Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Alright stop. Collaborate and listen.

Long time, no blog. Though if you read my last post to the end, you'll know why. I was summoned to London by the mister. And a good thing too, because it turned out he had to fly straight from London to India. Which would have made a solid three weeks apart for us. Good news though is that the travel will subside (barring any unforeseen auditing emergencies) after he gets back from Mumbai on Saturday.

Anyway, I had lots to do once my flight was booked. Job one, however, was getting the boys booked into their kitteh spa. Because this is the kind of crap they pull when I'm not around. That, of course, is Elwin. (Seriously, of course it is.) I walked into the apartment after running some errands and there he was, sitting pretty-as-you-please right next to the MacBook Pro on the countertop of the kitchen island. Only when I scrambled for my iPhone did he even attempt to move.

So, Elwin safely confined in his deluxe rainforest condo at Suite Paws, away from all granite countertops...I boarded my flight.

After several hours in the air and maybe twenty minutes on the tube, I made it safely into town. Jason was waiting for me with open arms as I slapped my Oyster card onto the reader at Earl's Court. (He tried to meet me at the airport but the west-bound Piccadilly line was delayed and my flight was in early.) All I needed now was breakfast, a change of clothes and a toothbrush and I was ready to go.

It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day so we ambled around until we found ourselves at Hyde Park. In the park, we came across the Serpentine - which, funny enough, neither of us had ever seen before. And we decided we couldn't resist renting a boat and rowing around a bit.

Well, Jason rowed of course.

While I, umm, I don't know...preened?

For some reason, the whole double-sided camera on the new iPhone is causing me to snap all sorts of accidental shots of either my chin or my feet. Here is one such photo. Good thing I didn't have any bears in the cave!

There were swans and geese all over the lake/river/I don't know. Now, generally I am not a fan of swan nor goose. I think they are some mean mofos. But give me a baby swan or baby goose, all little grey downy poufball, and I will quickly change my tune. You can't see them very well in the photo, but there are two such little grey downy poufballs accompanying this swan, sailing appropriately by the swan monument. (The swanument?) A little extreme, no? A monument dedicated to these evil hissing beasts?

After our aquatic respite, we resumed the walking tour - making our way to the Marble Arch. Yet another thing we never saw when we lived here. To be fair, we had avoided this one on purpose as a sort of prank on Jason's stepdad. He used to forever ask us where we lived in relation to the Marble Arch. This was his London landmark. Everything he knew about London, he knew where it was in relation to the Marble Arch. So we thought it endlessly hilarious to always tell him we didn't know where the arch was; that we'd never seen it. He simply could not believe we hadn't been to it.

So, we finally gave it up and decided to check it out. In all honesty, kind of a let down. I've seen a few arches in my day. Wellington Arch - superb. The Arc de Triomphe - now that's an arch. The Cinquantenaire arch in Brussels - stunning. The Marble Arch - eh.

And apparently, the theme of the day was seeing things we'd never seen before. At the corner of Broadwick and Carnaby Streets is the Spirit of Soho mural. It's rather cheeky, showing St. Anne hiding all sorts of famous Soho characters (mostly men, naturally) under her skirt.

When Jason and I found ourselves in the general vicinity of Suze's hotel, we came across this. It appears Mayfair is really rolling out the welcome wagon! And not a moment too soon...

After all the walkings, I was more than ready to sit for a while. And a nice icy Magners cider wouldn't hurt either. So we lucked out with an upstairs table by the open window at the Punch & Judy pub in Covent Garden.

And that's when my favorite Aussie-turned-Northern-Englander turned up! Oh, it's on now.

After a few ciders and a lot of laughs we parted ways for a bit to get changed and gussied up for dinner. Suze had booked us in at a great Asian-fusion place, complete with a disco ball Buddah. I loved it, even though the loos were very tricky indeed. You know, it's just mean to set it up like a funhouse hall of mirrors. I nearly wet my skinny jeans trying to find a stall door that was actually a door.

After dinner, we decided we were up for a cheeky Sunday night cocktail. I was delirious from jet-lag and Suze assured me she only had to be breathing, not actually functioning, for her 9 am conference call. Jason just follows the girls around.

On the way out of the restaurant, Jason gets accosted by a rickshaw driver. We decide we're tourists here now, so why not? Suze makes the fatal mistake of scooting in first. Double decker busses were whizzing by, mere inches from our Rickshaw of Death. And Suze had the pleasure of being in the seat nearest the busses. And, our driver was on his phone almost the whole time. Super!

We manage to take a quick break from screaming for a (dark) photo.

After we were dropped off by the Rickshaw of (Near) Death, we hit up Icebar. Yes, just when London finally gets to a nice and balmy 80 degrees, we go to a bar made of ice. It makes perfect sense. "Hey, I'm perfectly comfy in my short sleeves and sandals! At night! In London! Shall we sit outside and have a cocktail?!?" "Hell no. Let's go someplace where we have to put on a thermal cape just to keep from getting frostbite!" "Okay!" Ice ice baby.

The last time we did this, it was winter. And I was dressed as such. This time, well. Not as much. (That's me in the very flat gladiator sandal. Unlike Suze, I gave up the torture of wearing heels in the city years ago.)

Oh my goth! My tongue ith thuck!

On Monday, Suze had some morning meetings but was free to play by about 1:00. So we met up at Selfridges and killed time looking at things neither of us had any business looking at...you know, since neither of us has Hilton or Kardashian for a surname.

Once we had exhausted ourselves trying on Cartier tank watches, it was time for tea. Suze had taken charge of the booking and I didn't know where we would end up but when she announced our venue as The Berkeley Hotel, I may have squealed a bit. Even though I had done Pret-A-Portea twice before (here with Beth and here with Andrea), I was still very excited since the biscuits and cakes change with every fashion season. And the biscuits and cakes are always something to behold at the Fashionista's Tea. Behold them:

{Image courtesy of www.the-berkeley.co.uk}

First up is the Anya Hindmarch light apricot sponge Halen bag wrapped in almond marzipan. (The Berkeley's descriptions, taken from the menu, will be noted in italics.) Suze mentioned she wasn't a fan of marzipan so I gobbled it up without delay.

It was inspired by Anya's beach bag - honestly, one of the more liberal interpretations I've come across at Pret-A-Portea. The handbags (and shoes) are usually pretty spot on but I'd say some creative liberties were definitely taken here. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It was a tasty treat either way.

{Image courtesy of www.anyahindmarch.com}

Next up is the Jason Wu cocktail dress poppy-seed biscuit embellished with ruffled purple icing, which Suze nommed before I could get a photo. But you can see it there on the top plate in this pic I stole from the nommer in question. (Which, in turn, explains why yours truly is in the background.)

No liberties taken here. What you see is what you get. How amazing is this frock? Jason Wu, I heart you.

{This and all runway images courtesy of www.style.com}

And here we have Chanel’s must-have clog biscuit adorned with chocolate brown studs and white leather glaze. I'm not so sure about the actual clog, but I can assure you that the biscuit version is most certainly a must-have.

Far be it from me to question Kaiser Karl, but I'm not entirely sold on this one. I think perhaps I'll stick to my Tory Burch patent peep-toe wedges thanksverymuch.

Now, this is only half of the Erdem dark silky chocolate cake filled with passion fruit and delicate lace, but I think you get the idea. The idea being, of course, NOMNOMNOM.

I'm not sure how I feel about the real-life version of this one. There's just something about the triangle of delicate lace and how it appears to be spilling forth from her...well...I don't have to actually say it, do I? Okay, fine. Take it away, emaciated model: "GAH! Why is there delicate lace spilling forth from my bajingo?!?!?"

And here's where things start to get really funny... May I present the Paul Smith orange papaya and pink lavender bavarois topped with bowler hat and the Sonia Rykiel vanilla and raspberry jam layered mousse topped with humorous yellow hat. Okay. If you say so.

Inspired by these, erm, interesting chapeaux...


This one looks innocent enough in its edible form...the Christopher Kane pale pink almond macaroon filled with white chocolate and elderflower ganache topped with pink checkerboard.

But the runway version is downright scary. Yes, it's odd, to say the least. But, worse than that...it's horribly unflattering once you get north of the bellybutton. It's basically an ill-fitting bikini top sewn into some skin-tone mesh. What the what??

And now, the Yves Saint Laurent soft romantic white chocolate mousse and raspberry custard with crunchy meringue scattered with mini strawberries. A delight to my tastebuds!

And an assault on my eyes! Uh, Senor Pilati? I'm not sure how the late Monsieur Laurent would feel about your Strawberry Shortcake getup. (I do know, however, that he would love the cake it inspired.)

And finally, the Jean Paul Gaultier fluorescent lemon cheese cake on almond and oat base, accessorized with a bright yellow sugar twirl. Lemon + sugar = NOM. It's a fact.

I suppose this one is pretty tame as runway fashions go. Still, it looks to me like she forgot to cut off the little ribbon strings that are sewn into some dresses and tops to make them stay on the hanger and decided to use them as spaghetti straps.

And finally, a lesson for you all... When you ask the nice girls at the next table to take a photo of you and your friend, maybe try and remember to SIT UP NICE AND STRAIGHT LIKE YOUR GRANDMA TOLD YOU. Else, you too will wind up looking like a lump of pasty flesh in an ikat print sack. Plus, I was having a really good hair day and this pose doesn't show it at all.

After eating our own weight in sugar, what do you think we did next? If you guessed we met Jason for dinner and ate our own weight in steak, you'd be right. And, afterwards, with Suze ensconced in a north-bound Virgin Trains first class carriage, Jason and I attempted to walk off a few of our accumulated calories.

Being that it was only about 8:00, we still had a couple hours of light left. So we made our way from Piccadilly, through Green Park and found ourselves in front of Buckingham Palace. I love the way Big Ben is peeking out of the trees in the distance... (After wandering around Westminster for a while longer, I gave up and begged for a black cab.)

On Tuesday, I was on my own with the city at my doorstep. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that my destination of choice was the V&A museum. I could aimlessly wander that place for hours on end. But, I was not without aim on this visit. I had noticed on Sunday, as Jason and I were strolling around, that there was a Grace Kelly exhibit on.


I also took some time to stroll through the permanent collections and came across this, which made me very sad.

This is a dress from his last complete collection. (He was in the middle of his Fall/Winter 2010 collection when he died. His staff completed the sixteen looks he had started and they were presented in Paris in March.)

Wednesday...new day, same game. Again, left to entertain myself while Jason was at work, I found another special exhibit: Victoria & Albert, Art & Love. It showed all sorts of gifts they had given each other like paintings and jewelry as well as art and objets they had purchased together. And the highlight for me was the section showing Victoria's own drawings and paintings, including her sketchbooks of drawing and color exercises. I had no idea she was so talented, but apparently she had had art lessons her whole life. They were a pretty amazing couple.

For lunch, I took myself out for a favorite English treat, Cornish Pasties. (For the uneducated, as I myself once was, that's pasty pronounced with a short "a" - as in "fast".) Truthfully, I prefer West Cornwall Pasty Company but this place was convenient and I was HONGRY.

Inside this crispy golden crust is an amazing mixture of potato, cheese and onion. My, oh my. (They were out of the regular size cheese and onion ones so I got two minis. Which, actually, I highly recommend because that adds up to more crispy golden crust to enjoy.)

Wednesday night was date night. Jason made a reservation at Pasha, a ridiculously delicious Moroccan place. The decor was insane. It was like we'd stepped off Gloucester Road and into Arabian Nights.

As the hostess led us to our seats, Jason spotted a little enclosed table and asked if we could sit there. It looked like Saint Valentine had puked up Aladdin. This photo doesn't nearly do it justice.

Jason rather enjoyed lording over his Moroccan lair. Perhaps waiting for his harem?

Keep waiting mister. This is all you're getting.

These people don't miss a trick. Even the loo was kitted out to the extreme!

Yes, still the loo. When I showed this pic to Jason back at the table, he asked me if that was the urinal. Yes, Jason. All womens restrooms have urinals. My aim has gotten better and better over the years.

We had ordered a set menu for two, which came with a dessert tower. I'm not kidding. A tower. Just like at afternoon tea. Except more Moroccan-y. Luckily, it was all pretty light fare. A few Turkish Delights. An assortment of Baklava. And the top plate was all fruit.

There were apple slices, some orange slices...and these massive purple things that appeared to grow in bunches, like grapes. Jason picked one up and I'm all "What the hell is that thing?" He stared at me for a few seconds and said "Um, a grape. Seriously?" I was like, "Well, in my defense, I've never seen grapes that are even half the size of these things." This is a bad photo but hopefully you can get the idea. This is my jumbo grape, with my mint tea for scale. The mint tea was in a vessel about the size of tall shot glass. To prove a point, I ate half my grape and said "Well, I'm stuffed."

When we left, we were shocked to find that we were still on Gloucester Road and not in Casablanca.

Remember what I said earlier about the new iPhone causing me to snap accidental shots of my chin and feet? Ahem.

When I got home on Thursday, I was so exhausted and it was smack in the middle of rush hour and a thunderstorm was approaching (which meant that on top of rush hour traffic, there would be thunderstorm traffic because, for whatever reason, presumably intelligent people who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do smart-people things at tech companies in RTP forget how to drive in the rain) and the kitteh hotel was closing in two hours and also the kitteh hotel is off the beltline (the freeway that all those presumably intelligent people use to get home from RTP) and I thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to just go home and lay down on the sofa and not have to set up the litter box and not have to be woken up at dawn by a cat mewing in my face (NOMS NAO, HOOMAN!)"?

So I was a very bad kitteh mommeh and let them stay at the spa for one more night. And, wouldn't you know it, I got really sad when it was time for bed and there was no warm furry purr-machine to snuggle up in the crook of my arm.

But I guess you could say we made up for it later...


5 comments:

andrea said...

Pasties. Yum. I miss those!

Glad you guys had a great time, I wish I could do the Pret-a-Portea again!

Vegemite Wife said...

LOL! Fabulous! Can't believe how quick that trip was and how much you stuffed into it.
Was brilliant to see you!
Roll on October already for the next get together!

Beth said...

"Topped with humorous yellow hat." I so want to use that sentence in real life somehow.

Monique said...

oh wow what a fun trip - you are making me miss London sooooo much!!! YUMMMMM Magners

geo said...

awww London.... I miss you!