Saturday, November 28, 2009

2 day week

I was off work for the first two days of the week just gone. I was supremely lazy and didn't even leave the house (or change out of my sweat pants). Here's what I did:
  • After M left with Little Planet to go to daycare and then work, I washed up the breakfast dishes and then... well that was the extent of my domestic duties for the day!
  • I blogged
  • I finished reading Jeffrey Eugenides' superlative, Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex. The novel begins: "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkable smogless Detroit day in January 1960, and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974"
  • I read all the weekend newspapers (FT, Observer and Herald Tribune)
  • I ate hot buttered toast (homemade rye bread with caraway seeds) and vegetable soup, plus lots of chocolate chip cookies
  • I responded to urgent work emails (I had no choice)
  • I watched Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the elegant movie Guess Who's Coming To Dinner while outside the wind howled and the rain poured down in sheets
It's nice to have days of solitude like these - so good for the soul.

Yesterday was Friday. Both M and I took the day off as annual leave. Compared to the first two days of the week when I stayed at home, this day was a busy day. After dropping Little Planet off at daycare we:
  • Headed to the Southbank and ate hearty breakfasts at Giraffe: M had huevos rancheros and I ate a full cooked English breakfast. The food was delicious but it's such a shame that only restaurant chains exist on the Southbank
  • Then onto the Hayward gallery for the bright, bold and brilliant Ed Ruscha exhibition (photo above)
  • Walked back over the river and caught a bus to the Royal Academy for the playful, colourful and extremely busy Anish Kapoor exhibition
  • Down to the White Cube at Mason's Yard to see Damien Hirst's latest paintings (which seemed to me like modern day versions of Francis Bacon as re-envisioned by the Chapman Brothers - in other words, wholly derivative)
  • Lunched on delicious handmade-noodle soup at Baozi Inn in Chinatown (photo below)
  • Afterwards, we went to the Covent Garden Odeon to see the Coen Brothers' latest movie The Serious Man - a fantastic black comedy
  • Stocked up on tea at Postcard Teas and provisions (fresh fish, cheeses, wine) at the John Lewis Food Hall
  • Headed back home to pick up Little Planet and then meet my mother-in-law who has just returned from a long holiday in Chille and Argentina and is staying with us for the weekend
  • While M and his mum prepared Little Planet for bed, I took a cab to the Sadler's Wells Theatre to see Akram Khan and Nitin Sawhney perform Confluence - a highly-emotive performance that fused Sawhney’s music with Khan’s contemporary spin on classical kathak dance. I've lost count how many times I've seen Akram Khan (photo top) - blog posts collated here - and I try not to miss a show.
So what a week. In all I was at work for just two days. I dread the amount of work I have to catch up on on Monday (I'm trying not to look at my emails, which is difficult considering they are all on my iPhone). And now the weekend is here - and the sun is actually shining!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend bullets

  • In Paris for a client meeting all day. More client meetings due in Hamburg and Rome over the next month, fingers crossed. I like travelling on business. M is in Madrid for work this week, so I will miss him. He'll be in Amsterdam and some other cities over the next month also so we have to plan all our work trips carefully so one of us is always at home for Little Planet.
  • Points Of View: Capturing The 19th Century In Photographs exhibition at the British Library. Rarely seen photographs and a very detailed history. Even Little Planet enjoyed some of the photos, particularly the ones depicting baboon locomotion (she made monkey sounds to show her appreciation).
  • Coffee and cake at the Wellcome Institute and a run around for Little Planet.
  • Big tantrums on the Tube journey back home (Little Planet, not us, though I felt like tantruming back in response). The "terrible twos" are starting, seven months too early! I now keep chanting, "It's a phase, it's a phase".
  • Cheese on toast back home while outside it began to pour with rain.
  • Afternoon nap for us all.
  • The rest of the afternoon spent baking pizza bases, bread and blueberry muffins, doing laundry, hoovering the house, reading the papers and playing.
  • Charlie And Lola bedtime story for Little Planet - she's just getting into these books and us two adults find them enjoyable too.
  • Homemade pizzas for dinner after Little Planet went to bed.
  • Movie after dinner was the Coen brothers' hilarious Burn After Reading.
  • The motto for Sunday was "Don't shop with a full wallet and no sense!" After complaining to M that Little Planet has too many toys and that she would be getting more at Christmas from friends and family, I walked into the Early Learning Centre in Brent Cross with my mum and came out with 5 bags full of toys for Little Planet's Christmas.
  • However, over the past three or four months I've packed away alot of her toys (she gets given alot) and I rotate toys every few weeks rather than having them all out. This way she discovers her old toys afresh. I've also passed on many toys to others. And M and I haven't personally bought her toys for months.
  • Also, the toys I bought at the ELC were much needed ones completely appropriate to her age: she's drawing now so I bought her some craft and arts things, she's playing more imaginatively with toy animals so I bought her some small animal figurines, she's manipulating objects with greater dexterity so I bought her a toy piano, she's playing throw and catch and chase (even by herself) with a ball so I bought her a bouncy ball...
  • Now that she is exclusively walking now (and running) I can dress her up in more dresses. I don't like flouncy, frilly pink things, so I pretty much shop online or at Green Baby, Bonpoint and Baby Gap for her things. On Sunday, I bought her a number of denim, cord and cotton tunic dresses, including the one below.
  • The rest of the day was spent at home with Little Planet - my mum visited as did Little Planet's Granddad on M's side.
  • Homemade pizzas again for dinner.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things to do

Our busy weekend began on Friday night when M returned home with fish and chips, which we ate in front of the TV (recordings of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Breaking Bad). My working week had been particularly stressful due to having to work with a particularly controlling and obstructive colleague, so vegging out mindlessly felt so good.

Saturday began with hot croissants at home. An old friend of mine was meeting us for brunch at Carluccio's in the Brunswick Centre at Russell Square, but as it was raining so hard and Little Planet had ripped the only raincover we have for the buggy, M and Little Planet could not come out so I went alone to meet him. We both lectured together at university but whereas I moved career into advertising, he has remained in academia and is doing very well. He ordered scrambled eggs and I had a fruit salad and we caught up for an hour.

We separated at the British Museum where he went on to meet another friend and I took a cab to the White Cube in Hoxton to see Anselm Kiefer's The Fertile Crescent exhibition (photo above). Kiefer was inspired by a trip to India where he was taken by the sun-dried mud bricks of rural brick factories. The smell of thick, encrusted oil paint filled the gallery and was heady and earthy. It's been a few weeks since I've visited a gallery and I really needed this emotive hit of Kiefer - one of my favourite painters.

It was raining so hard that I cabbed it back into central London, to the Courtauld where they were exhibiting Frank Auerbach's abstract oil paintings of post-war London building sites (photo above). Like Kiefer, these weighty, gutsy paintings with thickly layered paint really got took my breath away.

It was still raining when I left the gallery but I decided to walk to Piccadilly where the second part of Anselm Kiefer's exhibition continued in the White Cube's Mason's Yard gallery - this time featuring monumental forest diptychs and triptychs enclosed in glass vitrines.

I tried to see Anish Kapoor's show at the Royal Academy Of Arts, but the queue was a mile long (despite, or perhaps because of, the rain) so I decided instead to search for a raincover for Little Planet's Bugaboo Bee buggy. I called Mothercare and Selfridges but they had sold out. I was fortunate in John Lewis - they too had sold out of the raincover but they graciously gave me a good-as-new display model for free. While I was there I also picked up some Neal's Yard baby balm which is so good for Little Planet's nappy rash whilst she's teething her big molars. Then down to Carnaby Street where I bought some Kiehl's products from Liberty and some candles from Muji.

Finally, I ate a late lunch (at 2.30pm) at Masala Zone, where I ate a vegetable thali and got talking to a nice elderly Indian couple from Barnes (south London) seated next to me about Anish Kapoor, iPhones and disabled parking in central London. I've eaten at a wide variety of Indian restaurants - from cheap to expensive - but Masala Zone and Rasa are still my favourites.

I came home in time for Little Planet's dinner time. M had spent a lovely day with our daughter - going to the park, playing and also doing loads of things around the house, including baking bread. Later on, M made homemade mayonnaise and crab cakes which he served with a salad dressed in homemade sesame seed dressing. It was delicious.

This Sunday morning, the weather was bright and sunny so M and I took Little Planet to the British Museum. We saw the The Power Of Dogu exhibition of small ceramic figures from ancient Japan (photo above) and the exhibition of Mexican Revolutionary Prints. At 10am, both exhibition rooms were virtually empty which was wonderful for the three of us as Little Planet was able to toddle around to her heart's content and M and I were also then able to really focus on the exhibits. Little Planet found alot to interest her in the exhibitions as we encouraged her to identify ears, eyes, noses, chins, mouths, hair, feet and hands on each of the Dogu statues and also on some of the people depicted in the Mexican prints. She really enjoyed this activity. Then we took her to the fountains in Russell Square.

The rest of the day was spent at home. All three of us napped after lunch for an hour then M planted Spring bulbs in the back garden whilst Little Planet played throwing and fetching balls on the lawn and I was upstairs sorting laundry. Little Planet watched Supernanny with me (!!) and then some CBeebies and then we all played before a family dinner of roast chicken, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and broccoli.

This is the first time we've eaten dinner together. Because Little Planet goes to bed at 7pm she has her dinner at 5pm - this is too early for M and I but we thought for once we would give a shared family dinner at 5pm a try. It was too early for us and I didn't really enjoy the meal; also Little Planet does not eat well when she has an audience (such as people sitting at the table with her) so she hardly ate a thing. Oh well, at least we tried and we will try it again periodically.

Now she's in bed and because we've already eaten, we have a good four hours stretching ahead of us before our own bedtime. Such a long time not punctuated by meal preparation and eating! What shall we do with the time? I'm sure we'll think of loads of things.

Hope you all had a good weekend too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Being a hermit

Saturday saw much lovelier weather so we spent most of the day outside in the fresh air. We took Little Planet to London Zoo in the morning. She particularly enjoyed staring at the gorillas and walking through the butterfly enclosure. Then we spent the afternoon with her in the park. Sunday was spent shopping locally for groceries and visiting with my mum.

I've been super busy at work. I'm going through a number of end-of-year reviews with clients, even though it's still only November. And as the year end is fast approaching, I'm also doing some client entertaining planning. This year, I am not looking forward to the client entertaining season. Perhaps it's because I am busier than ever, perhaps it's because I am more tired, perhaps it's because I no longer enjoy drinking as much now that morning lie-ins are a thing of the past, or maybe it's simply a phase I am going through... but right now, I can think of nothing better than snuggling in at home with M. I don't want to go out and socialise.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cooped up

We had another very low key weekend. Saturday morning was spent in the park; the afternoon was spent napping, playing at home and sorting through paperwork in the study. We all ate well - Little Planet devoured pasta with a cheese and tomato sauce for lunch, and scrambled eggs and peas for dinner. M baked rye bread with caraway seeds and also a lemon sponge cake. For dinner, he grilled venison steaks and we ate them with roasted cauliflower with capers and sauteed potatoes. In all, Saturday was blissfully languid.

Sunday was altogether a very different day. For a start, it poured with rain; it was so blustery that we couldn't go out with the buggy. So we hunkered down inside all day. At first I thought, "How wonderful, we can snuggle in all day and be supremely lazy!" But I developed a painful stomach ache from the previous night's venison; I subsisted on white buttered toast all day and lay prone on the sofa. And all three of us suffered from cabin fever - we whinged and whined to some extent all day long. I think Little Planet in particular disliked being cooped up all day inside. It's part of her daily routine to be outside for a few hours each day. Fortunately my mum came round in the afternoon so Little Planet was relatively happy being distracted by her "Gramma".

My stomach still hurts, but I'm at work now so I am being distracted from the pain.