12 days of Christmas, Part 2

While the rest of Christmas day turned out quite rainy and grey, Boxing Day dawned with sunshine and blue skies. It was cold though! We dropped E back at her place in the City and went for a walk along the Southbank, then went to pick up my dad from Heathrow. As a treat, we went to China Tang for some dim sum, food very nice for London (though generally the chinese food is limited to Cantonese style cuisine. Not so refined…. I gotta get myself back to Taipei!!).

Thursday we took Deuce for a long walk in Ken Gardens, then went to Pret a Portea in the Berkeley Hotel. This was pretty cool stuff! High tea, where all the cakes are inspired by London Fashion Week. There was an alexander mcqueen lime lemon and coconut mousse (in the colours of one of his gowns), a Missoni cake, Zac Posen tux chocolate cookie… alot of fun.

Friday morning we went and strolled through Burlington Arcade, a long covered shopping street, with a glass roof. They have Beadles, a sort of liveried guard, who patrol the arcade and enforce (though quite gently and politely) the antiquitated rules – no chewing gum, no prams, no singing, no opening of umbrellas.

David’s folks and brother, and his brother’s girlfriend came by for lunch – first meeting of both parents and we wandered up to the pub by the river for lunch. Sue brought us her first sock, a lovely twisted rib from Sensational Knitted Socks, and some homemade mince pies. We exchanged more Xmas pressies – Deuce received a wonderful framed series of photos (of himself, of course!) with his name framing them.

Saturday we went to Harrods and experienced the insanity that is the post Christmas sales, and tried to go to Beirut Express on the Old Brompton Road for lunch, except they wouldn’t let us sit at a table because I wanted to have one of their sandwiches (never mind that we would be ordering other things!). Strange as we’ve been going there since it opened, and have never had this issue come up before. Besides which, the place was empty. No one at any of the tables, and only 4 people at the kebab bar. Needless to say we left, and stumbled into David’s favourite, the Big Easy.

A little shopping along Kings Road, and it was time for the folks to head home. Deuce I think was bit sad, since he kept sitting in my mom’s suitcase, refusing to move! It was really nice to have my folks here, and they loved Deuce (I knew my mom would!).

Sunday we were up early for some climbing (hurrah!) and went to my fave Malaysian place Nyonya for some food. David made a delicious goose pie for dinner, Max and Kat came over, and we watched another Dexter episode (I want to save these for Sunday evenings to make it last, but alas I haven’t been very good about it!) and then Old School.

Monday today, New Year’s Eve. Today the plan is to clean the house, and then we’ve got some friends coming over for dinner to ring in the new year!

Have a wonderful new year everyone!

The 12 Days Christmas – Part 1, the first 8

Just realised it has been 2 weeks since my last post! Bad bad Alice….

let’s see – to recap the last couple weeks here… well, the obvious is that Christmas has come and gone (in record time it seems this year – wasn’t it only September a little while ago???). I think once the last parcels for the Socktopus Sock Club were sent out I sort of just melted into a heap of Christmas cheer – too much mulled wine perhaps! I did realise in reading my last post (or rather, David pointed it out) that in fact I had gone to see the Golden Compass the previous week, and that when I said Golden Compass, really I meant Enchanted (a fluffy feel good fun movie with alot of hamming. Panto on the big screen). Brain = mush.

I’ve been keeping up with blogs I read, but simply not updating mine. David’s folks were here yesterday to meet mine, and Frank asked what had happened to my blog! only then did I realise how lax I have been! Sorry dear readers. My new year’s resolution is to blog more frequently, nay, daily. it will be written into my new weekly schedule. I will pin it to the wall in my study.

So activities: I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done on the 21st, wrapped and under the tree.

A treat on the 22nd – a visit from and old colleague who currently lives in HK. We met up and headed out to Borough Market where we sampled all the mulled wine (seriously, we tried out all 3 offerings and there was a clear winner – the third one down from Roast, towards Applebys, or the second one in from Applebys. Yummy! Sunday I cannot remember what on earth I did -I think I did some manic christmas knitting (clever me started on Sunday for a Tuesday showing. Deluded, perhaps?).

Monday David & I went to my old office, and picked up my box of stuff (very important belongings – my mug with my goddaughter’s pictures on it, and my very nice black shoes. My only very nice black shoes! And my bike). We also picked Ellen up, my dear doppelganger who is here back from NYC to provide some much needed support to the team.

Christmas Eve we had fondue, Kat and Max came over and we watched It’s A wonderful life – which we found on google.video. The entire thing. It played like a youtube clip, only 2 hours long. Wild.

My mom also arrived Christmas eve, so I popped out to pick her up after dinner, and we all hung out and drank mulled pimms when she arrived.

Christmas Day arrived bright and sunny, we had french toast for breakfast, then proceeded to rip open all our gifts. I got some cracking presents – a Dexter dvd set from my cousins J & J, creepy but compelling and oddly, quite funny in a black way. E brought a parody of the Dangerous Book for Boys, called teh Dangerous Book for Dogs. I’ll do some excerpts later. Very funny. David got me a touching book of poems on Dogs – again I’ll do an excerpt. The pug poem was so sweet. My mom brought all manner of goodies – the best by far being Bubble Milk Tea – the tapioca bubbles which are delicious and so so easy to cook (boil for 20 minutes, cover and let sit for 20 minutes – drain. Presto!). and Teh Tarik sachets for the milk tea…. and the big F off straws for bubble tea. AWESOME. S made me a beautiful necklace and earrings – i only realised she’d made them herself when i noticed that the jade beads looked somewhat familiar (she’d bought them on her last visit to London!).

We watched movies all day – How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the 60s version), Sound of Music, Shrek 3, can’t remember what else. We managed to get out to visit Kat’s house (to pick up Shrek 3).

Dinner of course was goose – started with a homemade goose liver pate, then followed with a perfectly turned out goose (David is really excelling himself!). The potatoes he did in our microwave/oven and they crisped really well. Dessert was a sticky toffee pudding from Borough Market. All washed down with bubbly and and ’83 port.

Ahhhhh. Now for a well earned cuppa!

I’ve been maniacally putting together the parcels for the Socktopus Club – and they are finally all off. Every last one. Am very pleased, and relieved. Friday all day was spent putting them together, and Alli and Ellen came and helped out on Friday evening, sort of like a production line.

Saturday was more, but I took the afternoon and evening off and enjoyed a lovely afternoon with our old friends Ed and Alison who came to visit the new place. Ed and Alison are huge foodies and it is always such a treat to cook for them as well as be cooked for by them as there is some friendly rivalry there which encourages the boys to greater culinary heights, as well as a deep appreciation of what is presented on the table.

David made an amazing lunch – bocconcini salad with oranges rocket and mint, followed by lemon sole over a mint and bacon and potato concoction that I just love. And finally, the piece de resistance, an absolutely delicious apple tarte tatin. David’s been working on his tarte tatins, experimenting with different apples, and he hit this one right on the head. Wowsers. YummY! And the meal was so perfectly judged, simple yet tasty, and at the end we were all contentedly full, satiated, and yet totally without the heavy gut feeling which can accompany meals. I guess that’s the fish and salad. Simplicity and perfection. Though to be perfectly honest, I would have happily given up my salad and main in exchange for more tatin. Yummmmmmm.

I did a few more hours of parcelling then as a treat we went to see the Golden Compass at our local cinema. I’ve been listening to the audio books narrated by Phillip Pullman, and had seen the plays at the National Theatre and have read the books as well. So it was a bit disappointing to see how they have rather heavy handedly spliced dialogue and scenes. To be honest, the audio version is actually a lot better – and the accents and voices for the characters so much truer than in the film… I mean Iorek Bjornesson’s voice is totally normal in the movie. Not flat and low, as described in the book… and as voiced in the audio book! Oh! and I wanted to say how much I love Audible.co.uk – so wonderful. Kind of like iTunes, but for books and frankly much better value.

Sunday we took Deuce for a long overdue walk in Ken Gardens. The little one was so happy he pranced around and skipped and chased leaves, catching them and shaking his head as if to kill his leaf prey. Then back to the flat for more parcelling. I finally finally finished them all, wrapped, stamped, addressed and ready to go by just after 1am. Whoowheee! And for that, I am treating myself to some nobrain TV and knitting on my Lady E scarf.

Schedules

I’m getting used to not having to go to the office, though I still get pangs of guilt about not having to go in. I’m sure those will go away soon! ūüôā ¬†As for working from home, I understand why a separate office is sometimes a necessity – without a proper working space it feels… messy. ¬†Like my cousin J says, a cluttered desk is the sign of a clutter mind, for me it’s more the fact of not having a dedicated working space that makes me feel somehow out of sorts.. unsettled. That will get sorted soon. All in good time.

I’m enjoying being at home, hanging more with Deuce. He’s cleverer than he looks that one! I put some cheese in his Kong – a little rubber ball with two holes at either end. ¬†The trick is to roll it around or drop it to get the pieces of cheese out of the middle hollow. I know he rolls it around, but watching him just now, he actually picks the ball up with his mouth, and instead of just dropping it, he lifts his head up and drops it on the downward thrust of his head, so he puts a little force in the bounce. ¬†Everytime he does it, it makes me laugh.
The assembly for the sock club parcels continues – skeins have been rewound, bags obtained, patterns printed, a big project for which I which I had a proper work table!! Sigh. Patience…. and reorg….¬†
The other thing I notice in working at home is the usual structure to my day no longer applies and I now have to impose a new routine. ¬†It’s still being worked out – last week I completely forgot about lunch until well past 3pm. ¬† I’ll need to do what my mom used to do when I was little – make up a daily schedule with time slots for various things. ¬†
Notes on the past few days: Monday Emma came over and helped out with some reskeining whilst I assembled and sorted some goodies. Alicja came over with a home made banana cake which was delicious – she and Emma had a lot in common and so it was a lively dinner table where Alicja or Emms would mention something, like the Fabulous Vegan (or something like that) show and trick of using cider vinegar as a binding agent, and the other would say “Oh I saw that too!”. ¬†Emms is doing her ph.d on James Bond, and her insights and ideas into the novels and literary devices is fascinating and alot of fun to listen to. ¬†Alicja and Emms compared notes on the English university system, compared to the Canadian/US liberal arts systems, where one is more subjective whilst the other attempts to be totally objective. ¬†
I still need to head back to the office to pick up my bike and various bits and bobs, but looks like it won’t be till next week when things are a little more settled at home.

Knitmas, Panserbjorne and walls

This weekend has been such a great treat- first a pantomine with Sophia- a first for the trio attending Jack and the Beanstalk- B Sophia and me. Very gender bending and camp but also lots of fun. Sophia is only just 2 but was rapt with attention for the full 2+ hour show. Really wonderful!

Panto was followed by knitmas with the Seal'd crew AND their other halves!!! It was so nice to hang, knit, eat and drink with Emms Dee Laura Emily and Sharon, talk of music, bands, Martin Freeman living with his folks, Clive Owen, housesitting horrors, pronouncing skein (skyne, skeen, and skayn), and of course, sharing knitting projects, yarn and quizzing each other on the yarns used for each project. Ellen came too which was a treat! Smooth tequila shots, lots of mulled wine, cider (st jacques fruit cider- YUMMY-good call Sharon!). Deuce attached himself to Tom, alternating laps between Laura Ross and Tom (sharing the love!).

This morning we went climbing, as David had part two of his course. I went along and luckily bumped into Bruce who is a fifty year old climber. He offered to let me join his climbing group which was really so fortuitous. Not only did I have a belaying partner, but I got to climb with Bruce and Chris, another hard core old school climber with his own rope! Having your own rope means being able to lead climb, and tho very rusty I got to lead a few climbs and watch Bruce and Chris climb- always a pleasure to watch good climbers- the ease and elegance with which they move up a wall never fails to fill me with wonder. 3 hours whizzed by in a blink. Kaisha another girl soon joined us, as well as another old school named Peter.

Am really lucky this time round – when I first started climbing a lot in london I had only one climbing partner, who was the girlfriend of a good friend. But then they broke up and the girlf disappeared- no more climbing! ūüė¶ This time round not only is David learning and doing really well, but Kat is super keen (and is also self employed and has flexible time during weekdays to climb) AND I had the good fortune to stumble upon Bruce and his crew. No shortage of climbing partners means no shortage of climbing!!!! Whooowheee.

Came home and decorated the tree!!

And the good times keep rolling! We met up with B and Paul at the Peasant pub in clerkenwell at 3, where sleeping Phia kept us company and woke in time for a goodbye camomile tea and a cheeky smile and misplanted kiss!! We caught up on Paul's exciting new move, holiday plans, and talked of strippers (the funny and unlikely) fires in London and personal assistants.

And last treat of the weekend- The Golden Compass which we watched on the sofa at the Electric Theatre. The first of three movies based on Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy. Purists won't like the cuts and splicing of scenes and dialogue, but they capture the main characters quite well and the special effects are pretty cool. I was surprised at the ending as for some reason thought it would be the whole story in one, not sure why as it is a very long and involved story. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the story unfold on the big screen.

Bad Films

On Tuesday evening I went to a Bad Film Club showing of Grease 2 with the lovely Alex who I met when she interviewed me for her podcast. If you want to hear a lovely English accent and dulcet tones, listen to her podcast!

It was a hoot. I met up with Alex, her sister Sian, and Sue from the Golders Green SnB, had some yummy noodles at Wagamamas (which I hadn’t been to in ages!). Alex whipped out a hallowig (knitted wig) in Pink, to match the Pink Ladies, and Alex’s friend brought her own pink wig. We sat in the front, with lyric sheets for all the songs (printed out by Alex of course, she was not kidding when she said she had great organisational skills!). Alex got a well deserved little trophy and tshirt for her efforts.

A redeye shot of Alex with her trophy!

The idea of the Bad Film Club is that they choose terrible films, then have a couple comedians talking over the movie whilst using red laser lights to highlight points of interest (like the terrible dancers at the back of the scene, or overly low cut tops, or overly tight jeans). And boy, one thing they pointed out, but which was hard to miss anyway, is that Michelle Pfeiffer really really bad in it. Any scene which requires an expression of emotion just shows us the back of her head. The audience were given clackers, balloons, kazoos, to make noise at particularly bad points of the movie, so you can imagine it was all rather noisy!! There was some dancing (in the audience), and some hot hollywood gossip (from the hosts, which I shall not repeat here). At one point everyone had their arms waving in unison with one of the not very memorable songs.

Next movie is Road House with Patrick Swayze. That should be fun!

Meanwhile I am preparing (or not, I was supposed to get to Waitrose before 4 to avoid the traffic, but it looks like it’s going to be an evening trip for later) for the weekend. First up is climbing in the morning, though I may actually duck out as am doubtful will get all I need to done in time… then Jack & the Beanstalk with B & Sophia, followed by Knitmas with the SEAL’d girls, Emms, Arianne, Sharon, Laura & Mr Rossy, and Dee. Mulled wine, mince pies, here we come!

And Sunday – def climbing in the morning, followed by lunch with Sophia & Barb, then david & I are heading off to see the Golden Compass at the Electric. I cannot wait, though the reviewer from the FT rubbished it. I don’t care – I love the books and am really looking forward to seeing a big screen interpretation. Am listening to the audio books narrated by Phillip Pullman himself which I got from a great site audible.co.uk. Totally awesome and so great when knitting!