Wishing I was in LA

This weekend is Rob’s 60th birthday and I wish I was in LA to help celebrate sixty years of fabulousness! This is one day when I really wish I could teleport.

I have attended many memorable birthday parties in honour of one of my best friends. Who could forget Rob’s legendary 49th birthday which will live on forever as one of the best birthdays ever (why wait till 50?!)

Anyway, I’m wishing I was in LA and while it’s not physically possible (I know because I just checked, just in case), I’m definitely there in spirit.

Cheers to all the Venetians and Happy Birthday Rob!

Loving French wine!

A weekend alone

After what was a fairly insane week, Friday dawned with a farewell as Letad set off to France for a week. We’ve had a lovely three weeks together and have filled our time with house hunting, walks, renovation ideas and future dog conversations. We’ve laughed a lot and talked about our future plans.

I strolled down to work for the day before eventually coming back to a dark, empty flat. The first time in a while. A weekend alone stretched out in front of me and while I do enjoy my own company, I’ve become quite accustomed to having Letad around.

Still, it was a good opportunity to get things organised and so Saturday started with a good clean and tidy and as grey clouds rolled in, it seemed like the ideal day to be at home.

Time to relax.

Not so sunny Watford

Thursday morning and I strolled into the office for the first time since Monday. I spent a couple of hours wading through emails and then, lucky me, I was off to Watford for the afternoon.

I’m still not entirely sure where Watford is but it didn’t matter as I was picked up and driven there in a very nice chauffeur-driven car only to be deposited at the entrance to a Tesco superstore. From one extreme to another!

We spent the afternoon (the Americans and I) walking through Tesco and ASDA discussing the various merits of UK to US mass market. Gripping stuff!

By 7pm my day was done but in true Groundhog Day-style, I found myself with another senior level US colleague who needed a taxi.

Luckily I had learned from my previous experience and when a taxi proved elusive, I was lucky enough to discover a mini cab office just down the road. With a mini cab sorted, I packed the American into the back, waved goodbye and set off home.

Phew, crisis averted!


Wednesday morning and I had one of those quintessential American things, an 8am breakfast meeting.

I’ve always hated having meetings which involve food as it’s impossible to talk and eat at the same time. As a contingency plan, I got up at 6am, had some porridge (it was going to be a long day) and was at the hotel by 8am.

Sure enough, I managed to get a coffee but as the conversation continued for an hour before we ordered, I had a feeling that food wasn’t going to be an option. I had a 9am rendezvous to lead a US team around central London looking at shops, known in the trade as Retailing, otherwise known as Shopping.

Sure enough, before my food arrived, I was whipped away to start the tour and as luck would have it, it started raining. Excellent!

Eight hours later, we had covered Oxford Street, Regents Street, Carnaby Street and they were discussing the merits of Harrods. There was absolutely no way I was going to Harrods, the London tourist’s shopping Mecca and so I took my leave and headed home… for an hour.

After a reviving cup of tea made by Letad (and he really does make a good cup) I gathered the remains of my strength, jumped back on the tube and set off to Notting Hill Gate for a cocktail party.

It was still shop talk and after a couple of hours and a glass of water (I was strategically staying off the booze) I decided enough was enough and after a thirteen hour day, I was tired, hungry and ready to go home.

But it wasn’t over yet…

The Beatrix Potter Archives

After a very long day at Monday’s retail summit and I must say, the kangaroos were riveted, Tuesday dawned bright and early. I set off to Brand Licensing Europe, imagine my excitement! A large licensing tradeshow, B.L.E. (or Bleh) was on in Kensington Olympia, possibly the hardest place on earth to get to.

After a train and bus, I finally made it and met up with the American contingent who were in town for the show. We walked the floor in a very short amount of time and by mid-morning were off to the V&A archives for one of the perks of the job. We were lucky enough to be seeing the Beatrix Potter archives.

Beatrix Potter was a true inspiration and a prolific creator. We saw her original watercolours, her self published books, the first edition of Peter Rabbit and then I started to realise that Beatrix and I had a lot in common.

Beatrix Potter had created her own soft toys, Christmas cards, rubber bath toys, hot water bottles, board games and more. She was possibly one of the first people to develop licensed product and as I looked at her work, over a hundred years old, I felt inspired to look at my own collection of children’s books, soft toys and licensed products. 

Was it just by chance that I was standing looking at Beatrix’s work enabled by the large American corporation I work for? Or was it a sign that I need to get back into the vast body of work I created a few years ago, Gem’s Friends, which has been waiting patiently for me to come back?

Leaving Beatrix behind, I had lunch with the Americans before heading back to the Camden office for a long afternoon meeting. The weather had turned cold and it seemed as though everyone was exhausted.

By the end of the day I had three senior colleagues who needed to be returned to Regents Street in time for a 7pm business dinner. As it turned out, there wasn’t a single taxi available in Camden and with time ticking quickly away, I decided the only solution was to herd them on to the tube and escort them to their hotel.

I was committing career suicide as I knew at least one of them hated public transport and was not happy with the situation. With tickets and Oyster cards in hand, we fought through the crowds, got on the train (there’s no way they would have understood the Northern Line), changed at Leicester Square and eventually popped out at Piccadilly Circus. 

Everyone was flagging and while I tried to keep the conversation going, it was a challenge. 

Finally the hotel cam into view and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. As I said goodnight and headed back down the steps to the tube, I could only laugh ruefully and hope that they realised I’d done the best I could.

The week continued…

Border Terrier Spotting

Recently we’ve had discussions about getting a dog. 

I’d love to get another dog and had decided that my personal dog of choice would be a Border Terrier. A small, stocky dog with scruffy fur, it seemed like the ideal choice to follow the dog who could never be replaced.

The BT

With a garden on the horizon, a dog would be possible. And so I thought, that was that.

Until they suddenly started appearing everywhere. Common as muck, it seemed every man and his dog was a Border Terrier. Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath were overrun with black and tan scruffy-furred old man faces and for NW3 it seemed to be the dog of choice.

I couldn’t imagine having a dog which looked just like every other dog. How to tell which was which in a pack? Is that my Border terrier or yours? I could just imagine the conversations.

And so it’s back to square one. Perhaps a scruffy Jack Russell…? More to come on this topic I’m sure.

The Scruffy Jack Russell