Archive | January, 2012

A weekend in Edinburgh

30 Jan

One of the benefits of having family based around the country is that it provides the perfect excuse for regular weekends away to places outside London. This weekend was a case in point. I’d not made it northwards to see M’s family over the festive season so, with 2012 turning out to be a busy year already, my long-awaited weekend in Edinburgh came as a particularly welcome break.

I flew up by Easyjet after work on Thursday, getting there just in the nick of time (so much for the Stansted Express being an ‘express’ option) and was met in a much chillier climate by M’s parents. M wasn’t able to get the Friday off from uni (exams are on the horizon) but that didn’t bother me because it gave me a sneaky opportunity to hit the city’s shops for some end-of-sale shopping. I made a beeline straight for Jenners, a wonderful department on Princes Street that never let me down and it didn’t disappoint. Next up was a quick stop off at Bibi’s Bakery (bibisbakery.co.uk) to collect a couple of yummy cupcakes and macarons for my lovely girl home in Putney, Waterstones for a bday gift for JP, then to a nearby Costa for a long overdue coffee and catch up with a close friend from uni.

M came up that night and it was so lovely to see him – the icing on the cake. His parents had recently had some old cine films transfered to DVD so we spent the evening reminiscing his baby days – cute blonde curls, a constant smile (well almost) and yes, his trademark earlobes!

Saturday was a chilled day – a trip to Tesco threw up some more retail bargains (call me sad but living in London I miss the variety of goods that you get in massive supermarkets!) and, what I’d be waiting for all along, a trip to M’s local pub, The Spylaw Tavern, famous for its epically sized and tasty haggis pies. Y. U. M! Also had the chance to catch up with our best man C, although sadly his lovely lady wasn’t well enough to make it. Sending big hugs and wishes to get well soon! (spylawtavern.co.uk)

The weekend passed by in a flash but even so, I left feeling refreshed and on a high. M and I did a one-way car rental back to London, which took 7.5 hours but provided us with plenty of time to chat. I love a good road trip!

M’s back in Southampton now and I probably won’t see him until his big 3-0 in mid-March. If there’s one thing this set up has shown me it’s how easy it is to take loved ones for granted when you see them every day. I certainly took M for granted when we were living together full-time. Seeing him in randomly snatched moments has taught me to really value and make the most of the time we do have together – and to tell him how much he means to me on a more regular basis. That’s a lesson we should all put into practice in our daily lives so, be it a partner, friend or member of your family, take a second out of your busy day to surprise them with a gesture that shows your appreciation and love for them.

Did you know?

24 Jan

I was in a taxi today and had the most brilliant cabby, who kept dropping interesting and somewhat random facts about London into conversation. Here’s one of my favourites…

Where is Nelson’s Fleet in London?

Take a walk down The Mall and look at the lamp posts lining the road. Each one is topped with a ship to collectively depict Admiral Nelson’s fleet from the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. The Victory and Britannia are two of those vessels represented. Next, head towards Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square and you notice how his head tilts towards The Mall, as if surveying his fleet. It’s for this reason that The Mall is also affectionately known as ‘Nelson’s Fleet’.

War Horse

19 Jan

Went to see this at the New London Theatre last night thanks to my lovely mum who bought me a much-hoped for ticket for Christmas. Will keep this post short because:

a) this is the sort of show that needs to be seen to be believed – it is truly amazing. For anyone who doesn’t know, it tells the story of the First World War told through the eyes of a horse and is portrayed by actors and life-size puppets.

b) there’s only one word that I can use to describe the show. Phenomenal. Truly the best performance I’ve seen in a long time and on par with the Royal Opera House Ballet’s breathtaking rendition of Swan Lake.

Book your tickets now – you won’t be disppointed.

warhorselondon.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Metal Clay at the London Jewellery School

15 Jan

Yesterday my friend and work colleague L and I headed to the London Jewellery School (londonjewelleryschool.co.uk) near Hatton Gardens for a wonderful day-course learning the art of metal clay jewellery making. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday! Metal clay is clay infused with tiny strands of silver and, when the substance is fired, the clay burns away leaving behind a piece of solid silver. It makes it easy to mould different shapes, create textures, and mount gemstones. We were there from 10-5 and came away at the end with a pair of earrings, necklace, and a ring. For someone like me, who’s not naturally creative, it was an easy way to create some very unique and, I like to think, professional looking jewellery. I’m so proud of my wares! The day itself was so much fun. There were just seven of us on the course and, even though we were there for what it in effect a full working day, the time couldn’t have gone faster and I came away feeling refreshed and relaxed with a new zest for life – perhaps I’ve found my perfect career sideline. What do you think?

Day course

And, as if the weekend couldn’t get any better, I was met off the bus on my way home my M, who had secretly travelled to London to surprise me! It was the perfect end to a perfect day – homemade risotto, a good film and my lovely man. Then a full English brekkie at Wallace & Co (wallaceandco.com) this morning with a walk along the river. I’m a very spoilt and lucky woman!

London Prepares for The Olympics

15 Jan

Thursday night saw B, A and I head to The O2 to watch Team GB and their international competition battle it out on the floor, the vault, the rings, the uneven bars, and, my favourite, the pommel horse. Yes, it was the London Prepares event for the gymnastics, an opportunity for the timing and scoring equipment to be tested and for the athletes to experience performing in front of a crowd in that arena. B had managed to get us great seats and for just over £10 each we had a clear view of every piece of apparatus. For three hours we were wowed with the athletes’ sheer strength (could you hold yourself parallel on hoops in mid-air?!) and we were lucky enough to see the likes of Team GB’s Louis Smith and Daniel Purves picking up gold medals on the winner’s plinth. A great taste of what’s yet to come. Can’t wait for the summer now and the real thing!

The London Olympics

The Spaghetti Western Orchestra

6 Jan

Just back from seeing the Spaghetti Western Orchestra perform at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre and they were great! Had no idea quite what to expect when I turned up for the show. They’re a quintet of Australian musicians who claim to play over 100 instruments over the course of the night, and the music they play is all from westerns, hence their name. Now I’m not a big western fan but the good news is you don’t have to be to enjoy the show. The five band members put on a performance that is as comic as it is musically impressive. From traditional drums, pianos and bass to the less conventional paper bag, cornflakes box, and coat hanger, they play their tunes in whatever way they can and the result is truly unique. They never fail to transport you to the scene being described by the song, be it a punch up in a saloon or a chilly night by an open fire. But don’t just take my word for it, check out clips on their website and book seats on their current tour!

spaghettiwesternorchestra.com

New Year Steam Up and steak frites

3 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! And what better way to mark the occasion than with a day out with M and some lovely food with friends.

After a very quiet New Year’s Eve of cinema (The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo – I highly recommend it) followed by homemade dinner and scrabble (I won!), M and I were refreshed when we got up to celebrate New Year’s Day. My bro JP had been to the bi-annual switch on of all the steam engines at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum so, being a pair of a steam and engine fans, M and I headed there to see what was going on. We arrived just in time to see the 1846 Grand Junction 90 Inch Engine being switched on and it was amazing! It’s incredible to think such huge pieces of metal are moving by steam power alone – especially after over 150 years. When I work out how to upload video links I’ll add one in!

We also saw a model railway in action, took a ride on an outside minature railway (in the rain!), and M won some shortbread for the journey home on the tombola. The museum is open all year round so it’s well worth a visit but as with all machinery nothing beats seeing it in action. Check out the website for their next Steam Up dates: kbsm.org

Then on Bank Holiday M and I met up with B and C for our monthly ‘sushi club’. Now a bit of background: sushi club started off as an opportunity for us to trial some of th best sushi eateries in London but has developed into an excuse to test any unusual or unique dining experience. This month: Le Relais de Venise, a restuarant that specialises in and only serves steak frites – there isn’t even a menu to look at! And it didn’t disappoint. The steak was cooked to perfection, the frites the best I’ve even tasted, and don’t even get be started on the sauce – although we’re still trying to work out what the ingredients are as they’re a well-kept secret. I can highly recommend this restaurant but two words of warning: a) get there early and expect to queue – it’s popular, b) perhaps not the best place if you’re looking for a leisurely lunch. We were there for a good couple of hours and they were obviously keen for us to move on. Don’t be put off though and if you do go, and work out what’s in the sauce – let me know! relaisdevenise.com

Relais de Venise