Sunday, 27 February 2011
It's been a funny old week. Having nursed everyone else through the lurgy, I finally succumbed and ended up bedridden myself. Then on Wednesday, I completely lost my voice. But I started a new job three weeks ago and thought it would be bad form to look like an ill person who always takes days off, so I hauled my sorry self in and whispered to everyone. Which made the voice worse (and, frankly, made me look like an ill person).
Well, yesterday was my birthday, and because last year it was disastrously eclipsed by our house move, K very thoughtfully arranged dinner an a room for us at 36 On the Quay, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Emsworth. We had planned to go there for our anniversary in November, but as readers of this blog will know, our travel plans are generally foiled. And so it was that on that occasion, the Boo was too ill to be left. So the whole expedition was rescheduled to my birthday weekend, when, inevitably, we were foiled again, this time by the ridiculous situation of my not being able to speak.
But this was our first night away together since the Boo was born and I was determined that a lack of words was not going to fail me. (After all, the queue of volunteers willing to lose a night's sleep on our behalf is not long.)
We arrived in good time and were taken to our room, entitled 'Clove' and fragranced accordingly to give the off-putting impression of being at the dentist's. Style-wise and size-wise it was rather like spending the night in a caravan, but no matter: it was clean and child-free.
K explained our predicament. Could they please seat us in the quietest corner of the restaurant, so as to avoid the ridicule of the other diners while I played out the necessary charades? But of course.
And indeed much thought and attention was granted to the seating arrangements, but unfortunately none whatsoever to the evening's timings. I imagine that they put their staying guests on the most leisurely serving schedule. New diners arrived and left while we waited. Very quietly. An hour after being seated we got our amuse bouche. Two hours after being seated, we finally got our main course, by which time - conversation being a sore point - I had drunk fifty quid's worth of Chablis. So I ask you: what the fuck did they think we were going to do for an entire evening when we were unable to converse? Eating seemed to be off the menu.
So when the main course arrived, it was subject to the kind of great expectation that carries its inevitable disappointment. The food may have lacked balance and flair but so did I, and feeling decidedly queasy I abandoned my fish and poor K, and beat a hasty retreat upstairs. And thus, I am sorry to say, it was not the happiest of birthdays.
But there is a happy ending and it arrived in the form of breakfast in bed. Breakfast is my absolutely favourite meal of the day. Perhaps it's because I am 'a mornings person' (which is not to say that post-midnight revelling and gluttonous consumption are pleasures unknown to me). But if you have an enormous breakfast, you have a whole day in which to work it off. If you have an enormous lunch, you lose a three-hour chunk out of your day and feel as if you need a sleep afterwards. If you have an enormous appetite for dinner, chances are you won't have an enormous appetite for sex afterwards. Yes, breakfast works for me.
So I will say this about 36 On the Quay - they serve a mighty fine breakfast. A Continental breakfast that is (which always brings out a kind of xenophobic disgust in my beloved, who never fails to find room for a Full English, in the same way that the children can always squeeze in a pudding, even when they are 'fully up for veggies'). Delicious homemade muesli, hot toast and jams, warm and perfectly-formed pastries, sweet fresh raspberries and pineapple, and not-too-gelatinous yogurt.
Enough of poncy dinner reservations. Have a break, have a breakfast. I now intend to launch a very thorough investigation into the finest places to breakfast. And you know the best bit? It is socially acceptable to breakfast in silence.