Tag Archives: this and that

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?

People Are The Biggest Problem Faced

27 Jan

Customer service. Its something that we love and hate in equal measure, and flip on a hairpin at the slightest notice. If done well, someone going above and beyond their job role to help you out and deal with your grievances quickly can brighten your mood and give you renewed belief in humanity.

Done wrong, and it’s a right nightmare.

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We have a local supermarket that is much cheaper than the others, and for this reason, they do things a little differently. At the till point, you are sped through like you are part of a competitive trolley dash, and the staff are rude to the point of you actually inconveniencing their lives.

The funniest was the other day when I was in there buying a few bits, and the guy on the till, who sported a “duty manager” badge, spent the whole time distractedly talking on the phone. He was so distracted that once he had put my items through, he forgot to ask me to pay, and started ringing in all the groceries from the man behind. I can be charitable, but there is no way I’m paying for a complete stranger’s weekly shop.

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could get customer service for your life? Some of the most difficult things that we experience in life are often made better on the advice of others, os wouldn’t it be great if you had a dedicated line you could call up to put you back on the straight and narrow, and help you stay motivated / achieve your dreams?

Just imagine. Your New Year’s resolution is to cut out something, and make your diet far healthier. You know what you should be doing in theory, but wouldn’t it be perfect if you could jump on Skype and talk through with someone to give you hints and tips that you hadn’t thought of? Or maybe your dream is to travel the world. If you could drop an email to someone with your hopes and dreams, and them come back to you with realistic ways to achieve your goals, wouldn’t your life be so much easier?

Just a thought.

What would you get life customer service help with?

“Close Your Eyes And Clone Yourself, Make Your Heart An Army”

22 Oct

This is a story about a man and a girl, from different sides of the world, a decade separating them in birth, and three and a half thousand miles. Never the twos paths did collide, until her 22nd birthday, when a friend handed her a carefully wrapped box. When she opened it there were three CDs inside, of a man she had never heard of, and she was assured that if she listened to all three of the CDs in their entirety, something fantastic would happen.

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That girl was me, and as you know, I don’t like change. I liked all my old music, so why would I spend a chunk of my night listening to (yet another) guy who thinks he is good at the guitar, and giving it a go? I also am completely stubborn, so the idea of introducing a new CD that I hadn’t chosen myself was an alien one. I’ll have to admit, it was a brave present choice for a girl with a stubborn streak a mile wide.

I lay on my bed, with the light off, and I listened. I followed the album order and playlist, and duly switched CDs when they came to an end. All the while I was sitting patiently, something was happening. My friend had been right.

I fell in love with a sound, a voice and a soul, and now John Mayer would be my desert island disc. I’m pretty sure that if I was stranded on an island, I could get through life if I had his albums stored safely somewhere, ready to call upon when I wanted to feel happy, or sad, or calm, or to relax.

This weekend, our paths finally crossed and I got to see what all the fuss was about for myself, when I went to see him live. I had missed out on the last time he visited London as I had an early flight to catch the next morning, but this time I was lightning quick when it came to booking tickets, and had almost forgotten, until I saw the box in my diary (I’m a pen and paper kinda girl) to warn me of my plans for the following weekend. I have never really appreciated live music, failing to understand why people enjoy it so much, but suddenly I got it. My sister laughed at me as I sat forward, perched on the end of my seat in sheer excitement, and stomped and sang through all my favourites. I was even captivated through the songs I didn’t know, listening to the sound of the guitar and feeling like I finally got it.

You know what? I don’t care if he isn’t your taste. We were all created differently for a reason, but we all share one thing. A passion for something, or someone. Everyone has a song; a band or a classical piece that transports them somewhere, and for me John Mayer ticks that box. I loved every minute of it, and when I got home I was too wired to sleep, singing in the shower and planning my next time to see him. I know people judge him on his lifestyle rather than the music he makes, but I have no interest in that at all. As long as I can sing along, it makes me happy!

What band or song gives you this feeling? Share your passions!

Dream a Little Dream

21 Oct

As the fingers of darkness wind around the houses and eyes become heavy and tired, I am normally not sleeping. I can be found staring at the ceiling or gazing at the stars, wondering what everyone else under the blanket of darkness is dreaming, and who else is seeing the same sky as me. I’m a bad sleeper, yet I am happy to lay I the silence and listen to the breeze whispering its hushes so the rest of the world falls asleep. When I do I never remember my dreams, more a catatonic state of things I thought about during my repose.

Recently I’ve been dreaming. And it’s not very pleasant.

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I keep having the same recurring dream, and waking trying to catch my breath. Fear grips me and my heart is a moth fluttering against a lightbulb; pounding over and over again as it tries to right itself.

It’s not even particularly scary, but it rips me back into consciousness time and time again. I’m in Cornwall (don’t ask why, I don’t have a clue!) and I’m with a girl I don’t recognise. Interestingly, my sister informs me that your brain doesn’t have the capacity to see new faces, so I must have seen the face before, maybe in passing – on the tube or in an airport. She is someone my mind has taken a still of.

I stand in her garden, which is the garden of a house I used to live in, and I am crying. My hands are cupped, and when I unfurl my fingers all my teeth are there. There is no blood; they are clean and pearly, but they are no longer where they should be. All that’s left is gums. And I can’t get back from Cornwall. The dream culminates with me holding my teeth and worrying that my Mum will wonder where I am (she doesn’t even live in London), and then I wake up trying to catch my breath and furiously chasing my tongue across my teeth to check they are all still present and correct.

I’ve mentioned it to a few people, and they all say it means I’m going to come into money. I Googled a dream finder and it said I was conscious of a secret I was keeping. I liked the sound of that; it evoked memories of being read The Secret Garden as a child, of an old key and a secret that I was never to tell. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I don’t have a secret I am keeping. That I know of.

You can take negatives and positives out of everything, and teeth falling out seems to have different suggestions in different cultures. Some say a dream about teeth falling out symbolises a fear of becoming older, or a life change or compromise that might become costly, whereas some see teeth dreams as positive, and indicative of a want to explore feelings of loss, or a need to nurture yourself and those closely around you.

I don’t believe that a dream can have the same meaning for everyone. The human mind is such a complex and intelligent system that there is no way a theme in a dream can mean the same thing in different people, regardless of age, sex, location and upbringing. It’s simply not feasible.

But I do agree that a dream is the subconscious trying to tell you something. I am a firm believer in ‘funny feelings’ and as I have got older I have learnt to trust them, like faithful old friends turning up to whisper quietly and influence which path I take.

My kindred spirit in South Africa also posted about unusual dreams today, have a read.

Tell me about your dreams.

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.”

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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?

“Children See The Magic Because They Look For It”

16 Oct

Magic comes to those who make it, and I strongly believe in the sorcery of believing everything as a child. Children have an alarming clarity at times, and the ability to be able to see the world from a different point of view; a stance so far unaffected by politics and sadness and life events that willshape their future and colour their perception.

When I was a kid, my parents and grandparents revelled in the theatre of the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, with mince pies bitten and carrots carefully nibbled when we came bouncing through on Christmas morning. My dad still wildly claims that one year he REALLY DID hear Santa on the roof (although that was the year he got drunk and also claimed he had been abducted by aliens when we found him asleep round the toilet the following morning), and I believed in the tooth fairy for far longer than I should thanks to a timer switch in my Gran’s house and a set of grandparents with vivid imaginations.

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And I do the same for my Goddaughters. You won’t catch me debating the truth in the elves or if Rudolph’s nose really shines; if you can’t believe in the magic of children and the awe of the way they see everything then your world will be a smaller place. Every year I write them a letter from Father Christmas in response to their Christmas lists, alluding to being good and nice to Mummy, and ‘find’ it on the doorstep on my way in. Lilly loves to announce to everyone she knows that Father Christmas answers her, and that she absolutely has to be good to be in with a chance of getting “a dolly what poos” for Christmas this year. The mind boggles.

I love to lie on the grass in the summer with my little dumplings and play the cloud game – seeing if we can spot the different layers of clouds shaping dragons and princesses, cars and trains, for the wind to blow and the picture to change again. I play this all the time and often get laughed at for being dreamy and whimsical, but when I have two chubby little hands in mine, fingers entwined and a captive audience, I just know I can see a princess in a castle waiting for her prince, or a dog with a bone looking for the sun. And I love to hear the excitement in their voices when it comes to counting down to the visit from the big man himself; will he eat the mince pie? Will he not be too full after eating all the other mince pies from the other children? What if Rudolph is too tired to fly?

As JM Barrie once said, “On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”

As much as I moan about mince pies in the shops in August and people carolling way too early, I’m super excited about their little faces when the tree is decorated and the Christmas pjs are out :)

What do you love most about the season?

I’ve written about magic and children before, if you enjoyed this you might enjoy these posts:

Mary: The Truth about the Toothfairy

Those Who Don’t Believe In Magic Will Never Find It

Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

A Word To The Wise: To Bloggers, PR’s and SEO’s

17 Sep

I have something I want to get off my chest. It’s something that has been bothering me for a while, and I’ve got to the point where I am sick of people being so rude, and want to weigh in with my opinion.

Bloggers and PRs //SEOs.

As my loyal readers know, I have been blogging since I got with the times and ditched my lovely Paperchase notebook. My blog has evolved over the years from a place that my Mum catches up on what I am doing in the big city to a place where I have made friends scattered across the world, get recognition for what I do and get some great opportunities in the process.

And yes, I get a lot of requests from PRs and SEO agencies. And yes, I work for a big global, digital agency myself. So I can see it from both points of view, but being in either camp absolutely does not negate the need to be rude.

I read a lot of blog posts from bloggers who are bitching and whinging about PRs and SEOs, and I read one today about an email she had received from a PR, and it really made me see red.

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As a blogger, I get 2 types of emails. The first is a generic email, often addressed to Mr Tinkler (ta guys, I know I look a bit scary sans makeup but MR?! and also, NOT MY NAME) and is generally asking me to write about their casino // men’s pants range // caravan holiday, or even worse, post some generic content. None of these people have taken 5 minutes reading my blog to understand a) my passions and interests b) my readership and what they are interested in reading (clue, the answer is not how to tie knots) and c) don’t even know my name.

But I always stay friendly. As far as I am concerned, the blogs are extensions of me, and therefore I shouldn’t be rude. These sorts of emails receive a polite response stating how I am not interested and if they wouldn’t mind removing me from their database I would appreciate it, thank you, have a nice day.

Then there are the other kind. The PR people (or even SEO people, however much some bloggers think they eat evil for breakfast, the majority are sticking to cornflakes like the rest of the world).  These people have taken the time to either read this blog, or my beauty blog, and are contacting me to see if they can send me something to review, often for free. I don’t have a problem with this. If it is beneficial for me, for example if it is something I might be interested in trying, or I might get paid, then I will see what they have to say. If they do send me something and I have agreed with them I will write about it, then I stick to the professional attitude of maintaining my word, and write about it. I tell the truth (this isn’t a dictatorship) but I do what I said I would do, in the time frame I promised. Because that way I stay true to the professional respect I have come to command, and don’t unnecessarily upset anyone.

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I’m not ashamed to work for a digital agency, in fact, I am proud. My job is working with people like me, and on the whole, bloggers are happy to discuss and work together on something that benefits them and me. Sure, I work with an SEO team within the agency, but I also work with PR too. Some bloggers seem to have a bee in their bonnet about the amount newspapers get paid to write articles, but a word to the wise – you might get high traffic but the chances are that you aren’t commanding the same levels of readership as the Daily Mail, and for that reason you won’t be getting paid the same either. .

I love bloggers. we are a community of (on the whole) polite and respectful individuals who are professional and act with dignity. And there are some that just give the rest of us a bad name. My advice would be to always think about the person on the receiving end of your email; would you like to receive or read something so nasty? I like to treat people how I wish to be treated, and my opinion is that people who hide behind the faceless anonymity of an email are pathetic.

So to the people who send nasty emails and have delusions of grandeur, I have just one question for you.

What would your Mother say?

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!!

When There’s No More Room In Hell, The Dead Will Walk The Earth

24 Oct

At first cock-crow the ghosts must go
Back to their quiet graves below.
~Theodosia Garrison

 Are you sitting comfortably, my dear? Let me tell you a story, of horror and fear….

I’m a bit of a wimp. My bedroom door is right by a door that leads downstairs, and if I go to the loo in the night I often run past the door to get back into bed, just in case the ghouls get me. As a five year old, I vividly remember being read a story by a school teacher about a monster that lived in the space created when a door was left open; the triangle between that and the wall, and now, as a twenty six year old woman, I still sleep with the door shut. Its habit, but I’m sure it has its roots in this. I hate to be able to see darker patches, it stops me from sleeping.

So this weekend, when my sister and I decided to go to the cinema we had a bit of a debate over the right film. I opted for Madagascar 3 (cartoons and penguins) but she preferred Paranormal Activity 4. You know the one, demons are let in, demons throw humans all over the place, humans in the cinema join together in terrified union, humans go home and have to sleep with the light on in case fictional tale of fear is somehow true… not my cup of tea. BUT, seeing as I am closer to thirty than twenty, I thought it was time to embrace my inner wimp and become at one with my demons (see what I did there) so I did it. I braved. To be honest, the film was rubbish and not at all scary, but I thought that about the first one. Until….

I went to Cyprus in September. On the first night I struggled to get to sleep; the heat, new environment and presence of my best friend was all alien to me, and it took a really long time to drift off. When I eventually did, I was woken by a crash that sounded like it was coming from the bathroom. I went to investigate.

Just in case you are trying to picture the scene, I wasn’t armed with anything, I was just lookin’. Not alarmed, nothing. It sounded like the noise when your shampoo gets knocked off the bath and scatters down into the tub, but when I got to the bathroom, there was nothing there. The noise was too loud to have come from an adjoining room, but despite being suitably freaked out, we went back to sleep. Pretty soon I heard the steady breathing of my friend, who had gone straight back to sleep with no concern. Could I? No, I could not.

 Because all I could think about was the bit in Paranormal Activity 1 where I had laughed. The goaty footprints. At the time, when the girl put the talc all over the floor and I joked that didn’t the devil have hooves and wasn’t this the perfect time to see goaty prints in the talc, I didn’t think it would come back to haunt me.

What-if-there-really-is-a-devil-and-its-portal-is-a-hotel-room-in-Cyprus? I panicked.

Eventually, I managed to calm myself enough to start drifting off, and just as I was about to fall asleep, I woke myself up screaming.

It had happened again.

Luckily, my best friend has the patience of a saint and managed to calm me down, but by this point I was freaking out, and ready to go sleep in the foyer of the hotel and get the first bus out to a church in the morning, to stand on some hallowed ground or whatever it is you are supposed to do when being haunted.

We finally found out what it was. The fridge had been making a horrendous humming noise, and to help me get to sleep, I had unplugged it. I left the door open to stop it from stinking our room out, not realising that it had a really small ice freezer in the top. Through the night, the ice was melting and large chunks were falling from the freezer onto the tile floors, causing the crashing noise.

Totally rational explanation.

Still slightly traumatised.

I’m looking forward to sharing some of the outfits from the Halloween party next week :)

Do you have any ridiculous stories that scared you at the time?

Under The Sea

4 Oct

I’m sitting here writing while listening to the waves lap on the shoreline, and the wind gently rustles the leaves on the trees above. I imagine its dusk, and as the twilight descends, the sky is turning pink and all you can see from the sand is the calm of the ocean, mimicking my mood.

I imagine? Sure. I imagine. The reality of it is that it’s well past witching hour (I’m testament to the fact that Roald Dahl was pulling my leg as a child. The BFG isn’t real, and he hasn’t come to find me. My eight year old heart lies broken) and I’m listening to the dulcet tones of the sea from an app on my iPhone. Insomnia, my old friend. I wish I could say I’ve missed you.

And what have I done in the hours your weary heads rested on your pillows? Nothing productive. I’ve plucked my eyebrows with a magnifying mirror (dangerous habit, often resulting in the accidental removal of most of my eyebrow) given myself an alternative French manicure in lilac and green, changed my duvet cover, finished my book, stared at the ceiling and pondered my life. And now I have resorted to an app with a choice of whale song, metronome, robins chirping (WTF? Don’t even ask), frogs (likewise) or the beach.

So please excuse me while I get back to pretending I’m shipwrecked- but in a cool, not-to-worry fashion rather Tom Hanks in that film that I can’t remember the title of because I’m tired, but where his best friend is a football.

It’s worse than I thought.

The problem with me is I over think things… Oooh, a parrot!! I wonder who else is on the beach…..Gah!! Just gave myself a minor heart attack by lying on the volume button and causing lapping ocean to become more monumental high tide sweeping loungers off and causing residual water damage. Oops. Must try to be more careful!! Normal volume has been resumed but I don’t think this is the app for me; it’s just making me need a wee.

Just as an aside- if anyone sees me tomorrow looking frazzled, with unbrushed hair or my clothes on inside out, make me a coffee and avert your eyes. We’ve all been there!!!

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