Monday, 24 January 2011

Grapefruits, guidebooks

Early finish at work on Friday, meeting a friend, walking to St James' Park for thick hot chocolates in the cafe. The sunlight on the water is beautiful, geese overhead, but I am without my camera. A detour via Daunt Books on the way home, where I purchase a Japan travel guide. A late night at a friend's party, wearing my new I-know-it's-January-and-I'm-saving-up-for-Japan-but-this-was-in-the-Butler-&-Wilson-sale-when-I-popped-in-last-week necklace, milky white glass, green beads, heavy round my neck. Two night buses home, air cold, sky clear, but C is with me for company. This weekend, citrus breakfasts, reading a Skye Gyngell cookbook frugally borrowed from the library, dreaming of summer salads, pansy scattered. Baking a Saturday morning soda bread, out of the oven in the time it took to wrestle with my grapefruit segments, eaten still warm with fast melting butter, strawberry jam. Dinner at a friend's, delicious. Bagels bought en route on Seven Sisters Road for Sunday morning, to accompany raspberries and the remaining grapefruit half. Marylebone farmer's market, three bunches of pink tulips, white edged, squeaky stemmed. Later, in the supermarket, a small bunch of narcissi too, because standing there, in the fresh produce section under the strip lighting, I can't resist their scent. Stopping by my parents' flat to pick up post, amazed at an orchid that used to be mine, an abundance of bright flowers from a single stem. Radishes at lunchtime, the inverse colourway of the tulips.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Mid-week email (or, better than a cheese Kit Kat)

from Becky
to M
date Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 12.27 PM
subject I have found a new love

Last night, back late from work, I opened the box of Rococo milk chocolate sea salt wafers you gave me. They are thin, imperfect discs, almost translucent in places, crack satisfyingly when you bite into them, in the mouth they are silky chocolate, salty undercurrent. I think of you as they melt on my tongue, of a time we were by the sea together, Nice 2009, pebbles beneath us, swimming in the blue Mediterranean, salty hair, skin when we get back to the hotel. Or a windswept Suffolk beach, bright sunlight, sand, cold water, the white dome of Sizewell B in the distance.

I eat three, slowly, lingering over each. They were delicious.

B x

(p.s want me to post you some?)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Dream Bags, Jaguar Shoes, Museums of Everything

Flowers from Dad brighten up my dressing-table, counteract the rain and grey skies. On Saturday I eat raspberries for breakfast with sheep's milk yoghurt, get a haircut in town, then later head East for two friends' birthdays, Vietnamese on Kingsland Road, cocktails at the fantastically named Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes, then on somewhere else, taxi ride home, can'trememberwhattimeImadeittobed. On Sunday Anna and I walk to Primrose Hill, wind blustery, stopping momentarily gaze at London's changing skyline, The Shaft creeping steadily upwards as the days go by. We go to The Museum of Everything which others have blogged about, marvel at the stuffed animals and collected paraphernalia. Fascinating, bizarre, colourful. No photography allowed inside. Afterwards we get takeaway hot chocolates, walk back home together past green moss and sleeping lions, wave each other goodbye at the corner. I think to myself how lucky I am to be back living so close to Anna, an old school friend, after those university years apart.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Passwords and Puttanesca

On Friday night J, H and I head to The Underground Restaurant for a Spaghetti Dinner. This is the first time I have been to a supper club, even though I have been reading about them for ages, and keep meaning to go. Brilliant, brilliant night. A password at the door, coats taken from us, then we are led to a table, red and white checked tablecloths, candlelight, twisting candelabras. Introducing ourselves to the others on our table (including this gentleman whose photographs are pretty damn good I think you'll agree - and he only got his first camera in 2007!), by the end of the evening laughing and joking and chatting away as though we had known each other for far more than a couple of hours. And, most importantly, the food. Delicious. Blood orange, fennel and pea shoot salad with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and home baked focaccia to start, then big bowls of 'Slut Spaghetti', or Spaghetti Puttanesca, with freshly grated Parmesan, plates scrapped clean and the option of seconds for those who wanted. Then dessert, Gallete des Rois, buttery puff pastry filled with almond paste, so, so good, served with a paper crown on top, which the diner who found the hidden pecan nut was allowed to wear and be 'King' of the table.

We left full and happy and determined to investigate other supper clubs, determined to come again to this one. If you have been meaning to go to a supper club for a while now, or um-ing and aah-ing because you are not quite sure it's for you, then I would say go, try it. I had such a fun night out, and on top of all the wonderful food it was great to be able to talk to the other guests, head into the kitchen later to see where everything had been created, and generally just enjoy the experience of being cooked for outside of the conventions of a normal restaurant.

Yum. And a big thank you to Ms Marmite Lover!

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Gloomiest Day

Today was meant to be the gloomiest day of the year. I did get stuck on the tube for half an hour this morning, and the rain fell and fell. But tonight I went for dinner with Mum and Dad to Ottolenghi (delicious, as ever) and afterwards Mum presented me with some snowdrops that she had brought down from Norfolk, carefully swaddled in damp kitchen roll. Gloom? What gloom?

Hope you have all found something to cheer you today, even if just a little bit.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The week that was

The first week of January 2011 was wonderful. Time spent back in London, with friends, with M. There were a couple of days at work, but mostly I had time off, coming back down to earth with a bump this Monday when I was back in the office, and on a late shift to boot, having kissed a hurried, tears-threatening-to-spill-over goodbye to M on the Green Park Jubilee line platform as he headed off to Heathrow and I to my desk.

But back to my almost-week off, the week that started 2011. There was a Sunday trip to Columbia Road, to buy the first bulb flowers of the season, blue hyacinths, white tulips. A visit to The Natural History Museum to see The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, which I loved, as ever, a brightly lit carousel as we left, lights in trees. Cocktails on Wednesday night for C's birthday, fairy lights, bare wooden floors, discarded shoes, sweet potato chips, a walk home through the drizzle. Thursday saw heavy rain and a trip to Borough Market, side-stepping puddles, clutching hot apple cider in our hands, eating Raclette melted over new potatoes and cornichons from paper plates. Heading then along the river to Southbank, a hot chocolate and a cappuccino whilst we dried off in the BFI bar, sinking into deep velvety sofas, then on to the Landscape Photographer of the Year Award at the National Theatre. Relishing these midweek days off. Friday was pizza at the Italian Coffee Company, strings of molten cheese, a dusting of oregano, and a brief trip to The British Museum, to say hello to the mummies. Another birthday drinks, squashed into a crowded bar behind Waterloo, windows steamed up with drying umbrellas. Saturday we braved the packed V&A, to catch the last weekend of the Diaghilev and visit the Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography exhibition. A walk round the cold, deserted, central courtyard as we killed time between entry slots, a stroll to upstairs, to less visited galleries, flattened brass instruments suspended from the ceiling. Sunday we lunch at Polpo, somewhere I have longed to go for ages, drink Aperol Spritzes, eat small plates of delicious Italian food, enjoy this final day in London, together. In the evening we go to the Tate Modern to see the Gauguin, transported for an hour or so to the vivid colours of the Tahiti of the artist's mind. Then we walk along the river, London's lights reflected on the dark water, to The Royal Festival Hall. M takes me to up Skylon, where we slowly sip two of their exquisitely crafted cocktails, talk and talk, try not to think about the morning.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Yesterday I booked my flights to Japan to go see M at Easter. Something to look forward to on these grey drizzly days when I wake each morning and for a moment find I have forgotten that he left on Monday, only to remember, and be sad.

But seeing M aside, Japan is somewhere that I have never been but for a long time have wanted desperately to, so all in all I am pretty darn excited.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

New Year

New Year’s Eve Eve, another Last Tuesday Society ball under the London Bridge Railway arches. Masks and dressing-up-box ball gowns, glittery eyes and an early hours of the morning taxi ride home. Oven chips with M and S and C in our kitchen at 5am, eventually all retreating to bed, very, very tired.

New Year’s Eve, with champagne, with friends, with a walk to Primrose Hill to see in 2011, fireworks over the London skyline, Chinese lanterns floating up, up into the dark night, catching in trees, dangerous, beautiful. Sparklers and popping corks, bubbly from plastic cups, a collective cheer from gathered crowds as the first explosions lit up the sky by the London Eye as the clocks struck midnight.

New Year’s Day, another grapefruit-featuring breakfast, fruited loaf, bowl-like cups of coffee, hot chocolate. A day for starting afresh, starting as you mean to go on. Finishing re-threading that necklace that had been lurking for ages, taking a brisk walk through a drizzly Regent’s Park with M and C, remembering to floss.