I have had *the* best day. I went up to the big smoke (London) on the train. We will gloss over the trauma of visiting my Mum (90 this year) in the morning and her not knowing who I am, then getting upset at forgetting her daughter and doing the weeping and breast-beating thing. This is nothing new and I am not distressed by it any longer. She usually remembers my children and when I have them with me, she knows who I am so it is usually OK. Sometimes she even remembers me when I am on my own, but sometimes she doesn’t.
The good bit was that this afternoon I went to meet up with some old friends. We were supposed to be having a weekend away in Bath, but for various reasons it ended up being a day out in London instead. It was great. We had a lovely mellow mooch about the shops in Covent Garden (the old stamping ground when we worked on The Strand) and lots of catching up. No particular place to be, nothing pressing to be done, totally relaxed in good company.
The sun was shining and the pavement culture was competing with Paris for rudeness and indifferent service. Ignoring the fairly dismal start (for me) of a small boulder masquerading as a cheesey olive muffin (reinforcing my poor opinion of veggie caffs), we hobbled (literally in P’s case due to a heel vs door incident earlier in the week) around the shops and fetched up in a gorgeous patisserie. Heaven in the form of proper leaf tea with the most divine cakes you can imagine (not to mention air-con and the really lovely, practical oval wooden trays with recesses for teapot, milkjug, cup and carrying thumb – want one of those!). Strawberry tarts laden with sweet, gelatine-coated strawberries piled on a layer of creme patisserie over a chocolate-lined shortcrust tart base, worth every penny of £4 and an absolute delight. Light and fluffy cheesecake and an amazing array of cakes, truffles and ice-creams were hard to resist. I was restrained, honest! We lost most of the afternoon in the Patisserie Valerie. To their credit, they allowed us to sit and chat and drink tea (and eat divine cakes) without trying to push us out of the door to vacate the table like many do.
Eventually, we left and I introduced my friends to the joy of Muji, amazed that they were previously unaware of the wonderfully simple Japanese style, functional, elegant and relatively inexpensive. I love the heavy Olive wood pestle and mortars and the cedarwood and aluminium propelling pencils.
A girlie day out is not complete without make-up, a rare treat to get a second opinion, swap info and, of course, lots of testing. A visit to MAC in Covent Garden and then some rather more budget tip-sharing in Superdrug on The Strand was just the ticket. I so rarely get the opportunity to have that sort of teeny, girlie makeup shop and it is such fun. But, despite all these temptations, I was restrained (apart from a Strawberry Tart moment).
Then I fell in love! Yes, I fell head over heels (fortunately, not literally) in love with … a pair of shoes. Now, I like shoes. They are necessary and I appreciate good shoes, (more so now that I am older), but I’m no Imelda Marcos. But, I saw these and totally lost my heart. I was as excited as a child in a toy shop …a toy shop with sweets and extra-exciting things with sparkly things on top. They were silly shoes. They were stupidly high-heeled shoes. They were sexy shoes. They had bows. They were…Dita shoes. I had to have them.
After a hot day traipsing around town in flatties, I could barely cram my feet into them, but cram they did and (after a slight period of adjustment) I could even walk in them. I was bouncing up and down like a Masai, I was that excited. I haven’t been that excited by anything outside my DH’s trousers in ages!
So, clutching our respective purchases we decided it was time for wine. Covent Garden was, unsurprisingly, tourist trap prices and either “you must order food to have a drink” or “we don’t do food, only drink”, so we alighted long enough to take a pic of the shoes, then ambled away (in flatties) to end up in one of my favourite (and I’m delighted to report, unchanged) restaurants, Sarastro’s. I love Sarastro’s. It has been many years since I was there, but it hasn’t changed. It still looks like a bordello (all red velvet and gold with balconies and alcoves), opera plays loudly and there are bawdy paintings in the loos. The food was lovely (I just had a starter as a main, not being particularly hungry in the heat) – Pan-fried Pigeon breast on stir-fried veg with balsamic dressing. Substantial and tasty. The wine was pretty decent too and the opera music was replaced by a live Latin-style accordion band who played with much enthusiasm and volume.
A leisurely stroll back over Waterloo bridge to the station brought back memories of Shell Mex House with parties on the 10th Floor and spectacular views over the river, watching the London Eye being slowly raised in time for the Millenium (and being among the first to ride it) and happy memories of the many social events in the days before children, when income was frivolously disposable and time expendable.
I smiled all the way home on the train, basking in the joy of old friends and a really nice day, sustained by my iPod. A walk home, watched by the rising moon, still warm enough to be comfortable in a sheer sleeveless shirt. Showing off my lovely shoes and finding TV coverage of Muse at Glastonbury and another glass of wine waiting. I love Muse and would have dearly loved to be jumping up and down in the mosh pit, but I had a really fab day so the TV coverage will do this time around.
I’m still smiling, It’s nearly 3am, I’ve had a lovely day, I have fabaliciously silly shoes and I may go for a quick late night dip in the pool to round off the night.
Watch this space for better pics of the shoes and the Dior-copy suit (I’ll simply have to make) to go with them. Meanwhile, an appropriate tune to listen to 😀