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.

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London: February 2013 (Part 1)

I had a friend and a cousin in London turning 40 in the same week at the beginning of February and decided I’d celebrate with them. I had bought a return ticket when I was in London last year so I didn’t need to buy another ticket – and I managed to use my air miles for a flight back to Dubai.

The last time I was in London it was a really hectic trip and I was determined not to do that again. I wanted to relax and hang out with my friends. Sadly, even the best laid plans go astray.

I was dreading the cold. One winter away and I’d turned into a wimp. I hardly packed any clothes as my Dubai wardrobe would have been completely useless there! I wore the one pair of closed slip-ons I own, my jeans, a t-shirt, a hoodie, a scarf, and luckily I had brought my coat with me when I moved.¬†My plan was to get a minicab from the airport, go to the storage place to get my winter clothes, and then go to my cousin’s place where I was staying. The journey really made no sense as I’d have to go from Heathrow to St John’s Wood and then back to Gloucester Road – and when we drove past Gloucester Road first I decided to just go home and drop my stuff off. I’d collect my winter stuff the following morning.

So from the time I landed, I’d been getting messages from friends telling me to join them at our usual pub in Oxford Circus. ‘Come straight from storage,’ they said. ‘Erm – and what about my luggage?’ ‘Bring it!’ I was actually very tempted – and had I gone to St John’s Wood like I planned I probably would have done that!

Anyway, I dropped my stuff off at my cousin’s place, freshened up and headed to Oxford Circus. I caught up with a few of the guys – it was so good to see them! We had a few drinks and all headed home. That night my cousin and I went to see her sister whose twins were almost 5 months old. I couldn’t wait to meet them but they were both asleep by the time we got there. I did get to hold one of them though. We ordered some pizza and had some cold cuts and wine. It wasn’t a late night as everyone was quite tired.

On Saturday morning I went to St John’s Wood to get my boots and jumpers. I opened the bag with my things in it and pulled out my boots and five jumpers: grey, grey, grey, grey and grey. I can’t believe how much grey I used to wear! My wardrobe has completely changed now – a combination of being a smaller size and living in sunnier climes!

I met the girls for brunch at Raoul’s after that. I had really missed them – especially over the last few weeks. I was also so excited to have scrambled eggs and sausages! And of course we shared a French toast for dessert. After that we walked over to Baker & Spice for a coffee. We hung out for a while and then I managed to get a ride back to Kensington with my cousin. I caught this sunset on camera:

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That night was my cousin’s 40th birthday party. She’d booked the private room at The Wolesley for 14 of us – it was beautifully done. The waiter was very generous with the champagne and I eventually had to ask him to stop refilling my glass as I’d had three glasses by 8.30pm! This was our menu:

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After dinner we went to Annabel’s for some more drinks and dancing – we were there till they closed! I had checked in my coat at the cloakroom, tucking my black shawl with the diamantes into the sleeve of my coat – but when I went to collect it at the end of the night my shawl was missing! I was so annoyed – it was my favourite shawl and my warmest… The woman in the cloakroom said she’d call me if it showed up but I knew it was gone for good.

I met up with a schoolfriend for lunch on Sunday. She was staying at her parents’ place in Wimbledon for the weekend and I was thrilled when she said she’d meet me at Gloucester Road as she had to come into central London. We walked to Ask and sat down for some pizza and a glass of wine. I couldn’t believe I was actually having another drink after the night I’d had. We spent a couple of hours together, catching up on our lives and then she had to go. I had no plans for that evening so I went over to some friends in Portland Place (where I stayed last time) and hung out with them for the rest of the day. We got a take away from Pearl Liang (I really fancied a hot and sour soup!) and by the time we were done with dinner we all looked like we were going to pass out.

Monday was a long day. I met a friend for brunch at Raoul’s. Instead of my usual scrambled eggs and sausages I decided to have the mushroom tagliatelle with truffle oil. It was delicious!

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After lunch I ran some errands for my mum and then walked from Park Lane to M&S and Selfridges. I was just browsing – wandering around aimlessly. I decided to walk up Baker Street and then to St John’s Wood. I walked down St John’s Wood High Street and realised I still had an hour to kill before meeting my cousins at Richoux so I went to Starbucks, ordered a chai latte and read my book until 4pm. Is that sad??

I met three of my cousins (including the birthday girl) for tea at Richoux. My mum had asked me to have a scone for her so how could I refuse? We met for just an hour as everyone was rushing off to do other things. People are busy in London!

I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen since before I moved to Dubai. He had moved to Hong Kong a couple of months before I left London but was now back in town. We met at Baker Street and walked to The Marylebone on Marylebone High Street. I had a couple of glasses of red wine (which were quite unnecessary). It was great to see him and catch up – we’ve known each other since we were about 6 or 7 years old!

After I met him I headed to Tsunami where I was meeting the girls for an early dinner. I’d forgotten how good the food is there – the nasu goma, the ohitashi, the crab shiu mai. Just divine. I think the starters there are much better than the main course dishes they have (although their black cod is excellent too). I was so full by the end of dinner I could barely move.

I was home by 10pm and rolled into bed, absolutely exhausted.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 29

After a tough session with Rama on Sunday morning, my parents and I went out for lunch. We went to a place called Gypsy Chinese at the Dhow Palace Hotel in Bur Dubai. Dad had been to another restaurant in the hotel the day before and wanted to try this Bombay Chinese place.

It’s a small restaurant, and there was only one other table occupied that afternoon. We looked through the menu and I started ordering – soup, spring rolls and dynamite chicken for starters. And then I started ordering the main course. ‘Could we have the sizzling lamb in black bean sauce?’ I began. ‘And some crispy noodles…’ The Indian waiter interrupted and asked what we were going to eat the lamb with? Well, rice obviously, I thought to myself. ‘Why don’t you try the other lamb?’ Because I want the one I’ve bloody ordered. He was starting to irritate me. We eventually ordered the lamb he suggested and rice. We had wanted noodles but decided to see if we were still hungry after the lamb (we weren’t – and even if we were I’m not sure we’d have been allowed to order anything!). The food was good but I don’t think I’d go back in a rush.

After lunch we wandered around Burjuman for a while and had a coffee at Gloria Jean’s. We decided we’d go to a movie that evening and settled on ‘The Bourne Legacy’ at Mercato. I had no idea what was going on in the first 20 minutes but it eventually all came together. I actually only went for the popcorn, and although my mum and I both ordered the small size, mine was much smaller than hers!

I had yoga on Monday morning and then went to Dreamworks Spa for a massage. I’d bought a voucher before my holiday and it was expiring soon. I worked for the rest of the afternoon and evening – I still had a lot to catch up on from the last couple of weeks in Bali, but I was getting there slowly. On Tuesday I went to the gym and worked all day.

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama and then went to Baker & Spice at Souk Al Bahar with some friends. I hadn’t been there yet – and was pleasantly surprised. We shared some salads to start with, and then shared some roast chicken, red snapper, gnocchi and pasta with prawns (which I didn’t have). For dessert we had the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. It was out of this world.

I worked all afternoon – my parents went out to a movie – and then I joined them for dinner at PF Chang at the Dubai Mall. All I wanted was soup and the steamed salmon, but as usual ended up over-eating.

I ended up staying home all of Thursday too (apart from the gym). I’d been in work mode most of the week and just wanted to get things done.

On Friday I went to a friend’s birthday brunch at the Grand Grill at the Habtoor Grand. It was a fun afternoon – the food was good and the booze was flowing. That night I met up with a friend at Vintage in Wafi – they still had their two-for-one offer on bottles of wine and we were there for quite a while.

I felt awful on Saturday. I hadn’t slept well the night before and had a headache. I lazed around at home for most of the day and in the evening went to the mall with my parents. My phone needed sorting out at Du, we went for coffee, and then had dinner at Lafayette Gourmet. We like going there because it means we don’t have to agree on what cuisine we want – Dad had ¬†Thai curry, Mum had a Caesar’s salad, and I had hot and sour soup and sushi. Perfect. On our way out we noticed there was a new churros place that had opened.

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Oh good. Just what the mall needs… more deep-fried crap. Of course we bought some. We were home by 10pm and I finished watching Season 5 of ‘Mad Men’.

I love my life.

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