Tag Archives: friends

Eating My Way Around: On The Roof With…. Q

29 Aug

I love a pop up. And I love eating. So the arrival of “On the Roof With…” at Selfridges was an interesting concept, and something that I was wholly interested in. I love the idea of taking spaces that are disused, misused or underused, and converting them into exciting new ventures to pique the interest of the masses. Sure, it might end up full of pretentious suits and boujis biatches, but it also might be something worth seeing or experiencing.

And this was the case with “On the Roof with … Q” Brought to you by the guys that do the Q Grill in Camden, the sales pitch was promising:

“We will be bringing a top team from Q Grill in Camden to deliver a BBQ menu unlike any other, paired with a lighter range of delicious summer dishes. On the Roof with Q will be a secret foodie haven that will offer a fun and fresh dining experience alongside a programme of talks from some of the most innovative and influential people working in the food industry right now.’’

With the time that Elle was spending in London drawing to a close, we decided to book the table for a balmy Tuesday and head on up after work. We arrived early and found a seat at the bar, where we sat and experienced some really unusually, and gorgeous tasting cocktails, before being shown to our table. The décor was amazing. Designed to make you feel like you are being transported back to a Victorian garden, the dense foliage and cute little birdcages provide a gorgeous setting to eat dinner, and the food didn’t disappoint either.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

We had a feast of delicious food, including chicken wings, tuna tartare and a huge rack of ribs to share between us. The meat fell off the bone, the sauce was thick and delicious, and we left the experience feeling happy and full.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

If you are in London, I would strongly recommend making a booking. Its one of those pop ups that you need to visit!

On the roof with…. Q runs till the 27th of September

Selfridges |400 Oxford Street | W1A 1AB

Sightseeing My City: Musical Bingo, The Best Kind of Bingo!

26 Jul

In the spirit of doing something a bit different this summer and broadening my horizons, I signed me and two friends up for Musical Bingo. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect so I forgive you for thinking I’ve cracked.

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We turned up at Drink, Shop, Do, a gorgeous café come shop in the middle of Kings Cross and perused the selection of cards and knitting yarns before heading down to the underground bar for our Musical Bingo extravaganza to begin.

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We ordered delicious rhubarb cocktails, and took our (reserved, ahhh yeeeaaahh) seats, ready for the Musical Extravaganza to begin.

The first round was 50’s. Not my forte, but there were some classics in there from the likes of Buddy Holly and Little Richard, and a birthday group of fifty something ladies on the table next to us who were quite drunk and really getting into the spirit of it, including inciting Mexican waves and jitterbug style dancing. Lady luck wasn’t on my side, but I had a good giggle as the compere paraded winners up and down the aisle with their loot, including a blow up guitar and a round of shots for their table.

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The next round was musicals, boasting classics like The Phantom of the Opera and Memory from Cats, and then we moved onto the last round, which was The Name Game.

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image courtesy of Indeedy Inc – HOW COOL IS THIS?

We had a great night singing along to classics and laughing along with the people on the table next to us, and I would strongly recommend a visit. I think it would be better in a larger group of people, but it’s also worth checking out the other activities they do at Drink, Shop, Do, such as Lionel Ritch-tea Biscuit Decorating and The Papier Mache Monster Mash.

Sadly I didn’t get many pictures (they all came out like a ghost standing against a white wall) so apologies!

Drink Shop Do | 9 Caledonian Road | Kings Cross | London | N1 9DX

Have you tried musical bingo?

On Saying Yes and Opening Doors

2 Jun

A few years ago I watched the film “Yes Man” with Jim Carey, and a succession of bad things happened. When my friends asked me why on earth I had done things, all I could justify them with was “well, I was being more of a yes person. Rather than hiring a movie and watching it in my joggers, while eating ice-cream at speed” I thought this was fair enough. They thought me insane (April, this finger is pointing directly at you) and I soon learnt from my behaviour like a cow running at an electric fence, and resolved to go back to my comfy old NO (or as my super confident god-daughter might say, N – O spells NO!!)

But then I moved to New York for a month (“New Yoiik!” As the locals call it) alone, and decided that to enjoy my time here, I must say yes to all the things.

This weekend was a fine example of when saying yes turns out totally awesomely.

On Friday night, I said yes to drinks with my new work team. I don’t normally go out for Friday night drinks anymore, and the reasons are threefold. 1) Had got to the point where every night was drinking after work night, and I was fat and flumpy. 2) I saw no point in going for a few after work and then going home, and also saw no point in going to the pub for a tap water. 3) I liked my pjs more than I like my workmates (and I really like my workmates).

But I was being polite, and so I went out for drinks. And had a lovely time. And then, a fantastic guy who hails from San Francisco and whom I had known the grand sum of 10 minutes, invited me to a charity fundraiser.

Sounded fun. I took a cab across town with a stranger whose surname I didn’t even know, and mixed with all his friends. I bought tickets to a raffle for a Nicks game. I drank beer and danced. I had fun. I then shared a cab home with one of the friends, and split the bill with her. Perfect.

The next morning I woke up slightly worse for wear, and congratulated myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something. So I did it again.

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Well, not really. If you read this blog often you will know of my great bloggy friendship with Jules (her amazing blog is here). You may not know that Jules lives in New Jersey (fuggedaboutit!) which isn’t far from Manhattan. At all. But people think me strange when I say “I’m meeting my friend. Well I’ve never met her, but she’s nice!”

So she came to town and we went for wine and champagne, followed by seafood, plus cocktails. We sat in the sun, we laughed and we talked, and although we had never met before it felt like old friends were catching up.

It was awesome.

So in summary, my sermon today ends with step out of your comfort zone, do things people think you are crazy for and enjoy yourself!

Have you ever met another blogger? I was really sad to miss Sam in London, was on my way to New York!

CTRL+ALT=DELETE

28 May

When you go to school, they tell you that you will probably only remain friends with 3 people by the time you are 30. You look around you at all the faces of the people you deem to be your BEST FRIENDS EVER and you vow that the teacher is old, not very nice and doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

But how many friends that you went to school with do you still see? Regularly enough to class them as a friend, rather than an acquaintance? I look at my close friends, and think about where they came from. Mostly from work, if I’m honest, some friends of friends from school that I made friends with, but on the whole only 2 very close friends from my school days. And weirdly, my infant school days.

[UNSET]

The concept of friendship is done to death, isn’t it? you have friends, in some cases you have enemies, you have frenemies (you know the ones, the people who you meet at parties and then sneak a jellyfish into the conversation and sting you with some off the hand comment) and these friendships strengthen and weaken depending on external factors in your life and theirs, depending on your location, and oftentimes, what you partner thinks of them.

But what happens when you get unfriended? It sounds like playground nonsense, but it happens more often that you think, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. sometimes you notice and shrug it off, thinking that you probably would have done the same eventually, and sometimes it really hurts. The worst is when you can’t work out why

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I’ve had a couple of them in the past, and one really bloody hurt. I was in my early twenties, and I went out with a couple of my close friends for some drinks. One of the girls, who I deemed one of my closest friends, was there,and pretty hammered. And so was her boyfriend, who kept being pretty inappropriate. In the end I left early as I wasn’t sure what to do, but I went to say goodbye to her first. She screamed me out in the middle of the bar and accused me of coming onto her boyfriend. I went home (totally sober and driving) figuring it was probably best to talk to her in the morning when she wasn’t drunk. We never spoke again. I called sporadically for 6 months or so, and then just gave up. The worst thing was that the other friend then sent me a text to say we had grown apart and she didn’t think we should see each other either.

It sounds like a sketch from Mean Girls, doesn’t it? But it hurt. Especially as these were the girls I had gone to school with and thought I would be friends with for life. And I questioned it for the longest time, wondering what I could have done differently in the situation and what I had actually done wrong, before finally accepting that I handled myself just fine, and this was just one of those casualties of life.

I firmly believe you have to shed to grow, and we are all guilty of unfriending now and then (although possibly not quite so harsh as my one!)

Have you ever been CTRL+ALT+DELETED from someones life?

Eating My Way Around: Cape Town Fish Market, London

30 Jan

This week, I met with one of my best gal pals, and we visited our meet up haunt, Cape Town Fish Market (Oxford Street, London). It’s a restaurant just off Oxford Street, and it does the most amazing seafood. It even has the tag line “any fresher and you would need a fishing rod”, and the fish swim around in massive tanks, which adds to the whole drama of the place. It’s lovely.

They have a great offer for card holders, so we often meet up on a Tuesday and gorge on the most delicious sushi; California rolls with tempura prawns and a mango wrap, melt in your mouth sashimi and all different types of nigiri, plus wasabi mayonnaise, kohlrabi sauce and of course, soy glaze. It’s a bit pricey, but with the deal card it makes it really reasonable for good sushi (and I am a massive sushi snob) and honestly, I would go on a non deal night, it’s that good.

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Sushi, it makes miso happy

They also have a fairly extensive menu, including my personal favourite, the surf and turf. You think you know surf and turf, right? Hunk of steak covered in prawns?

You can’t even begin to imagine.

This surf and turf is out of this world, and features a real twist on the classic. Instead of steak they present you with twice cooked pork belly, and replacing the prawns are some dainty little scallops. The whole thing comes with wilted spinach, and is by far my favourite meal out. in fact, I love to try different things if I go to the same place twice, but on this occasion, I JUST CAN’T. I fear that I might get food envy if anyone else chooses it and I don’t, so I hedge safely and choose my favourite. And I am never disappointed.

This is my local go to when guests from out of town visit as it’s a bit of a crowd pleaser, and although its busy if you book you are generally guaranteed a table. The staff don’t rush you (I was there 20 mins before my friend this week and they happily let me sit with my wine and browse Facebook) and the general feel of the restaurant is happy and chilled. Just my jam.

Have you been? What is your favourite place to take guests when they are in your town?

Biscuiteers Blogger Meet Up, Notting Hill

17 Dec

When Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy emailed me about a blogger meet up, I was dubious. I find these things really awkward, talking to people I don’t know and trying to find a common ground, when essentially we have all been grouped together over such an ambiguous love, words.

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Biscuiteers, physical location in London’s Notting Hill

But when she mentioned biscuits, I was there. I mean really Lauren, you should just lead with that!

I’m so glad I went. What I experienced was the cutest little shop, Biscuiteers, and a collection of really lovely girls all icing biccies to their heart’s content, and getting covered in sugar syrup in the process.

There were pre-iced ones so we didn’t feel like total idiots, and we iced bauble and Christmas tree shapes, trying desperately to make them look even a little like the ones the lovely ladies who work there had crafted. Not so lucky in my case, but I had fun all the same!

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DIY Gingerbread house. SHUT. UP

The shop is darling. They sell all sorts of iced cookies, from day of the dead masks, to Superman, to an entire nativity crafted out of buttery biscuitness. Sadly, my godforsaken iPhone has died since the event so I am having to borrow photos from the other girls there to give you a visual idea, but if you ever find yourself in Notting Hill, go forth and find them. You will be plunged into a biscuity heaven!

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Biscuitty montage courtesy of ruthlgarner.com, who is a whizz with a camera!

I also met some lovely girls there, including Ruth from The Planned Adventure, Becca from Urban Flipflops and Amber from Amber Nouveau not to mention the lovely-as-ever Lauren who writes over at Aspiring Kennedy, and orchestrated the whole event. Check them out, all well worth a read.

Happy Holidays!

Don’t Talk To Strangers! Unless You Happen To Live With Them

17 Oct

In the last ten years since I have dwelled with people other than my family, I have gathered a heap of stories and experiences, like a magpie with shiny coins. I’ve made some great friends, lost some good ones and learnt a lot about patience, virtue and picking wet towels up off the floor.

Living with boys definitely gave me some insight into the ways of the opposite sex. One house share that I lived in had a perpetual problem with dirty dishes and it was a constant power struggle of me cleaning the kitchen, going out, coming back and lots of dirty dishes being back on the site. Ex-boyfriend used to leave everything he owned on the floor, and one boy used to use a tea-cup, pour it out in the sink and then (without washing it, just in case this isn’t clear) PUT IT BACK IN THE CUPBOARD. His argument was that no one should take offence, give that it was his cup. Shudder.

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On the flip side, living with girls ain’t exactly a walk in the park at times either. Hair (fake or real, take your pick) in the plug hole causing the shower to fill up like a bath, using sharp kitchen knives to open tins (“we don’t have a can opener, I looked!” “it’s in the dishwasher……”) and taking clean washing out and putting it on the floor in the laundry room, so its gets all dirty again.

So male or female, living with other people is hard. And I’m no angel. In the past decade I have realised that there are definitely things you can do to minimise the awkwardness of living in a house share with a bunch of nut jobs…. Namely moving in with a friend of 25 years.

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But when that friends circumstances changed I found myself in the position of having to find a new, STRANGER, to live in the flat I have come to see as a hidey hole from the rest of the world. It seems I fear change (and I know you are all having visions of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – I’m not that bad).

There were tears (“but I don’t WANT to live with anyone!!”) there were calculations (“but I can’t afford NOT to live with anyone!”) and there were viewings. Or as I like to call them, interviews.

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I put a chatty ad on a local room wanted site, stating that I wanted someone who was likely to not go all Single White Female on my ass, but at the same time not likely to be sitting in their room all night playing SimCity (or whatever the kids are playing these days) and speaking in only grunts. I thought this would weed the nutjobs from the normals and hoped that if you were too young to get the SWF reference, you may not apply.

Didn’t quite work. The first god knows how many viewings that I did I ensured the boy was present as I am an appalling judge of character. With hindsight, this was an utterly pointless endeavour, as his opinion, in all cases, was “seems alright.”

THANKSSSSS

I was desperate. I didn’t want to live with a crazy person or someone who might murder me in my sleep. I didn’t think that was too much to ask for, but the chances of me living with someone who wasn’t a serial killer were lessening.

And then I got an email from a girl. She is a student (didn’t want a student) she is a young person (didn’t want a young person) and she is a girl (wanted a boy). Despite this, she is super fun, likes all the same things as me, and doesn’t talk about young things that I don’t understand. She has rescued me from spiders, and drinks tea in the same quantities.

The moral of this story?

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet (harrumph).

Have you got any funny / horrible housemate stories?

Feasting At Shaka Zulu

3 Oct

Food is my thing. I’m not a painter, I don’t particularly care about festivals or live music, but I love food.

Everyone loves food.

Not like me. I dream in cheeseboards and rostis and I love to go to new places, try new foods and immerse myself in dips, sauces and spices. i get excited about a new restaurant and when a friend talks about somewhere amazing I stick it on my hit list.

I’m a secret not so secret eater.

So I don’t waste your time boring you about every place I have eaten, given that it wouldn’t be very exciting for you, but every now and then I find one that I just have to shout about.

And Shaka Zulu is one of those examples.

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A tiny door is nestled in the heart of Camden Market, and an escalator descents into what can only be described as an African Odyssey. The walls are adorned with carvings of scenes from the plains and the fabrics that cover the chairs are a blend of exotic colours and tribal prints.

Often these places are gimmicky; all style and no substance and I was worried that this might be the case with Shaka Zulu, but I was pleasantly surprised. We ordered to share; one Ostrich with roasted beetroot and plaintain puree and one Springbok with a rocket salad. The menu also offers Zebra and Alligator as well as potjie and bobotie.

We loved it. for a birthday treat it was something a little more exciting than Nando’s, and had all the glamour of a special occasion. If you are ever in London I would strongly recommend a visit.

What’s your favourite place to eat?

A Wintery Weekend At Borough Market

1 Nov

It’s a rare occurrence, but this weekend was mine and mine alone. No neatly penned scribbles in the diary, no vague plans with the girls carried away into the air when we previously parted – nothing.

Exciting. I love the thought of a free weekend spanning out across the horizon with nothing interrupting it as it drifts away, and so I went about that brilliant hobby of making last minute plans to fill my day.

On Friday evening we decided, out of the blue, to go out in Camden. There was a bite in the breeze as the season is turning, but we had great fun drinking and dancing and talking with strangers. It just goes to show that when you are with your best friend, time passes too fast and very happily. No fair weather friends, just me and my partner in crime, having fun.

My Weekend In Photos

My Weekend In Photos

On Saturday we went to Borough Market. If you are based in London and haven’t been, or ever get to London, it’s a must. Lane upon lane of food stalls, the hustle and bustle of people browsing butchers and fishmongers, and the delightful smell of food stalls whetting your appetite and tantalising your taste buds. It was so hard not to stop at the first stall and chow down on paella, but luckily we resisted as we eventually came to a hog roast stand with cracking and applesauce. Yum!! We finished wandering the market and found an independent cafe to have some tea and warm our bones before heading out into the sleet to go home.

I woke early on Sunday, as the clocks had changed and took the train home to spend the day with two poorly little girls. We had great fun making pizza faces, watching movies and playing, with the kind of clingy cuddles that only sick kids give you, when they don’t want to be out exploiting and discovering, just having cosy cuddles.

How were your weekend? Seems like an age ago now!!

Thanks Be

25 Nov

There are times in your life when you feel the clear presence of a metaphorical crossroads. Whether you believe in destiny and fate or think that the path that you choose is your own and there are no external forces governing it is regardless; you still will have felt that you have reached a curve in the road or a sign post that allows you to sit back and take stock of your surroundings. It might be a point in your life with a friend; you stand there together hand in hand and they chose the other path. You watch them disappear off into the distance before taking those first baby steps into your future. I felt like that when my substitute older sister went home. To Australia.

I don’t know what I believe, but right now I feel that the events of the last few months can’t be just coincidence. I have always been a firm believer in the “what will be will be” mentality, and today I find myself standing at the junction ready to decide to take the high road or the low road. No one is there with me to hold my hand and reassure me, but there is a quiet calm in being able to make that decision and do what I feel is best for me.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America. Millions of you gathered at your tables to tuck into turkey and all the other yummy goodies on offer, and I sat in my flat and pondered my surroundings.

Yesterday I lost my job. It’s a long story but the abridged version is that the contract I work on was not renewed, and therefore from New Year’s Eve I have no position at the company I have worked in for two years. There is a weird loophole in the law whereby I can start on the 1st of January with the new company in London, but essentially my day to day life will end from then.

Yet I feel a sense of serenity. Maybe I need a life break, or a career change, or both. What I do know is that I have a lot of decisions to make and I am lucky enough to have people in my life that will help me. My housemate and sister to pick me up like a small child who has grazed her knee, the lawyer to give me an emotional crutch and legal jargon and my parents to let me know that despite what I think, everything will be OK.

New Year’s Eve has always been my favourite night of the year; granted all the parties have so much hype and are never quite as exciting, but I have always thought it to be a mentally cleansing day; a time when you can rise like a phoenix from the flames into the New Year and start afresh. I love turning the pages in a new diary and feeling like the world is my oyster, and this year will be all the more poignant. 2011 has been a year of hospital visits, arguments and break ups, but 2012 will be my year. Forget the Chinese calendar; it’s the year of Belle.

So I might be a little late to the party, but a comment from a wise man yesterday gave me food for thought, and my reason to be thankful. OK so I may have reached a point of uncertainty in a lot of strands of my life (as John Mayer, life guru would say “might be a quarter life crisis, or just a stirring in my soul”. Profound :) ) but I have had the chance to do what I love and meet people for it. I’m always overwhelmed by the little community of people I have here so I want to take the time to you all for reading, commenting and following. The stats are pretty impressive; seven hundred and ten slightly crazy people around the world get my posts in their reader as I post them, so special thanks to you lot!

With positivity and new beginnings in mind, I would love for you all to head on over to imcookingnolooking.wordpress.com this weekend. It’s our new project!! I will of course remain here on a daily basis (I wouldn’t abandon you!) but Jules and I are branching out in our quest for world domination. It’s currently a work in progress with a working title but I would love to hear your feedback. I can announce it will be called ‘Tinkering in the Kitchen’ and is intended to be a collaborative effort with some of my favourite blog friends from around the world.  If anyone wants to participate, drop me an email at laura.tinker@hotmail.co.uk. It’s going to be a whole heap of fun and with a bit of luck and a lot of graft we plan to change the face of the ‘quick’ ready meal for a healthier future.

And with that, fair reader, I bid you adieu (for today anyway!)

‘Belle xx

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