Thursday, December 27, 2007

Quick update

What a week. Currently having chills, flushes and fever (and coughing again) with a minor flu which is worse than the cold I had last month. Feeling bad enough that my mother is packing and I can't help, though there was a break today and we did some chores in the mild weather, though I was pretty tired after.

Didn't have to go in to work today as my colleague said to take it easy, it was dead as a doornail in there anyway. Judging by the way I feel now, I will have to call in the same tomorrow.

Today we engaged two cavernous rooms in a friendly houseshare with a friendly and helpful live-in landlord . It's amazing what you will take when you're desperate though. It's very affordable, yet much closer to London, and we don't have to worry about bills as it's all inclusive. We feel safe because it's with a retired couple in a quiet street very close to the Tube.

I have the huge loft room, and there is more space than I can shake a stick at, including storage cupboards under the eaves, an ensuite bathroom, even a microwave, toaster, kettle, and fridge/freezer.

Thankfully at least the pressure of finding a safe haven is over, though.

Also, have an old friend from uni in Houston passing through London at New Year's and he's staying a couple of days. I really hope I am better by the 30th.

Might be a small hiatus till I get reconnected at the house.
Meantime, I am collecting big hugs.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas y'all

Have a Merry Christmas everyone, whatever you choose to do. (We are packing boxes, but we will roast a duck and have pancakes in the morning.)

Not sure when next I will be able to blog.
Very stressful. Not least because someone stole the deposit and first month's rent on a flat we wanted, so feeling the strain...Wish us well in finding a new home before 7 that we won't want to leave for a long long time.

Meantime, put on your best Cajun accent and enjoy the 12 Days of Crissmus in de Bayou.


Day 1: Dear Boudreaux, Thanks for de bird in de Pear tree. I fix it las' night wit dirty rice. I doan tink de pear tree will grow in de swamp, so I swap it for a Satsuma.

Day 2: Dear Boudreaux, You letter say you sent two turtle doves, but all I got was two scrawny pigeons. Anyway, I mixed dem with andouille an made some gumbo out of dem.

Day 3: Dear Boudreaux, Why doan you sent some crawfish? I'm tired of eating dem darn birds. I gave two of dose prissy French chickens to Marie Trahan over at Grans Bayou an fed the tird one to my dog Phideaux. Marie needed some sparring partners for her fightin' rooster.

Day 4: Dear Boudreaux, Mon Dieux! I tol' you no more friggin birds. Deez four, what you call dem "calling birds" were so noisy you could hear dem all de way to Napoleonville. I used dere necks for my crab traps, an fed de rest of dem to de gators.

Day 5: Dear Boudreaux, You finally sen' somethin useful. I like dem golden rings, me. I hocked dem at da pawn shop in Thibodeaux and got enuf money to fix da shaft on my shrimp boat an buy a round for da boys at de Raisin' Cane Lounge. Merci Beaucoup!

Day 6: Dear Boudreaux, Cochon! Back to da birds, you coonass turkey! Poor egg suckin' Phideaux is scared to death at dem six gaeases. He tried to eat dems eggs and dey peck de heck out ah his snout. Dey good at eating cockroaches, dough. I may stuff one of dem wit oysta dressin on Christmas day.

Day 7: Dear Boudreaux, I'm gonna wring yo fool neck next time I see you. Thibeau, da mailman, is ready to kill ya. The merde from all dem birds is stinkin' up his mailboat. He afraid someone will slip on dat stuff and sue him good. I let those seven swans loose to swim on de bayou and some duck hunters from Mississippi blasted dem out of de water. Talk to you tomorrow.

Day 8: Dear Boudreaux, Poor ole Thibeau, he had to make tree trips on his mailboat to deliver dem 8 maids a milkin and dair cows. One of dem cows got spooked by da alligators and almost tipped over da boat. I doan like dem shiftless maids, me no. I tolt dem to get to work guttin fish and sweepin the shack but dey say it wasn't in dair contract. Dey probably tink dey too good ta skin da nutrias I caught las night.

Day 9: Dear Boudreaux, What you trying to do huh? Thibeau had to borrow the Lutcher ferry to carry dem jumpin twits you call Lords-a-Leaping across da bayou. As soon as dey gots here dey wanted a tea break with crumpets. I doan know what dat means but I says, "Well La Di Da. You get Chicory coffee or nuttin." Mon Dieu, Emile. What I'm gonna feed all dese bozos? Dey too snooty for fried nutria, and de cows done eat my turnip greens.

Day 10: Dear Boudreaux, You got to be outs you mind! If de mailman don't kill you, I will fo sho. Today he deliver 10 half nekkid floozies from Bourbon Street. Dey said dey be "Ladies Dancin" but dey doan act like ladies in front of dose Limey twits. Dey almos left after one of dem got bit by a water moccasin over by da out-house. I had to butcher 2 cows to feed toute le monde an had to get toilet paper; The Sears catalog wasn't good enuf fo dose hoity toity Lords' royal behin.

Day 11: Dear Boudreaux, where y'at? Cheerio an pip pip. You 11 pipers piping arrives today from da House of Blues, second lining as dey got off de boat. We fixed snuffed goose and beef jambalaya, finished da whiskey and we havin a fais-do-do. Da new mailman he drink a bottle of Jack Daniel an he's having a good time yeah, dancing with de floozies. Thibeau, he jump off de Sunshine Bridge yesterday, screaming yo name. If you get a mysterious, ticking package in de mail, doan open it.

Day 12: Dear Boudreaux, I sho am sorry to tell ya but I not yer true love anymo, no. After da fais-do-do, I spent de night with Jacque, de head piper. We decide to open a restaurant and gentleman's club on de bayou. The floozies, pardon me, Ladies dancin can make $20 for a table dance, and de Lords can be waiters an valet park de boats. Since de maids doan have no more cows ta milk, I trained dem ta set my crab traps, watch my trotlines, an run my shrimpin business. We probably gonna gross a million clams nex year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Warm heart cold hands

Freeeeeezzzzzzinggggggg this weekend in London.
The sort of cold that makes your face freeze and your toes fall off. No, I exaggerate, but they certainly get halfway there.

But I still went out. Brrrrrr.

Saturday afternoon was spent with friends where I met my new "nephew". I am one of a trio of aunties, the other two being Amy and Pandy. Of course, his real aunty was there too with her partner.

He is 4 weeks old. I couldn't meet him on his public debut at one week, since I was sick. He's tiny and wee and cute now, so imagine what he was like then!

He is perfect! I could hear him breathing! His hands are gorgeous, his eyes are gorgeous, even the little whorl of hair on the back of his head....! His little busy mouth...his grasping hands...He tucks in his little froggie legs and moulds himself to you. OK, I will shut up now.


On Sunday, I bundled up and went out with a bunch of fun friends to the Winter Wonderland Christmas fair at Hyde Park. There was a ferris wheel, a bandstand, a haunted house, a toboggan slope, and virtual pod rides (flights?) from Bee Movie and The Snowman.

There were also stalls selling crafts, but most importantly, FOOD. This weather makes me ravenously hungry at regular intervals. There were pancakes and waffles, Pimms, mulled wine, sausage and sauerkraut, hot dogs, a whole pig on a flaming spit (couldn't get a photo between the cooks)....the mini pancakes were a treat with hot chocolate sauce. The German burgers and hot dogs were nice too. I got a bite of those off one of my friends.

But after a while my fingers went numb (inside my fleece lined suede gloves) and my toes were numb (despite wearing two socks and woolly insoles with my boots). So I parted with the group as they set off for the ice rink (yes, ICE) at the Tower of London. I wish I could have, but I was suffering. The cold has also given me a headache. When I got into the train, my toes started burning, and I hate when that happens.

I simply cannot wear enough to keep me warm, but I was so bundled up, I am sure I would have bounced and rolled if I had fallen.

What did you all do this weekend?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wikipedia Meme

I got this meme from Matt, our resident grump :P
I know, it's been Meme mania on the blogs lately. Anyway, it's fun and here's what you do:

"Go to the Wikipedia home page and click random article. That is your band's name. Click random article again; that is your album name. Click random article 15 more times; those are the tracks on your album."

Band - Lemon Pepper

CD - Mangrove Lake

1. Marlin, Texas
2. Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, 1st Baron Rockwood
3. Russian Cruiser Almaz
4. AMA Formula Xtreme
5. Vladimir Solovyev
6. Sailor Suit
7. Gudrod Bjornsson
8. Operation Joint Forge
9. Princess Niloufer
10. New Beaver, Pennsylvania
11. Keesseyrehaa
12. Juzo Itami
13. Middenmeer Aerodrome
14. Starship EP
15. A Drink and a Quick Decision

Good aren't they? (I really should have read them though...)


Was watching a segment on BBC Breakfast the other day about how women love to splurge on bargains they can wear to pieces and then throw out, and how they also love to spoil themselves with the occasional designer indulgence. There were two women on the BBC sofa, one dressed in spikey heels, animal print dress, typical blonde fashionista looks. The second was a fashion editor of The Guardian...and guess who she was dressed like? ...*drumroll*... Ugly Betty! Yes, it happens in real life! Seriously: Grey skirt, black tights, clunky Mary Janes. And wait for it........a Royal Blue knitted vest over a satin maroon shirt with a motif that looked suspiciously like polka dots.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Some Lights [EDITED]

Last weekend at Oxford Street, we saw the lights on South Molton Street, which is a small boutique shopping lane next to Bond Street Station.

And an upshot (which you know is my favourite type!) of one of the angels right next to the station, part of which is in the building you see:

Does that satisfy those of you who were agitating for London piccies???



Still more? OK, this was the view from the window at 2 p.m. today:

The grey haze behind the church is actually the suburbs a few miles away. On a sunny day you can see the rooftops and a couple of fields.

There is a good case to be made for hibernation when it's like this every day...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Um, what was I supposed to blog about?

This past week at work has been hectic because businesses like to get things done in the last quarter, before Christmas.

It gets dark by 3.30pm now, so you've barely digested lunch when you look out the window and it's pitch black! About 7 hours of daylight.

I met up with some friends the other evening at Waxy O'Connors, a maze-like pub in Soho. I've always heard about it, but never visited. The key feature is a tree in the middle, around which is wrapped the stairs to the lower level.

Would you believe I was asked for my ID by the bouncer at the door? I made some noises of disbelief and slight offense, so while I was digging for my wallet (thank GOODNESS I still walk with my Texas driver's license), he asked me how old I was. I said "30". "Never!" he said, shaking his head. Now, if I didn't carry my license with me, what else would I use? My passport? Can't walk around with that every day...

The 10 of us (or so) gathered in the Church Bar here.

We made a giant pile of bags and coats in the centre of the room and just mingled. It was like the UN, with people from all over the world (7 countries represented), but I still call them the Aussies because they're the ones who arrange all the outings.

Waxy's is very popular, so although it was fascinating to look at, speaking was a challenge. The meetup last week was more chilled as we were in a pub with no music to shout over. But thanks to the smoking ban, it is a pleasure to leave a bar or a pub smelling as fresh as you did when you went in. No red, burning eyes either.

Any ideas for my next blog?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Little Thanksgiving

I haven't celebrated Thanksgiving since moving back to London 5 years ago. Now that my mother has moved back too, and we are missing the old life even more, we decided to follow up some leads, knowing that someone must cater to the large community of American expats here.

So we went to Christophers American Bar & Grill in Covent Garden.

3 course traditional menu - £38

Begin your Thanksgiving celebration with Christopher’s Cranberry Martini - £8

Roast corn and sweet potato chowder

Warm tomato tart guacamole cream, cilantro dressing

“Grand Central” oyster and scallop pan roast

Traditional ‘Waldorf salad’ smoked duck, walnut oil dressing

Slow cooked ballottine of Norfolk Turkey corn bread, hazelnut and Michigan cherry stuffing, cranberry relish, buttered beans and creamed potatoes

Missouri roast rump of lamb, Avocado tamale, dried tomato & cilantro dressing

Roast Salmon with apple, pecan & wild rice griddle cake
Sauteed baby spinach, Californian raisin and pecan brown butter

Pumpkin pie bourbon cream

Blackberry and apple cobbler blueberry ice cream

Chocolate fudge brownie raspberries, vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce

Apologies for not taking the photo before demolishing half the plate!
Waldorf salad with rocket leaves, sliced celeriac, smoked duck slices, golden raisins, and warm walnut oil dressing. Very cosy eating, that!

Missouri lamb rump in a sundried tomato and cilantro (coriander leaf) sauce, with an avocado tamale. Again I'm sorry I ate half of it first :) The medium done lamb was melt-in-your-mouth, mmmmm....

Spiced pumpkin pie with bourbon whisky cream and a sugar wafer. Just the right size dessert.

All rounded off with looseleaf (!) peppermint tea and dark chocolate truffles :P

Mum trying to figure our her new phone camera

Me going strong on the rose wine

We had a wonderful time there and wish we could go for Christmas too (if public transport is working on that day). The service was wonderful, attentive, precise, efficient - the table was even scraped between courses with a brass scoop - something I haven't seen since the Flying Dutchman on the Kemah waterfront in Texas, where we ate things like beef wellington and soft-shell crab.

At Christophers, we forgot we were in London, felt very homey, comfortable, and happy. The sort of happy where your heart rises for a moment. Neither of us have felt that in a long, long time...