The final link

After months and months of waiting, offering more money, mortgage applications and follow-up emails, the bottom finally dropped out of the chain and we are back to square one.

The seller of our flat has decided not to proceed with his purchase and the estate agent emailed to tell us to stop wasting our time.

To say we were angry was an understatement.

It’s hard to explain how difficult it is to find property in London. It’s incredibly expensive, incredibly competitive and the prospect of starting again, fills us with dread.

I suspect we will regroup and rethink our strategy and perhaps we’ll think about going further afield. It was only a couple of days ago that Letad was waxing lyrical about living in a house, after all. Perhaps it was a sign.

And so harsh words were uttered, threats of extreme violence under the cover of darkness (I may have bought a balaclava) towards the seller and the idea of a voodoo doll may have been mentioned today but we believe in karmic revenge and so we’ll start again and find somewhere incredible while the seller rots in his miserable flat.

Not bitter…

A new regime

A new exercise centre has opened in Chalk Farm (the fitness mosaic) and with an enticing offer of ten days for £20, off I trotted to sign up. Sucker!

They offer a variety of dance classes, Pilates, power plate and boot camp so I might find something I enjoy. As much as I’ve enjoyed yoga over the years, I do like an old-school step class. Now where are my legwarmers?
It was slightly intimidating however when I met Iron Mike, the boot camp trainer, so it might take a few days to get my courage up. I’m not sure I’ll be signing up for boot camp. 
£20 down the drain? 
Let’s see.

Milan to Milton Keynes

After a whirlwind trip to Milan, the following day was spent in a large outdoor shopping centre in Milton Keynes. From one extreme to another!

The glamorous Milanese were replaced by the ever-so-slightly less glamorous Milton Kensians, otherwise it was hard to tell the difference. 
Another busy day of retailing as we covered Asda, H&M, BHS, River Island, M&S, Top Shop, Next, Primark and all the other high street shops with the convenience of one stop shopping. The consumer products industry can be daunting. 
By the end of the day people were fading and the warm sleepy car ride home lulled some into afternoon naps. 
Not this one despite it being a tiring week. 

Pub lunch

The weather has warmed up, London has come alive and so with a senior colleague in town, we set off to have lunch at a nearby pub.

All was well until we were told that because of the weather (and the unexpected rush) there would be an hour delay on food. 
It was a quiet day and so there wasn’t much we could do except sit back, wait and enjoy a refreshing pint of cider. 
The food was worth the wait when it did finally arrive and the rest of the day passed uneventfully. 
The weather looks good for the weekend. London in the summer!

To Milan and back

Tuesday this week and it was off to Milan for a quick trip to meet the Italian team and go shopping or as we call it, Retailing. An excuse for a trip to Milan, the epicentre of fashion.

Arriving into Milan during a torrential thunderstorm, we set off to the office and from the top floor boardroom, had a spectacular view of the Duomo surrounded by heavy, dark clouds.

An insane example of gothic architecture, the fifth largest cathedral in Europe which took six centuries to complete, we were obviously going to have to have a closer look.

The Duomo when the skies cleared

After a three hour presentation (hello, aren’t we here for shopping, I mean, retailing?) it was time to head to the largest department store where we saw the most insanely beautiful clothes for children I’ve ever seen in my life. Monna Lisa where a dress can cost €300. It really makes you wish they made clothes for adults or that you were very, very small.

After seeing my perfect wardrobe (the Chanel collection for five year olds) we headed up to the top floor where an outdoor restaurant overlooked the Duomo.

The view was spectacular and the food, delicious. Despite hearing less than complimentary things about Milan, I was really quite impressed especially as the sun went down behind the gothic spires.

After dinner it was back to the Grand Hotel. Apparently the youth hostel was full and I was allowed to stay in a good hotel for once. It was lovely, my only regret was that I was only spending one night there.

The next morning I was up bright and early. A buffet breakfast combined with a meeting, two cups of coffee and then off to the office. Time to hit the streets of Milan.

More is more when it comes to spires

First stop however, the Duomo. It was a gorgeous day and we were allowed to be tourists for a few minutes. Climbing to the roof, the view of the Alpes was spectacular, the cornflower blue sky, the perfect backdrop.

Up the Duomo…
The Alpes beyond

After the Duomo it was time to get retailing and so off we walked. From baby to kids, tweens, teens and adult, we saw every kind of licensed product, most of them covered in sequins. I took five hundred photos and now have the dubious pleasure of putting together a recap of the trip. Lucky me!

By the end of the day we were flagging, time to get a flight back to London where I had cars waiting to whisk us home. Home by 10pm, it had been another busy trip.

I must go back to Milan and see it properly one day!

Gaultier at the Barbian

Monday afternoon and we had a work tour of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican. 

It was a mad dash to get out of the office two hours early but arriving at the retrospective, it was worth it. 
First impressions were of intrigue as the mannequins looked alive. Their faces moved, they looked human but their bodies and hands were molded plastic. Upon closer inspection it turned out the faces were projected onto the models. It was genius as immediately the mannequins came to life. 
The show itself was a collage of the past thirty years with the most iconic outfits, from Grace Jones to Madonna, films from Almovodar and Peter Greenaway, and everything kinky and Kylie inbetween. 
It was inspiring, quite witty and a bit mad. Mostly unwearable but definitely worth a look. 
Afterwards we repaired to the Gin Joint downstairs where thirty gins were on offer. For a gin lover, a little taste of deliciousness. 
Pity it was a Monday so only one Sipsmith and Fever Tree or in old language, gin and tonic for me. 
And tomorrow, off to Milan. 

Eurovision and a bottle of gin

Following the emotional turmoil of the bike theft, the only thing to do was pour a medicinal gin and tonic and settle in to watch the Eurovision song contest.

Home of the kitsch, Eurovision has launched the careers of Abba, Bucks Fizz and Brotherhood of Man, among others. In recent years the contest has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and apparently 128 million people were tuning in to watch the best Europe had to offer, apparently.

The gin had kicked in nicely and it seemed like a hilarious idea to do interpretative dancing for all the worthy entries. It was funnier if you were there I’m sure. My choice, Switzerland followed by The Netherlands.

All was great fun until judging time and then, as with all things competitive, when things don’t go in one’s favour, a sense of humour failure.

Unfortunately none of our choices won and France came last with only two points making them the most unpopular country in Europe. The competition was won by an Austrian drag queen. Enough said and enough gin. We went to bed.