How We Got Here: it’s three o’clock in the morning; one figure is slumped, fully clothed, on the sofa. A second slumps, fully clothed, on the bed - head hanging off the end and feet resting on the pillow. Another has passed out after eating an entire tuna pizza while watching the X Factor results show on catch up, while the fourth listens to the cacophony of snoring and wonders how on earth to piece the night’s events together to capture the joy of a Sunday session while retaining some shreds of dignity for those involved.
Yes, that forlorn fourth figure – with the beginnings of a hangover and an industrial case of heartburn – was me. So here goes…
It had all started twelve hours earlier, at the Boathouse in Christchurch which, as the name suggests, affords views out across The river Stour. We were there for a leisurely lunch and perhaps a drink or two, owing to the fact we all had the unusual prescience to book the following day off work.
It wouldn’t be Sunday without a bloody mary, although the ones served here had horseradish and Tabasco in such sinus-clearing doses my eyes tear up a little when I think about it. Better were the double Hendricks, served in Spanish-style balloon glasses with Fevertree tonic, cucumber and juniper berries.
Wood smoked mackerel with pickled cucumber and horseradish mayo was a simple and unassuming plate of tried and tested flavours that reminded me how much I still love what was a lunchtime staple growing up - although my mum would have chosen the peppered kind and served it with a few carrot sticks, a handful of crisps and maybe a squirt of salad cream.
In contrast, the salmon tartare and smoked trout with sesame and cucumber was a real looker, but what it gained in finesse it seemed to lose in flavour and would have benefited from the same judicious hand with the seasoning that had been let loose on the tomato juice for the bloody marys.
Scallops were spot on (and should be for nine quid); classically grilled with garlic and parsley and served in the half shell, needing nothing more than a crust or two of bread to dip in their buttery juices.
Sunday afternoon calls for roast beef and their meat while not very pink, was commendably tender and came bathed in generous amounts of good gravy. Cabbage, with bacon and cream, was good, as were the spuds and yorkie. Nothing to worry Mum, but a solid effort. Roast beef also calls for red wine and, after sampling three bottles of it, I can recommend the pinot noir.
The towering Boathouse burger with texas sauce and jalepeno slaw was also more than serviceable; while not up there with the best it was a valiant effort with the well-seasoned meat topped with properly melted cheese and crisp bacon that the photo does scant justice to. They also let me swap normal spuds for fluffy sweet potato fries, which made me very happy.
The lowlight of the afternoon was finding out my favourite, the summer pudding, was off the menu. But they made up some ground by offering sticky toffee pudding instead, and gained another bonus point by letting us swap vanilla ice cream for blackcurrant and clotted cream flavour, The Ewing was close to the 'single wafer-thin mint moment', but still manged to scoff two scoops of passion fruit sorbet to herself.
We also had coffee - in the form of espresso martinis. Three rounds of them. And while they weren't quite a match for my friend Emily J's, a caffeinated cocktail maestro, these were commendable - even if every round came adorned with a confusingly different configuration of straws/coffee beans/cocoa powder decoration.
At some point, after the Ewing went to visit the loos, a dog - Max the terrier - appeared at our table. Which proved an entertaining distraction, even if he was just as intelligible as we were by that point. And our waitress, with the patience (and personality) befitting a saint, later turned up in several selfies - after she had kindly cadged a roll up for us from one of the bar staff.
And, as by now it was already well past dinner time, we ordered our first pizza of the evening; a hawaiian for the benefit of the Ewing and the Monkey, washed down with a round of pornstar martinis, complete with champagne shot.
Which lead to calling for the (not unsizable) bill jumping in a taxi (almost accompanied by our new buddy Max) to Walkabout, followed by Jaegerbombs, vodka, Grindr and an abortive attempt to break in to a roof-top party through someone’s kitchen, the Ewing falling asleep, a kebab, a pizza, a group hug with the Ewing’s new friends and a cab back to watch the X Factor on catch-up. Which is right back where our story begins…
Many thanks for the Monkey and Uni for making this story happen. Don't ever change.