04.12

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C A R B   D A Y   I S   T H E   B E S T   D A Y

So, last weekend I decided to tackle London for the first time since I had Ottilie. It’d been such a long time since my last visit (back when I was 34 weeks pregnant, and looked like I’d swallowed a melon), and I missed the city with my whole heart!

It felt like a pretty huge deal, heading up into London by myself with an 11 week old baby. Ottie’s becoming pretty chilled these days and doesn’t tend to cry all that often, at least compared with the newborn days when she used to have a regular 7pm meltdown that meant Jason and I spent many an evening eating our dinners one handed whilst attempting to bounce a shrieking bundle with the other arm!

But still, the idea of trying to get us both organised and ready to catch our train on time, and keep Ottilie fed, cosy, dry, and happy all day long whilst moving around the city felt like a daunting one.

And yet it was a doddle! Ottilie cooed and smiled her way through both train journeys, took her naps snuggled in tight to my chest in the sling, and seemed to love looking around her as we travelled through the city.

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The first stop on our travels was to meet Tania and Michael at Where The Pancakes Are, a sweet little brunch spot over near Borough Market that Tania had been wanting to try for a while. And I’m glad we did, because those pancakes were fantastic!

As soon as we got to the restaurant I passed Ottilie over the table to her Auntie Tania, and judging by the look on Ottilie’s face, she was pretty happy to see her!

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We decided to share a couple of the dishes between us- the vegetarian pancakes with halloumi and roasted red pepper (delicious!) and the banana, chocolate and hazelnut pancakes (even better!!)!

The pancakes are made with buttermilk and are thick and fluffy, and that Nutella-esque spread was a dream. Ottilie spent brunch napping (with a belly full of milk that she’d enjoyed on the train) and all I could think of was how excited I am so begin introducing her to all my favourite foods in a couple of months time!

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High on chocolate sauce, we moseyed our way along the river back towards Waterloo, in search of the South Bank Christmas market. I’ve been every year for the past three or so years (I’ve lost track…) and figured Ottilie might just stay awake long enough to see the Christmas lights!

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As it happened though, the walk took us such a long time, with the crowds of tourists meandering along with us, that by the time we made it to the market she was snoozing contentedly on my chest in the wrap, whilst the rest of us had managed to work up enough of an appetite to be hungry for a pot of mac & cheese!

Two types of carbs in the space of less than three hours? Now that’s the way to spend a Saturday…

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Posted in BRUNCH, LONDON

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02.08

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R O L L I N G   B A C K   T H E   Y E A R S

Back when Jason and I first met and started dating, I was just getting ready to move to London and start studying ballet and contemporary dance full time.

Jason would come up to visit me at the weekends and the odd midweek day too, and so we spent those early days and weeks of our relationship getting to know one another whilst wandering through the British Museum, and through the galleries of the Tate, and over lingering lunches and late, post-dance class dinners.

We look back on those early days so fondly, remembering how young and carefree and fresh we were, with so many amazing adventures ahead of us!

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We decided a few weeks back to put a date in the diary for a day spent in London, to spend some quality time just the two of us before the baby arrives in the next five or so weeks.

It turned out to be one of my favourite date-days we’ve ever had together!

We had no plan at all other than to head to South Kensington to be within reach of the museums, and so spent the train journey into London deliberating over where to head for lunch.

Inspiration came via Google Maps, which I was scouring whilst looking for best route to take from South Ken station over to Jojo Maman Bebe (my spiritual home these days, of course…). I spotted The Ivy Chelsea Garden on the map, immediately launched into a sales pitch to Jason about how great I’d heard the food is and how it’s such a beautiful restaurant, and that was it! Sold!

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The restaurant is totally gorgeous, with a bright and airy botanical feel to it.

We started with a couple of mocktails in a colour palette that blended in with our surroundings just perfectly- a peachy-hued iced tea for Jason, and an apple and elderflower spritz for me. Both delicious!

Though if I’m being honest, were I not pregnant I’d totally have been drinking something spiked with copious amounts of gin, which would’ve been just that little bit better ;)

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And when the food arrived, it more than lived up to expectation.

I ordered the roasted butternut squash with herbed grains and crumbled feta (praise be for waiting staff who can tell you straight off with 100% confidence which cheeses on the menu are and aren’t pasteurised! Made this pregnant woman a happy one!), whilst Jason went for the classic chicken and chips.

Oh, and a portion of the truffled arancini to share, which strangely enough tasted 1000x more delicious when they were almost cold at the end of the meal, than they did piping hot at the start!

We both spent the meal waxing lyrical to one another about how delicious each of our dishes were, and trying to keep from eating too fast so as to leave room for dessert…
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Which, as you can see, we managed! Troopers, aren’t we?

Now, I need to take a moment to discuss this dessert with you, because it’s truly one of the most fantastic I’ve ever eaten.

Hot, salted caramel sauce is poured over a chocolate bombe set in a sea of milk foam, and as the bombe melts, it reveals inside a scoop of the most delicious vanilla ice-cream and popping honeycomb pieces.

It is, in short, DIVINE. I haven’t stopped thinking about it all week since we went!

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After a spot of shopping in the sunshine along the King’s Road, and a much-needed walk back up to South Kensington, we headed to our second and final stop for the day- the Natural History Museum!

Neither Jason or I had been there in years, and had the best time reliving our childhood visits whilst wandering through the dinosaur exhibits (still as magical as ever!), and marvelling at just HOW huge that blue whale model really is.

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After we’d spent a couple of hours exploring the museum, we headed back out into the sunshine to soak up the last of the day’s rays over coffee and juice. 

It really was the nicest…and the whole time all we could think of was that the next time we head into London to spend the day together, there’ll be three of us instead of two! 

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Posted in DATE, JASON, LONDON, RESTAURANT, REVIEW

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17.12

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H A R K   T H E   H E R A L D   A N G E L S   S I N G . . .

A few months ago, my Mum messaged my sister and I to let us know that, as a Christmas treat, she’d booked us all tickets to the King’s College Choir carol service at the Royal Albert Hall.

We’ve all loved the King’s College carols for as long as I can remember, and they’ve been part of our Christmas celebrations always.

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We arrived into a London early in the evening, and found it to be unseasonably mild yet seasonably sparkly.

Fairy lights lit up the trees along the roadsides, and wreaths hung on almost every front door we passed as we made our South Kensington station over to the Albert Hall. Dinner was eaten on the hoof, and comprised of a selection of M&S’s finest treats…

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I always feel as though the Royal Albert Hall is kind of hidden. It seems to be tucked away so well that it only appears at the last moment as you walk towards it, lit up though it is with warm orange lights.

Though of course, the lights outside were nothing to what was within…

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We took our seats in the hall, and, like almost everyone else there, spent a good ten minutes or so gazing in awe and snapping photo after photo of the beautiful trees either side of the organ.

It looks like scene from Hogwarts, don’t you think?

Though perhaps that’s just because I’m rereading HP and the Philosopher’s Stone at the moment, and have just got to the description of Great Hall and its twelve sparkling trees lit up with golden bubbles and real fairies…

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We found songsheets tucked between each of the seats and so warmed up our voices with a little discussion about our favourite Christmas carols, whilst the Philharmonic orchestra began to warmup on stage.

At 7.30 on the nose, the lights dimmed, and the King’s College choristers stood up ready to sing in the centre of the stage, with the Philharmonic choir to their left and right.

The opening notes of ‘Joy to the World’ began, and what followed was just…magic.

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Choral music often leaves me with a lump in my throat, but hearing it live like this was something else.

The voices of the choristers, some of whom looked so little they can’t have even reached a double-digit age yet, were so beautiful and angelic and haunting that my hair prickled and goosebumps came up on the backs of my arms.

The music seems to wrap around you, in that space, especially if you take a moment to close your eyes and feel it ringing around the hall.

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My favourite pieces from the night were ‘O Holy Night’, which was played with the full orchestra and has been my favourite piece of Christmas music for as long as I can remember, and ‘The Shepherds’ Carol’ which is my Mum’s favourite piece but was a new one to me.

The evening ended with three carols for us all to join in on- O Come All Ye Faithful, Good King Wenceslas, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. As we all sang, I noticed so many of the families sitting around us leaning closer to one another, heads on shoulders and hands holding hands.

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It made my throat tight, hearing 5000 people singing those familiar songs with their messages of love and peace, and feeling the festive spirit in the room.

It truly was something special.  

After the concert finished, Mum, Cesca and I nipped back across to Embankment, and then walked the final way back to Waterloo across the river, which, as I’ve said so many times before on this blog, is my favourite thing to do in London when I’ve got a little time on my hands.

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It was a pretty perfect evening, all in all.

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Posted in CHRISTMAS, FAMILY, LONDON

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03.12

Cider-with-Rosie-Helena-Cape-Boden-5 Cider-with-Rosie-Helena-Cape-Boden-4

 B A B Y   I T ‘ S   C O L D   O U T S I D E .

Oh look! It’s that cape again!

I’ll tell you, I’ve been wearing that thing pretty much non-stop lately. And I figured that, since it’s the sort of item that I once would’ve looked at and thought ‘I would have NO idea how to wear that!’, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for me to break that rules of blogging and feature an item more than once ;)

Totally kidding. You know me and my penchant for wearing the same things over and over! Those leopard flats being a case in point…

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Tania snapped these photos for me partway through last week, right after we’d finished brunch and were having a potter around Parson’s Green.

We stepped out of the cafe and were hit immediately by a gust of wind 100 times brisker than the day’s forecast had predicted, and as our noses turned pinker and pinker in a matter of minutes as we walked along the New King’s Road.

Cold we might have been, yet still, there’s something undeniably lovely and happy-making about London during the winter months.

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Each year I forget how beautiful London looks in the cold, crisp, blue-ish light of winter, and how much I love to visit the city during the festive season.

Though the hustle and bustle of the shopping hotspots never fails to me feel ever so slightly anxious about the state of my own Christmas shopping efforts (this year, non-existant so far…), there’s a sort of hurried energy to the place that’s undeniably infectious.

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I love the lights that criss-cross back and forth between the tall buildings on Regent Street, and the blue and white snowflakes that usually sit high in the trees around Sloane Square.

I love the festive displays in shop windows, and seeing people walking along the streets bundled up in coats carrying a dozen shopping bags, and the sparkly silhouettes of Christmas trees that shine through the front room curtains of the homes that line the streets.

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Cape || Jeans || Flats || Hat

 

I remember being in London just a couple of days before Christmas last year, catching up with the girls just after Tania came back from Australia.

As I travelled across town, it seemed as though every other person making their way through the city was carrying armfuls of wrapped gifts, and dragging heavy suitcases behind them.

It felt like a scene from one of those gloriously cheesy Christmas films that we can’t help but watch each December, and I remember thinking ‘This is it, right here. *This* is Christmas.’

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I’ve always had this strange love for travelling over Christmas season, no doubt born from that most famous of Christmas songs (is Chris Rea singing in your head right now, too?), and I think that’s why that little scene caught my heart in the way it did.

In fact, I’m already starting to get fluttery with excitement about the travelling we’re doing around Christmas time this year!

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How will you be spending your Christmas day, this year? :) My Mum’s hosting this one, and I just can’t wait!

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Posted in LONDON, WORN

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