and a rather nice beach to build a boat...
We went south of the river for a change on Saturday, to South Shields for fish and chips at Colman's. Don't let the fact that it's David Miliband's favourite restaurant put you off - it truly makes the best fish and chips I've ever tasted. You know how the batter always goes soggy, and you have to poke about inside for a bit of fish? Well, this was perfect - crispy light batter and beautifully thick, steaming cod fillet. I ate the lot - which isn't bad for a girl who's not that bothered about fish and chips, and has to be in the right mood for it.
Maybe it's the fact that we never had fish and chips as a kid (Mum never really liked the smell). I can remember eating them just twice - once somewhere in the middle of Lancashire on the way to visit my grandparents in Burnley (a four-hour trek at the best of times). We sat in a freezing cold, godforsaken valley at one of those terrible picnic spots with a dilapidated wooden picnic table and a rubbish bin. I can't remember whether the fish and chips were any good, but I do remember trying luminous green mushy peas for the first time, and marvelling at the taste.
The second time, Mum and Dad had gone away for a couple of days, and my Grandma and Great Aunty Win were babysitting me and my brother. It was a daredevil couple of days - we stayed up late! we went into town on the bus! (deepest East Anglia wasn't known for its buses at the best of times, so we'd spent most of our childhood being ferried about in a car, or riding on a bicycle) and most importantly we headed to the village chippy for tea. I have no idea whether our illicit fish and chips were any good or not, but we were entranced by the warm fug of the chip shop, the tiny wooden chip forks and the idea of your tea being wrapped in newspaper.