Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve

Spent the day round at Alex's, playing Raving Rabbids on the Wii with his big screen tv, playing Small World, and seeing in the New Year winning Pandemic on hard ...

... chilled out, easy going, good stuff!

Our 12 Days of Christmas
Day 7: A Promise
Charlie has promised to engage with making food while he is on paternity leave, and I have promised to keep my side of our bedroom less cluttered.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Near the end of the year

Spent the evening at Andrew's with various friends, in a bit of a new year's eve eve gathering.  Lovely to see everybody, and to thrash everybody on a dynamite quiz team, winning Alex's quiz of 2012 :)  Tony and I were a hit combo, and Charlie helped a little with the names of the Olympic mascots.

Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 6: A Story
Charlie got me an audiobook of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Absolutely Everything (good to listen to while running), and I got him a film called 'American Splendour' which seems to be both creative and geeky all wrapped up in one.

Thursday, 29 December 2011


Met up with James, Claire, Alex, Andrew S and Andrew R to see some live magic at the Magic Circle near Euston.  All very festive, though seeing lots of Charlie's magic has jaded me somewhat towards it, as I now know how lots of basic stuff is done.  Though it is always a joy to see it done well, even if you do know what they did.

Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 5: A Song
Charlie got me the best of Al Green, mainly as his 'Let's Stay Together' was the second song at our wedding, and I got him 'Any Trouble' by Glen Campbell, which I have heard a lot while on maternity leave and has really touched me ... and the best of Glen Campbell is in the post!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Run Run Run ...

Thought I would get started before the new year set in, and so (with a little encouragement from Fishy) went for a half hour run this morning.  Started off blissfully, but got hard v quickly, so didn't stay out too long.

Then Charlie and I took Penny swimming for the first time in ages.  We started off in the bigger pool which was a little cold, but then we had some very happy splashing in the baby pool once it opened.

Then we met with Andrew for lunch at the Ritzy.  Alex joined just as Charlie went off to give blood, and when he came back we all played Small World.

I took a little walk around Brixton to see if there were any deals in Morleys or Traid, but nothing tempted me.

Spent the evening starting on the various piles of sorting out dotted around the house.

Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 4: A Kiss
Nuff said :)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Back to the City

Up in time for a pancake, yay!

But all good things must come to an end, and after a wonderful Spalding Christmas, Charlie, Penny, Andrew and I headed back to London.  A little challenging to get all of our stuff on the trains, but we got there eventually.  Quite tired, and feeling in need of a rest.

So we had a low key evening, ordering curry in, playing Small World and watching the last Harry Potter film (C not impressed) and squeezing in a bit of the big quiz of the year.

Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 3: A Quote
Charlie cited a quote that he had heard years ago from his Dad, and read for himself recently in the Robert Heinlein book 'Stranger in a Strange Land', "Love is that condition in which another's happiness is essential to your own."

Mine was a little more contemporary ... from Ratatouille, one of my favourites about the role of creator and critic:

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy.
We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defence of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement.
They have rocked me to my core.
In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France.
I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more."
- Anton Ego, ‘Ratatouille’ (2007)

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Clever

Almost missed Matty's pancakes this morning, as Charlie kindly took the baby so I could have a little sleep in.

Charlie and Andrew went to the pub in the afternoon to play Small World, while mum and I watched Downton Abbey and I also had a nice chat with Anna. Downton was perfect, Christmassy and cathartic.

Then we sorted the house out for guests, as we were joined by Jane B, the Drews and the Petchalls.  Most of them didn't stay late, so only Sue and Barry joined us for the hat game, which was won happily by Matty, Anna and Barry ... though my Robinson Crusoe ending in hysterics will not be forgotten for a while!

Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 2: A Joke
I told Charlie a couple of bad ones about hunters and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (very bad), and Charlie told me a great one in return:
What game do you play with a wombat?  Wom :)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Penny's First Christmas!

Penny had a wonderful first Christmas!

She awoke (after sleeping through, yay!) to find a stocking outside our room, filled with lovely little prezzies.

Dad cooked a magnificent turkey with all the trimmings, followed by mum's spectacular lemon meringue pie.  Then we watched the Queen as always, after which we exchanged presents.  Some very good prezzies, a contribution towards the camera I have now bought in the sales, Outnumbered on DVD, a pretty bag to name but a few.

Then, after a brief walk around the River Welland, we watched Ratatouille before a light tea with scones and jam.

After tea we gathered for a family game of Monopoly.  No fisticuffs, instead all was very civil.  I was short of any decent property, but managed to stay in till 2nd as Charlie sold me the yellow set for a song when he was on his way out.

Our twelve days of Christmas
Charlie and I decided this year to give each other light-hearted presents based on the 12 days of Christmas.

Day 1: Something sweet
Charlie gave me 3 Kinder Bueno chocolates, I gave him some Reese's Pieces (our favourite chocolates!)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

A relaxing day at home, started off with pancakes a la Matthew (!), and then bacon sandwiches for lunch.

We were visited by Jamie, Andrea and Andy C, who whisked Andrew and Charlie to the pub.

After a delicious beef casserole, we all sat down to a nice game of Dixit, which Andrew won but I think was enjoyed by all.

Friday, 23 December 2011

To Spalding

Finished everything off and tidied up the house, ready to head off to Spalding.  Charlie had already taken the suitcase to work, so P and I had the big bag of prezzies and food equipment.  We stopped off to pick up one last prezzie on our way to Kings Cross, where Andrew and Charlie arrived in good time for the train.

Very busy onboard, with lots of bags and people everywhere.  Nice to get our own set of four seats, as P had her own ticket.

The Spalding train was another story, rammed full of people.  A kind man gave me and Penny his seat, and P decided to have a screaming fit halfway though which was a little trying.  But soon enough we were in Spalding, and Dad was helping us get bags in the car.

Lovely to see him and Mum and Matty, and good to meet Anna (Matty's girlfriend).  We had a v relaxing evening, with lasagne for dinner, and sitting peacefully in the lounge together.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

An Arrival from Espana

Jon arrived yesterday evening, after I had spent a day catching up with the Christmas preparations and tidying, now feeling much better after my 'episode'.

Lovely to see him, and he was on really good form.

Tried in vain to chase my Amazon parcel, and so spent much of the afternoon venting my spleen to Yodel and Amazon customer services.

Then had a low-key Christmassy drinks and stew in the evening, with visits from Kirsten, Norris, Nat, Andrew, Greg and Kate.  Nice to have everybody together and feeling festive!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Thai Christmas

P slept through the night, yay!  The first time in a long time, I think ...

Met with Charlie, Theresa and Erika at Thai Square, as T was in town.  Good to see them, v kind of T to treat us.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Drinks

Ruth and Wela popped round last night, lovely to see them before they head off to SA, though neither I nor Fishy were on great form.

After an interrupted but much better night's sleep, felt somewhat improved on Tues.  P again was v good and let me rest, and I still managed to get a bit of tidying and washing done.

Got some fresh air by spending an hour or two at Matthew G's Christmas drinks, good to see him and his jolly troop of friends.

Then home and early to bed for me, while Charlie stayed up late working on his latest writing project.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Enforced Rest

Oh woe is me!  Up many times in the night with D+V, my tummy felt pummelled to pieces.  So spending the day relaxing, and P is being v good bless her, hope it lasts!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Brixton Christmas

Woke up with a stinking cold, but felt better after a lemsip, so C and I dashed around to get the place ready for our guests: Marion, Robin, Jane, Erika, Dan and Andrew.

Dan made a delicious broccoli and stilton soup for starters, I cooked 2 roast chickens with lots of trimmings, and Marion brought a lemon meringue pie and a raspberry panacotta for dessert, and also cheese!

Full up, we had a sit down with a cup of tea late in the afternoon, as we had eaten v leisurely.  Jane went to carols at St Martins, but I decided I was too ill to go.  So I stayed in and had a bath, while C took P to the Trinity for some Samurai games with Andrew and Alex.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Guildford Christmas

Met with James, Claire, James C, Maria and Nick & Becky at the Cafe Rouge in Guildford for a slap up Christmas meal, great food as always and good to see them all.

Then back to J&Cs for some games of Small World ... I came 3/5 on the first game, but then won the second.  Hooray!  Then back home for some more Small World with Alex, which I believe I lost ... world's shortest running streak.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Festive Joy

Finished off the Christmas cards and sent out a follow up email about Easter weekend.  Dashed out to meet the ladies at the Ritzy for an end of the week beverage.  Hooray, they had mulled wine again, so had a couple of glasses while the babies had snacks and generally babbled and were sweet.

Then bought all the food for this Sunday's family meal, two (count them, two) chickens!  Plus lots of stuffing ...

Pleased to have apparently sorted a venue for Penny's naming ceremony, so hopefully invites will be out soon.

Then had a lazy evening in, polishing the Berrocal whilst watching the British Comedy Awards, which were genuinely laugh out loud funny.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Ploughing towards Xmas

Have been enjoying a bit of free time over the last few days, with no visitors or carpet men around or stuff everywhere, to get some overdue bits and pieces done.  Mainly Christmas cards, but also more sorting out.

As Charlie has been out a lot this week, decided to eschew my work Christmas party to spend some quality time with him and P.  Also we watched the fabulous documentary about Steve Jobs on the BBC, which was a good, upbeat summary of his life's work.

Feeling quite Christmassy now ... :)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Liberty and Changed Plans

As Charlie was on a flexiday, woke up to a morning of liberty.  Went to Brixton to have a little Fara splurge, and to have my haircut by a very nice man called Tyler.  So now I have a neat, and not too short, bob.

Went to Claire's in the afternoon, where we had our last Monday meet up with her ... v sad!  But also jolly, with winter Pimms and minirolls.

Unfortunately, due to being short staffed, the Ritzy cancelled Charlie's board games night, so he, Norris, Andrew and Jonathan played Samurai and Go round at ours.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Danish Christmas

Had a lovely long afternoon at Kirsten's celebrating Danish Christmas.  As per usual, she had baked enough for a few small armies, so we enjoyed the traditional Danish rice pudding, various yummy cheeses and cake, whilst chatting and while some people played Absolute Balderdash.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Afternoon Tea and Another Warm House

Met up with Robin, Marion and Erika at the Marriott County Hall for our Christmas present from R&M, an indulgent and very smart afternoon tea.  We gorged ourselves on sandwiches, scones, cake and gingerbread, whilst looking out over the river from the warmth of the old library.

Then, after struggling with buses back south, we headed round to Ryan's in Streatham Hill to help warm his new house there.  Penny would not go to sleep, so we stayed up with her in the calmness of the front room with mulled wine and cider, while the party blazed in the kitchen.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Visit from Granny

Mum came down to join us for the day.  We spent a lot of time in the flat, as the weather was pretty bad.  Then, after she and Dad went back up to Lincolnshire, I joined my department for a Christmas dinner at a lovely Japanese place near Aldwych.

Lovely to see everybody, to have some great food and a few drinks.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Lion in Winter

Dad kindly took me out for an evening away from little Penny, so we went to see Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley performing 'The Lion in Winter'.  It was a fun, Christmassy, historical way of looking at family life, albeit family life in the royal house in the 12th century.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dinner for 7

Hosted Dan, Erika, Andrew and Dad for a delicious roast pork dinner, with a Lemon Delicious pudding ... roll on the wonderful food season that is Christmas!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Merry Monday

Had a lie in, as C had a flexiday so he looked after P.  Dad arrived late morning and had a cup of tea before heading off to meet Andrew for lunch, before investigating the Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A.

To Sophie's for tea and biscuits in the afternoon, jolly as ever!  Especially fun to watch as the babies 'shared' toys such as the tambourine.

Norris popped round for a drink, but neither she nor Dad could persuade Penny to eat her spaghetti bolognese ... sigh!

C had a great time at Ronnie Scotts with Andrew, Ant, Tony, Chloe and Dave.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Herne Hill Sunday

For reasons I don't recall, I had suggested to Andrew and Alex last night that we meet in Herne Hill for brunch.  So we piled into Cafe Prov, which was noticeably different from the Hive as there were lots of kiddies, and the walls were drowned in boho eclectic chic.  Good food though, a proper breakfast place.

Then back to Alex's for Ingenious and two games of Pandemic ... both 'hard', both lost :(

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A Warm and Magnificent House

A lazy morning with Penny and Fi watching Saturday Kitchen and chatting, before Fi and Andrew went off to see some friends of theirs in town.  Charlie, Penny and I popped round to Papas Park to feedback on a model of our area on such areas as bike facilities, safety, rubbish tipping etc.  Was good to air our views.

In the afternoon we tried out Charlie's new board game, 'Small World', before heading round early to Norris and Liam's housewarming in case Penny precluded us from staying late.  Was good to see Andrew, Nina and Baby Maddie who were also part of the baby brigade.

Norris and Liam have the house fully sorted now, and it is splendid.  With artistic landlords, who have a style that blends seamlessly into their own, it feels like a lovely space to be in and you can tell they are enjoying it.

It was a v fun party, one of the funnest I have been to in ages.  Lots of space and lots of familiar faces, all mixed in with some potent mulled wine.

Penny was v well behaved, and graciously went to sleep for a few hours in Noz & Liam's bedroom while we chatted downstairs.  Then she came down for a bit after having some milk and a nappy change, feeling v awake and sociable.  So it was well after 1am when we all left to wander back to Brixton.

Great fun!

Friday, 2 December 2011

A Christmassy Friday

Met up with Sophie, Sonia and Kaye to see 'Hugo' at the Ritzy Big Scream.  Was an ok film, but Penny was unsettled and so I spent the whole time jumping up and down trying to improve her mood.  V tiring and hard work, so maybe she is just too big for the cinema now.

Then went to the Prince for lunch, where Phil and Jo also joined us.  Then although our plan was to see the tree lights being turned on and carols being sung, we though it was in Windrush Square.  So when we heard it was actually in the library, we decided our full wineglasses were too important to abandon, so we stayed in the Ritzy cafe.  Fish also joined us as he left work a little earlier than usual.

then home to dash around in preparation for the evening's dinner.  Norris and Natalie came round with the  delicious courses they had prepared - Norris with her many tomatoes for a bruscetta starter, and Natalie with her TWO cakes, lemon ricotta and sticky toffee.

Was so good to have a cosy dinner in with them, and the guests of honour Andrew and Fi, who were on good form and had a reasonable run down from Oxford.  They are such a natural couple, and of all the weddings I have been to, they are way up the list when it comes to people who are so suited, happy and generally great.

Had a little too much wine, and Penny decided that going to bed was too boring, so she happily joined us at the dinner table, staying v quiet and jolly.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Last Bikram

Went to my last Bikram class in the evening.  After 7 classes, I do feel fitter and most importantly my back feels stronger and much less achy.  But I am not prepared to give any more cost and time to it (£15 per class, 3.5 hours per session including travel), so I just hope I can persuade myself to go swimming and running throughout the winter so I am not too porky when I get back to work.