had such a wonderful weekend, with friends both old and new.


17 thoughts on “Gaskella’s Midweek Miscellany #10

  1. I don’t think anyone got fed up with staying – well I certainly didn’t 🙂 It was great to meet you, although we never did get round to talking about chemistry! We’ll just have to meet up again!!

    • Aargh Jackie – you found my unfortunate typo – I didn’t mean ‘staying’ – will amend. Next time we’ll talk science…

      • LOL! I don’t think you over did the birthdy thing either. If only I’d known I’d have bought a cake. 🙂

  2. Glad you had a lovely birthday weekend. The blogger convention sounded great and I am deeply envious of your visits to the Persephone shop and to Le Manoir! The former is on my list of priorities for when I go to stay with my eldest daughter who has just moved to London, and she tells me that there is a Cafe Blanc nearby which she will take me to as a treat!
    Judging by your photo with your daughter in London, you should be able to be 30-something for a while yet – we wont tell!

    • Thanks Liz. Hope you get to London soon and that your daughter is settling in well.

      Agewise, dyeing my hair helps too of course and I am a slave to Boots No7 creams!

  3. Was lovely to have met you Annabel! I look forward to Oxford!

    Your dinner sounds gorgeous – I didn’t get to go anywhere near as fancy for my birthday, though maybe that’s because I’ve got to wait six years for my next ‘0’ birthday!

    • Nice to meet you too Rachel. I hope you’ll get wined and dined on your big birthdays (or others) too.

  4. It was lovely to meet you at last on Saturday night, Annabel. And your dinner on the Sunday sounded absolutely amazing — and mouthwatering. I love that you got to visit the kitchen to choose your ice-cream. And I wish every time I ordered fish’n’chips it came wrapped up in an Asterix!!

  5. Was lovely to meet you on Saturday Annabel and be apart of your second 36th birthday, heres to many more and to new friendships, I am already getting rather excited about Oxford.

    This venue looks as gorgeous as the food, what a treat!

  6. A belated happy birthday Annabel – what an amazing weekend too. Perhaps if I begin lobbying now, I could make it to Le Manoir for my birthday with a zero!

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