First, was a long looked forward to lunch with my previously long-lost cousin, at a pretty little pub in Hampshire called, The Watership Down.* Yes, that’s it, just like that cute movie about rabbits. As a sidebar, it was also notable because we were served by an extremely tall lady wearing a fringe as a skirt, atop a pair of very long, bare legs… and this in the middle of a UK winter. Ok, it was unseasonably warm weather, but still.
Anyway, Whitchurch, where the pub is located, is a halfway point between where my cousin lives in Somerset and where I was staying in Berkshire. I also discovered that it is home to the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery**, too late as it happened since I was by then en route back to Berkshire. However, I digress.
An interesting talking point and something of a cute one too was our mutual paternal grandparents who, it seems, married for love against parental wishes, and remained happily in it for many years if the affection displayed in their photos over the years is anything to go by. Not a common occurrence in those days of stern-faced relatives staring stonily into the photographer’s lens… and a lovely, warm relationship to cherish in an otherwise odd extended family.
Our lunch proved informative too. Suffice to say that most people who have something named after their family find that it’s a street or a village… perhaps even a building or the like. Today I discovered that we have a bacterium named after our family. Yes, there are few indeed that can make such claim I know, but this claim-to-fame came about through my cousin’s father, my uncle, who was a notable microbiologist. So, I shall forever think kindly of Uncle Ronald, who through his hard work and diligence put our family name, if not quite up there in lights, certainly printed in bold italics for posterity.
And then finally, dinner back in Berkshire proved true my theory on non-coffee drinking people being duped into consuming the noxious stuff. After a somewhat lackluster meal, the special on offer for pudding, we were informed, was a raspberry Crème Brulee. Now, anyone who has been with me on a Thursday evening at Kyalami Corner will know that this is a recent passion of mine, and not easily rejected. “We’ll have 2,” my companion and I replied, only to be advised a few moments later that they were unfortunately finished.
On noting my disappointment, the lady serving us advised that there was, however, a coffee and walnut pannacotta, “which,” she said, “is a lot like Crème Brulee”. Ok, I know that it’s nothing like Crème Brulee, but I was ready to be convinced. And yes, she did inform me that there was coffee in it. In my defense, I did ask if there was a lot of coffee in it. “Not much,” she replied.
That was enough for me. So, like a fool and that oft duped non-coffee drinker that I am, I ordered it. With hindsight, I can only assume that she is a cup-an-hour, stand-your-spoon-vertically Turkish coffee drinker, as only someone that inured to the taste could possibly make such a ridiculous assessment.
To add further insult to injury, the pannacotta more closely resembled something whipped up from a long-forgotten packet of powder pudding. It was certainly not the light, slightly wobbly, jelly-like consistency of a true pannacotta. So, there I found myself, yet again, consuming the noxious-tasting stuff, with a scrunched-up nose and great control of my reflux reflex, lest it should re-appear even less pannacotta-like, on my plate moments later.
It’s about time I managed to get wise to this non-coffee drinker duping game that seems to have taken root across the world, or at least the 2 continents in which I have recently put foot. I mean, if it looks like a duck and smells like a duck, then it probably is a duck, should be my mantra going forward.
Please note: These opinions are mine and were not influenced by any of the destinations mentioned. As a result, your experience should be no different from my own.