Wednesday, 24 May 2017

the quarter century club

I'm a spring baby and last week was my 25th birthday. 25 years is an awfully long time to be around for, let's face it. The years fly by faster the older you get and whilst I still feel like a spring baby it must be very strange for my parents and granny to see me reach a quarter century. No wonder they say they feel even older. 

On Saturday we headed out west for a long weekend at home. Having taken Friday off (my actual birthday), I was already feeling relaxed, excited to spend some time with mum and dad and belatedly celebrate my brother's birthday, which was only a few weeks ago too. 

Saturday mum drove us over to Stratford for a little shopping. The American visited Stratford a very long time ago so it proved a nice opportunity to explore. We snooped antique shops, interior dens and enjoyed lunch at a favorite of ours; Huffkins.

Mum decided to take us the scenic route home which ended up with us getting lost but seeing a lot of lovely countryside. I love how Warwickshire spills over into the Cotswolds so easily, it really is such a small area. My brother joined us for dinner at The Bell in Eckington, another family favourite.  

Sunday was a quieter day, with walks in the sunshine (it was a beautiful day) and a visit into town to see some school friends for tea, cake an a gossip. On our way back to the carpark we popped over to my school to have a snoop of the old place. Evensong had just finished and the choristers were out on the green playing whilst mothers chatted away in the golden light. Coming back to school 7 years later really made me appreciate what a beautiful place i spent so much of my life. It's funny how time does that for you. 

Monday - isn't it just the best feeling knowing you don't have to go into work on a Monday?! - I drove us over to Cirencester as the American has been dying to visit for as long as I can remember. The weather was less pleasant but we still managed to find some antique shops to rustle in, a wonderful stationery and art shop and the sweetest coffee shops around. Cirencester is currently top of our lists for towns to move to after our London days are over. 

The drive home was bittersweet; relaxed and happy after our day away from desks but with a sense of impending doom as we realized we'd be back in the smoke by bedtime. It's getting harder to leave home after a weekend away now but we love London and would miss all it's glory should we move out now.

Perhaps in another 5 years time we'll be ex Londoners and fully-fledges Cotswold dwellers. One can only dream.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

breddos tacos x som saa

At the end of April I visited my first pop-up of the year – Breddos Tacos x Som Saa at the Breddos Tacos HQ on the Goswell Road. Having tried neither before but knowing that I love a) tacos and b) Thai food, I knew this shouldn’t be an opportunity to miss. Together with Sam, Matt and Nick (The American was still lost in the books.. when will it end?!) we headed over to Barbican to spend our Sunday afternoon sampling all kinds of dishes.

We started with margaritas and beer before ordering pretty much the entire menu. Each plate was beautifully presented and offered a cornucopia of flavours.

Red curry short rib taco – melt in your mouth with a hint of sweetness from blackened pineapple

Curried cauliflower taco – unbelievably spicy which I wasn’t expecting but still delicious. Also pictured above. 

Northern Thai spiced larp taco - fiery as hell. 

Scallop tiradito tostada – perhaps the most Instagrammed dish of the day! And can you blame us?!

Mexi-thai fruit vegetable & herb salad – refreshing, crunchy and flavoursome. I could eat this every day.

Midnight fried chicken ^^

Mekong whiskey carne asada – a real showstopper, the meat was tender and brilliantly flavoured. Probably the highlight of the menu.

Leche fritta – a very unnecessary pudding but too delicious to resist (a fritter of condense milk with coconut).

The other weekend The American and I joined Sam and Matt again to sample another pop up – Division 194 at The King and Co. in Clapham to sample some of the best Po Boys around and celebrate Sammy’s birthday in style. I think pop-up season has officially opened and I am ready to sample as many as possible!


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

the quince tree at clifton nurseries

And we suddenly find ourselves on the week of my 25th birthday – the past month has been a blur of werk werk werk werk werk however I have been harbouring tales to share so fear not! I am back aboard the blogging express!

A few weeks back Sophie and I spent Saturday in a floral haven right in the centre of London. With The American busy revising for exams (they are over for now so we can recommence exploring together!) we took the opportunity to soak up the spring sun and enjoy a lunch date. Clifton Nurseries is in the heart of Warwick Avenue and is a superb garden centre with an even better café, perfect for lunch and a good old fashioned gossip.

Whilst waiting for our table to become available (we recommend you book in advance, this is clearly a popular place amongst the W London set!) we roamed the flowers, dipped in the orangery (we have both decided one cannot live without an orangery attached to one’s house) and had a good rustle in the shrubbery. 

I have been to many garden centres (here and here, to name but a few!) but this one is particularly magical. Antique urns, columns and troughs over flow with creeping vines, English blooms and dripping wisteria. We were in heaven. Plus they have a house (or should that be garden?) cat who purrs his way amongst the undergrowth. Heaven! 

Taking our seats we enjoyed a leisurely lunch with ice cold rose, a grilled peach, bacon and endive salad for me and bruschetta with roasted fig and ricotta for Sophie. Plus we couldn’t resist the cakes so opted for tarte tatin and carrot cake which obviously meant coffees were required too. An indulgent morning if I have ever heard of one!

I’m not sure I will ever tire of discovering new places to enjoy with my nearest and dearest nor will I ever tire of spending time with Sophie. 


Saturday, 1 April 2017


Last weekend eight of us headed t'up north again to celebrate Ana's birthday. It always amazes me how fast you can get to York on the train - in under two hours I had arrived and met up with Sam and Matt to have a quick bevvie before the others arrived. It was a beautiful evening so we walked the short distance from the station to our beautiful Air B'n'B. We couldn't have asked for a better location - right on the doorstep of the Minster with the most incredible view from the front door. We all squealed with excitement and couldn't stop for the rest of the weekend. 

Troops assemble! 

Friday night was spent feasting on cheese, meats and pie and copious prosecco and wine. Ana's boyf Sam had outdone himself and had organised flowers and wine to arrive before we got there - fellas, take note! After a few rounds of games and catching up with everyone's news, we hit the hay, ready to make the most of Saturday.

We woke to the sound of bells and the sun streaming through the windows; surely the best alarm clock to ever wake up to?! Feeling energetic a few of us popped to Spring to pick up coffees and take a few snaps of the glorious Minster and the blue skies. God, even writing this is making me desperate to go back again! 

We hit up an old favorite, The Pig and Pastry for brunch and enjoyed all kinds of deliciousness, including some seriously naughty doughnuts. A walk in the park afterwards ended up in playing a real life version of stuck in the mud, with poor Celia taking the brunt of the mud home... 


Sorry Oli, I stole a couple of your fab photos! ^^

Celia, as always, was very graceful with her mud covered bottom. I'm sorry I howled with laughter so much! 

With the boys off finding local beers to sample in the afternoon sun, us girls hit up the nail bar and some shops before reuniting with the boys for a quick glass of something something by the Minster. Our dinner reservation was late so we relaxed like lizards and enjoyed some good old people watching. 

Mr. P's Curious Tavern was on the cards for dinner; something we were all looking forward to greatly as it was one of Andrew Pern's great northern hits. A sort of tapas-style occasion, us girlies ordered dishes to share whilst the boys decided to do the tasting menu. I really wish I could rave about this more but unfortunately the service just wasn't great and we ended up spending around four hours waiting for food. Not the one when you're forking out a fair amount. Onwards and upwards! A stop off at Sotano's for cocktails made up for a bit of a damp squib of a dinner so not all was lost. 

Sunday was a little bleary and slow. The group split up and made separate ways home, via visiting grandparents and friends. After a quick stop off to buy treats from Betty's, Celia and I packed into Ana's car and sat back and relaxed as Sam masterfully drove us the long journey home. 

I forgot how beautiful York is and how lucky we all were to live there for three years - all eight of us have been a little sad all week... perhaps we need to arrange another trip again in the summer?! 


Monday, 27 March 2017

mandarin street

When Sophie and I were 16 we travelled to China with our school art department. Looking back it was quite an incredible experience and something very few might get the opportunity to do. In between visiting the Terracotta Army,climbing the Great Wall and riding bikes around the old walls of Xi'an, we also ate rather a lot of Chinese food. Therefore when we arranged to meet for dinner last week I was somewhat tentative when suggesting going to a new Chinese restaurant in Wandsworth. Were we still sick of the cuisine, even after 8 years?! Well thank goodness Sophie wasn't sick of it because my goodness we have found quite the little spot!

Mandarin Street is located on the Old York Road, an area of Wandsworth which is experiencing something of a food renaissance. I walk past every day and have been dying to give it a go. Its hand-painted mural and golden knocker have been winking at me since Christmas!

Although very small inside, Sophie managed to bag us a table (they don't take reservations but if you arrive and find no table they'll take your number and give you a call when there is space. I recommend you head to The Alma for a drink.) slap bang in the middle of the action. She'd already ordered a bottle and some spring rolls to nibble on whilst we decided how to tackle the menu. 

A bit like tapas, it's recommended you order 4-6 plates between two people. We settled with 5 as everything sounded delicious and we were feeling piggy. 

Pork belly bun, chicken dumplings, salt 'n' pepper squid, green beans and bang bang chicken salad. All were delicious and beautifully presented on Japanese ceramics. However, it was the green beans which we could have eaten bowls of - surprising for two girls who go weak at the knees for a good steak, sausage casserole or BBQ. But my goodness, they were incredible! In fact, I'm drooling just thinking about them now! 

These bad boys ^^^ will need replicating at home. I can't recommend them enough!

I'm having a bit of a bao moment right now and have been dreaming of the soft pillows since eating the best one in Berlin over the summer. I'm making my pilgrimage to Bao in Fitzrovia next week to get my next hit.. 

We gossiped the night away and caught up on each other's news, all whilst getting a little worse for wear. Safe to say we both felt a little heavy the next day!

I went to York this weekend to celebrate Ana's birthday - it was a glorious time and I can't wait to share some tales with you soon. 

Enjoy the sun!


Thursday, 16 March 2017

february heat

I had packed for snow so when a week of mid-20 degree heat came along I was somewhat stumped for clothing. My dungaree dress and the single navy t-shirt I had has never been worn so much before. And dread to think I had to get my pale winter legs out in February! I pitied everyone who had to witness the anaemic white little things. 

Clothing aside, experiencing a heat wave in Maryland whilst the UK was being battered by Storm Doris was a joy to behold. Much of my time was spent reading in the garden whilst the poor American revised for exams. I have recently joined a book club (though am yet to go to the first meeting!) so spent happy hours reading The Circle by Dave Eggers - not normally something I'd pick up and read but thoroughly reccomend it to everybody my age; it is a terrifying glimpse into a future governed by companies like Facebook, Google and PayPal. In between reading and revising we made the most of playing sports outside. Basketball, baseball, catch, hockey, roller balding, you name it, we did it! 

We ate ice cream sandwiches from the local creamery, drank apple cider from my favorite fruit shop, Baugher's (this is actually a really sweet apple juice, not alcoholic cider as we know it) and we even had a BBQ one evening. It was quite extraordinary, especially seeing as the trees were still bare of leaves. 

Returning to London was always going to be hard, but especially considering we had enjoyed such great weather and London was sitting under a rain cloud. But, and dare I say it, I think Spring is finally here! The daffs are out and the crocuses aren't far behind them. Perhaps now is the time to start getting those anaemic white legs out, ready for the summer (failing that, I'll just find a good fake tan).