Sunday, 31 October 2010

Didn't want to be your ghost

Friday night finds a group of us under the London Bridge railway arches, queuing to for The Last Tuesday Society's Halloween Ball. We are given bananas to munch on as we wait. I had a crumpet and a glass of milk for dinner so eat three, then worry that I'll get potassium poisoning. Inside it is dark, lit with dim red lamps, a labyrinth of a dark room. What feels like room upon room stretching away underneath the old brick, filled with shadowy bodies in all manner of elaborate costumes. Mad Hatters and the Living Dead, a woman in gold sequins and tulle, sprouting antlers. Lots of fake blood. C and I run about, giddy with the surreal, head off to make new friends, bump into them hours later having forgotten their names. Masks, whitened faces, blood dripping scarlet from lips. There is a 40 piece orchestra, a chocolate fountain, and, randomly, hidden in a back room we stumble upon many hours after arriving, two hot tubs. A few of us have come along and we disperse and re-group, lose some, find others, push through crowds of dancers, fingers entwined, scanning the crowds.

Later, we emerge, cross the river in search of a taxi. Pause for a moment on the bridge to look at London lit up around us, the expanse of black water. We don't get to bed until gone 5.

Saturday evening and I am in Suffolk, in a tiny village hall, listening to O and his brother sing, play the guitar. Outside it is cold and inky black, I can see the Milky Way.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Halloween Weekend

Halloween weekend is almost upon us...I've got a Halloween Ball to attend tonight, dress code is 'the Damned and the Beautiful', and all my costume currently consists of is a black dress. Given that it was one in, one out at the fancy dress shop, supervised by a security guard, as far back as last week I think I'm going to have to find inspiration from items I already own. Here's hoping that I can get by with some enthusiastic back-combing of hair and imaginative application of eye-liner...

I'm also planning to make a batch of these pumpkin cupcakes which I remember rather fondly from last year, very delicious.

What are your plans for Halloween weekend?

Monday, 25 October 2010

Blue Skies and Battenberg

A late night on Thursday, meeting C for the after party of a gig she had just been to, not getting into bed until 3am, struggling to stay awake at work on Friday, then another late night, hula hooping and free pizza at Bloomsbury Bowling. A slower, calmer Saturday and Sunday. A trip to Kew Gardens, autumn crocuses in terracotta pots in the new Alpine House, a steamed up camera lens in the Lily House, waiting until it adjusted so I could take photographs of the reflections on the mirror-like water. A giant exotic looking butterfly flapping lazily round the Princess of Wales conservatory, looking at home amongst the deep green foliage, but slightly lonely. Outside of the heated glasshouses, turning leaves, yellows, reds, Indian chestnuts bursting from their green cases, glossy brown. A Sunday visit to my grandma, driving out of London past brown fields and golden Poplar trees, the sky blue and cold above. Lunch out and then, later, tea and Battenberg cake. My first slice of Battenberg ever, as I've only recently begun to like the taste of marzipan. Traffic on the return to London, as the sun set revealing a huge full moon, low and yellow, intermittent rain. Home in time for supper and Downton Abbey, in bed before 11pm, hot water bottle tucked at my feet.

Monday, 18 October 2010


Friday night catching up with Madagascar friends, one icy pink hibiscus Margarita after another in Wahaca, laughing, reminiscing, ambitiously planning reunion trips. Beautiful autumn weather in London, bright mornings, bubblegum clouds at sunset. A climbing session with C, marvelling at how much better we are in the space of a few weeks. Sore red hands, covered in chalk dust. Breakfast on rose patterned china, German pumpernickel bread, eaten how we do when visiting friends in Frankfurt, cream cheese, sliced plums, the last of a pot of glossy damson jam. Talking to M on Google voice, amazed as ever at how technology can diminish distance. A vintage fair with Anna in the beautiful Old Finsbury Town Hall, all stained glass windows and exquisite detailing. Polystyrene cups of tea, Victoria sponge, floral wipe-clean tablecloths, like being at a country church fete in the middle of the city. Meeting another blogger, and friend of Anna's, with her pretty flower-filled vintage china. Making up parcels to post at work today, how I adore the packaging featuring a teeny Little Red Riding Hood on the Italian sweets destined for my sister.

Thank you, thank you, for all the comments that keep pouring in about M's departure, so very appreciated.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Autumn Home Styling Challenge

At this time of year, as daylight hours are squeezed ever shorter and a coolness is increasingly present to the air, I find that I get the urge to nest, to squirrel myself away at home of an evening rather than brave a long wait at the bus stop at the end of a night in (inevitably) inappropriate shoes.

It was this feeling that I turned to for inspiration when Helen from got in touch last week to see if I'd be interested in taking part in their Autumn Home Styling Challenge. Full details if you click the link, but the basic idea was to put together a collection of between 5 and 10 items, each of which must be under £50, that could update a room for Autumn. I created a couple of mood boards, but finally went with the items above, description and links below, hope you like it! :

A print (1), appropriately from the 'What to Look for in Autumn' Ladybird book, slightly retro and harking back to childhood, but I love the colours, the glow of the fire, the grey-purple smoke, the watching owl. Another owl, on a hook (6), perfect for hanging all those extra layers on once you step in from outdoors, discarded coats and knitted scarves. A scented candle (3) to evoke Bonfire Night, the smell of wood smoke, flickering light. A blanket (2) in earthy tones to snuggle under on the sofa, beautiful cushions (4 & 5) to nestle into, the latest series of Mad Men or Autumn period drama on the television, the night dark outside. A mug (9) of hot chocolate or warm spiced berry cordial, a simple wooden tray to put it on. And finally, a hot water bottle cover (7) whose proceeds go to a worthy cause, in case you need any extra warmth under that blanket, bonus points if you turn down the central heating too!

Top row, L-R

Middle row, L-R
4 - Gingoko Cushion in Slate and Pumpkin, £49.99, Roost Living
5 - Silk Velvet Cushion Cover in Damson, £29, Toast

Bottom row, L-R
8 - Tiffany Tray in oak, £35, Habitat
9 - Pila Mug, £3.50, Habitat

If you want to join in, read the full details here, or just pop along to the main Voucher Codes website to browse their vouchers and discounts (currently Habitat and Laura Ashley are offering discounts amongst others).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Leaves and things

We filled M's final week with seeing people and going places and doing things. A trip to the Innocent pop-up restaurant near Old Street, a two course dinner containing five portions of fruit or veg for a fiver. A visit to Greenwich and the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition, walking through Greenwich Park, spotting mushrooms and sweet chestnuts and yellowing leaves. Imprints of leaves on pavements, ghosts of themselves. Saturday was M's birthday; brunch at Ottolenghi (delicious), a meandering walk across Hampstead Heath, all cobwebs and mist, browning seed heads, moss, more fungi, snatches of sunlight through mist, reflections on water. Then a birthday dinner at Skylon at Royal Festival Hall and a walk along Southbank in the dark, the London skyline lit up around us. A walk to the top of Primrose Hill in the glorious sunshine of Sunday afternoon. Lying on my bed, watching the shadows and late afternoon light on my bedroom wall as M completed the final stages of his packing next to me.

Thank you for all the kind comments on the last post (and to Lisa-Marie for the award!), reading them as they appeared in twos and threes has made my heart that little bit less leaden. We will be Skyping (or Google voice-ing) and emailing and letter writing and postcard sending, he is back briefly at Christmas and I am planning on heading out there next spring, hopefully in time to catch some of cherry blossom season.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


M left today.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

This is how we roll

Last Saturday we braved the wet weather and ventured across to east London for a night of DIY sushi at some friends' house. Miso drunk from teacups, gyozo dumplings, a 100 pack of disposable chopsticks, wasabi peas, geisha mix. Strips of avocado, pepper, cucumber, Chinese white raddish. Prawns, crabsticks, salmon. A vat of sticky sushi rice. We made roll after roll, some more successfully than others, and I had a chance to try out some sushi moulds I was given for my last birthday. We finished it off by sampling some Japanese sweets and glasses of some very strong Japanese spirit that M had brought back from his last trip to Japan.

He leaves for Japan for his year long placement on Tuesday. I'm trying not to think about it.