London: Part 1

So I’m back in Dubai now. I got home from the airport at 9am on Tuesday, went to sleep in my own bed, and woke up with a fever and sore throat. It’s no surprise really – the last three weeks were bound to catch up with me somehow. I’m just glad I didn’t get sick while I was there. That would have really pissed me off.

My holiday was fun, but exhausting. I’m pretty sure I was more tired after this London trip than after my brother and sister’s weddings combined.

I got to London on a hot Thursday afternoon – my flight landed at about 2.30pm. I switched on my phone to a message that said: ‘Welcome home – fancy a pint at 5?’ Why yes, yes I did. I got to my friends’ place where I was staying at 4.30pm, unpacked a suitcase and walked over to the pub. It was HOT. I had a pint with the boys and then headed home. That night I hung out with my friends, we caught up over dinner at home, and we were all in bed reasonably early.

On Friday morning I had a doctor’s appointment – I’d booked it weeks in advance as I just wanted to get it out of the way and not have to think about it during my holiday. That afternoon I met a cousin who was also visiting London for lunch – we went to Phoenix Palace. Oh, pork – how I’ve missed you! Char siu pau, char siu puffs, char siu

I then popped in to see my old work friends at the office – it was just before 5pm and we ended up going to The Wimpole across the road. Some things never change. I had three glasses of wine and before I knew it, it was 8pm and I had to leave to get ready for dinner.

Seven of us went to the Arts Club for dinner. I’d never been before but it’s a great place to people-watch. We ordered starters to share (Spanish charcuterie plate, yellowtail with citrus dressing, endive gorgonzola and walnut salad and a few other things). For my main course I had the lamb chops – which were really good. I can’t remember what we had for dessert (so it couldn’t have been all that)!

It wasn’t a very late night – we didn’t venture up to the bar or down to the club – but it was a fun evening. It was like I’d never left London, but had only been away on holiday for two weeks.

On Saturday I had to go to the chatti (naming ceremony) for some friends’ twins. I didn’t even get to meet them as I had to leave at 1.30 and the ceremony wasn’t finished yet. I left Cricklewood and headed to Raoul’s for brunch with the girls – SO good to be back. I had scrambled eggs and sausages, and we shared the French toast for dessert. Yes, it is bread, but it was a special occasion. After that, one of the girls and I sat in Baker and Spice for a couple of hours, catching up. Again, it was like I’d never left.

That night was going to be a long one. A friend was having his 40th birthday at The Ivy Club with an afterparty at a different venue. He’d invited about 100 people and I thought it would be a good way to meet everyone at the same time. Good timing!

The party was fun – we got there at about 9.30 and at 10pm I realised I’d already had three glasses of champagne and would have to slow down if I was going to have a coherent conversation with anyone there. I switched to water for a while, and then moved back to the champagne.

The Ivy Club shut at 2am and the venue for the afterparty was the Montcalm Hotel in Marble Arch. Finding a cab at that time of night was impossible – I ended up taking a rickshaw with one of the guys. It’s not something I want to do again – ever. The rickshaw cycled through Shaftesbury Avenue, Regent Street, Oxford Street and Marble Arch. Cars and buses came dangerously close and I had to close my eyes a couple of times because I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what was going to happen. We got to the Montcalm Hotel – the music was on, breakfast was being served, and the bar was open.

The bar was supposed to be open until 5am but I left at around 3.30 – the rickshaw ride had killed whatever buzz I had going and the woman at the bar was taking too long to sort out the drinks. I found out the next day that even though the venue shut at 5am, some of the guys carried on until 10am and beyond. Impressive. At their age, anyway.

Sunday was relaxing – I went to Busaba for lunch with a friend, wandered around the shops for a while, met some friends and their kids in the park, and then had dinner at Le Cochonnet in Maida Vale with some other friends. I was so tempted to have a pizza but settled for the fish instead. Later that night I wished I’d had the pizza. I woke up at 3am feeling queasy and unsettled – basically the fish made me really ill… It was 4am by the time I went back to sleep – and I was exhausted the next day.

I was home most of the day on Monday – I had a follow-up doctor’s appointment in the afternoon and didn’t do much else. Early that evening I met a friend who was in town from Tenerife. We went to the Duke of York in St John’s Wood and had a couple of drinks. After that I met one of the boys for some martinis at our usual place in St James’ – it was surprisingly empty. After a couple of drinks we walked up to Nobu Berkeley for some dinner and more drinks. It was fun to catch up. Lovely evening, as always.

I didn’t do very much on Tuesday either. I woke up feeling a little ‘dehydrated’ and ended up going to Primrose Hill for brunch. We went to Cafe Seventy Nine – a vegetarian cafe. I ordered the full English breakfast (vegetarian sausages included) with gluten-free toast. I’d never tried gluten-free bread before. When my friends asked what it tasted like, I said ‘Anything drenched in butter tastes good.’ I couldn’t even taste the bread. We walked around the shops for a little while and went home.

I was supposed to have a 4pm meeting with the guy who is now doing my old job at the office, but when I got there I was told he’d gone home. Charming. I hung around the office for a while, printed off my boarding pass for my work trip the next day, caught up on some emails, and then went to the pub with my work friends. We were at the pub for a while and then decided to go to Busaba for dinner. I know I’d just been there but the food was so good I didn’t mind going back. It wasn’t a very heavy night as I knew I had to be up at the crack of dawn for my flight the next morning…

Read more about London here.

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