Thursday, 12 March 2020

Out and about in this time of crisis.

Trump bans travel from Europe but not from the UK.

Well, okay. Does he not realise that the UK is in Europe? Is it that all the other countries if Europe allow free crossing of their birders whereas we have water all around us separating us from the rest? Does he expect the virus to be unable to cross the Channel? Or is it, as a friend of mine suggested today, a move to really annoy President Macron of France? Whatever the motivation, it is an odd decision as all those Europeans could travel to the UK and fly from there to the USA. Oops!

I went out to lunch today, braving the perils of travelling on trans and buses, being careful to have my paper hankie ready in case I needed to sneeze. On the tram a bunch of ladies, probably around my age, were having a serious discussion about the virus and the carelessness of some people they know in not promptly sending home from work people who had virus-like symptoms. On the bus, though, I had seen headlines in the free paper about our PM having been in a meeting with Nadine Dorries, who has tested positive for the virus. Apparently he said that he had not been near her and so did not feel the need to be tested himself. Hmmm! That sounds like a responsible way of setting an example!

I suspect he may have changed his tune by now. That was this morning and things have moved on from there.

As regards the free paper I am amazed at how many people find an awful lot to read and interest them in it. I watch people stuff it in their bag to read later - unless they plan to use it as a replacement for loo roll! One lady was complaining that she has been on several buses this week where there were no free papers. She sounded quite bereft.

 Anyway, lunch!

As a rule when I meet this particular set of friends we go along to La ViƱa, a tapas bar on Deansgate. Today one of our number suggested a change. For some years after he retired from full time teaching he had worked seasonally as an examiner for the spoken component of the A-Level French examination. A few years ago one of the examinees revealed that was French by birth, the son of a restaurant in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. My friend had been there a few times and recommended that we give it a try today.

The food was very nice, prettily presented and well prepared. The only problem was that it was all very nouvelle cuisine. My main course was scallops. Now, I am used to getting a serving of scallops in Spain with maybe half a dozen scallops on the serving dish. Yes, we share them between two or three of us but we usually have other dishes to share as well. The French offering was two scallops on a large plate with what looked like a dessert spoonful of perhaps mashed sweet potato, tastefully spread out in a crescent shape, and a smear (or maybe a sneer) of saffron sauce. Oh, and a bit of rocket salad as well. It’s a good job I wasn’t desperately hungry. That explains why the waiter was surprised that I wasn’t having a starter. But I was planning on having dessert - a delightfully presented small serving of pineapple with a fancy cream sauce and a sprig of mint.

It was all very tasty, just rather minimalist. The glass of white wine which I chose to accompany my small meal was very nice too, as was the price - just under £10 for a large glass. When I say large, of course, I mean the standard “large” served in restaurants her in the UK. The bottle of water and the coffee were a bit pricey too. The £16 menu du jour only included the two courses, in my case main and dessert!

So, all in all, the food was very nice but I did not leave the restaurant feeling overfed. Nor did I feel undercharged. A nice place, unpretentious-seeming but possibly cashing in on the increasing popularity of the Northern Quarter. However, I won’t be returning there for a while.

But we had a good chat and managed to talk about a whole lot of things other than coronavirus.

For the time being I shall continue to be out and about - just washing my hands a lot!

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