A special dinner, a special lunch and London the long way

This will be our last Weekly Edition from Sydney for a little while – we’re swapping the southern hemisphere winter for the European summer!

We’ve only just got back from our amazing trip to New Zealand and we’re off again – this time for over 2 months!

Today’s Weekly Edition covers our last couple of days in Sydney and our dramatic trip north to London. We have everything from fine-dining restaurants and beautiful flowers to medical emergencies and the warmest welcome to share with you this week.

So make sure your seat backs are in the upright position and your tray tables are stowed. We’re ready for take-off!

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

Est Restaurant, Sydney

This evening, Christina and I are having dinner at one of Sydney’s – if not Australia’s – best restaurants.

We’ve been lucky enough to dine at est. a couple of times in the past, but this time, Christina and I have brought our excellent mate Anton along for a belated joint birthday dinner.

Est Restaurant, Sydney

Apart from the incredible sourdough that’s brought out at the start for us to share, our entrees get the evening going exactly how we expected it.

My marron – one of my all-time favourite types of seafood – is exquisite. It’s served with slices of carrot that are so thin they’re almost transparent, a verjus and sesame oil.

The dish is decorated with two types of seaweed – golden perslane and laver.

Christina’s entree of hand-picked crab with trout roe, hazelnut and kale, and Anton’s dish of aged squab, liver parfait and quandong are also excellent.

Est Restaurant, Sydney

Mains start to arrive and Christina’s wild barramundi makes Anton and me wonder if we’ve chosen well or not.

Est Restaurant, Sydney

And then I’m presented with my 9++ wagyu and I know I’ve won. This beef melts on contact with your tongue and fills your mouth with the most incredible flavours. I think I’ve found the dish to ask for if I’m ever on death row!

Est Restaurant, Sydney

Anton and I practise our wine swirling technique in the most beautiful Zalto crystal Pinot Noir glasses that our sommelier, Piotr, has let us try.

Est Restaurant, Sydney

The desserts on the menu look enticing, but we all decide to go for the cheese option instead; three different delicious Australian cheeses.

Est Restaurant, Sydney

There’s a final surprise to come too. Christina has arranged for a birthday cake to come out before we leave. Anton and I have almost the same birthday – just one day different – so this cake is for both of us.

Good job we’re all quite full, isn’t it?

I tell you what though, it might not be a big cake, but it’s still amazingly tasty and very rich.

Underground gin - negroni on World Gin Day

To celebrate World Gin Day – and inspired by last night’s cocktail at est., I’ve made a negroni with a new gin to cross our path.

I made this negroni with Underground Distilling Co‘s Shiraz and pepperberry gin, which gives the cocktail an extra herbaceous hit. Cheers!

Today, we’re off to lunch with some family friends who are very dear to our hearts.

We’re with Christina’s mum Jeanette and sister Mary, and Mary’s brought us to Hills the Flower Market in Terrey Hills. It’s somewhere between a garden centre, florists and cafe.

The prices here are almost as good as the range, and the displays make for Instagram heaven.

It’s amazing to see peonies in Australia in June. Very hard to tear Christina away without filling up the car!

Our friends Jackie and Alfredo have set up a very pretty lunch table for us in their apartment. And it’s not a lunch without a bit of bubbly.

Jackie’s baked a pair of delicious quiches for lunch. She’s even made the pastry, which is perfect.

Jackie and Alfredo have been part of Christina’s family’s friend group for decades – they’re almost part of the family really. It’s always good to catch up with them. Even more so when we’re about to head off for a couple of months.

We’re packed and ready for a bit of warmth from the European summer as we head down to the ferry wharf bound for Sydney Airport.

There’s not much difference price or time wise between catching a ferry then train to the airport and just hopping in a taxi, but starting a trip off with a ride on the harbour is a much nicer option than facing afternoon traffic.

See you in August, Sydney!

We check in and hurtle through airport security so we can get to the business class lounge asap. The trip’s really started now we’ve got a drop of bubbles in our hands.

It’s a working supper at The House lounge, getting last minute bits and pieces organised before we board.

And we’re off. Let’s hope we’re feeling this fresh by the time we get to London… I’ve got a feeling we might not!

Especially when something like this happens.

On our way to our connecting flight at Abu Dhabi, a fellow passenger has fallen sick (it turns out it was a heart attack), and our flight has been redirected to Mumbai.

The slums at the edge of the sprawling metropolis – you can see their blue roofs- make for a bleak outlook from our plane window.

After about three hours, we’re off again, leaving the coastline of this peninsular city behind us.

Thankfully, the sick passenger is ok and hopefully recovering well in hospital.

The downside to the diversion is that we’ve missed our connecting flight from Abu Dhabi to London. It means we have to entertain ourselves for another five hours until the next flight to Heathrow.

It should be a problem!

We finally arrive after what’s felt like an unending journey. Mum and Dad are waiting for us – Mum’s even had a sign made up!

It’s great to see them.

Little India, Halstead, UK

Our first stop – before we even get to their place – is a curry house! Person’s gotta eat, right?

It’s been raining for days in England, but things are looking brighter now. And the moat that’s formed around Little India in the village of Halstead in Essex gives a pretty reflection.

This place is a family favourite. The food here is excellent.

Little India, Halstead, UK

Little India, Halstead, UK

The food arrives soon enough (on its own cart!) and we’re tucking in to a range of delicious curry that Christina and I have missed almost as much as seeing Mum and Dad!

Don’t tell them I said that.

This morning, back at Mum and Dad’s place in Assington, Suffolk. The recent rains have brought out the poppies and other wildflowers, and it feels like the delayed summer’s just on the horizon.

Assington Barn, Suffolk, UK

The first coffee of many at the Barn at Assington. The food here is always good, and it’s lovely to be able to sit down with the folks and catch up properly.

And then Mum pulls out a surprise. Dad and I almost share the same birthday – a difference of one day – so Mum has organised this cake with the kitchen, which is home to a Michelin-starred patisserie chef.

This should be good!

And good it certainly is. Modelled on a cherry bakewell, this towering triple-layered beauty is delicious, creamy and full of sweet jam.

Happy birthday indeed.

This morning, we’ve gone for a walk around the country park at Long Melford in Suffolk. The pond leading up to the park is absolutely packed with swans. It’s strange to see so many of these huge birds in one place.

Long Melford Country Park Cafe

We take a stroll along the trails through Long Melford Country Park, following the old historic railway line that’s now part of the parklands.

At the end of the walk, there’s a cafe that’s been built into an old container. The outlook here is stunning and the antique tea set really completes this beautiful bucolic scene.

And the tea they brew here is excellent too.

Long Melford Country Park Cafe

Pinkies out! Here’s to more stories from this lovely part of Britain – and the bottomless pot of tea.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

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