Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Resolutions and wishes for the New Year

It's such a cliché to comment on how fast the year has gone, I really don't think that it has gone quickly.  We have done so much but been hanging on for more to happen.

2013 was the year of selling and buying.  Only we didn't quite get that completed.  So now 2014 will be the year of buying and moving.  Something that I am very excited about and can't wait to do.

Tear will be shed, of both sadness at moving on from my flat and excitement at moving in to our new house together.

We have a lot of shopping to do!  Furniture to be bought, kitchen to be bought, windows to be bought!  It will be a big start to the year.

It marks the beginning of the next chapter.  One which has many assumptions attached to it.  Children being the main one.

We are hoping that it will change our lifestyle, just a bit, as we will have more flexibility more freedom than living in a flat. (A great one!  But still a flat.)

There are lots of things that need to be done, starting with the packing, the bit that I love.  Followed by the unpacking, the bit that I am not so good at!

2014 what do I really want to achieve;
*a new job - that has to be top of the list, but more on that later
*success moving in to the house and making it our home
*better health news in the family, if that can't be achieve, pain -free prognosis
*fun with friends
*a fitter lifestyle

Most of all, to be happy and have fun.

I wish all of this too.

Monday, 23 December 2013

London Christmas

I have really enjoyed this years build  up to Christmas in London.   I have had the opportunity to spend more time in London than I have in a long time and, I loved it.

Some of my favorites...

London Jazz festival (just before Christmas - all about getting in the spirit!)

St Christophers Place, my old stomping ground, looking beautiful.

Kingston, Boaters Jazz on a Sunday night.

Beautiful singer, bad personality.  I massively object to being told to "shut the f**k up" as part of the audience 

Air street, behind the Cafe Royal on Regent street. Pretty.

Sunday 22nd on Carnaby Street.  Fun robins.

Fortnum and Masons looking good.

Royal Arcade off Piccadilly 

Mustard galore!

Green park on a Sunday.  Quite and relaxing.

Big Ben. Say. No. More.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Friday, 15 November 2013

A very London winter

I love winter.  Actually, I love the changing seasons, Autumn to Winter would be my favourite.

Autumn and Winter in London is so colourful.  The transition of the trees from green to browns and reds and then the transition to the bright lights of the celebrations.

I don't work in the centre of London any more, I haven't for a while and although I do not live far away I tend not to go in to the centre at the weekend as it is crazy and chaotic, but every time I do I am reminded of how much I love London.

During my recent civic duty spell,  I found myself with an afternoon free and did what I love to do, wander and shop.

It was a pretty miserable afternoon of heavy rain, those of you who are familiar with Oxford street will know that shopping and rain don't mix as the endless maze of umbrella daggers which need to be dodged to achieve your destination.

So I skipped the need for an umbrella and headed straight for Selfridges.  I have a love that runs deep for Selfridges.  I worked there 10 years ago and had possibly the best time with my colleagues, but grew to appreciate the splendour of Selfridges once I had moved on and had the income to match my desired expenditure.

Glitter balls and sparkle

So I relish the opportunity to spend a couple of hours having a coffee, a champagne, a manicure, a blitz round the Christmas department, (if you are at a loss for ideas, book yourself and appointment with an Elfridge!)

It's too early, even for me, to talk to enthusiastically about Christmas, but if you want to feel immersed and pretty much find everything you want (go with a hefty budget), head to Oxford Street and hit Selfridges.  Enjoy it.

Oh!  And hit the make up counters they make you feel amazing.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

My duty to tell the truth the whole truth

c/o Justice for Families

I was surprised to be greeted by an envelope from a London Court a couple of weeks ago inviting me to fulfil my obligation as a registered voter.
I have very strong views on our duty as members of the British public and take our responsibility to ensure justice is delivered in the fairest possible way.

I will admit that I was excited to play my part (even more excited by the opportunity to not go to work for a week).

It was two weeks of meeting some great individuals, the other juror.  Two weeks absorbing more information than possible.  Listening to information and  understanding a way of life I am not a part of.

Two weeks of developing a renewed admiration for people who work for our public service, those who ensure justice is served, who ensure we are kept healthy and well and safe.

There are a lot of people doing a lot of very good things for a lot of people who don't necessarily understand it.  I was one of those people.

I hope that if I learn one thing from the whole process it will be to appreciate the services and fairness given to those in the UK along with the people who deliver it.

*Just as an aside, I didn't serve on a family case, it was just the picture I liked the most from google!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Live, love and laugh like it's your last day

You never know what tomorrow might bring.

Enjoy everyday and remember, you will never regret the things you did, but you may regret the things you didn't.

For a dear friend who will be missed more than you will ever know and will leave a memory of gin and tonics with tears and laughter.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Pub or crèche? You decide.

When did it become so acceptable for pubs to be play centres for children?
c/o Ebay

Yesterday evening in the late summer sun we decided to go for an evening drink and enjoy the warmth.  Little did we expect to find more than 25 children in the garden running riot and screaming at the top of their lungs.

Not the relaxing experience we were looking for.

I don't have children.  I don't have the desire to be a mother than some people do and I don't understand when it became OK to spend the afternoon drinking while your child runs around.

When did pubs become a substitute for the park? Or the playground?

When did parents relinquish responsibility for their child's behaviour because of the glass of wine in hand?

I wont lie, it really does spoil my evening in what I view as adult environment but also having worked in a pub I know that it will be making things very difficult for the staff.

Isn't it time that we reclaim the pubs?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Faith in humanity

I have said it before, I cry, a lot.

Sometimes it is not a problem.  Sometimes it's because you have faith in humanity.  After some atrocious news this weekend in Kenya another news story brought a tear to my eyes.

People are good. People do nice things. 
People make astonishing efforts sometimes. 


Well done Heathrow.  

Friday, 20 September 2013

money makes the world go round

I have been continually surprised by the level of importance different people put on different things.
The recent quote or misquote, I really don't know, from Jamie Oliver I thought captured it perfectly.


In essence I think that he is right.  I have had jobs which have involved me going in to peoples houses and I saw this.  I saw the families without enough money to buy dinner, but the flash TV's and stereo, three or four games consoles with all the games to go with.

No that we are house hunting I also see it.  We go in to people homes and see the most appalling levels of cleanliness and takeaway boxes piled up, the pictures on the wall of the fat kids and the biggest TV's.

I know that it is easy to judge.  
I know that I am in a different situation to most.
But somewhere it is going wrong.

I recently sat with two senior members of staff who were earning upwards of £80,000 each.
They told me that I didn't know how lucky I was because I could afford to shop at Ocado.

I couldn't explain myself well enough to be able to tell them that I think they have very different priorities to me, but also that I find it insulting that when their combined salaries with their partners is roughly 7.5 times the average household income in the UK (wiki, £24000 gross) they claim to not be able to afford to shop anywhere other than Asda.

I make a choice with my income.  I work hard for it.  I decide what I want to spend my money on.  I sometimes make mistakes.

I priorities quality food and longer term purchases.

I save for the larger purchases and don't believe in buying what I can't afford.

I grew up in a household where we paid for things in advance.  Where we saved.  Where the day to day was the priority and not the credit.

I worry that as a generation who have had credit thrown at us we have lost the ability to plan for purchases.  I worry that by the time we have saved for the purchase the purchase has gone due to the fast fashion nature of the commercial world we live in.

I worry that can no longer plan.

Rant over.  Time to create a savings plan.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Road trip resting points

Our recent road trip was so much fun.

We normally have a sunny beach holiday around September time, just before the clocks change and it starts to get dark in the evenings.  This year however we didn't.  Our main holiday was at the very beginning of the summer back in June.  This was planned for a  while so we got organised early in the year and decided to go to France.

We wanted to do something a little different and a lot fun and we hit that.

We also wanted to treat ourselves (we do this far too often) but it has been a pretty emotional year and with the house hunting we have been living in limbo for a couple of months, it was great to have this to look forward to.

We stayed in two places.  The second place that we stayed in was everything you would want from a beautiful hotel.  Decadent but comfortable with exemplary service.

 This was the most amazing wardrobe.  Like a "trunk", the inside was lined and sumptuous.
By the time we left we had some serious bathroom envy.  What I forgot to take pictures of was the waterfall shower.  

Everything about the room was designed with comfort in mind.  The huge bed to the dressing room to the bathroom that offered the discreet facilities you want when on a weekend away (however long you have been together!)

We stayed at MGallery hotel Emeraude in Dinard for two days and thoroughly enjoyed them both.

I felt pampered and relaxed.

Where to next?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Road trip

We really wanted to do something that we hadn't for a cheeky we break away at the last bank holiday weekend.

So out came the road map and the planning started. (Actually we had to buy a new road map as the one we had was so old!)

We booked the Chunnel, which was a first for me.  I was really excited about it all.  Having grown up on a island I am still really excited by the thought of being able get on a train to France so being able to drive, I could hardly contain myself.

We packed up early on the Friday, breakfast picnic and a flask of coffee and off we went.

First stop was the Euro Tunnel.  That must have been the easiest journey.  Not only fast and efficient cheap too!

Once we arrived in France we hit the roads and got to enjoy what the French do very well open road.

Driving in France really is a joy.  The motorways are fast, the drivers, drive well and we sped through France laughing and joking enjoying ourselves.

Until, we reached Le Man, our first destination and realised that we hadn't looked up where the hotel was and didn't have a street map.  Out came the phones and roughly 30 mins of trying to figure out where we were.  
Booked in to the hotel we enjoyed an evening of exceptionally fine food.

Some amuse bouche with mains that we didn't know what they were.  We ordered in French, we conversed in French and we hadn't a clue what we ordered!  It was great.

A bottle of wine later and we hit the bed for the night.  

Ready to be refreshed for our second day of driving.

Do you do road trips? 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Good food and great company

Where we currently live we are really lucky we are in the midst of many different great locations and a £30 cab ride from central London (a definite plus point after a great night out.)  

As far as a couple go, we enjoy each others company and can chat for hours about everything and nothing, this may sound strange but I know so many couple who really do not seem to have much in common and sometimes struggle with each other.
Thankfully we both share a passion for great food and great wines.
We were heading out to see a friends band a couple of weeks ago and stopped by Ponte Nuovo in Crystal Palace.
We had been here once before on a late sunny afternoon and had really enjoyed it, so were excited to be going back again.  We weren't disappointed.

Between the two of us we ordered, Spigola alla Griglia and Spagheti all' Aragosta.
The former being grilled sea bass with spinach and red pesto mash and the latter being spaghetti with half lobster in a fresh tomato, garlic, basil and olive oil sauce.

We had a great evening, had lovely wine and really enjoyed ourselves.  

It helped that the restaurant was air conditioned!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Living in a different way

The last couple of months have been interesting.  We are selling up and moving.
What's to come of that remains to be seen, but I am enjoying us living in a very different way.

We hadn't realised how lazy we had become until the impending thought of a total strange looking around kicked in.

Nothing makes you tidy up faster!

We have now become those people who make the bed every morning, do the dishes every night, put the washing away and ensure the bathroom is spotless including toilet seat down.

I quite like it.  We normally have fresh flowers in the house but now they represent something different, almost like we are trying.

Yesterday for the first time since viewings began I was in when the viewers were due.  Not wanting the awkward dance around the owners, I vacated to sit in the park just as it started to rain, and just as the first couple arrived.

It's strange watching other people look at your home, where you can be your most private, but for some reason it is much less "home" now, and much more my "house" a tool to get to the real home, the house that we intend to spend a significant amount of time in.

The place where we will have friends and family to dinner, where we will spend short days and long nights curled up with some great music and even better wine.

It's were we will begin the next stage of our journey.

We just haven't found it yet.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Wildlife weekends

We have found ourselves to be increasingly busy or the last couple of weekends.  They have been fun and thoroughly enjoyable but the number of plans which we have had has meant "life" has gone on hold a little.

The last two Sundays have been wildlife days, both in the city and in the country.

We currently live in Lambeth and have on occasion over the ten years I have spent in London gone to the Lambeth show.  This year seemed bigger, better and more organised than previous years and as such, more enjoyable.

The show is pretty random, in the middle of Brockwell park we were treated to jousting, falcon displays and more reggae music than I could deal with.

The birds we were treated to seeing were simply spectacular.  The grace and elegance mixed with the predatory reactions that you know can harm and kill.

Some people chose to cycle!

It's nice to do something a little different at the weekends and lovely to see that so many people supported a local event.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Gray skies

Knowing when you need to cry is a concept alien to a lot of people I'm sure.  For me it is fairly frequent.  Sometimes overwhelmingly so.

Right now I have nothing to not be grateful for.  I have a boyfriend who spoils me rotten. Not just for birthdays but day to day also. I have had a week away with my family and not wanted to kill any of them and now I am back at work where the comedy continues.

Why so sad? Well simply I'm not sad.  I just feel overwhelmed by emotion.  Exhausted if you like.

I try hard to control the tears as I know sometimes once I've started stopping is a challenge.  But sometimes I just sob.

And you know what.... I do feel better.

Those who have depression describe it quite differently and I still am not 100% sure of my doctors diagnosis, but maybe this is my black cloud.

Finding the way through it and finding the light at the end of the tunnel is worth it always.

Sometimes it a hug and a pretty bunch of flowers.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Happy weekend

Some times it's the small things in life that bring you great pleasure.

Starting the weekend with gin (left over from the duty free!) and raspberry lemonade.
 Having a cycle around the park in the hot sunshine.

This weekend we have had astonishing weather (a little too hot for me! but don't tell anyone!).  So we dusted down the bikes and went for a cycle around the park.
Before ending the day with some lobster spaghetti (more on that soon!)

With a couple of aching muscles today we are getting ready for a very busy week.

Have a great one everyone.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Haircare 101 - Mason Pearson

I have been blessed (or cursed, you decide!) with incredibly thick hair.  And lot's of it!

I realise that there are lots of benefits to this, but one of the major downsides is the tumble weed that I find all over the house.  I have even been known to sit in meetings and pull handfuls of hair out without really noticing!

I take after my mother in that respect and it becomes a continuous topic of conversation between us.  So you can imagine my delight when for my recent birthday I was given a Mason Pearson hair brush.  For those of you that aren't familiar, don't be put of by the website, it is dated and not very helpful, but that doesn't take away from the brushes.

The strange thing about the brush when you use it for the first time is sensation on the scalp.  You can feel the brush through your hair - and trust me this is not a bad thing.  The brush is designed in such away that it will stimulate your scalp and help to address all those pesky hair issues, too oily, too dry, flaky etc.
The scalp stimulation helps to distribute the oils away from the root thus removing the build up and making hair less oily.  It also helps to move the dead skin away from the hair as quickly as possible thus helping to remove dandruff. Are you still following!

It does sound a little like a one stop shop but I can assure you, my hair looks and feels amazing.  This is no ordinary hairbrush.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

New balls please.

We are loving the Wimbledon excitement at the moment.

Photo credit : Wikipedia

All that testosterone and all that power.  Don't get me wrong I think that the women are  bloody amazing too.  I have never played tennis, other than a failed attempt to pick up a racket when I was about 12 and realising I have zero upper body strength... it has never really appealed as a game to play.

Watching it however...

I love it.

I think I really got into it two summers ago and then with all the fun of the Olympics as well as Wimbledon last year I really started to think that this was great.

I will be cheering on Andy Murray (I always have) and I really hope that if he is unsuccessful he doesn't get lambasted by the odd mix of people who are pro British but anti Scottish.  Never quite figured that one out.