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 lastminute.com 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.