I’m sure that you will all have seen the news about the terror attack in Westminster a couple of days ago.
I’m not going to write about this – the news keeps changing and anything I write will be out of date or just plain won’t do it justice. I’m sure that lots of far better, more articulate, people will produce newspaper articles and columns on it and I will read them.
London is looking really beautiful at the moment. Spring has sprung and the City of London is full of blossom. I’m sure that Westminster is too.
This morning, I took the kids to the playground at Asteys Row to meet up with my friend A and her boys (who are the same age, more or less, as my kids). This is a nice little spot – the playground is enough to keep the kids amused for at least half an hour (an hour if we are with friends) and the council have used their imagination a bit – there is a (clean) sandpit, logs that kids can climb on and walk along and some little hills for them to run up and down.
There is also a rock garden that kids can safely scoot or run along and not come to any bother (as there are no cars).
Unfortunately, today was so much fun that my daughter lay on the ground and shrieked when it was time to leave. If I am honest, I didn’t help all that much – I got so damn fed up, I shouted that we were never going to go anyway, ever again which is (1) not true and (2) not possible. Ugh.
One thing I do like about playgrounds is that I see other people’s kids behaving appallingly and it makes me feel so much better. One kid got a bollocking off his mum for blowing a raspberry in my daughter’s face (hadn’t registered with me as she thought it was brilliant but perhaps this is a habit they are trying to get him out of).
Another time I was there, I saw one child actually get smacked for kicking sand in babies’ faces. I had mixed feelings about this – on the one hand, the child was being an utter beast. On the other – smacking is just not really on. It sounds hideously snobby but I think of it as something that only common people do. Like smoking. Smacking your children is not illegal in the UK (although some people think it should be) but smoking in your car, if you have children in there, now is.
Anyway, once we managed to leave the park, we went to Angel Deli for lunch. I love this place – the food is nice and the owners are extremely kind to my kids (their daughter sometimes comes round to our house to play). They have some terrific deli stuff and I think their tiramisu is probably the best I’ve ever tasted.
This afternoon, we went to St Paul’s Cathedral with my son. It turns out that I am slightly afraid of heights, although I suspect that this is made much worse when it is windy (which it always is up there, it’s an incredibly tall building).
I wasn’t the only one – we passed an American lady who was doing her best to get up a spiral staircase. Thankfully, my son is indifferent to heights and climbed up the stairs without any complaints.
When you are at the top, you can see all over London. I think there are some restrictions so that people don’t build anything taller than St Paul’s but these may have eased off a bit.
I didn’t take any photos inside St Paul’s itself because they tell you not to (and it seems a bit tacky inside a church). The church itself is lovely and in the crypt you can see Nelson‘s tomb. My son preferred the shortbread from the cafe though.
The other night I was sitting at the kitchen table and, out the corner of my eye, I saw a mouse. To be honest, we see mice quite often. We do keep the house (reasonably) clean but these terraced London houses often have a problem with mice – as all the houses are connected, if one house in the street has mice then they all do.
Ever since, I’ve been feeling a bit squeamish. Before I lived in London, I used to think “Ugh, such a fuss! What’s the big deal? It’s only a mouse”. But the thing is, it isn’t only a mouse. They are front and back incontinent so are just the thing for spreading disease. Seriously, rats are much cleaner even though they sound far more disgusting. And females can produce ten litters a year, each litter having up to ten pups. So one mouse can soon become ten, twenty, thirty, all of them scurrying around your kitchen. Ugh. Even now, I keep thinking that I can see them in my peripheral vision.
When my Dad lived in the US, he would have the same reaction to cockroaches. If he saw even one, he would go barmy and throw it out the door (if you kill a cockroach, its mates all turn up to see what’s happened). His house was a timber framed one with wall cavities that made the perfect home for cockroaches, you see.
So – back to London. We put down a mousetrap but it didn’t catch anything.
I did, however, have to make sure that I was the first in the kitchen the next morning to set off the trap (I used a knife handle) to make sure the kids didn’t get their fingers caught. Mousetraps are just the thing for breaking children’s fingers.
This morning, my husband and kids were all out doing their various things so I took myself to Chinese Laundry on Upper Street for brunch. I’d tried to go yesterday but my husband wasn’t all that up for it.
It’s often a bit funny going out to eat by yourself. If the place was rammed with groups of people having a wicked time, I probably would have slunk off feeling like a complete Billy. However, there were just a couple of Chinese foreign students sitting in the window so it was cool. I hung my bright pink Landsend mac up on the hook and sat at a nice little table right in the middle.
The inside is cool, very retro without being too kitsch. It’s the sort of place that would be very admired in Brighton (where I grew up).
I had a latte and something called Egg hug dumpling (or something a bit like that). It was basically an omelette with a load of beef dumplings in the middle and was delicious. Basically exactly what I was in the mood for.
This morning, after my run, I went for a coffee with my friend L at Euphorium. This is a nice place and I definitely recommend their cakes – we got my son’s birthday cake from there – it was this sort of thing and was awesome. Anyway, I didn’t have a cake this time as I was meant to be meeting my brother (who is now back from Honeymoon) for lunch at Chinese Laundry.
We got onto the subject of timekeeping. Now, when I was working, I used to have to record what I did every fifteen minutes on a timesheet. So, even though I am not in work right now, I still think in units of fifteen minutes. There are 28 within seven hours. Walk down to Angel, do a bit of shopping and head back? Three units. Go for a run? Two units. Go for coffee with a friend? Five units (usually). Take my son to preschool? One unit. L found this a little robotic, I think.
While we were in Euphorium, my brother texted me to say that he was still jet lagged and so was going to sack me off. I was quite irritated but then my husband said he could meet me.
Now, I had seen Chinese Laundry but had thought it was another themed dry cleaning place on Upper Street.
However, having read this, I now realise that it is a northern Chinese restaurant, which I was quite excited about.
Pretty much all the places we go to in London serve gweilo Chinese food. However, when we went in, we had a look at the menu and my husband (who has lived in the far east on and off throughout his childhood and immediately after university) said that he Didn’t Like congee, Didn’t Like tofu and Didn’t Like Chinese breakfast. The waitress was kind and gracious and said that they would start doing lunch stuff in a few weeks. So we left and went to La Farola.
La Farola is a nice place – it does Spanish tapas very well and I’ve had some excellent lunches there. I particularly liked the paella today although all of it was very nice. It is a bright, airy restaurant and gets full in the evenings. It deserves to do well and I recommend it if that is what you are in the mood for.
Perhaps I’ll go to Chinese Laundry by myself tomorrow. Although it is more fun with someone else.
This morning, I took the kids to the British Museum. This is a surprisingly good activity for very small children – a nice, big space for them to run around, museum staff dotted around in case they get lost and very limited opportunity for them to escape. The same can’t be said for the journey there – my daughter darted towards the road while we were waiting for the 19 bus on Upper Street, causing one woman to actually gasp in horror. However, once they are on the bus, they have a nice time.
Now, the British Museum is a really big place – there’s no way you will be able to see all of it. We nipped upstairs in the lift to have a look at the Egyptian stuff on the third floor, plus some other stuff.
As with pretty much all London museums, the place is crammed with school groups. Even if you get there for the 10am opening, it won’t help – they let the school groups in early. I dressed the kids in really bright colours so I could pick them out – it seemed to work quite well.
My daughter didn’t really look at any of the stuff but really liked the building.
We had lunch there as my son was enthusiastic about eating in the museum itself. However, it was fiendishly expensive for what we got. As you know, I am not exactly opposed to spending money but that really was ridiculous. On the way back to the bus stop, I saw LOADS of nice looking places on Museum Street where we’ll go for lunch next time. There was one place that had a lovely baked cheesecake in the window which would have been just the thing.
On Museum Street, we also saw this penny farthing outside Thomas Farthing, which the kids thought was AWESOME.