The UK has benefited from an official long weekend and I have made it even longer by taking Friday and Tuesday as annual leave too. Friday morning started with a trip with M to The Espresso Room on Great Ormond Street, where we breakfasted on Cherry Danish, Apricot Danish and coffees. We sat outside on the wooden benches watching the world (and their children) go by. Then M went off to work and I headed into the West End to shop for jeans. The morning was hot and I was sweaty and tired out by the end of the morning but I eventually found three perfect pairs at French Connection. I also discovered French Connection's children's collection and couldn't resist buying Little Planet a few tops and a dress (selection above and below).
After a hectic morning clothes shopping (and I always find shopping for jeans particularly stressful!), I stopped off at Mitsukoshi on Regent Street for lunch. I much prefer Mitsukoshi to the Japan Centre to eat as the former feels much less frenetic and much quieter plus it is always filled with Japanese families (and their very cute babies and toddlers). I ate an exquisitely flavoured salmon and seaweed rice, pickles and an udon noodle soup with thin triangles of deep-fried tofu.
Still tired, I escaped the West End crowds to watch The Joneses at the Leicester Square Empire. This movie is about a family who move into an American suburb and wow the neighbours with their clothes, food, plasma TVs, home decor and general overall lifestyle. Little do the neighbours know, though, that the Joneses are not a proper family at all but have been employed by a stealth marketing company to promote and increase sales of certain brands. The film is premised on a clever idea and the story is entertaining enough but it's hard to feel any empathy with the characters (as the movie attempts to do). Still, it passed the time nicely enough. Incidentally, I was the only person watching the movie and it was great: like being in the comfort and privacy of my own living room but with a gargantuan size TV screen and with central London on my doorstep.
After this, I went to the Hauser & Wirth gallery on Piccadilly to view Bharti Kher's ritualistic sculptures of found objects, including old mirrors covered in bindis. At the Haunch of Venison I viewed Rina Banerjee's vibrant, corporeal oeuvre of mythological and fantastical worlds (photos above and below).
And then I returned home to collect Little Planet from daycare. When M returned home from work, he made Thomasina Miers' simple Mexican chicken and avocado salad with gem lettuce leaves, rocket, toasted almonds and sesame seeds, dressed in a balsamic and olive oil dressing.
Saturday began with almond croissants and German salami. Then we went to London Zoo. Little Planet loves it so much here that we've bought an annual membership which entitles us to unlimited, free visits all year long both to London and Whipsnade Zoos. On this particular visit, Little Planet counted 1 to 10 (clearly and in the correct order) for the first time as she climbed the stairs to the giraffe viewing deck.
We sat down for a lunch of fish and chips (Little Planet ate a small egg sandwich as well as a few chips) but after a while she started complaining "My tummy hurts!" Poor little thing couldn't stop crying - she tried to doze in her buggy as we wheeled her around Regent's Park, but she couldn't get comfortable so we took her home in a cab and she fell asleep in M's arms. She was fine after her nap, which was a relief.
By late afternoon, the weather had turned from sunny and mild to grey and cold, so after Little Planet went to bed, we ate a hearty dinner of spaghetti with a slow-cooked tomato, garlic, pancetta and fresh herb sauce.
Sunday was cold and rainy so we spent the day at home. Both of Little Planet's Grandmas were visiting so she spent a lovely day playing with them. M has the entire forthcoming week off as holiday and plans on painting the living room, so he popped out to buy paint and related materials from our local DIY store. In the afternoon, I slow-cooked two curries for the evening meal: chana dal with cherry tomatoes and dessicated coconut; and lamb rogan josh with ground almonds. We also read and napped and generally lounged around being very lazy all day.
Life with a toddler can be noisy enough, but add two loving and playful Grandmas to the mix and the noise levels in the house can go off the scale! So M and I retreated frequently to the relative calm and sanity of upstairs.
My 5 day weekend is not yet over. More soon!