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Some things I've been enjoying recently

Sophie Koonin

This isn't going to be a tech post, mainly because I haven't really been enjoying tech things recently. I spend all day thinking about technical integrations and system architectures and requirements, so I don't really want to do anything dev-related when I get home. Every time I see people talking about Astro or web components or new CSS features I feel bad because I know I should try it out and see what all the fuss is about but I really can't be arsed soz.

I'm procrastinating talk-writing so naturally I thought I'd write a blog post. Here are some shows, books, theatre etc I've enjoyed recently.


Apple TV continues to bring out excellent series. We've been making our way through For All Mankind, an alternate history sci-fi series about what could've transpired if the USSR had won the space race in the late 60s. Each series takes place a decade after the last, which makes for some interesting aging techniques on the actors. It's truly excellent – I think I can safely say there hasn't been a single dud episode in four seasons. It's produced by Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame.

Also on Apple TV is The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin starring Noel Fielding as, well, a coach-robbing Vince Noir. It's utterly silly and very funny in a Horrible Histories/Ghosts/Blackadder kind of way, and has lots of familiar faces popping up throughout.

And on Apple TV again... another space-themed drama called Constellation, where an accident on the ISS involving an astronaut and a NASA science experiment leads to some weird parallel universe goings-on. I love a good parallel universe story (Fringe was a favourite of mine) and I bingewatched the first six episodes while I was off work sick. It's the kind of series where you'll go on Reddit afterwards to read up on other people's theories.

I like watching things while I cook, and the perfect cookery series of recent times has been Elementary. Classic procedural with crime-solving duo premise, but with a bit of light humour and some great performances. I'm delighting in seeing all the early 2010s mobile phones, and it's one of those shows where as soon as a vaguely familiar actor pops up in a bit part, you know they're probably the killer.


We went to see Operation Mincemeat on some friends' recommendation, with little idea what to expect. It's a musical based on the WWII operation where MI5 planted some fake intel on a body that "washed up" on the beach in Spain, misleading the Nazis and allowing the Allies to invade Sicily. It's very very funny, though the theatre is extremely tiny and cramped, so tall people beware. My husband was folded up like a concertina for most of it.

We also caught an NT Live screening of Vanya, a one-man adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Andrew Scott is in it, and he's absolutely brilliant in everything he does – I also saw All Of Us Strangers recently, and he was fantastic in that too. Vanya is still on in a few cinemas, I think.


I met my parents at the Tate Britain the other weekend. I hadn't been for many years, and I think last time I was there I was too young to actually appreciate any of the art. I hadn't realised Millais' Ophelia was in there: it's a beautiful painting but also the basis of one of my favourite memes. I appreciate both for the art forms they are.

Millais' painting of Ophelia, with a pale curly-haired woman in an embroidered dress lying on her back in the water surrounded by lush verdant greenery and flowers. Superimposed on top is a tweet by @daisandconfused that says "The girl boss is dead, long live the girl moss (lying on her back and being absorbed back into nature)"

The Turners are stunning, the rough seascapes especially, but I also really loved his paintings of Europe. He had a way of really capturing the light.

Later I popped into Women in Revolt!, the Tate's exhibition of feminist art and activism from 1970-1990. A real diverse range of artworks, protests, political pieces and campaigns: including equal pay & division of labour, perceptions of lesbianism, the DIY scene, protesting nuclear weaponry, Black feminist art, AIDS, and the Thatcher government. It's on until 7th April.

An artwork hanging on the wall at the Tate Britain. A series of 9 framed photographs in a grid showing the artist's face appearing to be on fire
Heat by Anne Bean
A 1980s artwork showing Margaret Thatcher with the words 'my message to the women of our nation' and a speech bubble coming from Thatcher's face saying 'TOUGH!'. The image of Thatcher is surrounded by illustrations describing ways in which her government has harmed women: hospitals closed, nurseries closed, council houses for sale, unemployment, £4,000,000,000 cut in public spending by 1981, elderly care centres closed, £308,000,000 cut from housing budget, fares increase, VAT up to 15%, £55,000,000 cut from education programme, gas and electricity up
Tough (1979) - The See Red Women's Workshop


I've made it about 75% of the way through The Three Body Problem, a sci-fi novel about Chinese astrophysicists discovering an alien civilisation... well, I don't want to give it away, and it's really good, but slow reading. I'm a speed reader, but I found I needed to really focus on the book and I tend to read before bed, so I make it about three pages in and have to put the light out. (I should read more on my commute.)

I read A Court of Thorns and Roses because it seems to be everywhere and I thought it'd be a good break from books that made me think about things. But it's actually... really good? I just finished the third book in the series. Playing Baldur's Gate 3 got me into fantasy (I'd only ever read Terry Pratchett, tried reading some Robin Hobb and just couldn't get into it but I'll give it another go sometime) and this is "romantasy" which is a whole genre that'd completely escaped my awareness until recently. But I'm now extremely invested in the storyline and I heard that old mate Ronald D. Moore has plans to produce a series based on it, so if he's involved you know it's good.


I made Smitten Kitchen's weeknight tomato soup, and it was heavenly. The splash of sherry really lifts it. I made it with the grilled cheese "fingers" as Deb Perelman suggested, and it was a delight.

Deb really can't fail – I made her brown sugar brown butter shortbread recently and brought them to work, and they disappeared in record time. I think it might be the most popular thing I've ever made. Brown butter is having a moment, lads.

One of my favourite lunches near the office is at Spitalfields Market, a pricey covered market near Liverpool Street that's full of street food stalls, with some absolute gems. My favourites include soup dumplings from Dumpling Shack, vegan Ethiopian mixed veg and grains with injera from Merkamo, and the oft-overlooked Sri Lankan kothu roti place, Karapincha. The other day I decided I wanted to try making kothu roti myself. I found this recipe from Hoppers (where I still haven't been!) and it was delicious, though after making it once I think I'd do the curry bit the day before, as it took a while to do the whole thing in one go, even using premade rotis. Hard recommend, though.

Finally, I treated myself to lunch at Fallow on Haymarket recently, managing to book a seat at the chef's table where you can watch the chefs working. In a bizarre and wonderful twist, a couple was seated next to me and it turned out to be my friend/tech lead from my first proper dev role (one of my favourite teams ever). We had a good catch up, and she let me try some of her, er, cod's head. A couple of must-try dishes are the mushroom parfait which made me see stars, and the corn ribs which are very, very, very good. They have a set lunch menu which includes the mushroom parfait. For dessert, I had a rhubarb and ginger pavlova with jasmine tea, and it was so potent I felt like I was sitting next to an actual jasmine bush. Absolutely delightful.

Golden slices of toast are stacked on a wooden board next to a scoop of caramel-coloured mushroom parfait. The parfait has shavings of white mushroom on top. In the background, out of focus, is a bowl of dark brown crispy corn ribs, served with a wedge of lime.
Fallow's mushroom parfait, with corn ribs in the background
A scoop of rhubarb sorbet sits on top of a perfectly domed meringue, surrounded by a bright pink moat of rhubarb and jasmine sauce
Rhubarb pavlova with stem ginger and jasmine tea



  1. Dan
    @sophie “Every time I see people talking about Astro or web components or new CSS features I feel bad because I know I should try it out and see what all the fuss is about but I really can't be arsed soz”Heh, samesies. Learning a new role has left me with little capacity for anything computery outside of work.
  2. rardk64
    @sophie I just started season 4 of For All Mankind! This show has been wild lol