Writing Portfolio


Nick v Barnet Council

News of an East Finchley resident’s parking permit ordeal in last month’s Archer brought to mind my own dealings with Barnet Council over my parking permit earlier this year.

I had renewed my permit in good time – a marked increase in the charge for living in a CPZ area, thank you Barnet Council – but I did not receive it in the post before the old one expired. As directed by Barnet Parking Services, I printed out a copy of the permit from an email attachment and placed it on the dashboard of my car. This copy was clearly displayed, although I was still calling the Council over a week later asking when I was going to receive the real permit.

One Saturday morning, I found a penalty charge notice stuck on my car, informing me that I had infringed parking regulations by not displaying a valid permit (despite the fact that a print-out of said permit was clearly visible). I removed this, only to find that when I returned to my car an hour later another penalty had been issued!

I emailed Barnet Parking Services to protest against both charges, attaching a photograph I had taken of the print-out permit showing it clearly displayed on the dashboard. In the event, the charges were overturned.

My conclusion from this experience is that it always helps to have photographic evidence!


In the kitchen...

On the menu tonight was smoked haddock and dill risotto, a recipe Allison clipped from the BBC’s Olive magazine two years ago. It’s one of our favourite one-pot meals and it’s really simple.

For me, the hardest part was the prep work as this involved finely dicing an onion (or half an onion in this case as I was halving the recipe), which makes my eyes water every time. This was saut̩ed in butter with some crushed garlic Рa combination that smelt divine and to which the rice was added.

To this I added some white wine, making sure that I also poured one for the cook – my little tribute to the late, great Keith Floyd. Not that this is one of his recipes, it’s just something I usually do when a recipe involves wine. That said, sometimes this particular cook has a glass even when wine isn’t in the recipe.

After the wine evaporated, it was a question of slowly adding the stock and continuously stirring – for about a quarter of an hour. 

Once the rice was judged to be cooked – the recipe calls for ‘a slight bite and a creamy consistency’ – I was ready to add the haddock along with some dill, parsley and grated parmesan cheese. At this point the mixture is just left to stand as the heat of the rice cooks the fish.

The result? A risotto dish that’s both delicious and warming, especially on a wet October evening.