Of violins, quesadillas and phalaropes

On Saturday, Jen was part of the All Souls orchestra in their Christmas Praise event – and for me it was a much more relaxed occasion than the one last year! Back then, we were meeting for the second time, and Jen was keen for me to have lunch with some of her friends (Katie, AnnaMarie and Sharon)… an event I have since affectionately called ‘meeting the committee’!

Jen among the first violins in the All Sould Orchestra.

Jen among the first violins in the All Souls Orchestra.

The concert is a blend of traditional carols and other pieces of Christmas music from elsewhere – such as the Angel’s carol by John Rutter, Walking in a winter wonderland, and a selection from West side story. This year the orchestra was joined by West End Has Faith, a group of Christians who work professionally as actors and singers in London’s west end and further afield. While I enjoyed last year’s concert, this one seemed even better – the creative blend of those involved worked particularly well.

The All Souls Christmas Priase event in full swing

The All Souls Christmas Priase event in full swing

Carlos, Lilia and Jen

Carlos, Lilia and Jen

The previous evening, Jen and I were taken to a Mexican restaurant by Carlos and Lilia. Carlos is a lecturer from Colima on the west coast of Mexico, who is having a sabbatical year at Imperial College. He was keen for us to experience ‘real’ Mexican food, as opposed to the Tex-Mex that is popularised by a some well known restaurant chains, so we went to Lupita near Charing Cross station. It was a most enjoyable meal, particularly because we were guided by them as to what were the best dishes to try. I was keen to try cactus, which appeared as an ingredient in a couple of the dishes – and was very pleasantly surprised by its texture and flavour!

Driving to London on the Friday, I could not pass up the opportunity to visit Farmoor Reservoir, particularly as there were a couple of grey phalaropes – a species that I’d not seen before. The weather was grim but seeing them was easy because they remained at the edge of the smaller northern lake. They had arrived about three weeks previously but  disappeared the next day, so I felt particularly fortunate.


The two juvenile grey phalaropes at Farmoor Reservoir were easy to find, but difficult to photograph as they moved so fast and the water was choppy.

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