Friday, 19 January 2018

january blues

I like to think I'm an optimist, someone who 99% of the time sees the glass as half full, but even I can get a bit gloomy during January. The sun rises late and sets early; it's either drizzling outside or the wind is howling at 2am and most people are in hibernation until the sun shows its face once more. However, there are a few things which are bringing me joy (I feel a little like Pollyanna saying this but whatever works for you..) and which I hope will keep me smiling until spring shows its pretty face.

Last night Sophie and I enjoyed a simple supper around my kitchen table. I cooked a lemony courgette linguine and couldn't recommend it enough if you're craving some Italian happiness in your diet. Sophie also brought a beautiful bunch of yellow tulips which are proudly sitting on my table. I can't help but smile  every time I look at them. Thank you! 

I've been getting our little patio in order for the coming season and am delighted to see my spring bulbs poking their heads through, just in time for Easter. I have also ordered myself a composting bin (how has my life come to this?!) and I can't explain to you how excited I was to set it up earlier this week. I've been thinking a lot recently about how much food waste is thrown away and sent to landfill so I'm excited to start filling up my food caddy with scraps and left overs and start making my own compost. This is probably the last thing I ever thought I'd blog about when I set this up 4.5 years ago!

On the occasional blue sky day, the Common has been flexing its aesthetic muscles and reminding me exactly why I love living in this pocket of SW London and why I don't need to move out just yet. 

My sewing machine has proved a love/hate item. I will be the first to admit that maths is NOT my strong point and so the whole aspect of measuring out fabric has been a little stressful, but the actual sewing part has been great and I am slowly building up a healthy collection of cushions. 

And finally, the prospect of heading home in February, and much later to America in June, is really encouraging me to press on through the bleak mid winter and see it out to the other side.

Crickey, Pollyanna would be so impressed with this post! Next post will be a little less smug, promise.


Monday, 1 January 2018

winter wonderland

At the mere mention of snow I revert back to being a six year old and start dreaming about tobogganing, building snowmen and curling up by the fire with a hot drink. I was so upset when we missed out on the snow before Christmas, it felt like our little corner of London was the only place missing out on the white stuff. So when we woke up on the 27th December to a smattering of snow, I was so pleased. Whilst home didn't have enough to play in, the surrounding area did. With a trip to Broadway to pick up things from the vets on our agenda, mum and I glad made the journey across into the Cotswolds. 

Though fairly slushy underfoot we still found a pretty picture or two...

My dream house ^^

The Malverns are also a good spot for snow and having finally lured Bella into the back of the car we drove up into the hills for a dog walk. Thank goodness Dad was driving though as the carpark was a slick of ice and though we have a Volvo, this one is clearly designed for dry roads. Thanks to the muscles of friendly passersby, we managed to navigate ourselves out of the ice and further along the hills before the sun slipped away.

The view is always amazing from up here but the sky was especially beautiful this day. I'll let the photos do the talking..

Mum, sporting her best Russian look ^^

I'm not sure we're due anymore snow at the moment seeing as it's so mild out but I'm glad I got to play in some before the year was up! 

Now, you'll have to excuse me whilst I go off and do a little snow dance...


Sunday, 31 December 2017

going potty over pottery painting

On a Saturday before Christmas Sophie and I met up at the Pottery Café on the Northcote Road for a morning of painting and gossip. We decided we wanted to do something festive together before we went our separate ways over the Christmas break and we thought a spot of pottery painting was in order. Neither of us had done this before but we both did A-Level art so y’know, what could go wrong?!

Having watched a quick demonstration from one of the lovely café girls we picked our pottery pieces and got started on our masterpieces. The pottery is all Emma Bridgewater so really good quality – I chose a half pint milk jug and Sophie went for a butter dish. I confessed to Sophie that I was very nervous I’d end up getting carried away with the sponges and paints and end up creating something that looked like a child had vomited over but Sophie reassured me she’d rein me in if I even remotely looked like I was getting sponge-happy.

I decided on a simple Christmas pattern complete with Christmas tree and snowflakes whilst Sophie created a farmyard scene for her butter dish – v appropriate. We chatted away the two hours and couldn’t believe how relaxing the whole process was and guess what – we didn’t even get too carried away with our sponges!

We both collected our pieces the Friday before Christmas and are thrilled with the outcome! We both decided we’d like to come back at Easter and I have my sights on painting two egg cups and Sophie is hankering after a flower pot or two.

I can't believe it's New Year's Eve yet again - where has the year gone?! I know I say this every year but I really will try to write more posts in 2018.. 

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!


Friday, 15 December 2017

pergola paddington

Miss. East and I worked together during our boarding school days and became known as Regina George (me, for some unknown reason) and The Compass (Rosie, somewhat more understandable) by the mischievous girls we looked after. Rosie moved to Singapore once we finished our year together and I moved to London however, we kept in touch with each others news (Rosie even got married!) and before we knew it three and a half years had passed and Rosie came back to England for Christmas. Naturally, we had to meet up.

I went to Pergola Paddington in the summer with Mel and Sarah so when Rosie told me she would be in London in December I just knew I'd have to take her here. I've never been to Singapore but it doesn't sound the most festive of places in December so I hoped Pergola Paddington would boost Rosie's and her husband, David's, festive mood. Draped in berries and ivy Pergola is a huge rooftop terrace overlooking the train tracks out of London. 

The bar is resplendent with hot toddies, festive punches and good old fashioned ale and beer. PR girls were popping prosecco alongside city slickers knocking back the craft beer. We opted for hot plum cider, complete with star anise and orange wedges. You're spoilt for choice for food - Patty & Bun, Tonkotsu, DF/Mexico and Made of Dough. Rosie and David opted for tacos- baja fish and classic chicken. I went for ramen at Tonkotsu. 

We chatted the evening away, exchanging stories from the last few years, discussed festive plans and had a bit of a gossip too. It's funny how time doesn't make a difference to a friendship, it was like we had never been apart. 

Merry Christmas Rosie and David! Enjoy your time t'up north and have a safe flight back to Singapore.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

hertford house

Tucked away behind Oxford Street is a real gem of an art gallery. Hertford House was the London home of the Duke of Manchester before becoming home to the Marquess of Hertford (I don't understand these things either..). The Marquess was a real art collector and made his home the perfect store for his wide and varied collections. On Saturday, we popped over for an explore and were taken away by the beauty of the interiors, not to mention the killer old masters collection. 

We couldn't stop gasping when stepping into each room; the beautiful flocked wall fabrics, dripping chandeliers and French, walnut furniture. It's really incredible seeing interiors like this and so close to the hideous swarm of Oxford Street. 

Interiors aside, the art on display is astonishing; enough Reynolds' and Gainsboroughs to open its own gallery plus Canelettos, Titians and Rubens. Amazing! We were also surprised to find a small opera group rehearsing for a recital that evening, which was really wonderful. There was something very surreal walking amongst the incredible artwork with the velvety sounds of opera echoing throughout the rooms. 

Hertford House also holds an amazing collection of armour, which I was originally not interested in but it was SO COOL! Do you know how heavy chain-mail is?! I can tell you now, it's crazy heavy! This is definitely a place to come if you have small visitors in town, or even just to release the inner child in you. 

After, we popped to The Wigmore, a new luxe pub next door to The Langham Hotel. I'm biased about it (my company designed it), but for good reason. Naturally, the interiors are second to none, but the drinks are also delicious and very reasonable. We stopped off for a gin punch and some Bloody Mary Chips. I recommend both! I've also been told the pie and cheese toastie is a must so we will be back for more. Week nights it's incredibly busy but during the day on the weekend it's perfect and quiet. Grab a velvet armchair and settle in for the afternoon.

Meet you at the bar - or Hertford House!



I have always been a reader - not the type who would stay up all night under the covers or queue outside Waterstones all night long- but I have always read. I am not ashamed to admit, though my friends are horrified this is true, that I have never been a Harry Potter fan nor Tolkien either. Friends gasp in horror when I admit this little fact and they reel back and ask, "well, WHAT did you read then?!". My childhood was not filled with wizards, hobbits and dragons; it was filled with animals, accidental princesses and village gossip. I whiled hours away reading Dick King Smith (I truly believed I was Sophie for about two years) before graduating onto the likes of The Princess Diaries and then finally nabbing mum's trashy village gossip novels once she was done with them. I loved them all. 

Now, at the age of 25 I am a member of not one, but two bookclubs. Yes, it's a slight strain and feels like I have homework every night (which I haven't done tonight, gawddd) but it has revived my love of reading once more. Since I no longer have a train commute to work (I walk), I fill my time with podcasts and though I love this, I do miss reading. Hence the bookclubs - they are forcing me to read and read books I wouldn't normally think of picking up. So, drum roll please, I have a catalogue of books to recommend, just in time for whiling away these wintry evenings. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Circle by Dave Eggers
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood
Little Women by Louise May Alcott (for old time's sake)

I am in the middle of The Secret History by Donna Tartt and I'm loving it. It's not new (I think it was written in the early 90s) but I had never heard of it before. I'll let you know if I can finish all 700 pages before Bookclub #2 at the end of the month! 

Yes, that is my colour-coordinated bookcase... 

Happy reading!


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

grown up banana bread

There are a few food and drink items that one matures to with age – coffee, olives, red wine – and banana bread has been one of those for me also. An odd one perhaps as most of my pals have been munching on that soggy bread since they were babies, but not me. I pin this down to two reasons; the smell of over-ripe bananas makes me gag and the mushy, wet consistency of a traditional bread leaves very little to be desired. However, I think I have found the perfect recipe which makes a light, fluffy bread still with a deep banana taste.

As with all banana breads you need to use brown bananas. I like to eat my bananas when they are firm…*ahem*… but when I have forgotten about a hidden away banana and it goes brown I now leap at the chance to make my banana bread.  

You will need:

2 brown bananas
140g caster sugar
140g softened butter
140g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2 eggs

(Mug of tea optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180* and line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Cream together the sugar and butter until pale in color and light in texture. Add the eggs, one at a time and then combine the mashed bananas. Fold in the flour and baking powder mixture with a wooden spoon and pour into your loaf tin.

Pop on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. This may vary in time depending on your oven so check the mixture after 30 minutes and bake for an extra 5 if still wobbly to touch. 

Whether eaten for breakfast with Greek yoghurt or eaten as an afternoon treat, this banana bread with satisfy your needs and won't leave a soggy taste in your mouth! Next time I'm going to add some chopped walnuts to give it a bit more crunch - why not try blueberries too? 

Bon appetit!