Thursday, 6 November 2008

Coram's Fields

Since I reigned myself in from binging on all manner of artery-hardening junk food when bored, one of my life's greatest pleasures has been snacking on tzatziki with rice crackers. (Oh yeah. I live on the EDGE!) Not those cardboard-tasting, frisbee like puffed rice discs, and not the glazed, sweet Japanese-style ones, but the small, fairly basic rice cracker you find everywhere in Oz, looking much like this:

(These are the barbecue-flavoured ones, which are okay, although I'm more partial to the seaweed flavour.)

When I first moved to the UK, I was gutted to discover that neither Tesco nor Sainsbury's (our local supermarkets) stocked this kind of rice cracker. At one point Tesco had something similar, but in these almost surreal-ly insipid flavours (something like "Oriental Spice" and "Sweet Thai Herb") and not only were they so sweet as to be almost inedible, they definitely didn't go with the all-important tzatziki.

For the following twelve months I would duck into every single off-licence and corner store we happened to pass in the hope that I would find a rice cracker with which to satisfy my cravings. Everytime I spoke to other Australians living in London I would interrogate them about where and when they'd seen them for sale in the UK. Occasionally I would find an almost-adequate substitute (e.g. there is a "chilli-flavoured" version which actually almost resembles something flavoured with chilli) and buy five or six packs in order to hoard them until more could be found. But when I'd return to the shop, I would always find they hadn't re-stocked since the last time I cleaned them out.

Finally I stopped bothering The Boyfriend and others with my insane rice cracker obsession and started to look for other snack alternatives.

Then, when I moved into my new group at work, my lovely temporary office-mate, a Kiwi, happened to mention something about rice crackers and I gave her my sad story of defeat. And she replied casually that they sell them at Waitrose (one of the UK's largest supermarket chains, i.e. freaking everywhere). There is a Waitrose in our area but the Tesco and Sainsbury's are much closer so we'd never bothered to trek down to it. Imagine my pleasure (and dismay at all those wasted months).

I've now taken to making a regular sojourn on the way home to the Waitrose near Russell Square in central London to stock up on just this one item, Sakata rice crackers (seaweed flavour). I am a much happier person generally.

This has been an enormously long (and dull?) segue into how I discovered Coram's Fields, which is located along the walk from my office in Holborn to Waitrose, Russell Square. There is a lot to see on this particular walk, including as it does parts of Clerkenwell and Bloomsbury and therefore lots of beautiful old terrace houses and antique and/or seedy bookshops. However, I was overjoyed to find on my inaugural Waitrose trip another London park to add to my list of favourites.

My joy was diminished almost immediately because as I discovered, you can't go into Coram's Fields WITHOUT A CHILD ACCOMPANYING YOU.

I see from Wikipedia that Coram's Fields offers a playground, sand pits, a duck pond, a pets corner, a café, four half-sized football pitches, one normal-sized pitch, and a basketball court. As I had no child at my disposal (and am not likely to at around 6.30pm on any weeknight), I couldn't verify this with certainty. I recalled later that some of the companies around London play sporting fixtures at the Fields, and wondered how this rule was applied to them. Does every member of each team need a child, or is one per team sufficient? How do they verify the children's ages anyway? Does the child have to want to be there, or can they exclude you if the child is throwing a massive temper tantrum about wanting to go home and watch Dora the Explorer for the 89th time?

Anyway, it doesn't look all that nice inside the high fences. In fact it's so dull the photo I took is not even worth posting. Take that, Coram's Fields. I don't need you anyway.

No comments: