Monday, March 14, 2011

Busy bees

It was such a busy weekend my feet are glad to be back under my desk. Here’s what we saw:
1 film, 1 art fair, 1 museum, 1 photography exhibition
… and we still squeezed in 1 football match and 1 rugby match (albeit on tv)

The film was Fair Game, the political thriller based on the outing of the CIA agent Valerie Plame in the run-up to the Iraq war. (I don’t suppose the Blairs will be going to see this.)

The Affordable Art Fair was in Battersea Park. We nearly didn’t make it because my south of the river map reading skills leave something to be desired and we ended up parking on the far side of the park to the fair, but it was a lovely sunny morning and the walk did us good. And we bought two paintings and commissioned a sculpture because it was that or top up an ISA. (The husband is convinced that his eye is so good that our purchases will be investments, but I don’t care if they are or not.)

The museum was the revamped Museum of London. I’m glad the Victorian shops are still there. I’m not so sure about the rest – although the redesign generally got rave reviews, I have fond memories of the old museum.

The photography exhibition was downstairs in the museum – London Street Life. Wonderful. You can buy some of the prints online but when I got home and checked, the one I liked best wasn’t there. Probably as well.

And the sport? Football was a disaster. Rugby was won by a narrow margin.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Labour of love

Out last night with a friend to eat tapas and watch the Barça/Gunners clash on television. She is a dab hand at making cakes for special occasions – most recently one for a member of her tennis club. This had to incorporate his love of the sport, his dog (a greyhound) and his interest in art and travel. The biggest problem was the time-frame – a matter of days.
She admits it was – in hindsight – rather ambitious to build a marzipanned Taj Mahal.
But at least it didn’t take 22 years.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Really wild

The three-year-old (aka Fireman Sam) comes into the kitchen from the utility room, lugging the draught excluder from the back door over his shoulder.
“I’ve got my hose,” he informs me.
“Please put it back when you’ve put out the fire,” I tell him. “It keeps the draughts out.”
He stops in his tracks.
“Giraffes, Nana? Don’t be silly. There aren’t any giraffes.”
But he does go back to the door and have a quick look out, just in case…..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Urban v suburban

Sun is shining this morning, green snubs of leaves are poking through the pots where I planted bulbs, catkins dangle on what I think are birches, and a scattering of white blossom illuminates the occasional tree. Spring is on its way.
Meanwhile I am still recovering from the shock of being described as suburban. Yes, I know. I live in the suburbs. But I still secretly thought of myself as a sophisticated urbanite.
To be fair, I wasn't actually called suburban. A close friend died a year ago and her husband has a new lady friend (good for him - my friend would not have wanted him to mourn for ever.) The lady friend came to the party we held at Christmas, to which other local friends and neighbours had been invited. Afterwards my husband asked my friend's husband if the new lady friend had enjoyed herself. We thought she might have been a bit nervous under the circumstances.
Apparently his reply was equivocal - he said "Well, B is quite an urban person."
I did wonder if I had misinterpreted this so I asked the others in our book club (are book clubs suburban?). They were sure I hadn't - and we then spent ten minutes trying to come up with things we did that made us either urban or suburban. See below. Any other suggestions welcome.

Urban: Going to a show at the Royal Academy and coming back with a catalogue.
Suburban: Going to the Boat show and coming back with a kitchen mop.

Urban: Buying books at Daunt's
Suburban: Buying books at the Hospice charity shop

Urban: Talking about the ship in a bottle in Trafalgar Square
Suburban: Talking about the number of bottles you put out for wheelie bin collection

Urban: A bike
Suburban: An Oyster card

Urban: Shopping in Fortnum's
Suburban: Shopping at Waitrose (although I did spot one in Belgravia)

Um - maybe I am suburban after all ....

Monday, January 10, 2011

The High Life

It’s all too easy to forget that the city on our doorstop offers the same kind of pleasures as Paris or Prague – without the hassle of or Ryanair. But at weekends we try to get out and enjoy the treats that London has to offer.

Yesterday, for example, we drove to Kensington (yes, I know – we could/should have taken the tube but I still get a kick out of going into town in a car), pottered around an antique fair in the town hall, bought special wholegrain flour at the enormous wholefood supermarket in the high street, then drove to Mayfair where my husband parked behind the Hilton.

We took the lift to the 28th floor to the ridiculously named Galvin at Windows. It’s a Michelin starred restaurant, but it also has a bar – which shares the amazing 360 degree views of the city.

They brought little pots of nutty nibbles, we ordered a martini and a Cubano – and enjoyed every sip. The sun lit up the panorama below and we played spot the famous landmark. The Eye and St Pauls were easy – and the Gherkin, the Shard and Canary Wharf unmissable. But is that Holy Joe’s in Highgate? And where is Nelson’s Column?
Cheap at the price – and much better value than some of London’s better known tourist hotspots.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Going blue not green

Time to think about recycling the Christmas tree. Last year I cut off some of the branches and we then pushed it out of the window rather than carry it through the house to the front door, scattering needles along the way. This year the husband has sealed up all the windows with insulating tape as part of his war against draughts.
We don't have double glazing as the leaded light windows are a period feature, along with the fireplaces (also draughty) and the coving (a bugger to paint).
We don't have cavity wall insulation and we have an office in the loft, although the bits right under the eaves are insulated.
During the cold snap we had to have the central heating on 24/7 and we kept a fire going day and night in the front room (the one we spend most time in).
This house will never be energy efficient but at least the indoor temperature has been a good excuse to buy some lovely cashmere jumpers in the sales.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Refusing to be daunted by the white stuff we set off to Islington to meet a friend for lunch in a smart restaurant. Normally the husband would have taken the car but the plan was to be sensible and go by tube.
He checked online first that the tubes were running while I stood at the kitchen window drinking a cup of coffee - now that the leaves are off the trees you can see the carriages flashing past in the distance (this far out, the line is overground). Both of us satisfied, we set out and duly boarded the first train on the principle that when it come to the underground service, get as far as you can as soon as you can and change, rather than wait for the train the indicator boards claim is going straight to your destination.
It was as well we did, because, almost as soon as we had boarded, the driver announced that the service south via Bank had been suspended due to a wununder at Moorgate.
The non-English speakers around us (most of the passengers) looked a bit puzzled. I was a bit shocked. I knew what the driver meant but I'd always thought that was how TFL staff referred to such incidents - not how they told the travelling public.
Next time the driver made the announcement he said there was a person under a train.
Couldn't help thinking how sad it was - especially for the person's family, if they had one. And for the tube driver.