Last month I turned 24. I think I’ve finally crossed that threshold and become a fully fledged member of adult society. In celebration of this achievement (?!) Blake treated me like a queen for the week, of which I was very appreciative. I had a veeeeery easy week domestically speaking with all duties like dish washing, clothes washing and more stripped from me. More Mindy Project for me! Hoorah!
On my actual birthday we celebrated with an eggs benny breakfast in our pyjamas whilst unwrapping some lovely gifts from my family and from Blake… Daniel Radcliffe pun mug and Kate Spade goodies eat your heart out! At work I was presented with a Berliner donut from my German pal Jenny, who clearly appreciates a good pun, as well as a bottle of Prosecco. A fantastic ‘Queen of Awesomeness’ mug and a few cards that also weirdly referenced being a Queen (I’m not quite sure what that means or says about me… I’m choosing to think of it as a bizarre coincidence…) and of course a classic office Tesco chocolate cake, because an office birthday isn’t complete without one.
The real treat of the day was sneaking out of work a little early to meet Blake for a surprise adventure. We walked through Soho, into the West End and found ourselves a table at Jamie’s Diner.
London tip: Although Jamie’s Italian is a pretty fancy place to eat in Sydney, it’s more of a chain in London. There are lots of Jamie’s restaurants around, and a large variety of Italian, Diners and more. This means the experience isn’t quite as special as it is in Sydney, but it is just as delicious.
Blake had the Reuben sandwich and I had the beef burger, which was great, but Shake Shack reigns supreme. We finished it off with a Camden ale and a Strawberry/Vanilla cocktail.
Then came the main event… The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at the Gielud theatre. I read the book years ago and have raved about it to anyone and everyone who’ll listen from the day I turned the last page. When we moved to London I exclaimed, probably too many times, how badly I wanted to see the theatrical adaptation, but we just hadn’t been able to prioritise seeing a show for the last 6 months due to all our travelling which was eating up any spare penny we had.
I can’t recommend this fantastic show highly enough. The way they bring the story to you in a very real, physical way is astonishing. The actors really put themselves through it in this show, especially Christopher’s character. I wondered how they would be able to convey Christopher and the way his intricate mind works without literally being able to see it through his eyes (which you do through the book in that it is written from his perspective, harder to translate that on stage!) and they’ve totally nailed it. It is beautiful, interesting and touching all at once and I loved it.
We continued the birthday festivity into the weekend with avocado and feta cheese on toast (my second favourite), and a good old house spring clean. When your house is as messy as ours was after a month away and three weeks back without time to clean it, cleaning it was genuinely a treat.
I’ve written about the Borough Markets here before, but to be honest, this place deserved twenty posts. It is my favourite London activity. It might be my favourite life activity. I’m calling it. It’s the best.
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Picture a stunning, Art Deco warehouse with crisp cool London air bustling through, completely packed with people, with hundreds (?) of shops and stalls selling the most incredible selection of produce. Organic meats and vegetables with the largest range of exotic mushrooms I have ever seen – and all of it exceptional British and European produce. The oils! Insanely good olive oils, truffle oil, chilli and garlic oil… Wheels of French cheese bigger than your head… Mulled wine, champagne, oysters, fresh paella, the famous salt beef sandwiches, burgers. And the baked goods! Incredible breads and freshly baked pastries and treats. Have I sold you yet?! It really is the best of the best – Jamie Oliver does his shopping here!
We hung out with a cute dog named Monty, shared a consolation prize of a cheese and olive bread stick. It was a consolation prize because Bread Ahead sold out of the last three famous donuts right in front of my very eyes. It was devastating… Following the devastation we bought supplies for a dinner feast, sampled some oysters and I enjoyed a cup of mulled wine which was the perfect antidote to a cold London night.
For dinner Blake concocted a feast of spinach and garlic venison pasta. I’m not usually a venison fan but I loved it with this dish. B bought venison sausages and broke them down into mince to create these little pockets of deliciousness.
We shared a bottle of Tobin’s wine brought back from sunny QLD and started watching Robin William and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage on Netflix before I promptly fell asleep halfway through like a good 84 24 year old.
Sunday was pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup for breakfast (my third-favourite!) and a wander through the Columbia Road Flower Markets. Although it was drizzling with rain, it didn’t stop the eccentric English sales people yelling out to passers by… [please read the following sentence in your best cockney accent] ‘GET YOUR PETUNIA BULBS HERE!’ ‘A POUND A BAG OF DAFFS!’ ‘THREE FOR TWO ORCHIDS! IT DON’T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THA’, DO IT!’ – it’s always a lot of fun to do some serious people-watching here, if you can brave the crowds. Even on a rainy day, personal space is a struggle here.
I picked up this miscellaneous bunch of lovely red guys to go with my beautiful red and orange roses currently gracing our kitchen table. We strolled through the surrounding back alleys and I wished we had a lot more money to burn on gorgeous antiques and endless bouquets of flowers.
For lunch we visited the famous ‘Brick Lane Beigel’ shop which is open 24 hours a day and is a far more classy midnight option than the classic Hornsby station kebab. It almost always has a queue leading down the street. A hot, salt beef bagel with mustard was absolutely what we needed at that point in the day. At £3.75 (so… almost 7 Australian dollars!) a pop it’s not the cheapest bagel in the world, but I truly believe it might be one of the most delicious… I can see why the line to enter stretches at any hour of the day. We ate our bagels whilst exploring the Brick Lane markets and with tummies full headed back to the tube station.
And so ends a wonderful birthday week in which we ate lots of delicious things and visited THREE different markets. If anyone has any more other great London market recommendations I’d love to hear them… I’m keen to get back to the Broadway markets near London Fields at some point, but other than that, I’d love suggestions! London, where are the rest of your fabulous markets?