Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

London: February 2013 (Part 3)

After a fairly early night on Friday I felt quite refreshed on Saturday. I met up with the girls for our usual brunch at Raoul’s and coffee at Baker & Spice. It was the weekend before Valentine’s Day and I felt like having a cupcake.

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Sadly it didn’t taste as good as it looked.

After dessert we went to see one of the girls’ new babies. What a little dumpling! I stayed about an hour and then had to leave.

At 5pm I went back to Baker & Spice to meet up with another friend for coffee. I was actually so full from lunch and dessert that I couldn’t eat or drink anything! At 6.30 I headed back to Kensington.

That evening a friend was taking me to Sushi Samba near Liverpool Street for dinner. He’d been raving about it ever since he came to Abu Dhabi in November and I was looking forward to it.

‘What’s the best way to get there?’ I asked him.

‘It’s right next to Liverpool Street station,’ he told me. Clearly he had me confused with someone else.

‘I’ll ask you again – bear in mind that I’ll be wearing heels, my hair will be done, and it will probably be raining.’

‘Cab,’ he replied.

I booked a minicab from Kensington – it took about 30 minutes to get there. There’s a huge neon sign on the side of the building so you can’t really miss it. Our dinner reservation wasn’t until 11pm but I was meeting him and his friend at the bar at 9pm for a few drinks. I got into the lift and went up to the 39th floor where the bar is. It’s a glass lift and as you go up, all of a sudden you have a magnificent view of St Paul’s and the rest of the City. (I was hoping for the same view later on during dinner so I could take a photo but it was almost as if a cloud had descended around the building and we couldn’t see anything!)

The food was delicious. We ordered padron peppers, yellowtail taquitos and rock shrimp tempura to start with. When I bit into the rock shrimp I realised it had truffles oil in it too – it was fantastic! For our main course we ordered a black cod with miso, the pork belly with butterscotch miso and some sushi. We were so full halfway through that we ended up cancelling the black cod. It was a lovely evening – and we were there until they closed.

I woke up on Sunday feeling tired (again). I didn’t have much planned for the day so did some work until about 2pm and then went to meet some friends of my parents at their flat. I spent an hour with them and then went to see one of my aunts who lived in the same building. That night I had the place to myself – my cousin and her mum were out for dinner – so I ordered a pizza, watched ‘Friends’ and did some work. It was just what I needed!

I spent all of Monday with a good friend of mine. I went over to her flat near Olympia, had a cup of tea, and then we went to Westfield for lunch. We had some dim sum and walked around for a bit. I needed some things from Boots and M&S, and then we went to pick up her son from school. He was so excited to see me! We went back home for a while and hung out some more.

Later that afternoon I met my old yoga teacher for tea at her house in Earl’s Court. I spent an hour or so with her and then dropped my shopping home and went to meet my cousin at Arirang for dinner. We ate too much. As usual. We were home early and I started packing.

I woke up on Tuesday with 100 things to do. I needed to sort out my VATs, go to the bank, run some errands for my mum, meet friends for lunch, finish packing, and so on. I thought my flight was at 10pm but when I checked in online I realised it was actually at 9pm. Thank goodness I checked in online!

I did my mum’s errands, met a friend at Selfridges and we went to Busaba Eathai in Bird Street for lunch. We were supposed to be joined by another friend who was running late. My first friend had to go back to work so I ended up having two separate lunches at the same restaurant! I finished my VATs, spent an hour in Waterstone’s and then went home to sort out my things. My suitcase was bloody heavy – it definitely weighed over 23 kg.

I left for the airport just before 6pm and thankfully the VAT queue didn’t take as long as it did the last time. I checked in (without any trouble) and went through security. I wandered around for a while, decided I couldn’t be bothered to buy anything because that would mean lugging it around with me, and bought a sandwich and chai latte from Starbucks. I made a few calls and got on the plane. I realised after speaking to a friend of mine that a common friend of ours was on the flight too. Shortly after I boarded I got a BBM from him.

Him: What flight are you on?

Me: Virgin.

Him: OK. But what flight are you on?

(That was just so typical of him.)

Me: Haha – yes, that’s very funny.

Him: Where are you sitting?

Me: 56D. And before you ask – no, that is not my bra size.

A few minutes later he wandered all the way back to where I was sitting, claiming that was his exercise for the day. We chatted for a little while and then he walked all the way back to where his seat was.

The flight wasn’t full at all – and I had an empty seat next to me. Hurrah! I tried to sleep but only managed an hour or so.

I landed in Dubai and it didn’t take long at immigration. Nowhere near as long as it took coming back from Singapore! The carousel hadn’t even started by the time I got there so I went to Dubai Duty Free and picked up two bottles of white wine and two bottles of Grey Goose. No, I’m not an alcoholic but there are very few places in Dubai where you can buy alcohol. In hindsight I should have bought another bottle of wine.

I got home at about 9am and went to sleep. It was good to be home and back in my own bed!

I love my life.

To read more about London, click here.

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London: February 2013 (Part 2)

After the first four exhausting days in London, it really didn’t get any better.

On Tuesday I was invited to Hakkasan Mayfair for a boozy boys’ lunch to celebrate one of their big birthdays. Yes, I know I’m not a boy but they’ve always considered me one of the boys. At least they used to until I lost a lot of weight! The four of us met at the restaurant at 1pm and had a drink at the bar first: two of us had a cocktail (I had the Thea Martini) and the other two started on the first bottle of red wine. After our first drink we moved to a table by the window and ordered our food. We ordered a huge selection of dim sum. And by the time the food came we had started on the second bottle of wine. To cut a long story short – we ordered main courses (prawns, beef, fish) and even dessert (two chocolate desserts and a rhubarb something or other):

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But when the boys say ‘boozy lunch’, this is what they mean. We had:

  • A cocktail
  • Four bottles of red wine
  • Dudu shots
  • Dessert wine
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I knew it was going to be heavy. I’d been telling myself since Friday that I wasn’t going to get too drunk at lunch as I had things to do afterwards (shopping at John Lewis and dinner at Arirang). My cousins had their doubts. I was determined to be ‘fine’.

After lunch we thought it would be a good idea to go to Mews of Mayfair for another couple of drinks. It was almost 5pm by this point. We got a comfortable table with some sofas and settled in. We had:

  • A bottle of champagne
  • Two espresso martinis
  • A glass of red wine (totally unnecessary)

A little after 6pm we decided it was time to head home (or run errands in my case). The boys staggered home and I walked to John Lewis. I picked up what I needed (bras) and walked to Arirang where I met my cousins.

Dinner was good, but as you can imagine most of it was a blur! We had the usual kim chees, chicken, beef bulgogi, sizzling pork belly in sake sauce and the barbecued bacon too.

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There was a lot of food. No wonder I put on weight in London!

We were home by 10pm and I was in bed soon after.

I had lunch with one of the girls and another friend on Wednesday. We went to Raoul’s (yes, again!). I’d never had the crab and avocado salad there – but it is amazing! I’d have happily eaten just that for my starters, main and dessert. But I didn’t – I had the ham and cheese omelette instead.

That night was my other friend’s 40th birthday. He was having a dinner in the wine cellars of the Stafford Hotel in St James’s. The wine cellars double as bomb shelters during World War II and a part of the wine cellar still displays World War II memorabilia:

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Before dinner there was a wine tasting contest (I got four out of six correct) and then we sat down to eat. We had crab and avocado salad to start, the main courses were either grilled fish or Beef Wellington, and there were loads of chocolate desserts. I had a slice of the birthday cake (a Chelsea T-shirt) but left the rest. The wine was flowing, there were speeches, there was singing and dancing (a singer/guitarist and saxophonist were playing), and we eventually left at 1.30am. It was a wonderful evening…

On Thursday I went over to my cousin’s place for lunch to hang out with her and her twin girls. We ordered pizzas from Le Cochonnet and played with the 5-month-old girls (so adorable).

That evening I’d arranged to meet my old work friends at a pub near the office (not that any of them work there any more). I’d also told a few people in the IT department to join us – we used to spend (too) many hours at The Wimpole after work together! It was great to see them all – and I was so relieved to hear that those who wanted new jobs had found them (and better jobs, in some cases). We were at the pub till they closed and stopped for a shawarma on the way home.

On Friday I had to go to Old Street. I had a meeting with the publisher who had bought the journals from RSM Press. When I decided to go to London I told them I’d be in town and thought it would be a good idea to meet them as I now do some freelance work for them. I’d had a couple of conference calls with them before and am in touch with one or two of them almost every day so it was nice to actually meet in person. I had a meeting at their office for about 45 minutes and then three of us walked to a pub close by called The Princess of Shoreditch. Everything on the menu looked really good – and I eventually chose the steak and Stilton pie (and so did the other two). If I’d had room for dessert I’d have had the rhubarb and apple crumble!

After lunch I realised I had nothing to do until dinner. I took the tube to Bond Street and went shopping. I browsed in Debenhams and tried on seven dresses. I ended up buying six of them! I also bought a pair of nude peep-toe heels from Russell & Bromley which I’d had my eye on since Christmas. A very productive afternoon!

I met my cousin at Sotheby’s (where she works) at 5pm and we took the bus home together.

That evening I met a couple of friends at Princess Garden for dinner. It wasn’t a heavy night or a late one – it was just nice to sit and talk and have a glass of wine. The food at Princess Garden is really good – I can’t think why I never went there more often when I lived in London.

I was home and in bed by 11.30pm.

I love my life.

To read more about London, click here.

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Week 17 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

I think I’m going to have to write off this week as well. At least when it comes to alcohol. 

My sister was in London – so that involved lots of eating out (or taking away).

One place we always go when she’s here is Arirang – a Korean restaurant in Poland Street. We’ve been going there for years and it’s one of our favourite places. When I asked her if she wanted to go on Tuesday or Wednesday, she replied ‘Why can’t we go twice?’ So we did. And we always order the same food, too. My favourite things are the vegetarian pah jeon (a spring onion pancake):

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And the sizzling pork belly in spicy sake sauce (a fairly recent discovery):

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It is just SO good.

As I said, we went twice in a row, but I drew the line at going again for lunch on Saturday!

On Thursday I had my office Christmas party at the Grange Hotel in Holborn – there was lots of red wine involved. I got home close to 1am, and had the day off on Friday. Considering I felt a bit ‘dehydrated’, I managed to get a lot done: I went to the gym, went to Raoul’s for lunch, had my hair done, and packed a suitcase.

On Friday night I’d organised drinks at The Warrington, my local pub, for some friends. I’d specified that I didn’t want any gifts, speeches or tears, but none of my requests were taken any notice of. Again, lots of red wine was involved, and then there was champagne and even some shots. I ended up at Beirut Express with the girls and one of their husbands. I can barely remember what I ate (shish taouk, I think?) but I definitely remembering having some arayes! 

Saturday was another productive day, in spite of a heavy night. I had lunch at Raoul’s (yes, again), started packing another suitcase, updated my CV, and went over to one of the girls’ places for dinner. I didn’t say very much at dinner – I was so tired from the night before – but it was just nice to be with them. One of the girls gave me a present – a framed photo of us taken in Paris a few weeks ago. 

I had my last yoga class on Sunday morning and then my sister and I decided to head to Phoenix Palace for lunch. I hadn’t been there since my parents left in November – and the food was so good. After lunch, I met one of the girls at Raoul’s for a coffee and then went home. My mum arrived from Dubai, my sister left for Lagos, and I went out for dinner with the boys.

I met the boys (two of them) at Nobu on Park Lane – because we were meeting at 7.30, I thought I’d be home by 11, go to the gym in the morning, then the dentist, then to the office. But the evening turned out to be, quite simply, carnage. The food was excellent as usual: tuna sashimi salad, artichoke salad with prawns, black cod, and the chocolate bento box for dessert. I’m going to pretend we didn’t order the ‘Fuji Apple Crumble’. And the alcohol. OMG. There was one bamboo sake flask after the other – I couldn’t remember how many we polished off but I’ve been told we had TEN). We drank until the restaurant closed and we were the last people sitting there. The boys were so lovely – they took me out for dinner and halfway through the evening the waiter brought over a Tiffany’s bag and the boys gave me my leaving present. It was so unexpected – I was speechless. It’s a gorgeous compact mirror for my handbag. At some point in the evening we decided it would be a good idea to spend a New Year’s holiday in Las Vegas. The three of us. In one room. We’re re-thinking that now though. 

After dinner, we ended up at Trader Vic’s, having another drink. It really was the last thing any of us needed. There were tears. Far too many tears. And not all mine. Getting home is a hazy memory – but it was a brilliant evening and I will miss those two very much… 

So that was my weekly alcohol update. Apart from drinking too much, I’ve been sleeping too little. I’ve been waking up between 4 and 4.30 all week, remembering things that I need to do. A part of me can’t wait to get on the plane because then my list will have been done!

The working out part was fine this week – I did one session with Gus and three on my own. I seem to have twisted or done something to my left knee though, but it’s getting better with time. As for weight loss, I think that’s a little ambitious, don’t you? I’d consider myself lucky if my weight was the same as the last time I weighed myself! 

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Read more updates here.

 

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