Sunday, 27 March 2011

Friendly feeders + a birthday trip.

Not having a party just meant that my birthday became 5 days long instead of 1 long night. I am most certainly not complaining since I have had a wondrous few days but now I absolutely am the oldest I've ever been, probably the fattest I've ever been and pretty knackered.

Wednesday - The Birthday Eve Eve
Met an old chum after work at Pizza Express Baker Street for dinner and a chin wag. Despite me vowing to never eat again, I had a lovely Rustichella on a Romana base. After 20 years of Giardinera's with ham I thought I'd try something new. Also the thin base meant it was less calories I think. Received some lovely blooms and admired the Baker Street PE which I'd never been to before but will definietly be re-visiting. Great staff, lovely posh decor and not too rammed, a high 8 dough balls out of a possible 10 I think for this branch.

Thursday - The Birthday Eve
What a lovely day! I think we are out of the winter!

Met another chum after work at Mortimers (my old favorite place to go for the famous one drink which always turned into 3 bottles) for a swifty, then on to dinner at Dim T on Charotte Street. I love Dim T and was already planning to rate them 10 pork buns out of 10 just for letting us have a table and then an accident/ miracle occurred. The waitress smashed a glass on our table sending shards of glass all over the place and more worryingly into the direction of my face. For a split second I thought I had some in my eye so ran to the toilets where I retrieved a small glass splinter that was resting on my right eyelid. A couple of millimetres down and I would be writing this to you from Moorfields, but luckily I was able to finish my dinner with 2 eyes. Even luckier than this, Dim T gave us our dinner for free! Definietly worth being blinded in one eye during a period of freelancing in a recession for a free 1/4 crispy duck. I'm afraid I will have to mark them down slightly for the near blinding incident so Dim T can have 8 eye patches out of a possible 10 this time round but I'm confident they will score higher on my next visit.

One for the road at the Marquis of Granby on Rathbone Place and then home to bed. I really like this pub in the summer although its a bit tatty and you have to be the size of an 8 year old child to use the toilets, but it always has a good atmosphere and the prices are reasonable.

Woke up, opened some cards, opened The Wigs gifts ( a cycle helmet, a china bird and a mystery trip away for the weekend), put the regulation 'Happy birthday' specs on, walked to Hackney Central, got a coffee from the lovely Climpson's coffee man in Hackney Central then any birthday mood that I had managed to muster quickly disappeared as I had my 2nd session of 'Brain Re-wiring' at St Leonard's Hospital. Its actual re-wiring, its hypothetical. I'm not really sure what is going to be achieved my attending these sessions over the next 8 weeks but since it took 3 months to get a place on the programme I thought I may as well give it a bit of a go.

After that, straight to work and a lovely gift from my 'boss', beautifully wrapped in the pages of Campaign Magazine (an advertising mag) was left on my desk, its great to be working alongside such a creative genius.

As well as this gift (a cruet consisting of 2 wind up Robots) I was also being treated to lunch. Its hard to be on a diet when your friends are feeders. I had been looking forward to this all week as my boss said we could go to Bodean's on Poland Street. However we hadn't bargained on the rest of Soho having the same idea so couldn't get a table, despite me wearing my Birthday specs. Luckily I had a back up plan and we went to Cote instead on Wardour Street.

Cote is also a chain which seems to be popping up all over the place at the moment. I've never been to one before but was very impressed. The staff were friendly and attentive, the food was delicious and beautifully presented and the restaurant was smart without being stuffy. Also, it opens early in the morning so you can come early and try out the breakfast menu. Cote can have 9 dessert wines out of a possible 10.

Rather excitingly I have also managed to bag myself a 2nd hand birthday trip abroard in May. My best friend had booked a trip for her and her boyfriend in a few weeks time for his birthday but unfortunately he cant go! Step up me! I don't know too much about it but I'm really looking forward to it and I don't mind having a second hand birthday gift. The only slight problem with this is that the trip coincides with some possible work I had been approached about for the LA Art School which I will now not be around for. This is quite annoying as it was quite an interesting thing to be involved in albeit in a small way, and perhaps if I had known about it sooner things would have worked out but I guess thats what happens when you are freelance.

Finally, at the end of the day I met up with another friend for a quick 'cheers' at the Kings Arms on Great Titchfield Street. This is another great pub which is slightly tucked away but always packed inside and out with the people that work in the area. I had worked near it for years before finding it but now I know its there its one of may favourite pubs in W1. The landlord is a bit bonkers, in a good way, and the staff are always friendly.

Saturday - The Birthday trip day 1
I have been wanting to go to Holt in Norfolk for quite some time. Ever since my friend said it had a lot of juicy antique shops I have wanted to go. The (kind and thoughtful) Wig knew this, so my surprise trip away was a night in Holt. I was very excited, so we got up early, caught the train from Liverpool Street and set off on our journey. Going in the opposite direction to the sun. You can't get a train directly to Holt so we had to go via Sherringham where we had a quick look at the sea.

2 minutes later we caught a cab to Holt and as soon as we arrived to this beautiful little village/town I realised I had actually been there before with my Ex-boyfriend. What an idiot. My friends will confirm that I have the worst memory in the world if this incident didn't prove it.

Never mind. The Wig had booked us into Byfords which calls itself a Posh B+B and it was really super. There is a deli making homemade cakes, pasties and pies etc and a restaurant at the front of the building and 16 rooms at the back. The attention to detail here was extremely impressive and I wouldn't call it a B+B, its definitely hotel standard.

Extra little touches included:

* A complimentary coffee and cake from the deli on arrival.
* Heart shaped, homemade shortbread biscuits in the room alongside a very well stocked tea tray (Decaf coffee, tea, hot chocolate, horlicks, fruit teas)
* Train time tables and local information leaflets.
* Fresh Lillies in the bathroom.
* Well stocked bathroom items including cotton wool, ear cleaners + sanitary products.
* Bang + Olufson TV and stereo in the bedroom and study(?!) and connected to speakers in the bathroom.
* Jar of Communal Midnight Cookies in the hallway in the evening.
* Fresh fruit in the hallway.

Very impressive indeed and I would rate Byfords 9 cotton wool balls out of 10.

Our cab driver had said we must try Alberts Fish Bar for the best fish and chips is Holt. So we shared some haddock and chips and it was streets ahead of the fish and chips we had at Poppies last week.

Next onto some serious old stuff sniffing around and the purchase of an old wooden hanger (I have a plan for this so its not such a random purchase as one might think), a small portrait of Elizabeth II, a white glug jug, (I've never seen a white one before) and another old leather case. The antique shops here were good although I didn't like being followed around by the elderly owners each time we went into a different shop. I don't know if we smelt of out of town, or if its because we were under 50 years old (just) but it was slightly irritating. Like being followed around by  a 3D shadow with white hair.

We went back to Byfords for dinner and had a couple of delicious deli boards to share.

Sunday- The Birthday trip day 2
After an Eggs Benedict which I couldnt eat (not really surprising), we headed off to another village called Aylsham to go to an Antique fair. It was being held in a very dated hotel and had about 15 stalls but was just about worth the visit since we bought a lovely little desk calender, a victorian pewter snuff box and some unusual leather tools which we are going to use for printing when we finally get round to making our wedding invites.

A final pit stop off in Norwich and then back home to London for 5pm. All in all a really great few days but I'm worn out and it really isn't the best weekend to have an hour nicked off you. I'm going to nick it back in October and maybe squeeze in another birthday treat then.

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