One of the reasons for my frantic rushing about this week, trying to get all my chores done at super light speed, was entirely selfish. I ran away to that there London yesterday to spend the day with some friends.
Very lovely it was too.
I drove up after the school run, abandoned the car in Brent Cross, after having sobbed my way down the M1 listening to Woman’s Hour, and then making myself laugh thinking what the other drivers must think of me as I drove in tear stained grimness, sobbing and hiccuping. I suspect with the laughter and the crying combined they probably decided to steer well clear of me, frankly.
The weather had perked up mightily by the time I arrived in London and I had to abandon coat and cardigan on the walk to the tube station.
A few chapters of my book later I was at Oxford Circus. I was meeting my friends in Liberty. They had already breakfasted and were going about the serious business of shopping. Even though we were having afternoon tea later, I was starving, and treated myself to elevenses in the very nice restaurant.
I note, by the way, that the restaurant is situated on the same floor as ladies clothing. This seems mad to me, as after having wolfed down a rather delicious tarte au citron bedecked with fresh raspberries, the last thing I was prepared to do was strip down to my smalls and try to shovel my lumps and bumps into a bandage dress.
After refuelling I just had time to hurtle upstairs, poke all the Christmas ornaments and buy a Rory Dobner tile. I have been coveting a piece of Rory Dobner for years now, and as there was 10% off everything in store yesterday it seemed rude not to.
We tootled off to the Covent Garden Hotel on Monmouth Street in Seven Dials for two o’clock tea. Early I know, but there were lots of us coming from all over the UK, and if we had left it to tea time, tea time, some of us wouldn’t have made it home before dawn.
The tea was splendid. There were several versions on offer. I had the Covent Garden tea, which consisted of, smoked salmon bagels, cheese and pickle and ham and mustard sandwiches (crusts cut off, naturally), and flatbreads with poached chicken and mayo. These were cut into handy, bite sized pieces, and the obliging staff were happy to fill the plate as often as you waved a crumb bestrewn finger in the air.
There were also fruit and plain scones, still warm, served with raspberry and strawberry jam and clotted cream. Again, these were endlessly on tap as desired.
The cake selection was splendid; involving a kind of Austrian confection of layered chocolate sponge and raspberry cream, with a glazed chocolate top like a Sacher torte, and fresh raspberries on top; profiteroles piped with praline cream and topped with caramel sugared icing; shot glasses of blackberry mousse with chocolate glazed topping and apple caramel meringue pies; meringue nests piped with whipped cream and fruit.
You also got tea, hot chocolate or coffee of your choice. I had a never ending pot of Jasmine tea, which was delicious.
The whole thing was fantastic, frankly and I would recommend you go there. For £28 it was a wonderful experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We managed a sneaky trip to Fortnums on the way back, where I wished I had £150 to spend on a life sized Mexican sugar skull made out of chocolate for Mrs Jones, and about four million pounds I could waste on fripperies for the children.
By the time I got back to Brent Cross I was tired and hungry (I know. I was only slightly ashamed), and had a more frugal dinner in Leon before heading home.
It was a splendid day.
And today I am running to beat the band to pay for it. Anjum Anand’s spiced meatballs with spiced tomatoes and eggs is bubbling away in the slow cooker, from her book, Anjum’s Quick and Easy Indian. I have baked chocolate brownies, chocolate cookies and pomegranate molasses cookies from Liberty London Girl’s cook book, Friends, Food, Family. I have also made the now traditional, Jo Wheatley chocolate Malteser birthday cake from her book, A Passion for Baking. It is Oscar’s birthday, and he was sad and anxious this morning when he went to school, as we didn’t really have time to celebrate with him at breakfast. I am hoping this makes up for it somewhat.
It should do.