My love hate relationship with London

Life
 
Seriously London, what’s with the weather? Spring so far has been cold, windy, rainy and grey. Sure, there’s a blue sky every now and then, even a day of warm weather but come ON! Sort it out!

This was the only slightly gloomy
picture I had of the sky. I only
seem to take pictures of blue skies.
Grey just makes me sad.
Bank, London, May 2014
So I think you can tell from the above paragraph that I am WELL and truly annoyed with the weather at the moment. Does that make me a true Brit? Probably… oh dear, this isn’t good.

My recent tweets seem to be a bit about the gym (yes, bragging I’ll admit, I’m still amazed I’ve been to the gym so many mornings lately so I’m ALLOWED to brag) and the rest about the weather. I’m getting bored myself. If I followed me, I’d totally unfollow. Yawn. I’ve totally convinced you to follow me on Twitter now, haven’t I?

Love
 
So with my above moaning, I actually need to congratulate the weather for being completely wrong on Thursday. It was meant to rain heavily all afternoon, while J and I were due to visit the Chelsea Flower Show. We were prepared for anything. Giant umbrellas, closed in shoes, jumpers and sunglasses, JUST in case. Despite checking my BBC weather app every few hours, the outlook still looked glum… And we were pleasantly surprised with spots of bright blue skies and NO RAIN!! Thank goodness. With most visitors being of the more mature age, it was slow going at the best of times. Pile everyone into a tiny space trying to look at a small garden and moving at a snails pace was bad enough but if it’d been raining, I think I would have lost it! I don’t do so well in crowds at the best of time (ever since getting stuck in the most crowded street of my life at the end of Ramadan in Istanbul) so I was hugely grateful for the rain holding off.
 
Right, that’s all I’ll say about the weather for the rest of this blog, promise! To get on with it, I had the most wonderful day on Thursday. I got up early to do yoga, had a delicious breakfast, called Mum and Dad (happy birthday Dad!) then set off to meet J for a lovely girly day out. We had some appalling service at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (this is not the place to rant) followed by some excellent service and a wonderful, posh, fancy, dainty, delicious three course lunch. Then we went to the Chelsea Flower Show, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit ever since I saw it on Better Homes & Gardens (don’t judge me for watching it!) I knew it would be B’s idea of hell so I was thrilled when J said she’d love to come with me.
 
This show epitomises England and it was absolutely WONDERFUL! The colours, the flowers, the designs, the gardens, the perfumes. Just lovely! But I’ll let my pictures do the talking…

The lovely gardens
Chelsea Flower Show, May 2014
So many gorgeous garden
accessories for sale. I
loved these copper flowers
Chelsea Flower Show, May 2014
My favourite photo –
a gorgeous Iris
Chelsea Flower Show, May 2014
Lovely little bumble bees
Chelsea Flower Show, May 2014
Hyacinths, my favourite.
Chelsea Flower Show, May 2014
Of course I took a picture of
a pineapple. A PINK pineapple.
Chelsea Flower Show, May 2014


Travel

 
It’s a long weekend here in London right now and it might come as a massive shock to you all, that we’re spending it in London. That’s right, we’re not travelling. We’re spending five whole weekends here. But hey, it’s not all bad! Only two weeks till our summer holiday to Cyprus! But that’s for my next blog.
 
And so to our travel adventures for the month of May. This trip saw is visit the wonderful little country of Lithuania. We arrived really late on Friday night, actually it was early Saturday morning at 2.30am. When we finally got up on Saturday morning, we explored the town of Vilnius before taking a bus to Trakai. 

Vilnius, Lithuania
May 2014
Vilnius, Lithuania
May 2014


Street art stalls
Vilnius, Lithuania
May 2014


Trakai is a lovely town by the lake, where the local Lithuanian’s holiday in the summer. We had our first taste of local food, but I’ll save that for the next section, and explored the pretty surroundings. 

Pretty Trakai, Lithuania
May 2014

Our bus back to Vilnius was interesting. Travelling on quite possibly the oldest bus in the world, it was full up so we stood the whole way back along the highway. Not quite sure it was legal but hey, we made it one piece! Back in Vilnius, we discovered a great, if not slightly odd, brew pub where they brew their own beer and serve only local beers.

The menu… and these pages were
rather normal in comparison. What the??
May 2014


In our lovely hotel, we we’re lucky enough to be upgraded to a superior room with a gorgeous view of the city. This meant the much talked about Sky Bar (with a slogan ‘As close as you’ll come to space’… bit of an exaggeration) boasting the best views over the city was a bit ‘meh’ but that’s only because we had the exact same view from our room, just six floors lower. Still, we enjoyed a very reasonably priced cocktail while we were there and came back before bed for a delicious Espresso Martini. I’m a bit of a snob about these. I know what I like and most places make rubbish ones but Sky Bar did not disappoint.

Frozen margaritas at Sky Bar
Vilnius, Lithuania
May 2014
 
Vilnius sunset
Lithuania
May 2014


Everything in Lithuania was so incredibly cheap. A posh night out where we had three courses, drinks and all within our own private dining room, cost us less than a very average meal in London (even if we used B’s favourite ‘Taste of London’ card). Plus we found a bar where you could get a stein of beer for £1… Yes. £1. You know you’re on to a winner. We actually struggled to spend money! That’s never happened before!!

On Sunday, we enjoyed wonderful massages and were both very intrigued to know what the ‘erotic massage’ entailed. Neither of us dared to ask. After some pretty epic stodgy for lunch (hey, we had to try the traditional foods!) we took the bus to Kaunas. We explored this sleepy little town very quickly so took the opportunity to visit a few great bars, selling local craft beer at rock bottom prices. You could get 1L bottles fresh draft beer for £2.14! Happy days.

Streets of Kaunas, Lithuania
May 2014


Dinner that night was ridiculously cheap. We shared a HUGE platter of meat, meat and more meat. Oh, and some gherkins and sauerkraut made up the vegetable side of things. Plus two desserts, water, drinks, tea and vodka to end… for £14! Crazy! So yes, this made Lithuania even more appealing to us. When you struggle to spend money and walk into a shop, ‘forced’ to buy pretty souvenirs you don’t really need just to get rid of local currency, it’s a great place to visit.


Kaunas, Lithuania
May 2014

Glorious blue skies
Kaunas, Lithuania
May 2014


Our magnet – disappointing. Nothing overly exciting to be honest, just a traditional flag magnet. That’s ok, you can’t have it all!

 
Food
 
So May hasn’t been the best month for me in terms of eating healthy. I’ve been busy a lot after work and eating really well when going out is HARD! The options are always the same and they’re so boring. I know, excuses excuses! Anyway, here are my highlights for this month in the food department.
 
In Lithuania, we tried many traditional foods, including kibinai – a meat filled pastry, very much like a Cornish Pasty or an empanada (yours are STILL the best I’ve ever had V!) Zepplins – huuuuuge stuffed dumplings. Honestly, it was ridiculously big!  And so stodgy, served with a bacon cream sauce and not even a piece of lettuce on side. I’d have killed for some lettuce garnish!! When we were ordering, we asked for two and the guy asked us if we’d ever had one before. When we had no, he said, “Do not start with two. I suggest just one. Just one.” Boy was he right! We also tried potato pancakes – shallow fried of course, and served with sour cream. No salad. Don’t be ridiculous! After these, I felt like I’d eaten an entire buffet. So. Full. 

Stodge.
May 2014


Our posh meal out in Lithuania was actually a modern Italian restaurant where we enjoyed beef carpaccio; goats cheese with hazelnuts, pesto and an apple salad for entree; rack of lamb (for B, clearly, I’m still a lambatarian!) duck with potato gratin and two wonderfully delicious, sweet desserts. We usually try and eat the local, traditional foods when we’re visiting a new country but I’m not sure my stomach could have taken stodgy for two of the three meals per day. Even B struggled and that’s saying something!
 
Now on to an even posher meal with lunch at Restaurant by Gordon Ramsay. I went here with J, just the two of us and it was so lovely (well, most of it). I can’t for the life of me remember all the posh names they used for everything so I’ll just say what it really was without fancying it up. Asparagus with quail egg; artichoke with a lemon beurre blanc sauce (ok that sounds posh) baby vegetables (the way the French Maître d said it made it sound SO much better) and a garlic crouton. Rabbit three ways; pork three ways. They did describe each tiny little well thought out element to us but I’ve clearly forgotten and this isn’t the type of place where you ask if you can take the menu home with you so you can write it in your diary or take a photo of it (to be judged even MORE!) Dessert was something beautiful and strawberry for J – one looked like a fresh strawberry roll up, it was so fresh and wonderful. Mine was three types of mousse which were dark chocolate, milk chocolate and caramel (I understood those when he described them to me) And to finish, strawberry icecream balls coated in white chocolate, a chocolate something that was incredibly rich and delicious and rose water jellies. I’m so good at describing things, hey?!

Restaurant by Gordon Ramsay. The poshest
of posh lunches
May 2014


Everything was delicate and beautifully presented with a thousand staff on hand, each with just one job. There was a guy whose job was bread. That’s it. Just bread. And a guy whose job it was to walk from the kitchen to the doorway with food. He didn’t step into the dining room, oh no, there were two people to bring the food from the tray to your table. It was all very lovely and a very special occasion but so over the top and we clearly didn’t fit in there. If you ever go, check your shoes. They severely judge you on your shoes. No one escapes their wrath, not even a nearly eight-month pregnant lady. Oh no… But let’s not go into that, I will just get angry all over again and I’ve already done that when I gave them a not so glowing review. I wonder if they’ll publish it…

 
And now to the days where I have actually been eating well. Here’s what we’ve been having. Teriyaki salmon salad; chilli beef in lettuce cups; corn fritters with chunky salsa and bacon; spinach turkey burgers and so much more. B has even started happily cooking these types of meals. Today, he even asked for fruit salad for breakfast instead of a big breakfast. We had bacon in the fridge and he opted for fruit. I know, I’m continually amazed!

Teriyaki salmon salad
May 2014
Delicious turkey and spinach burgers – getting
a little obsessed with turkey lately
May 2014


In the sweets department, I’ve made so many things that I’m enforcing a ban on myself to not make any new clean sweets until I’ve eaten what’s in my freezer. I actually find this really difficult because I love to cook so much and get a thrill out of making something clean that often tastes better than the sugar, preservative filled packaged
supermarket stuff. A few of my favourites are cashew cacao bliss balls; rhubarb, strawberry and blueberry clean crumble; raw coconut roughs (again, they’re awesome!) raw mocha cake (yuuuuuum!) and my favourite, caramel chocolate cups. They. Are. Amazing. 

Clean crumble – yes, it really can be done
May 2014
Raw mocha cake. I have slices of this
in my freezer – dangerous… I just want
dessert every night.
Recipe testing for the lovely Merrymaker Sisters
May 2014
Mmm… sooo yum. Raw caramel chocolate cups
May 2014


And finally, a new surprising change in my life. My love of breakfast. It used to be the most boring, unexciting meal for me. Cereal or toast. Yawn. But now I love it and actually look forward to it. Often as I’m walking to work, I get excited knowing breakfast and coffee have almost arrived! The best is a cashew, mango and lime smoothie. It’s absolutely delicious! I think I’ll make one of these for breakfast tomorrow. Yum!

Always prettier served in a jar with
a stripey straw
May 2014
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5 thoughts on “My love hate relationship with London

  1. I didn't realise how behind I am on your blogs – I used to get an email when you post a new one but I haven't got them for ages. Anyway the food is making me salivate and I've just come back from lunch ha ha. That's disappointing about GR, we went there for dinner and LOVED IT!! I noticed the dry ice white balls were part of our dessert too mmmmm.

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  2. Kindred blog spirits Schmuly!! So pleased you like my blog, that's why I write it 🙂 Do you have a blog?

    Oh I know, so often I would give my right arm for a side of salad or some steamed veges when travelling!! Wait till I write about Cuban food #rubbish!

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  3. Lol!! Of course I know you! So funny, I had no idea you were one in the same 🙂 Makes a lot more sense now! Well that's good cause I already read your blog!!

    Like

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