Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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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Leaving drinks…

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned my work leaving drinks…

From the time I told my friends at work I was moving to Dubai, Laura was determined I would have the best send-off EVER. ‘Where do you want to go?’ she kept asking. I didn’t mind anywhere, even The Wimpole, the pub across the road from the office. ‘We are NOT going there; we go there all the time; this has to be GOOD!’ was the response I got.

So she found a place called Amuse Bouche in Poland Street in Soho. The alcohol seemed reasonably priced and the manager was very helpful when it came to queries, reserving a space for 30 people and ordering platters of food. (We hadn’t given them any money yet.)

‘What leaving presents do you want?’ I was being asked. Hmm. Tricky. Most of my stuff had been shipped so I didn’t want anything too bulky or heavy. An arm band for my iPod… Mini tarot cards for my handbag… Someone asked me about a passport cover and I remembered the ones at Smythson which I love but would never buy for myself…

The weeks passed by quickly and before I knew it, it was the morning of the drinks. When I got to work and sat down. Laura came over to my desk and said ‘I can’t get on to the website for Amuse Bouche – wouldn’t it be funny if they’ve shut down!’ Er. No, actually – that wouldn’t be funny at all. And I didn’t think about that for the rest of the day until…

At about 3pm, Laura decided to ring them to make sure everything was in order and they were ready for us. We knew she was on the phone to them and could hear her conversation but everyone got on with their own work until we heard her say… ‘YOU ARE JOKING!’ Heads popped up above the desk dividers – everyone looked around at each other like meerkats. Waiting. She hung up.

‘They’ve been sold and the place has been gutted and we’re not going there this evening!’ Er. Didn’t they think to let us know? My drinks were supposed to start at 5pm and we had less than two hours to find a venue. In Oxford Circus. At Christmas time.

Two or three people started ringing some local pubs but venues had been booked months in advance (like Amuse Bouche – bastards). We almost ended up in the upstairs section at The Champion in Wells Street. Eventually one of my colleagues went over to The Wimpole to see if they could accommodate us. It turned out they could fit us in and they had a private room downstairs with its own bar which they opened for us…

It turned out to be a very fun evening and was quite fitting that we were at The Wimpole, having spent so much time there. There were lots of drinks, my boss and two ex-bosses said some lovely things about me, and I managed to get away without making a speech!

I got some amazing presents too…

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The first thing I opened was a pink iPad cover. And I already had the exact same cover in the same colour. Oops.

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The next thing I opened was the mini Tarot deck – I can’t wait to use it! I was told to leave the biggest present for the end so I opened the smaller box – which turned out to be a pink Smythson passport holder. 

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And there were cards…

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And a bottle of champagne and a bottle of red wine (which we drank)…

But by far the best and most unexpected present was a canvas bag with everyone’s self-portraits printed on it:

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The department drew their own self-portraits using Microsoft Paint. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. And I burst out laughing when I saw some of the self-portraits!

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It was just genius.

I was (and still am) so touched by the thought that went into those presents. Laura also gave me a separate card just from her – and she’d also created a few of her own Tarot cards as well. If you look closely in a couple of the photos above you can see them. We spent much of the night laughing about them!

After the pub closed (and we got thrown out) we ended up at Maroush in Vere Street, just around the corner. Food was very necessary at this p
oint, but I’m not so sure about the bottles of wine! 

I think everyone had a good time that night – I know it’s a night I won’t ever forget!

 

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Silent Sunday 27

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Silent Sunday

 

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