At the weekend YB and I went out to a Bierkeller, in Old Street. Apart from the prevalence of stag dos and the deafening 80s power ballads, it was a good night out – there’s a sort of infectious enthusiasm to be had from loud music, two pint glasses of beer, plates piled high with weiner schnitzel and lots of drunk men in silly hats.
Having imbibed suitably, and ready to head home and curl up under a duvet in front of a bad horror movie, we left around 10am – sober enough to enjoy the much drunker people on the tube, including a group of seven girls in the shortest dresses and tackiest shoes they could find in Primark. It was classic watching the dynamic of the cool, popular girl, sporting the sluttiest dress, as the others fawned around her like bees to a honey pot. Sitting next to them were two young guys who were still wrestling with the onset of chin bumfluff, while trying desperately hard not to dribble at the girls. It was prime mating season. YB and I felt very old.
When we got off the tube we had to make a small hosiery related pit stop – which mainly involved me hiking up my crotch on the side of the road. Classy. One guy walking past looked at us quizzically, I explained that I was adjusting my tights, to which he replied: “A man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do.” Big prizes for anyone who can make sense of that one.
Slightly further along the road we came across a girl kneeling on the floor with her handbag and suitcase and all her belongings all over the pavement. The boyfriend (we assumed) was leaning against a wall looking resigned, and kind of bored.
“Everything alright here,” asks YB in manner of concerned bobby on the beat.
We attempt to walk on when the crazy, drunk girl shouts: “Oi, wait…” Turning around, excepting some sort of verbal attack YB is met with a massive hug. “You have such good karma mate,” says the crazy drunk girl. “That’s, like, amazing. Really. You’re awesome.”
She catches sight of me. “And you. Hey. Let me give you a hug too. It’s all about the karma.” I lean in for my hug, which is more of a drunken drape, but hey, it’s a hug from a stranger and that means a Good Night in my book.
“Have you lost something,” I ask?
“Yeah, my wallet, it’s, like, just, gone,” she replies. I nod, sagely. “Don’t worry, it’ll be in there somewhere.” Crazy drunk girl smiles and bounces back to her mid-pavement unpacking, all the while yelling; “Karma, man, you guys are the BEST.”
We walk on, giggling at the randomness of strangers, and then, just as we get to our front door, we hear a wooping of delight from way down the street.
Yes. Crazy, drunk girl has found her wallet.
…and I take YB to the zoo!
We were supposed to be going to Norfolk this weekend to see a friend but then plans changed so we were suddenley blessed with four whole days off and no plans. I love it when that happens. And boy did we live it up large in London town. We got free tickets to Frances Alys exhibition at the Tate Modern from my sister who works there, I SO know the right people. Then we had spicy chicken pasta at a restaurant on the Southbank looking out at the Thames. Bliss.
Then the next day we woke up late, headed to the cinema – and then to Le Relais de Venise – an amazing French institution of a restaurant which serves nothing but steak and frites and great wine. We queued for an hour, and I had a temper tantrum as is my wont when queuing and YB dealt with it admirably by mainly ignoring me and chatting to the couple of front of me. I soon got out of my huff when I realised it was going to have NO impact whatsoever.
And, finally, the day after THAT we woke up late and I suddenely sat up in bed all inspired a la Einstein and said: “Let’s go to the zoo.” We spent a blissful five hours wandering around the zoo seeing giraffes and snakes and tropical fish (see left) and tigers and monkeys and butterflies and gorillas and tarantulas and giant cockraoches and kimodo dragons and pottos (see above). YB was like a pig in mud, (we saw those too), proper happy. And then we went home and I cooked an Italiano feast of Aracnini, mozzarella, tomato, avocado, parma ham, olives, foccacia, arrabbiatta and marinated artichoke. Good times.
And you know what the best thing about the whole weekend was? We didn’t get sick of each other. Not even once. In fact, I didn’t even realise we hadn’t spoken to anyone else but ourselves for four whole days.
Eggs collected from a quaint farm in the country near my father, scrambled egg recipe from my mother, sweet baby tomatoes grown by YB, fresh chives picked from my herb garden, healthy sunflower toast with salted butter – all served on an antique plate my grandmother left me, with English tea in a mug from Anthropologie that my sister gave me, with YB’s initial on it…eaten on my mid-week day off. Does it get any better?
Shortly after my grandmother died, YB took me away for a belated birthday trip to Cornwall. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and as we walked around the coast, ate fish and drank white wine looking over the harbour, I was able to relax a little. We stayed in the most beautiful bed and breakfast that YB chose, with Egyptian cotton sheets, a roll top Victorian bath, views across the harbour and freshly baked warm chocolate brownies in our room each afternoon. It was perfection.
I love that pic of YB wobbling about on those rocks with a dark, gathering sky behind him – he was actually attemting to go rockpooling, (without a net) which I think is kind of sweet. He did actually manage to catch a couple of tiny little fish. Bless.
Sorry i’ve been away for so long. Things happened, time ran away with me somewhat and now suddenly it’s August.
The big, and sad news, is that despite her brave fight, my dear grandmother died on 19th July. It still feels strange and difficult to write those words. I spent the next couple of weeks at her home, with my mother and sister Laura, and my three aunts and one uncle as we planned her funeral and tried in some small way to make sense of what felt, at times, like such a waste. Laura and I fell naturally, and for the most part, easily, into a helpful role, for which we became known as ‘the fairies’ – cooking, cleaning and generally providing for the rest of our family. Depsite it being hard at times, I also felt incredibly blessed to be part of things in the those first, difficult days. And to be needed. I don’t think before I have ever quite understood how wonderful it is to be truly, truly needed.
Being in my grandmother’s house during this time was actually incredibly emotive, but it gave us all strength. As if by her very nature she had gathered us all together when we most needed it. I supppose in a way I simply felt enveloped by her virtual arms, wrapped around her house and cocooning us all.
We buried her on a beautiful July day, and decorated her simple coffin with hundreds of wild flowers. We sang, and cried and grieved and shared our pain. The next day one of her sons in law said to me: “I don’t think she would have disapproved of anything yesterday…” And he was right. I guess you can’t ask for a better send off, or memorial, than that.
YB has been wonderful during all this, despite how hard it must have been – and I have been touched by his support. And his endless patience. Being the supportive other half of someone going through grief is an often thankless and difficult task, but he coped admirably with everything that I threw at him. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy either, because at times it wasn’t, but I know he did his best for me, and that was all I needed.
there together, with her. The hospital was peaceful and calm, and the nurses quiet and kind – she had floor to ceiling windows behind her bed, and at one point I remember describing the beautiful June sun filtering through the trees outside, and the early evening light making everything glow – I was really taking a bit of artistic licence with what was in actuality just a car park… but it felt good talking to her about the world outside. Sometimes it’s the normal things in the most abnormal cicrumstances that keep you going.
So back to London, and my grandmother has LOVED hearing about the elephants we’ve been finding all over the city (though they’ve been rounded up now and can be found in Kensington Gardens). Part of a Save the Elephants campaign, giant statues of sitting and standing elephants have been turned into beautiful artistic statements; here’s a selection of my favourites.
And I celebrated my 29th birthday, the first since YB has moved in, and it was lovely to actually hear him say Happy Birthday to me when I awoke on Saturday morning, rather than via a text message. He spoilt me good and proper, and got up early, headed out for flowers and croissants, and we had breakfast in bed and presents galore. It was gorgeous.
Then a week later my sister turned 27 and we headed to the park for a picnic of sublime proportions – duck and champagne pate, dressed crab, Pie D’Angloys cheese, feta and tomato tabboulleh, Prosecco, Milano salami, artisan bread, balsamic vinegar crisps, strawberries, chocolate and Portugese custard tarts. The sun shone, we giggled and shared presents, and then headed to the cricket to watch the 20/20. It was a perfect day, of boiling English sunshine, friends and family, pints of Pimms, the sound of willow on leather, cheering fans and happy laughter. Oh and some rather sub-standard cheerleaders which kept the boys amused and made the girls laugh.
The last couple of weeks have reminded me about the importance of family, and of those friends who are really there for you when you need it. Being able to find laughter and happiness, amid some painful and challenging times,has been great, and has given me strength. I feel quite blessed. YB especially has been a rock – driving me down to Cheltenham at a moment’s notice, cooking dinner for me and my two sisters when we returned from hospital, handing out double his usual quota of cuddles, and distracting me with World Cup trivia and updates on his broad beans and potatoes. Knowing you can rely on people when things are hard has got to be one of the most important things in life.
Wowzers, it’s been a fair few weeks since I graced these pages with my words of wisdom. I think a super speed run down of events would be a good way to keep you all informed of our domestic lives….
1) One night in casualty – yes, this was not so good. Some crazy drunken antics (not mine) with an escaltor led to a unspeakably dull seven and half hours in casualty, (or E.R to the Yanks reading this). Sadly there was no Dr Carter to soften the blow, just an increasing amount of randomly injured drunk people (including the one I was with), and some really incompetent doctors. How does it take SEVEN HOURS to see someone who has a moderate cut on their knee? SEVEN freakin’ hours. It was like Carry on Doctoring, or Medicine for the Mentally Impaired. A doctor took over two hours to sew up my friend’s knee; two hours to do a sewing job which a nurse later called ‘a disaster’. She said the doctor who dealt with us was ‘an incompetent butcher’. And my friend got an infection in the knee wound and had to have antibiotics. Hopeless. So glad my NHS quids are being well spent. Still the silver lining was what a trooper YB was, uncimplainingly he sat with us all night, keeping himself occupied by trying every different flavour of crisps in the vending machine, and then taking over the handholding duties when I decided to faint from all the blood and gore, stress and tiredness. He even hates needles and blood and he STILL took over while I turned white and tried not to pass out. Hopeless hospital, nil; awesome YB, one.
2) One world cup – and a whole raft of disappointments. World Cup Fever here was dead exciting in the outset; I loved watching Spain, Agentina, Slovakia, Germany and Brazil play – loved the shock defeats and underdog triumphs. Loved the flags and the camraderie, the lazy summer beers and the 7-0 games. It was awesome. But I hated watching England play; they were AWFUL. Total and utter RUBBISH. Every morning in the office the analysis would begin, every one putting forward their ‘expert opinion’. There is no need for expert opinion. We are not a team; we are not, as a nation, good at football anymore. We are really only a bunch of overpaid primadonnas who just happend to rock up on the same pitch at the same time wearing the same coloured t-shirts. That is not unity; that is not a team – that is just a fashion faux pas at a 90 minute party.
3) One hot birthday week – it’s been sublime weather here, and it was my birthday on Saturday. Not to be outdone by only having one day a year where I can legitmiately act like a princess, I invented Birthday Week a while back. It allows me a whole week of indulgence. And boy did I indulge: I had a week off, met girlfriends and my mother for lunch, got my eyebrows done, went for a facial, had some retail therapy, stayed up late, sunbathed, watched football and tennis, and treated myself to some top notch ME time. It was ace. And then on my birthday, I was greeted with croissants and tea in bed, and lots of LOVELY presents, before having lunch on our roof terrace in the sunshine. It was blissful. Especially waking up on my birthday to see YB, instead of getting a birthday text message from him. Those are the little things about living together that make it really awesome.