Tuesday, December 11, 2012

London: fun with friends and family

Friday night was the "big" birthday drinks, the initial inspiration behind coming to London. I invited basically everyone I knew in London, and most of them were able to come along. One notable exception was my kiwi Tours friend Marion, who was away for the weekend in Berlin, but I managed to catch up with her for drinks on Thursday, so that was okay.

We set the rendezvous early, at 6 pm, so that people could come straight from work if they wanted, and booked a space at the upstairs cocktail bar of The Fellow in King's Cross.


With the early start, I had just enough time to jump in the shower with a glass of bubbly before we were on our way. It was pretty crowded with afterwork drinkers when we arrived, so it was good that we had a table booked - a cosy booth, which was the perfect size to fit us around it while being at least theoretically close enough to talk to everyone. In practice, the music was uncomfortably loud, too loud for the speakers even, so it wasn't even that nice to listen to and you had to shout to be heard above it. That's my only complaint though, other than that it was a pretty classy place, with good company of course! I think my sister would also complain that they only served cheeseboards upstairs and they wouldn't let you order chips downstairs and bring them up. Jess and a few others went on a burrito mission instead, and brought back an absolutely delicious chicken burrito for me, crammed with refried beans, salsa, sour cream and guacamole, mmmmm! I don't know when the last time I had a burrito was!

It was great catching up with a lot of people, including some I hadn't seen in quite a while. As well as me and my sister Jess, there was our cousin Vanessa (who, you may recall, I recently saw in Paris), my friend Rick (who visited back in March) and his girlfriend Sonya, my friend Amber (from uni in Wellington), my friend Ruth (whom I visited in March) and Ruth's friend Becky, who once went on a North Island roadtrip with Ruth and me, and was also an attendee at the famous Barbecue of the Four Thai Princes. That sounds like an amazing story, but it's basically just this one time, we went to a barbecue at my aunt's house with four Thai Princes and one Thai ex-Princess. And the four Thai Princes were not very attractive, but I think we all tried a little bit of flirting anyway, because they're princes (and also pilots and doctors and engineers and such things - not all at once, of course) but they politely ran away every time we tried to talk to them.

We were all amazingly well-behaved - despite the early start, I don't think anyone really got drunk, and we made sure to get the tube home at around midnight before they stopped running. I would take this as a sign I'm suddenly becoming all mature and responsible at (almost) 30, but I think a) next weekend will prove me wrong, and b) it was more down to sticking to yummy cider and spacing things out over the course of what was, after all, a 6-hour drinks.

Jess, me, and our cousin Vanessa. I just upset my mum by blaming her bad genes for my hands getting super-dry and cracked. (True story though!) So to make up for it, I think there are some good genes going on in this one. Also, I got magnetic nail polish as part of my birthday present from Jess. You can't really see, but you paint your nail and then hold a magnet on top, and it makes a special pattern (chevrons, in this case). Be careful, though - I told my friend Ruth I had magnetic nail polish & she tried to pull it off! *Not held on by magnets*

Liz, Jess and me

Amber, me (caught in the middle of pondering the trade deficit) and Jess

My mini birthday bouquet from Rick. It also had roses, which you can't see

Rick and Sonya. I put a 1960s filter on them, cos they look like a two-person blast from the past here

Me & Ruthie
Then on Saturday night, Jess and I had dinner at the 67m-high London icon that is the OXO tower. It has an amazing view and delicious food to match. I had duck two ways for my main, which came with some scrumptious pumpkin chutney (am I looking in the wrong places, or is good chutney really hard to find in France?), kohlrabi, a sweet potato fondant that I gave to Jess, and a couple of unidentified (by me, the menu did say but I forgot) sauces. Very nice! The side of spinach we got and Jess's lobster mash which she generously let me share were also delish.

Then for dessert, we had a selection of scrummy chocolate desserts. My favourite was the fondant, just ahead of the caramel, which Jess preferred. Chocolate-orange truffle came in third place, with a hazelnut praline meringue bringing up the rear (unsurprisingly, since I don't really like meringue).

The service was ridiculously attentive - we thought there was one guy just on cutlery duty i.e. taking away unneeded or used cutlery and bringing more, but when Jess went to the bathroom he swooped in to refold her napkin back into a triangle, so I guess that was his job as well. It was a lovely evening, I was spoilt as usual by big sis!

Jess and the super-yummy chocolate plate

We didn't get a seat by the window, but you could still enjoy the fantastic view

The blue light made the food look a bit strange in photographs. It wasn't, however, responsible for making it look like a smiley face!

Snapped this pic on the way home from dinner
We had another early night on Saturday, because I had to set my alarm for 3.30 am to be up and out to Stansted airport for my 6.50 am flight. Everything actually went very smoothly - it was a bit surreal being on the night bus to Liverpool St. Station with a bunch of drunks when I had already been to sleep and was up and starting my day! I had a short wait at Liverpool St. and then from there it was pretty much straight off the Stansted Express, through airport security, and on to the plane. Ryanair does get a lot of stick, but I've rarely had problems with them. In this instance, they didn't weigh my luggage, so there was no need to worry that the various little bits and bobs of birthday presents and so on put me over the limit, and everything was fine. Their normal practice of "we'll tell everyone the flight should take longer than it actually does, so that we always arrive early" is a bit annoying though, since there is a bus at Tours which is meant to meet the plane, but was nowhere to be seen after hanging about for half an hour. Oh well, since I had my ipad, I looked up how to walk to the nearest regular bus stop, which is not that far from the airport, and thus saved myself 3.40€ on bus fare, at the cost of a bit of inconvenience.

All in all, I had a really lovely London trip, a great way to kick off my 30th birthday celebrations in style! Oh, and thanks to all those free things and people being nice and buying me dinner and drinks and stuff, I came in under budget, yay! A big thank you to everyone who came and celebrated with me xxx

Flying back to France as the sun came up


PS This is my lucky 500th blog post! Actually, there are a few unpublished drafts on the books, so not the 500th to be published, but hey...

27 comments:

  1. The French people in my life don't seem to have a clue what chutney is! I rarely see it in France.
    Sounds like a rip-roaring birthday week-end. I'm a bit jealous!

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    1. I'm afraid it was only Part 1 of the 3-part birthday extravaganza too!

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  2. Congratulatons on your 500th post and your BIG 30th birthday.

    I hate it in places when you can't hear yourself speak for the music and then get a sore throat from shouting. Still it sounds like you didn't let it bother you and had a lovely weekend of yummy food, drink and seeing people that you love....that's what life is all about,Yes?

    ..and now that you are going to "morph into a crippled hag" you will have to be responsible, go to bed early and stop all this globe trotting and other shinanigins.....NOT! LOL!

    please carry on i love reading your blog. The best is yet to come!

    Sorry you didn't catch your prince.

    Love denise

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    1. Thanks so much. Ha, there were shenanigans this weekend, I assure you!

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  3. I read that as 'my sister who always spoils everything' and was momentarily miffed! x

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  4. That's funny - I only remember 3 princes.

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    1. Oh, was it only 3? According to Wikipedia, 4 sons exist, so could go either way.

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  5. I have found the *original* text sent on Christmas Day in 2008, which reads "hello if you can make it here before about 5.30 tmr i can offer you a bbq with 4 exiled thai princes and & 1 princess, all eligible bachelors". So that solves the number of princes issue, but not why the princess is also consdered a bachelor?

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    1. You still have texts from 2008!?! I think you could do some blackmailing with those if you turned evil. Trust you to come through with solid evidence though. As to the bachelor princess, that must remain a mystery!

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  6. Yes it is four!

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    1. Of course, I'm always right!

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  7. Now about this burrito that was crammed with refried beans, salsa, sour cream and guacamole ... where EXACTLY did your sister find it. It may be reason enough for me to book a Eurostar ticket to London asap. I'm sure that English burritos have to be better than the variety we get in Paris.

    Congratulations on your 30th birthday and your 500th blog post! Those are both significant milestones. It's just a shame that you inherited your mum's bad hand genes. ;) I just told Sara about the magnetic nail polish. She's going to look for it when she's in London this weekend.

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    1. I think it was just called the Burrito Café http://www.burritocafe.co.uk/ V. handily located for the Eurostar!

      Nail polish is Nails Inc. http://www.nailsinc.com/ Looks like it can be found at Debenhams and Selfridges, amongst other places. Jess also got me a little pack of pretty sparkly colours

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    2. Thanks for the info! Burrito Café - here I come.

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  8. Getting the tube home by midnight is definitely a sign of maturity! :)
    Your celebrations looked like they were a blast, especially the part about the burrito! (I'd kill for a burrito right about now).
    And can I just say I'm in total shock that Ryan Air didn't weigh your bags. SHOCKED! They are normally such Nazis about it.

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    1. I regressed pretty rapidly the next weekend, I'm afraid! Yeah, dunno, sometimes they are, sometimes they are okay. They're the only airline that flies to Tours, so I've flown with them quite a few times and unlike Easyjet at least I've never had problems with delays and stuff.

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  9. I must have confused the princes with the 3 stooges. Hang on though there were 4 of them too!

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  10. Gorgeous dress at your London Party, Madame and 500 congrats on the the 500th post!!!

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    1. Thankyou, I do love a good dress!

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  11. No it's Mum - I thought frock sounded funnier...

    xx

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  12. I'm loving that your birthday celebration is continuing! Doesn't it still feel like your birthday? How did we not talk about magnetic polish at your birthday brunch? What is it? Do you paint it on like normal polish?

    And you're so fancy, flying from London to Paris...no trains for our Gwan on her birthday! xo! ; )

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    1. I think i've moved on from my bday at this stage, about time! Yes, it goes on like normal polish then you hold a magnet above it and it somehow draws out a pattern. V cool!

      Not super fancy, you forget that it's not as easy for me to take the eurostar as it is for ypu parisian girls! There is a direct tours-london flight which can work out cheaper

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