My last day in England

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I am currently drowning in a sea of suitcases, clothes and bags to go to the charity shop. This time tomorrow my flight will have taken off and the fact that I'm actually really leaving has finally started to sink in. 

Rich sent me this picture this morning. Must keep reminding myself that this is the only way to live your life! 

Nevertheless, while I am out there in the desert taking some risks and conquering my fears, there are quite a few things that I will be craving back here in England. Here's a small selection of these things from my photo library. 

Most of all though, I am going to be craving you! 

See you all at Christmas! 

Eating my way around London

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The other day, someone asked me what I was going to miss most about London. Well, it goes without saying that it is, of course, my fabulous friends and the proximity to my family.

And chatting with these loved ones is made all the better when accompanied by something scrummy to eat.

Luckily for us, London has a wealth of delectable options to choose from, and in my last week I wanted to pack in as much yummy goodness as I could before I had to wave goodbye. Here's a little taster (excuse the pun) of the places I have frequented in the past 7 days, all of them dearly loved by me for different reasons.

1. Breads Etcetera (Clapham High Street, SW4)

I discovered this gem of a little breakfast place on a very hung over morning. It's only a stumble away from my flat, and craving carbs, my breakfast mate and me took one look at the name above the door and our decision was made. Having been back there hundreds of times since, it seemed a fitting place to take Mummy Bags for a celebratory meal this weekend. She had after all, driven four hours to London to help me to shift all the stuff that I am unable to take to Doha, and driven four hours with it all back home. Hero.

Here we both are enjoying the delights Breads Etc. has to offer.

The concept is simple. They make beautiful, soft, homemade sourdough bread on the premises. You cut yourself unlimited slices, choose from the (almost) unlimited spreads on offer and make your own toast using the handily placed toaster on your table. 

All of this yummy-ness is supplemented by a huge range of breakfasts that you can order along with your DIY toast. I plumped for the cold Scandinavian. Delish.

MB of course commented on the fact that all of the spreads are Tiptree. She (and I after the age of 14) grew up in the village next door to Tiptree and on certain days when the factory was in full production mode you could smell the jam in the air! Mmmm...

2. Obika (Charlotte Street, W1T)

When my friend Simmo mentioned that she'd been to a Mozarella restaurant recently, and more importantly that it was amazing, I knew I had to go. Is there anything better in this world than a restaurant completely centred on CHEESE?! I think not. I headed there for a reunion with my University bestests on Friday night.

Unfortunately, they are a little more camera shy than Mummy Bags.

But I eventually coaxed them into posing for just one picture.

There is so much to love about this place, from the mini Mozarella tasters they bring you at the beginning, with homemade pesto and yet more sourdough bread (I can't get enough of this stuff).

To the sharing platters.

To the delicious cocktails.

And best of all, it's only a step away from some of my favourite bars in London for post-food partying. It was a great night with some dearly-loved people in my life, and needless to say it ended in a pretty emotional farewell at the end of the night.

(Side-note: for the cultured among you, you can also find this restaurant in Italy, Turkey, the US and Japan - oo-er!).

3. Inamo (Wardour Street, W1F)

Now I like to think I'm quite a modern girl. I use Twitter, I have to keep up to date with new innovations in the business world for my job, I know what iOS 7 means...but when I arrived at Inamo to meet my good friend Elliot, I was completely taken aback by an invention that I had never come across before: interactive E-Tables that allow you to order without a single interaction with a waiter or waitress!!! OK, I know that these have been in use for years now (Compurants Ltd. first trade marked the current E-Table in use at Inamo back in 2005), but for me this was more than a little bit new and exciting.

All of this excitement did, of course, mean that Elliot spent even longer pondering the menu than usual.

When he finally got around to deciding, while we waited for our food to miraculously arrive we played a spot of battleships (Ells beat me, but I am 94% certain he cheated by watching where I laid my ships before the game started).

And checked on the progress of our meal as the chefs whipped it up in the kitchen.

I was slightly concerned that all the hype around the tables may have detracted from the need to produce great quality food, but when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. My favourite two dishes were the spicy aubergine which was really tasty, and the sashimi, which was fresh and delicious.

My only gripe? I think the staff rely too heavily on the tables as customer service mechanism. When we asked them about ordering some hot Sake, they looked a little flustered, as if a patron had never spoken to them before and they were unsure as to what to do about it! It didn't detract from our enjoyment though, and by the end of the night we were two happy customers.

I have had such a lovely week of food, friends and family. 

I wonder what culinary delights await me in Doha.

Home is where the heart is

Monday, 28 October 2013

From a young age, I struggled with the concept of home. I think it's because we moved around the country so much that the thought a fixed abode that I was born into and always came back to at weekends and holidays was pretty alien to me.

First we lived in a cottage in the middle of the Welsh countryside.

Next came a house in a pretty village on the Northamptonshire/Leicestershire border.

And later a retreat to my mum's homeland when we moved to her former house keeper's cottage on our family's estate in Essex.

All this moving around is probably why I grew up thinking of home as simply wherever Mummy Bags happened to be at that point in time.

This place is currently, and has been for the past eight years, Hathersage in the Peak District. My family love it here so much that I can't see them ever moving again. These pictures might help you to understand why!

Home from the inside looking out:

Home a hop, step and a jump from the front door:

As I got a bit older, I started to think of home in a different way. Gaining some independence during my university days, I began to see Nottingham as somewhere that I could start to carve out my own little place in the world. Then I got my first real job in London, and there was borne the beginning of a lifetime love affair with a city that I know I will always return to as my spiritual and cultural home.

Now, five years after I first moved to London, I am about to make another, even bigger move to a home very different from any that have come before. A new culture, language, climate and religious ideology awaits me.

In four days time, I move to Doha, Qatar...the Middle East. 

This will be home when I get there, what do you think?

There is an important reason for this big move. For the past year or so, my concept of home has changed yet again. Without wanting to sound too sentimental (oh sod it, I'm going there)...these days it's all about love.

So the desert, for now, it is! Until Christmas comes and then home will be where the stockings are. 

Fickle, moi?!