Norwood, Caribbean, and Cards

It's a long weekend, but we hadn't planned anything special. An early invite up to Scotland with my parents felt a little too risky, but a follow-up suggestion to head over to South London to catch up with Theo and Mike in his new place felt just about doable. It was still our first time on public transport since early March, possibly since the last day I had a commute to work 🤯 Still, rather than the underground or a potentially high-traffic bus, it was just overground down to Norwood Junction. There were more people on the journey than I had expected, many without masks despite the constant signage and tannoy warnings, but overall it felt safe.

We happened to be coinciding with Theo's birthday, more by happenchance than design (on our part, at least), but had agreed that we'd bring the savoury side of lunch and leave sweet up to Mike's new-found cake skills – which did not disappoint! Having absolutely no idea where to get food in Norwood (and not wanting to lug anything across two trains and an hour of travel) we resorted to Google the night before, settling on a Caribbean takeaway with solid reviews. We settled on the Blue Jay Café and just hoped it would be open; luckily, it was. Doubly luckily, we managed to just sneak in and place our (pretty sizeable) order just before a massive lunch rush, though it still took a whopping 40 minutes to make everything 😬[1]

As a result, we were a little late, but it was definitely worth it. The food was absolutely delicious[2] and I'd happily make the trip back just for the banana fritters alone 🤤 I definitely ate more than I should, in no small part thanks to the large caipirinhas Mike whipped up (followed by delicious but strong martinis and our prosecco; I think Al managed to get on to a G&T at some point too 😂), so by the time cake rolled around I, too, was rolling around.

Luckily the afternoon plans were to just chill in their garden as long as the weather allowed, where we gazed admiringly (and with a hint of jealousy 😉) at their rhubarb plants, tomato vines, and multiple giant marrows – one of which we've since been gifted and is handily looking fit to last 2-3 meals! Norwood's an interesting area, it felt very much a part of London and it's clearly got a thriving, multicultural community (there's a great sounding West African restaurant not far from them and a Polish bakery we'd hoped to get to but ended up staying too late), but the houses all seem to actually have small green plots too. They're hardly large plots, but they get regular foxes coming through and at one point what I'm fairly certain was a sparrowhawk flew by and perched in a tree nearby.

Once the rain began to threaten we went back inside, staying as distanced as possible whilst diving into their collection of board games. We started with a new one for us: The Mind. Rules were pretty simple, but it's a clever mechanic which pits players against one another whilst also trying to beat the board as a team, all just with a dozen or so cards. Very neat. We'd brought our African Mapominoes, which works much better with more people, and followed that up with a frankly epic round of Uno; they've got a particularly good set with some power cards I've not come across before, plus a house rule of "play until someone hits 500" which kept it running nicely. Without realising the time we just began to dig into a new game they've just bought – Llamas Unleashed – when we realised we needed to leave ASAP if we were going to make the last train back (which we did, thankfully). Overall, a wonderful day and a very pleasant way to slowly ease ourselves back into the wider world 🎉

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  • Murray Adcock.
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