The fun starts on Thursday

Right, start date set for next Thursday.

To Do List

Tomorrow… off to France for the weekend, back on Sunday.

Next week badly timed freelance project on Monday
and Tuesday.

Wednesday… shopping for professional wardrobe.

Thursday… The initiation.

Friday… Supposed to be going to France for the weekend. Rescheduled for Saturday.

Monday… Meeting the team. 

And then the fun really starts. I think the phrase “hit the ground running” may have been mentioned.

Serves me right for sitting around for months…

Working for the man

The job offer is finally on the table and, after a long delay with lots of phone calls and emails, it looks like I’ll be starting work in the next couple of weeks. 

I can’t say much about it except that the offer is good, there’s a bonus which is very exciting, health insurance, a pension and even life insurance so hopefully no one will have me bumped off.

I’ll be working directly with New York which is somewhat ironic having just managed to leave the States but as I’m used to working with Americans, all will be well.

The really good news? The office is moving which means a ten minute walk to work for me. Unheard of in central London.

The downside, no excuse to be late.

More to come on this topic I’m sure!

First Frost

Waking this morning, a sparkling white blanket covered the roof tops and the first frost had fallen. It’s my first full European winter in a very long time and it’s a far cry from a Californian winter where winter coats and flip flops are de rigueur.

Frost on the roof

After my bath, because frankly the shower is a pathetic dribble and one emerges colder than one enters, I dressed in wool. Wool tights (a cashmere blend of course) and a wool dress. I suspect I’ll be wearing a lot of wool in the next few months.

Across the roof

I’m looking forward to winter and hope it might even be a white Christmas. I’d love to wake up on Christmas morning to find the roof tops covered in a thick white blanket of magical snow with reindeer tracks!

Good news though, it’s warm and toasty in the little flat in Chalk Farm and I haven’t had to sleep in a hat… yet.

Fortnum & Mason

The other day I headed off to the west end to continue my Christmas shopping. This time I was heading to a London institution, Fortnum & Mason.
Spiral down

Fortnum’s is the kind of shop which has been around forever. It’s in the same league as Harrod’s but thankfully without as many tourists. The crusted gentry seem to like shopping there as several cut glass accents were heard admiring and then buying the delicacies on offer.

The back stairs

In this day and age I suspect Fortnum’s are feeling the pinch. Delicacies are now available everywhere, caviar, truffles and foie gras are no longer the exclusive right of the ultra rich and while tradition is important, it’s necessary to move with the times.

Display cabinet

The exterior

Having said that, a Fortnum & Mason hamper is a delightful thing and makes a lovely gift. 
That’s all I’m saying…

A touch of the Pensioner

Having realized I am the proud owner of linen handkerchiefs otherwise known as Daddy Hankies, Letad asked me if I thought I had a touch of the pensioner about me.

The game was up as I confessed to also owning a hot water bottle with a furry cover, a ladies’ umbrella with a handle and a spike, a large collection of flannels (washcloths, Americans) and a shower cap. I suspect there might be more evidence as I’d rather like one of those shopping bags on wheels.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a pensioner before my time. In fact it will make the aging process so much easier. Perhaps slippers for Christmas?

All too soon it was time to wave goodbye to Letad. The weekend had flown by and so waving from the roof top, he vanished out of sight and I was left in an empty, quiet flat.

All that was left to do was sit down and book a flight to France for next weekend. Nothing wrong with a bit of romance and spontaneity, even for a pensioner.

The Modern Pantry

Sunday morning, the weekend rapidly flying by and so Letad and I went to The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell for an early

I decided to start with a delicious glass of Prosecco, a good decision indeed while Letad abstained, and instantly had drink-envy. Mistake!

The Modern Pantry

A creature of habit it seems, I ordered the tea-smoked salmon with poached eggs and hollandaise. The tea flavour was pungent, the hollandaise silky smooth and with fronds of watercress, the combination was delicious.

Letad was more adventurous as he boldly ordered Beef Rendang mince on toast with poached egg and coriander. With a rich spicy flavour, it was delicious and for once, he got to eat what he’d ordered.

After brunch we wandered over to the Smithfield market, the historic meat market. There’s been a livestock market on the site of the Smithfield market for almost a thousand years which is an interesting fact unless you’re a cow.

Smithfield market
Gates at Smithfield market

Leaving Smithfield we headed back to Camden to look for antiques. Camden isn’t France and so was full of tat and tourists and was sadly lacking in antiques. Somehow we ended up in Morrisons (how surprising) where we spotted a six foot fake Christmas tree for £25. Nabbing it, I was delighted it. A nice bit of bargain shopping.

Letad kindly acted as donkey as he carried it up the hill, into the tiny lift and up to the little flat in Chalk Farm. Of course, it’s far too early to set it up yet but it’s all beginning to feel quite festive.

With a few lights and baubles on it, no one will know what the tree really looks like… hopefully.

Cousins Reunited Again

Saturday afternoon and we set off to Bedford. 

It was pouring with rain and arriving at my cousin’s thatched cottage in Bedford, we warmed up in front of an open fire and a welcome glass of red wine. 

Letad was a hit with the kids as he played hangman and talked to the smalls for a long time. 

The family ties were in force and we had a gathering of first, second and once removed cousins, whatever that actually means. 

First and second cousins

Eighteen of us gathered around the table and shared a delicious meal, Donald’s special chill beef was quite a hit followed by a trio of fabulous homemade puddings including a cheesecake, crumble and chocolate roulade.

bad photography, good cousins

We talked, laughed and reminisced. Established new bonds and strengthened old.

Newly weds

Hours later than we’d intended, Letad and I set off back to London, the rain was pouring heavily and we were cold, tired and happy.

Feeling Festive

Friday evening and after ten days apart, Letad arrived (with flowers) to stay for the weekend. It was a lovely reunion.

It was a dark, cold evening. The wind whistled outside but we were warm and cosy in the little flat in Chalk Farm as we cooked homemade pasta with prawns and zucchini remembering the delicious lunch we’d eaten in Verona and drank a bottle of champagne to celebrate everything we could think of.

The festive entry hall

We had the inaugural lighting of the balcony as Christmas is rapidly approaching and for the first time in years, I won’t be travelling. This year, possibly for the first time, I have actually decided to decorate.

With the spectacular view of London as a backdrop and what promises to be a New Year’s Eve to remember, it seemed fitting to wrap lights around the railings to create a festive atmosphere. We should be able to see fireworks across London!

I do declare this balcony lit

Four weeks to go…

Windy soup

It’s a windy day and so with a sniffle in my nose it seemed like the perfect soup making day. 

I’ve been a big fan of soup even before the days of frugal living but since I’ve been in London, it’s the ideal comfort food on cold days. I’ve been missing my trusty Vita-Mix, possibly the world’s most expensive blender but possibly my most essential piece of kitchen equipment. It’s really, really hard to live without.

While I hope my Vita-Mix is now en route to London, it seemed I would be making a more rustic soup and so with caramelized onions, garlic and mushrooms, I added red lentils. It all seemed a bit bland so I added a bit more curry powder than I’d intended. 

And some tabasco sauce. 

Now that’s more like it. 

And some black pepper of course.

And then it seemed like a good idea to throw some brussels sprouts in, they are my favourite vegetable after all. It all cooked together until the brussels sprouts were lovely and squidgy and the flavours were melded together.

And then I tasted it. 

It’s absolutely delicious but watch out London, I can’t be held responsible!

Make do and mend

A grey, rainy day in London. 

The mythical job is still on the horizon but has yet to materialize so while I’m waiting, I’m attempting to throw myself into the festive spirit. 

I decided exercise would be good and so with drizzle overhead and the trusty ladies’ umbrella in hand, I strolled across Regent’s Park to my nemesis, Oxford Street. I was heading to Selfridges to buy my first Christmas present.

The Christmas spirit is everywhere on Oxford Street. Lights, trees, coloured baubles, glitter, sparkle, frosting and of course, interesting gift ideas. It’s overwhelming and already the panic buying seems to have set in. This could get expensive.

With my first present bought (I’m not giving any hints) and mission one accomplished, I returned to the little flat in Chalk Farm to start making my version of Christmas decorations while the rain and wind buffeted against the windows outside. 

Christmas birds

I suspect the pink sofa is influencing my Christmas colour palette.