Posted by: sweetpea | May 22, 2006

Tales from the city

I’ve just spent a lovely if rather wet weekend down in London visiting my brother. I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan of London, I find it all a bit overwhelming, but it is growing on me each time I visit, and I can see my visits getting more frequent than once a year so long as I can get cheap rail tickets. What I hate about London is the crowds, the fact I get disorientated, and the time it takes to get between places. But what I do love is the diversity of people and things to do, places to eat etc. I couldn’t live there but it’s a fascinating place to visit, always something new to see whereas in York, you visit once and you’ve seen it all!

So what did we get up to I hear you ask…well in true Sweet-pea style I shall proceed to tell U in far more detail than is required!

A quiet Friday night in.

For a change we decided to do a take away and DVD rather than go out. The takeaway was Chinese and I thought a bit disappointing. The DVD was ‘Casino Royale’, my choice since the salsology summer ball is on that theme. Kind of a strange film and far too long, I struggled to stay awake, but fairly enjoyable all the same.

This is why I love London

Saturday morning started off very lazily…or should I say it did for Rhys. I of course woke up at 7am as my body clock is so damn accurate! I tried staying in bed, but being as bed was a thermarest on the floor I figured getting up was actually preferable. After a shower I headed to the lounge to read and drink tea until Rhys surfaced from his slumber. Eventually he did and we headed to Broadway Market to grab some breakfast and so as he could do his weekly shop. He is so lucky to have such a wonderful farmer’s/craft market right on his doorstep. We had a wonder around the stalls while eating fresh almond pain au chocolate and drinking tea/coffee, and then we did the actual buying of fresh veg and cheese. On one stall they had some seed tray modules with the turnips (I thought they were turnips but they may very well have been radishes now I come to think of it) still growing. I thought this was great, how fresh were they! In fact it reminded me of the lettuce we bought in Sweden which was still growing in a little plant pot. I spotted a minor celebrity, Meredith MacNeill, who recently starred as the tennis girl in ‘Confetti’, just wondering about the market. Her nose isn’t as pig like in real life.

After dropping the shopping back at the house we headed to Covent Garden. I wanted to visit the Birkenstock shop to buy some new sandals to replace my rather shabby looking 12yr old Birkenstocks. I also wanted to pop into the Natural Shoe store as I’d discovered their website and figured it’s be worth checking out their stuff while I was nearby. First stop was the NSS, I love continental shoes, they’re so quirky! I spotted some sandals that looked great but I figured probably wouldn’t fit. Worth a try on though, and I was so surprised when they fitted really well and were comfy at the same time. So I bought a pair, and almost splashed out on a pair in red too, but figured I’d better make sure the brown ones were ok first then maybe I’ll think about the red pair. It was barely lunchtime and my day was already made 🙂 Next we headed up the street to Birkenstock, popping in briefly to a little shop selling tea which smelt divine. I tried on various pairs of sandals in B but they didn’t have many in the narrow fitting so we both left empty handed. Apparently if you order them from Germany they have more narrow fittings in stock so will check that out.

By this time we were ready for lunch, so we headed back to the market area where we’d noticed a food stall as part of the Malaysia week festivities going on. I had some chicken curry, rice, noodles and pickles, all very nice. Hadn’t had Malaysian food before, and Rhys had said it tends to be a mix of Indian and Chinese. We were entertained by some Malaysian musicians, and then some very cute children dancing. The children were fantastic, I don’t know how old they were but they were so confident and really looked as if they were enjoying themselves.

As we started to get cold and the rain didn’t look like it was going to stop, we decided to head to Oxford road next. I wanted to pop into Top Shop as apparently they had a ‘People tree’ concession there and I wanted to try a few things on for size for future reference. Once we were on Oxford road Rhys left me to go and find a bookshop so he could rest his knee, perfect for me because I could then shop to my hearts content without feeling I was taking too long! Before finding top shop I wanted to find the Italian tourist information place. I’d had a look at a map beforehand and was quite impressed with myself for finding it first time just from what I remembered, unfortunately it was shut!

Now, I have to confess I love clothes, and although I’m not as much into shopping as I used to be, I do still love looking at clothes. I’d heard that this particular top shop was huge, but it hadn’t prepared me for the enormity of what is Top Shop Oxford Road. You’d think I’d be in my element, but I was actually really taken aback by how big it was and the crowds in there. I eventually found the PT stands and was a little disappointed that there weren’t any trousers on display but I did pick up a top that had taken my fancy. The ground floor is dedicated to a ‘Boutique’ style of clothes shopping, loads of different labels on display. Definitely my type of thing, especially the ‘recycled/vintage’ labels. I envy people who can look at an item of clothing and just know how to wear it well. I manage it sometimes but other times I try things on and just can’t seem to make them look right. Eventually I tore myself away along with 2 purchases, and went to meet up with Rhys again.

We headed to Soho and to the cinema to check out what was on. We decided to see ‘Lemming’, a French psychological thriller. I thought it was a great film. It was quite similar in style to the Cohen brothers’ films, the first half was really funny, and I began to wonder whether they’d got the description wrong. But the second half was definitely more of a thriller, although quite strange at times. Great film and I shall now be looking out for ‘Harry, He’s here to help’ as it’s by the same director and according to Rhys, better. I was relieved that I’d managed to last the length of the film without having a major coughing fit. During the day my voice had been gradually getting worse so that by now I sounded like talking to someone on a mobile with bad reception! Think it was a mixture of the cold I have at the mo’ and probably talking far too much, something my voice box isn’t used to!

How can you be lost?!?

After the film we went in search of a sushi bar, but we ended up in a noodle bar because I decided I didn’t fancy raw fish after all. I had rice filled omelette and tomato ketchup…very Japanese! We then found a bus stop and waited for the bus home. We waited almost an hour, and just before deciding to get a less direct bus, the no. 55 turned up. We got on and set off. In a while there were murmurings amongst the passengers and Rhys commented that he was sure we were going the wrong way. It turned out that there was a diversion in operation, so that was ok. However in a while it became pretty obvious that we were definitely not going in the right direction. We were driving towards Westminster rather than towards Hackney. People on the bus started to talk more amongst themselves and eventually someone asked the driver what was going on. Turns out there was a diversion, but he’d missed a sign so was now lost! He’d decided to head to Victoria being as he knew how to get there, but that was no use to us trying to get to Hackney. I fancied staying on to see what happened and whether we’d eventually get to Hackney, I thought it was really funny and a bit of an adventure, but Rhys was keen not to waste time. So we got off the bus and walked to Westminster tube where Rhys persuaded them to let me through with my bus ticket. 2 and a half hours after we left the noodle bar we eventually got back to the house! I still think it was quite an adventure but I was glad to get back. Rhys couldn’t work out why the driver hadn’t asked the passengers for directions, but I figured it was a) because he was a bloke, and b) because he’s a bus driver, he should know where he’s going..the embarassment would have been too great!

When it’s raining outside the best thing to do is more shopping 🙂

Sunday morning we’d thought of going to Hackney city farm, but decided it wasn’t going to be much fun in the rain, so instead stayed in, did some reading, made a tomato and feta salad to eat with ciabatta for lunch, then headed over to Spitlefields market. I love looking around markets like this, they are so colourful and there is such a variety of things to tempt you. I managed only to be tempted three times. I spotted a skirt that I’d been admiring on a girl the day before. I did think afterwards that buying something you’ve seen someone else wearing might not be a good thing as you’re not likely to look as good in it, but I liked it and I think it looks alright on me. I also bought a cardi and a couple of hair clips. The only think I don’t like about markets is that you can’t try things on properly. I tried a couple of dresses on over my jeans and top but it’s hard to tell what they’d look like on their own.

On the way back from the market we walked down brick lane and stopped briefly in this really cool furniture shop to shelter from the rain. We arrived back at the house with time to chill out before heading to King’s cross where I said goodbye.

I shall have to make sure I visit again in the not to distant future. In fact I think next time I want some new shoes I think I might head to London as I’m more likely to find ones that fit and that I like.


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