Parliament Hill Farmers Market

Saturday morning and with a drizzle in the air, I set off on a rather cold and grey morning to go to the Parliament Hill Farmers Market.

I’ve been on the hunt for a farmers market since I’ve lived here and bizarrely have only just stumbled across this one. Literally a stone’s throw from the elusive Parliament Hill flat (oh whatever), if we do ever move there, this will be our Saturday morning expedition.

I took a new bus, the C11, and being Saturday morning, it was filled with what I call Buggy Club. Baby buggies or strollers filled every possible nook and cranny and several small people were crying. Several old people were looking perturbed.

Arriving near Hampstead Heath at Parliament Hill, it was Buggy Club galore and reminiscent of the Sunday Farmers Market in Santa Monica as it was kids and dogs as far as the eye could see.

There was a buzz of activity as people shopped for fresh fruit and vegetables, free range eggs, cheese, bread, pastries, flowers, meat and more. Seven grey scruffy dogs were tied against the fence (surprisingly not a Border Terrier among them) and were barking as only tied-up dogs can, indignantly and relentlessly.

I gravitated towards a cheese stall to discover, to my joy, it was all goat’s cheese. Oh the bliss, an array of goat’s cheese all available to sample. I worked my way from mild to strong enjoying what has been for many years, one of my favourite foods and coupled with the mild fantasy of owning a goat and making cheese, something I’m quite excited about!

I went for one of the stronger cheeses, the Wealdway Mature, rolled in ash and with a creamy texture. Yum! Unfortunately the farm doesn’t have open days as I’d be off to Sussex in a heartbeat. nutknowlefarm

After a few more purchases it was getting chilly, time to head home and decide how to eat my cheese. How lovely to have free central heating now that it’s getting cold.

What’s good for the goose…

Having bought a lovely new, rather extravagant goose down winter duvet (quilt, comforter or doona depending on where one happens to be) it seemed it was time to batten down the hatches and get ready for winter.

With the new 10.5 tog duvet on the bed (a UK weight which means very little to me except that there’s a 13 tog for what I can only assume must be arctic conditions), new pillowcases and a lovely new duvet cover, all was well with the world.

Except that it turns out that goose down is incredibly warm.

And I’m too hot!

It’s probably not a bad thing especially in February when things really get nasty, but for the mild November temperatures (around 7 degrees Celsius) I’m finding things are a little on the tropical side.

And this is the dilemma in my life at the moment!

Christmas Shopping

Having downed a number of vile hot lemon drinks at the insistence of Letad, I was feeling much better and so we went out on Saturday to start Christmas shopping. Or at least that was the intention.

We walked through Regents Park on what felt like the perfect Autumn morning and sat in the sunshine on Marylebone High Street having coffee.

From there we braved Oxford Street venturing into Selfridges, John Lewis and Debenhams before heading to Liberty. I saw many lovely things sadly all of them things I would like and my Christmas list would be very long indeed.

At Liberty I bought a lovely new winter hat in felt which I suspect will be stapled to my head for the next few months and combined with my new faux fur vest, made me feel like a 70s rockstar, if only in my head.

trending… fake fur

Funnily enough, by the time we got home, I had bought a new waterproof jacket, fur socks for my wellies, Nespresso pods for the coffee machine, a new winter duvet, pillowcases and duvet cover and my new hat.

What Christmas shopping? Apparently I can’t be trusted.

Tired, jetlagged and cold!

Arriving back into London, it appeared that winter had arrived. Brrrr. The leaves were thick on the pavements and the air was brisk.

It was seem I had caught a cold mid-flight and so the only thing to do was put on the central heating and sit in bed watching Masterchef – The Extremely Unprofessionals.
I’m optimistic my cold won’t last long, perhaps it’s just a reaction to the air conditioning as it would appear I’m heading back to the US in a week.
It’s hardly worth resetting my watch!

Two days of meetings!

It was back to LA and back to work as I set off at 7:30am to go to a meeting. Allowing an hour and a half to get there seemed generous but then again, traffic in LA is very unpredictable.

All was well however and by 9am I was at the animation studio in Burbank for a three hour meeting.
Followed by a lunch meeting…
Followed by an hour drive to the City of Industry where all hard working people go. And finally another forty five minute drive to Venice to pick up Letad.
I had covered most of LA and driven on at least seven freeways.
Not surprisingly, I was exhausted and, as I had a 7am conference call, an early night was required.

The extremely decadent weekend: Day Seven. The final hours

Alas the final morning arrived and it was time for our last snorkel.

We’d swum every day in the temperate turquoise water, sliding in off the rocks and clambering out, back up the slippery rocks with the help of a rope.

Despite feeling tired, the water was invigorating and we were able to face another meal.

All too soon we cast our final glance across the ocean, seeing dolphins playing in the distance and with a heavy heart and inevitable tears welling up, I said goodbye to Rob and Stella.

Distance is hard and while life is now in London, part of me will always stay in LA. Still, after discussions about face reading and the benefits of Iyengar yoga, I’m feeling inspired and am looking forward to walking in Regents Park and continuing Ashtanga.

We said goodbye and made our way to the airport where we boarded our flight to Los Angeles where two days of corporate meetings await me.

Still, if I think I’m still snorkeling in Mexico, perhaps I really am.

The extremely decadent weekend. Day Six. The final evening

We were fairly exhausted after a fabulous day spent eating, diving, swimming and generally loving Mexico but all decadent weekends must come to an end (why?) and far too soon, it was the final night.

We joined the rest of the group at Casa Azul where the wonderful Roger plied us once again with food and margaritas and the conversation turned to the soon to be embarked upon £10 challenge (now out of necessity as we’ve gained ten pounds!)

After dinner we moved outside to set off Chinese lanterns over the bay. Despite the proximity of the palapa roof, nothing went up in flames that wasn’t supposed to and the glowing lanterns drifted slowly across the bay rising higher into the darkness before disappearing from view.

We were exhausted and despite the temptation to stay and drink more tequila, it was time to call it a night.

The extremely decadent long weekend – Day Six. Another day of decadence!

Sunday, and after a great night out which seemed as though it would be hard to beat, off we went to Boca de Tomatlan on the bus. At Boca, the mouth of the Tomatlan river meets the bay, local fisherman and tourists fill the pangas (small fishing boats) and tables with umbrellas face the stunning view

From Boca, we took a boat to the Ocean Grill. It turned out to be a gorgeous outdoor restaurant with a palapa roof where fresh fish were grilled by a stunning bay with crystalline water. The owner, Alphonso and his Great Dane, Wilson seemed to have found their slice of paradise.

Another meal (another few pounds) and it was time to swim. Diving off the wooden gangplank, the relief was instant as the day was hot and the sun was intense.

The floating lido complete with palm tree offered a respite from treading water (what a hardship) and so the afternoon whiled away as we swam, dove and laughed at attempts to climb the ladder back to the jetty.

As the afternoon went on, we took a panga back to Mismaloya taking a detour through Los Arcos, the three large rocks just off the coast from Rob and Stella’s house.

And then there just just enough time to walk back from Mismaloya and have a rest before dinner…

The extremely decadent long weekend – Day Five. Birthday Celebrations!

Saturday was Catherine’s official 40th birthday and so after a breakfast of Huevos Rancheros, we ambled our way over to the enormous white mansion, Casa Azul where the rest of the birthday party were staying.

We walked in and spontaneously broke into a spirited rendition of Happy Birthday as we walked down the steps. After the initial celebration we divided up as half the party went into town and the other intrepid explorers went snorkeling.

After a blissful hour of watching fish, we regrouped for an incredible lunch in the enormous mansion. A table overlooking the bay seated fifteen of us as we started with guacamole, chile rellenos (large poblano chillies stuffed with cheese), shrimp tacos and spicy chipotle sauce. With wine, beer and marguaritas, it was a lunch filled with great food and lots of laughter.

After lunch we divided again. Some people had massages (because it wasn’t relaxing enough) and those of us concerned with how much food was being consumed, went snorkeling again.

It was a hard day!
But wait, there’s more!

We regrouped for dinner in town at the incredibly picturesque Hacienda San Angel, a rooftop restaurant overlooking the hillside of Puerto Vallarta. Another spectacular meal was had as we ate, drank, laughed and celebrated in general.

We’re all getting progressively fatter but we’re soldiering bravely on.

After dinner we walked down the malecon pausing to dance (as only a middle aged woman can, with abandonment). I did my best Flashdance impersonation (probably not a good thing) before we ended up in a Cuban bar where we attempted a version of salsa dancing.

It was very hot and it was late but we all managed to dance in the street while we waited for taxis.

And so to bed.

Waking during the night, there was the most incredible view of the full moon over the bay, the moonlight created a silver path across the benign water. It was a magical sight and so the weekend continued.