Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

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one night in paradise. (photos from our trip to Paris)

February 25, 2012

This evening Toby and I got back from our overnight stay in Paris – it was a late anniversary gift to one another to celebrate 2 years of being together and very much in love! The last time I went to Paris I was on my year abroad from my undergraduate degree at Oxford, and I was there for a week with my father. This time, although the holiday was much shorter, it was even more special 🙂 It was a pain-free journey on the Eurostar, but we made up for the lack of pain by doing about 12 miles’ worth of walking! We didn’t use any public transport once, and the weather turned out to be very nice so we took full advantage. Firstly we had some lunch near the Palace of Justice:

Then we headed to Notre Dame cathedral:

From here (on the island in the middle of the Seine) we caught a riverboat tour of Paris, which enabled us to see lots of the sights and find out a little more history about Paris from a strongly-accented French woman who was studying English.

After the riverboat tour, we crossed the Seine on the Pont des Arts, a bridge to which lovers attach engraved padlocks (or padlocks with their names written on them) to celebrate their love. Next time Toby and I go to Paris (there will be a next time, I’m pretty sure!), we will bring a padlock of our very own. 🙂

We then walked to the Louvre and saw the glass pyramid:

… and the Obelisk:

After this very long walk, we checked into our hotel near the Champs-Elysées in the 8th arrondissement, and had a little lie-down, changed our clothes, and then we were off again to the Champs-Elysées itself!  At the top, we saw the Arc de Triomphe (and its mad traffic system – or lack thereof!):

We stopped and had a coffee and a croissant, and then went for a twilight walk along the river towards the Eiffel Tower. Things started getting more and more perfect…

I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City when she goes to Paris (before she starts getting miserable and stuff). Look, we were even on an appropriately-named street!

There was this cool monument:

And this one:

Sure enough, as twilight approached the Eiffel Tower slowly but surely lit up, and it was the most romantic thing I have seen. I felt so special, and Toby and I were just in awe. We took many pictures (Toby had wisely brought his big camera) as things got more and more amazing. And then at 7pm, the tower started glittering with strobing lights:

It was so perfect! We strolled along further, taking more pictures – at each end of the bridge by the Eiffel Tower was a carousel which lent a touch of old-French kitsch to proceedings:

We decided that if we lived in Paris, it would not be totally awful. We finally headed back to the hotel and found a restaurant (appropriately called “The 8th Arrondissement”) which sold nice, if somewhat bizarre food! This morning, after a very long and restful sleep, we walked to a bakery and had a traditional continental breakfast of croissants and coffee before walking up to the Sacre Coeur, which has breathtaking views.

We dodged the sellers on our walk down and headed back to the Gare du Nord:

…where we had a yummy dinner with a proper, more traditional burger in a restaurant that played only Lady Gaga, before finally making our way back to London.

I can’t believe that we were only in Paris for just over 24 hours; we packed such a lot in that it feels like we had a full week’s holiday! But not only was it romantic (Paris + glittery Eiffel Tower = love) but it was exactly what I needed. A getaway from everything, which allowed to recharge emotionally and forget everything that was bringing me down. Work appears to have resolved itself somewhat, and the rest of my annoyances can buzz off for now. I know that I will always be a sensitive and somewhat neurotic person, but ultimately, life is very good now and I am happy. And when I have vacations like this, I am reminded just how happy I am. 🙂

— PS. I also have a corresponding post on my tumblr!

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mean / Tube update: Queensway and Bayswater.

February 7, 2012

I have been really irritable lately. On Friday evening we were at Toby’s flat and Christina was cleaning the kitchen and mopping the floor. I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to go “See Toby, this is called ‘mopping’.” A few minutes later I realised that while Toby is indeed messy, there was no call for me to just criticise him out of the blue.

During my cooking of the lasagne on Tuesday, I kept my cool with the very frustrating ingredients and recipe for about 45 minutes before I snapped, started ranting about crushing garlic on Twitter and went for a cigarette. Now, although I can be somewhat impetuous, I know that I dislike cooking and I also know that I am not experienced and so things are likely to be frustrating – I should have had a bit more patience than that.

Then at the weekend, we went out to Soho for Christina’s birthday. We had a lovely meal at Ping Pong, but afterwards we were trekking through the snow for an hour trying to find our next venue. I was cold and wet, people were throwing snowballs in the streets and I got hit twice (which I think was really uncalled for, since I had not done anything to anyone), we lost half of our party, went into a random club which was full of people – and only 10 minutes later, just after I had put my bag down and taken my soaking coat off,  everyone decided that we were going to leave again and go somewhere else. But first everyone went to get cash. This was the breaking point for me and I told Toby that I could no longer handle all of this and wanted to just go home. With the snow, the crowds of people stranded in central London also trying to get home, and the tube stations and tube lines shutting down one by one, we had to walk in the snow, slush and crowds for 45 minutes before finally getting to Temple where we caught the District Line train back to Earls Court. We left Ping Pong at 9:30; we got back to my flat at midnight. I was thoroughly unimpressed.

And yet, I felt guilty. Although even writing this and reliving it as I do so, I feel justified in just wanting to get out of the situation and get home, I also feel mean for leaving Christina’s birthday early. I didn’t want to, but I also just couldn’t handle being out and cold and wet, wandering aimlessly and having snow thrown at me, and not being able to go home. But on balance, I had helped make her birthday cake (I rescued ganache, using the power of the internet!):

…wrote her card, was out last night for the restaurant-portion of the evening, and saw her again the following morning, so I had made an effort for her and things were all fine. But still, I don’t know why but lately I just feel like I am irritable to people and not as nice as I could be. I had a meltdown on Sunday with Toby – I felt trapped in by the snow, powerless to accomplish anything useful, and spiralling into depression and feeling utterly useless. After much understanding from him, I saw that I was being too hard on myself. Well, what’s new?

Following the emotional surgery, I uncovered that a lot of my frustration is to do with work. I will not say much more about this because I feel it would be unprofessional (and you never know who might be reading), but suffice to say that it’s called ‘work’ for a reason. Toby suggested that one thing I could do is make sure I take a proper lunch break and get out of the office, have some fresh air and a walk. So I have started doing this in earnest: and on Monday, I had a walk (trying not to fall over in the slush) and managed to add another two tube stations to my list: Queensway and Bayswater (after my initial failure when I walked to Paddington).

I worked out that I should also be able to walk to Lancaster Gate, Latimer Road and Royal Oak, so watch this space! I am hoping that not only will I get some additional exercise (and pictures!), but it will improve my mood (both daily and in the longer term). Fingers crossed 🙂

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don’t take it personal.

December 15, 2009

I apologise for not having blogged in a little bit.  Real life has kinda taken over, and if you follow me on twitter (please do!!! – I have my latest tweets on the right —> ) then you’ll have an idea why.  Basically, although I’ve been open that I’m slightly envious of the fact that Mike likes someone other than me, and that other person seems to like him back (although there are marriages, children and mixed signals thrown into the mix), I’ve been handling it pretty well.  Yep, that’s right, you spotted the past tense.  Well, I’m handling it well again now.  But we had our Christmas meal on Friday night, and I might have got a little bit paranoid and possessive.  Allow me to elaborate.

Mike & me are HBICs on our course.  We do more or less everything together, we are friendly with everyone and everyone knows us as the smokers / naughty guys talking dirty at the back of the class / dedicated and working in the library on the sly / fun and easy to talk to / the ones who organise the social events on the course.  The third person in our equation is someone Mike noticed early on, but has only been included in our circle the last few weeks.  I knew that Mike was developing feelings before he admitted it to me, but it is still hard to accept.  I know he’s a straight married man, but what does a not-stunning 33-yo woman with 2 kids, an overly-possessive husband and an average wardrobe have on me?  Ok, she is a lovely lovely person, and admittedly has sparkling blue eyes and a shapely butt. But I’m 24, I apparently “look immaculate” (Julie), am “very pretty / beautiful” (Mike!!! and others), I can sing, dance, write and produce my own music, I smoke, play piano and guitar, I’m quite intelligent and “articulate” (Leanne) and “really good to talk to and understanding” (Penny, Emma, Mike).  What the fuck more can I do?  How many more hoops do I have to jump through?  I’m missing the point.  Sexuality is sexuality, although I firmly believe that although you can definitely be instantly attracted to physical traits, ultimately the body is the wrapping and the gift is the person inside (I mean that not in a sexual way, but in an emotional / spiritual / personal way).  Somewhere along the line, he’s my best friend but he doesn’t see all of who I am – otherwise if he has feelings for the woman, he certainly would have feelings for me as we share a good heart and a love of innuendo.  I’m going over old territory here, but although he’s my best friend at university and I utterly cherish that, sometimes it’s maddening that I can’t have more.

Anyway, I admit I’ve been a bit envious.  But I’ve also been more than there for him as much as I can, despite my own feelings for him (which he knows about).  The day of our Christmas meal, I was feeling extremely nervous and on edge, despite telling myself that they are adults, they can do whatever they like and it’s not my job nor my place to keep them apart.  I felt that I didn’t want Mike to be regretting anything the next day, that I might be a bad friend if I let him down by not keeping him rational, and that I would have my heart hurt in the process.  I played “Russian Roulette” multiple times, since that song, those lyrics and the whole Rated R album seem to be the story of my life right now, and nervously arrived at Mike’s house.  For a while I felt fine – we got to the restaurant, Mike said that after we went for late-night drinks and conversation the night before he was feeling more balanced about it all, I was confident and happy.  But then she eventually arrived, I felt the focus slipping away from me, I ended up having a lot to drink (note: 5 sambuca shots in one go is never a good idea), and then my hitherto good handle on the whole situation (which admittedly I had been managing pretty well, considering it’s a lot to bear) flew out the window.  I had to corral our whole group (who were splitting off in various directions, somewhat annoyingly – again I blame the alcohol!) into BSB on Corn Street, and then no matter how much I danced, smoke or drank, I couldn’t help but keep looking back at the two of them chatting in the corner.  In short, I was driving myself crazy, and Mike knew that I was really tense.  Apparently I said a couple of not-so-nice things about how little I trusted her (the drink talking, not that that’s an excuse), and I was dashing on and off the dancefloor and in and out of the club like a crazy person trying to keep my emotions and sanity in check, and then failing miserably.  I didn’t offend anyone, I didn’t do anything stupid or say anything revealing – I even managed to cover for the two of them when an observant Jenny remarked “how close they are… I wonder if they like each other?” (my reply – “Nah, we’re all just close friends” before linking my arm through Mike’s).  I am a good friend and my heart was and is in the right place.  But that night, my head was not.  More than my own envy or my own feelings, I wanted to be a good friend to Mike and stop him from doing anything he would regret in the long term.

At the end of the night me and Mike were walking back from dropping Jenny and her at the car park, and we had a little talk.  I was in a very bad mood, and it took me a while to work out why.  I called Mike to apologise for my mood, and he said it was ok, and I offered to explain what it was tomorrow.  First thing next morning, he texted me to ask how I was and why I had been feeling down.  I explained, he said I didn’t have anything to apologise for and not to worry or think so much. (For the record, “don’t think so much” is an astute but lousy piece of advice!!!)  I felt silly all weekend, but I thought that things were going to be ok and I was looking forward to seeing him on Monday.  Since I had his house key, I had arranged to give him that back.  Fast forward to Saturday night – Mike isn’t replying to my texts (this is unusual behaviour!), I was feeling fed up, caged at home, and decided to go out with Nick to a party and get drunk.  I had a fantastic time, and although I still had Mike at the back of my mind (or midway, maybe), it was whatever.  Life goes on.

Sunday I was in Starbucks working on my essay, when I get a call from Mike (after not replying to another text of mine telling him I had a crazy dream where we were both mercenaries undercover at an underground Nazi gathering led by Daniel Craig, except Mike was being hunted by the police for drug trafficking… yeah) to ask me if I was at home, and if I could give him his house key.  I had his key in my bag so I met him and his nephew Jack outside Harvey Nichols, handed it over (along with some tobacco, since I had run out of cigarettes on Friday night and smoked several of his rollies… it was also a little bit of an “apology offering”) and we had brief conversation.  Once again, everything seemed fine.  But then in the evening, we had texts which went unanswered, others which were answered and I just didn’t know where I stood.  Obviously I was overreacting, but nevertheless I couldn’t stop my own guilty feelings from colouring my judgement and thinking that I might have ruined our friendship.

Monday comes, I’m talking with Henna outside university when Mike rolls up.  He’s fine, but melancholy.  I apologised, we talked a lot about Friday, but things just weren’t the same.  He seemed glum, I was sad, and although we were talking and spending time together it just wasn’t the same. No innuendos, no physical contact, and at one point he thought I was in a piss with him (when I wasn’t!) and I explained what I was feeling and he said that “although I promised I’d never hit you, if you keep worrying then I will!”  Despite that, it was like our friendship was a shadow of its former self.  I texted him in the evening, but no reply once again.  I felt like I was being punished when I had apologised, been told there was nothing to apologise for and not to worry about it!  I felt like I really was a product of my mother’s emotional fuckery and my father’s control freakishness, and yet I couldn’t stop my brain from over-analysing every little thing (I apologise to Nick, Adam, Nana and everyone else I stressed out to over the past few days – y’all are so understanding and I really appreciate it.  Thankyou. 🙂 ).  I felt so down, that after everything our close friendship had been somehow ruined, that despite my ability to be truly honest with Mike about my deepest darkest secrets and tell him things I can’t remember telling anyone, he couldn’t come correct to me and tell me what the matter was.

This morning I waited for him at our usual block, on edge and feeling sorta upset.  We met up and went to the library, he apologised for not replying to my text (I pretended it was nothing) and the black cloud persisted for a while.  But I soon realised that it wasn’t to do with me – in fact, I was the only person he could spend time with but still be honest about his moods.  I didn’t press him, but I realised that his home situation was really getting him down.  I offered him reassurance, friendship and a hug where appropriate, and tried to give him space.  As the day went on, we perked up (despite the fact we were writing an essay!) and I felt finally reassured that I still had his friendship, and that I can’t be responsible for him always being in a good mood, or for him being down.  His being sad makes me feel sad for him, but however much I might drink on a night out or however much guilt I feel, I can’t hold myself responsible for his moods, no matter how good friends we end up being.  I learned that I really do take things too personally, that I can’t turn my brain or heart off however much it might be convenient sometimes, and that I can be someone’s best friend but I can’t stop them from making a mistake – all I can do is be there for them, give them space to breathe and a shoulder to lean on when they need it.  This weekend was an emotional rollercoaster for me, but it wasn’t without its lessons and I try to take that away from it.  Drinking and love doesn’t mix, and you can only hide your heart under a façade for so long before it nevertheless starts to chip. Now I’m repairing myself and we’re all taking a deep breath and gradually going back to normal, and that’s a relief.  But I promise not to forget what I’ve learned this weekend, and I appreciate (once again) my friendships so much.

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dream: apocalypse rob.

September 18, 2009

This dream is a masterclass in me.

The first thing that I remember is being at lunch in a fancy restaurant, ordering French pastries with Charlotte from Sex and the City.  We were discussing relationships and sex, and about whether I was a failure for not having gotten married yet.  Charlotte was as lovely and reassuring as she is on the tv programme, and I remember as I took bites out of my French cake (strawberry – which I normally don’t like), she told me that I was young and that there was plenty of time to fall in love.  We sprayed each other with the new Prada fragrance, L’eau Ambrée, and it was delicious.

I left the restaurant and Charlotte, and met up with Rob (the Romanian) and we went back to my place (I had a very white apartment) where we sat on the bed and were talking and flirting for ages.  (I am wearing my Opium Pour Homme today as I type this as a result) At one point I was so tempted to kiss him, but I couldn’t do it because he had/has a boyfriend and that would not really be ethical.  I reached out and stroked his face, and he nuzzled into it while saying “You know that I can’t do that”.  The tension mounted and I kept my hand against his cheek, but eventually the moment passed and I had to go.

The next thing I know, I was walking along the edge of a bayou (!!!) and I came to a big wooden Colonial-style house with lots of people crowded around on the veranda.  I mingled with the crowd, looking for Rob and it transpired that his family owned the house.  There was a raft on the river of the bayou, ready to “set sail”, and I tried to get Rob to go on it with me and we could go down the river together.  However, once I sat on the raft I discovered that his sister was going to use the raft with me, and she was a prostitute.  She got on the raft, along with a couple of other guys, and Rob disappeared and we started to drift upstream, towards the big white gates of the city.  The gates opened, and after some forgettable conversation, I got off the raft and left Rob’s sister and her guys to it.  I walked along the street and went back to my apartment.  The whole city looked as if it had been whitewashed, and it was ominously pristine and futuristic.

I went into my apartment block, and suddenly a siren sounded and the dean from St. Anne’s College at Oxford University, Martin Jackson, came thundering down the stairs and informed me that we were on ‘high alert’.  He told me to follow him up the stairs to a safe part of the building, and I had no choice but to do so.  He led me to an isolated part of the apartment block on the top floor, where all of the doors were sliding and gleaming white, with no handles or anything – they seemed to open and close of their own accord, as if they could see us coming.

Once I arrived on the top floor, I found out that the country / world was on ‘high alert’, because the Chinese had massive guns that they were using to shoot down all the other countries.  (Dreams are not logical.)  Although we were trying to fight back with our own guns, our guns were not as big and therefore we were almost certain to lose, and the world was due to descend into warfare and possibly the end of the world.  So that was why it was important to take refuge now, before it was too late.  In the top floor of the apartment building, there was a hallway leading off to three rooms.  I chose to enter the room on the left, which was furnished largely in red velvet with chairs set up for an audience.  At the front of the room was a massive flat-screen television, and it appeared that we were supposed to be watching something.  I have no idea what was supposed to happen in the other two rooms, but I had the impression that it was something more sinister and that I had chosen well.

Little by little, the room began to fill up with people, including my friend Hannah, and also a girl from school called Hannah Drake.  Hannah found me and we were relieved that we were both safe.  Meanwhile, the screen began to show Street Fighter games for different gaming platforms (including the Playstation and the Sega Saturn; it was some weird hybrid of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat).  Akuma from Street Fighter actually entered the room and sat himself down, all fiery red hair and glowing eyes, and finally the film began to start.  It was very abstract and didn’t explain much.  At one point, me and Hannah looked at each other and started giggling because it made no sense, but one of the old women seated behind us hushed us and told us to pay attention to the film as it was important.  I remember lots of cityscapes and white gleaming buildings, and that was it!

Anyone willing to psychoanalyse?  Sigmund Freud?

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dream (f/ Thore Schölermann & Brazil)

August 25, 2009

This is sort of becoming a dream blog!  This last week I have had so many vivid dreams, I feel almost privileged.  I have been all around Europe (France, Russia, Spain, Italy) and now I have visited a country I was praising only last week – Brazil!  These dream holidays are a lot cheaper than the real thing too 😉 It’s been a while since anyone plotted to kidnap or kill me (a usual fixture of my dreams), and in this one I have another hot boyfriend.

I was in a tropical forest atmosphere.  Me and my parents were on holiday in Brazil (I presume it was Brazil) and I was walking through the forest by myself.  There was beautiful scenery and a warm breeze was caressing my skin.  I found my boyfriend Thore Schölermann (HOT German soap actor from Verbotene Liebe, he plays Christian *sigh*… if I ever had a bf as hot in real life as I do in my dreams, I will be very lucky!) and we walked through the forest talking and being intimate occasionally kissing etc.  We sat on a grassy slope and ended up talking and lying together for ‘hours’.

Here are some pictures of what he looks like:

Then I went back to this hut which was a restaurant, and my parents were sat there with some random teenagers, and we were all preparing to have dinner.  I remember there being a little bit of an atmosphere between me and my parents, and I sat at the table and there was this small black bowl with a spoon.  Inside the bowl, there were slices of miniature kiwi with this white scoop of ice cream, but I don’t think it was ice cream.  I began to eat it, when my mother told me that I was eating it wrong – instead of eating with the bowl on the table, you had to put your knees up on the sofa and scrunch up, rest the bowl on your knees (apparently the bowl was “specially designed” for this) and eat it there.  I don’t know why, but this was the last straw for me and I slammed the bowl down on the table and stalked off.  I went back into the forest to try and find Thore, but I don’t think I did (it’s all a bit hazy now), and I realised I had left my phone on the dining table so I went back to the hut and walked around the outside watching my parents interacting with the teenagers.  My mum was complaining about how dramatic and sulky I was, and the teenagers were laughing.  I was upset at what my parents thought of me, but I knew I had to get my phone back, so I sucked it up, walked in the other end of the restaurant, circled the table and plucked the phone out from between the empty bowls.  My mother and the teenagers ignored me as if I weren’t there.

The next thing I remember was that we were at home, and me and my father were having another argument – I don’t even remember about what.  We ended up not speaking to one another and then I logged onto my laptop, and started reading his work emails.  We ended up communicating to each other via email, and we sorted it out.   I realised via his work emails that him and his colleagues would discuss their families, and although again I was described as “temperamental and moody”, I was also “the clever one”, so it wasn’t all bad.  I also found out that the reason why my dad sometimes got stressed was because he had to work until gone 8pm every night, except for on a Friday when he could finish at 6:45.  He had no chance of becoming a manager, whilst his colleagues didn’t have to work so many hours and a couple of them were being promoted.  I remember feeling bad for him as he must have been frustrated, so I resolved to try and be a little more patient before having arguments.  There was other stuff, but I don’t remember it (and I don’t think there was any more Thore 😦 ).