Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

London: Part 4

Friday again! It was my last weekend in London and I intended to make the most of it.

I met up with a friend at Raoul’s – I hadn’t seen him at all during my trip so it was nice to finally see him before I left. I had the ham and cheese omelette which was so good.

That evening one of the boys took me out for drinks and dinner (and more drinks). We started off at the Soho Hotel with some cocktails. We then walked to Escortikov Novikov for dinner and drinks. I didn’t think there was as much flesh on show as the week before. Of course it could just be that we weren’t sitting in a table located as centrally as the week before. We had lots of sushi, new style salmon sashimi, some kind of mushroom dumpling, yellowtail sashimi, and rock shrimp. I think that was it… We ordered our dessert at the bar downstairs – three flavours of crème brûlée. At about midnight we thought it would be a good idea to leave Novikov and go across the road to Nobu Berkeley. Actually, it was my idea. I take full responsibility. I also thought it would be a good idea to switch from vodka to sake. As far as I remember, we had two bamboo sakes – and I don’t know what time I got home. It was one of my favourite nights in London.

The next morning, however, was not one of my favourite mornings in London. I woke up, got ready and got on the tube to meet the girls for brunch at Raoul’s. I thought about ordering the ham and cheese omelette again but then decided it would be pathetic to have the same thing. So I ordered the bacon, cheese and tomato omelette. It was probably the most disappointing thing I’ve ever eaten at Raoul’s. As it was my last brunch we ordered the French toast to share. It more than made up for the awful omelette. We went over to Baker & Spice for a little while and said our goodbyes.

The sun had come out by this time so I decided to walk home through the park again. It was warm – and the park was crowded.

2012
2012

As soon as I got home my friend said she was going to Marylebone High Street – so I joined her. We went to a few of the shops and then went to Patisserie Valerie for coffee. Before we started going to Raoul’s (whatever year that was) the girls and I used to go to Patisserie Valerie for brunch on Saturdays. I’m so glad we no longer go there because it’s quite terrible. I ordered a caffé frappé which was just disgusting. I really wasn’t having much luck that day. What I really wanted was a mocha light from Starbucks. We went home after that and decided where to go for dinner. My friends had an event to attend and I had some friends to meet at a pub so we decided we’d reconvene at 9pm.

I got ready and met my friends from New York at the Punch Bowl, a pub in Mayfair. I’d never been there but the menu looked interesting. If I was still in London I’d have eaten there by now. We spent about an hour together and I left to join my friends at Bar Boulud in Knightsbridge. Four of us shared the charcuterie board, the boudin blanc sausage, and the escargots. We each had our own main course – I ordered the steak. With truffled mashed potato. Well, it was my last weekend! For dessert I went for the cheese platter while the others wanted something chocolatey.

After dinner I’d arranged to meet my friend from the night before at the Arts Club. He was with some of his uni friends and they had a table in the club downstairs. My friends and I went up to the bar on the first floor to have a drink while we waited for them, but it was so crowded we decided to have a drink in the restaurant bar on the ground floor. When my friend showed up we went down to the club.

There was a live band downstairs – I thought they were OK until they played their last song. They played ‘Purple Rain’ which has one of the best guitar solos ever – and they completely butchered it. If you can’t play it like it should be played, just don’t. When they finished, this geeky looking DJ came on. He looked about 15 years old – but once he started he was so into what he was doing, so passionate, by the end of the evening I wanted to adopt him. I would go back just for him. I didn’t think it would be a late night but of course we stayed until the end! I got home at about 3.30.

We had an impromptu lunch at Yauatcha on Sunday. And we were there just after midday. I know you’re wondering when I slept while I was in London and the answer to that is, I didn’t. We had: prawn and chive dumplings, char siu pau, scallop shiu mai, siew long buns, sticky rice in lotus leaf, mushroom cheung fun, venison puff and turnip cake. Fantastic. Dim sum and diet Coke – perfect food after a late night.

After lunch, I looked at my shopping list and realised I hadn’t bought half the things I was supposed to have (jeans, bras, swimsuit) so I went shopping. I couldn’t find any jeans I liked, I didn’t see a swimsuit I liked, I got measured for new bras but couldn’t find many in my new size. Oh well. That’s what online shopping is for!

I went over to see a friend and his daughter and had coffee at their place that afternoon. When I left I decided to walk home through the park again – I knew it would be the last time for a while and I felt sad.

I got home, started packing and stayed in that evening. We were all exhausted.

I stayed in bed as long as I possibly could on Monday. I knew that once my day started it would fly by and before I knew it I’d be on the flight home. I went to see my tarot reader in the morning – not for a reading, but because I’d promised her daughter she could have my old Yamaha keyboard and it had been on my mind for the last two weeks. I’ve known her for 12 years and we had a coffee together while we talked. After that I went to the Fromagerie for lunch with a friend. I had the slow roast pork belly with mash. My last meal in London had to be pork!

I popped into my office after lunch to say bye to my work friends, headed home to finish packing, and then I was off to the airport.

Leaving London the second time was harder than I thought it would be. It rained all day on Monday – and just as well because if it had been sunny I would have probably stayed! I felt a bit teary in the cab on the way to the airport, driving out of London. I checked in my bags and met up with a friend who was flying to Lagos that evening. He was going to the Virgin Clubhouse so he took me in as his guest. We had a drink (diet Coke) and some food (cheese and charcuterie) and then I had to go.

I got on the plane, put my trolley bag in the overhead locker and sat down. I made a few calls but got mostly voicemail. And when I switched off my phone, I cried. I cried for many reasons and I don’t think being tired helped at all. I am grateful to the lady sitting next to me for leaving me alone and not asking me if I was OK. I was fine once we’d taken off and the drinks trolley was coming round (I had tomato juice, in case you were wondering).

So, that was my fantastic, but hectic, holiday.

High points? Being with my friends. Not having to have the ‘Dubai’ conversation over and over again (How long have you been here? Where did you move from? What do you do? Where do you live?). Walking in the park – simple pleasures.

Low points? Rain. Lack of sleep (entirely my fault). Oslo. Not spending enough time with the people I wante
d to.

Regrets? One or two, but mostly that I didn’t take my DSLR camera with me. Next time…

Read more about London here.

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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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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):

2011

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! 

2011

Read more updates here.

 

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