Monday, 23 April 2012

London Love: The Modern Pantry

47 - 48 St John's Square, EC1V 4JJ

Ok buttercups, so this is another London brunch spot recommendation. But I like brunch. I like brunch on Saturdays, with the weekend stretching before you, or how brunch on a Sunday can keep the Sunday blues at bay, at least for a little while.

This was brunch on a Saturday, at The Modern Pantry. I'd had my awful assessment the day before, M had had a frustrating week at work with a rival experiment making a particle related discovery before his experiment had managed to (all a bit beyond me, but I get that these things can wear you down if you're a physicist). Waking up on a Saturday feeling glum is not the best way to start the weekend, so we took ourselves off to Clerkenwell (good things to be had in Clerkenwell) for eggs and Bloody Marys. It's hard to be glum when faced with a breakfast of poached eggs, toast, sauted spinach, grilled tomatoes and grilled halloumi, excellently well made Bloody Mary in hand. By the time we left we were both feeling decidedly more cheerful, and the larger than life swoon inducing Don Draper billboard en route to the station didn't do any harm either.

Of course I then had that afternoon in Kew, and then, just before Easter, the news that I had passed the assessment after all, and I needn't have worried. But, you can't know these things in advance, and in the absence of reassuring foresight, a Bloody Mary at the Modern Pantry is a very good place to start.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


It was a Saturday afternoon. The Friday before had been horrible, a complete meltdown in an assessment which I should have breezed, then a late finish, last in the office, eyes blurring behind the computer screen as I struggled to complete a piece of work with a Monday deadline. The week following wasn't much better, a stupid o'clock start on the Monday to finish said piece of work, and then playing catch up with my inbox for the rest of the week.

But that Saturday afternoon was perfect, made even more so sandwiched as it was between the two. The sun was out, and despite power cuts on the overground and confusing Transport for London instructions we made it to Kew, where bright yellow daffodils lined the paths and parakeets flew between the branches of still bare trees. We walked by the river, through the rhododendrons, sat for awhile in front of the pagoda, climbed a staircase and emerged onto a walkway in the treetops, wandered beneath palm fronds and past cacti in the glasshouses.

Looking back at the photographs the afternoon is now graced with a dreamlike quality, flowers taken in the hot houses through a misted up lens or outside, blue and star-shaped, glowing, other-worldly. The sun slipping behind the Palm House, calling it all to a close.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

London Love: The Zetter Townhouse

49 - 50 St John's Square, EC1V 4JJ

The Zetter Townhouse had been on my 'to visit' list for a long while. Friends had been and recommended it, I'd read good reviews, but Clerkenwell just seemed a bit off the beaten track of our usual haunts. However, one Saturday evening we found ourselves without plans, so decided to make the journey.

It was worth it. Approaching, we were first greeted by the impressive sight of the Zetter Hotel, windows lit up with neon strip lighting in hot pink, yellow, orange. Just a stone's throw away is the Zetter Townhouse cocktail lounge, located in a beautiful townhouse in St John's Square. It was like walking into the living room of a great aunt, all stuffed cats in petticoats, china dogs on the mantle, leather bound books and velvet armchairs. We nibbled on crisp parmesan biscuits and drank cocktails with intriguing ingredients; the Nettle Gimlet, made with nettle cordial and gin, being particularly tasty. This is certainly one I'll be re-visiting.

Friday, 6 April 2012

A Birthday

Way back at the start of March I had a birthday. It was a Friday, I had too much work to do to take the day off, but we had breakfast in the park beforehand and afterwards there were cocktails at Skylon, dinner at Nopi, and afterwards more cocktails in a wandering bar.

It was lovely.

There was also an amazing, completely-took-me-by-surprise, home baked lemon and poppy seed birthday cake from H. With candles! And party bags to take any leftover slices home in! Times like this when having friends in the Women's Institute rocks.