I have had a LOVELY LOVELY weekend 🙂 My friend Becky (from secondary school, who I haven’t seen for 2 or three YEARS) came over to stay!
She arrived yesterday, mid-morning, and I went to meet her at Paddington. Then, as she had some luggage, we went straight back to my flat to drop things off and have a cup of tea (VERY important). After a brief sit, we headed out towards Covent Garden. Yes, I was taking her to Belgo! I intend to take everyone I know to Belgo. I wish that Belgo would sponsor me or something, because I’m bringing rather a lot of business their way, but c’est la vie.
I decided not to go for their Express Lunch menu this time (as they wouldn’t let me substitute the Cristal for a kriek last time) and instead I had a pot of moules mariniere (just mussels in a simple stew with celery, white wine, cream, garlic and onion) and of course that bottle of kriek! Becky went for a beautiful salmon fillet, served with leek and potato mash and a mustard cream sauce. We both didn’t QUITE finish out meals, meaning we were wonderfully stuffed.
Next, we decided to head out into Covent Garden for a bit of a mooch around. Becky had her eyes on the Cath Kidston shop, so we oogled some expensive but pretty homewares. Needless to say, we left empty handed and covetous.
But more affordable (and imho even MORE lovely) was the Covent Garden Tea House.
Do NOT get this confused with the Tea Palace in the main Covent Garden arcade – the Tea House is far cuter, far quirkier and all in all a far more satisfying shop to be in. You can smell the different teas. They sell kitchen ware (mainly teapots, strangely enough…) and they do some absolutely gorgeous blends.
I picked out some Blackcurrant tea (a safe classic) and Moroccan Orange tea, which was (obviously) with orange, and with rose petals. Both of them are absolutely divine (yes, I have already tried them both…), but the Moroccan came out tops – it is a lovely deep purple colour, and the smell and taste are wonderful. I might have some in a bit, actually…
All teas sold at the Tea House are loose leaf, and sold (very reasonably) by weight. They have a huge selection, so definitely worth a nose about.
After a few more shops (and a look around at street theatre – unavoidable at Covent Garden) we finally decided to take in some culture. I thought Becky would enjoy the British Library, as she works in publishing, so we headed up to Kings Cross.
Unfortunately… We had dawdled an awful lot in Covent Garden, and for some reason, the British Library closes at 5pm. I thought it would be at least 6pm. So, we had to head home instead.
We decided to pass the evening with red wine and (after Becky had perused my small DVD library) The Prophecy, a film with Christopher Walken playing a mean angel Gabriel. It is awesome. “I LOVE YOU MORE THAN JESUS!” I still have yet to watch the other two parts of the trilogy…
Pretty tired, we watched a bit of BBC comedy, then turned in for the night.
Morning soon came, as did my bacon sarnies 🙂 So pleased I could brighten Becky’s day with these, as she said it’d been a long time since she’d had one. Bacon sarnies are fab. As I pointed out to Ben though, I hope not all of our house guests get fed fry-up type food and then go away, assuming that we eat like that all the time… Usually, we subsist off stir fries and soup (and chocolate. Shh.)
Becky’s train home was not until late afternoon. So what to do? Why, give the British Library another shot, of course!!
But there was a Starbucks in direct line-of-sight of the Library. Problem solved.
One cappuccino and a white mocha later (the mocha was mine: it was insanely sweet), and we were in the Library. FINALLY. We had a really good look around the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, which holds such treasures as various incarnations of Alice In Wonderland (including one version in Short Hand, and one version sponsored by Guinness (yes, the beer), what the hell?), some original sketchbooks from Mozart, an enormous folio of “Birds of America” (the illustrations are LIFE SIZE and the paper used was called “double Elephant” size), Captain Scott (of the Antarctics)’s diary and various gorgeous illuminated religious texts (various religions). This gallery also holds some audio players, some with music, playing the scores they have on display, and some with extracts of books, being read. I listened to James Joyce reading a bit of Finnegan’s Wake (completely incomprehensible) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland being read by… Alan Bennett. Who the hell thought that one up?!
Unfortunately, the PACCAR gallery is “between” exhibits at the moment – Magnificent Maps left last month, and Evolving English is not set to open until mid-November. So, the next obvious stop was the gift shop… I’ll let you figure that one out for yourselves.
We still had plenty of time before Becky’s train was scheduled to go, so we decided to pick an exhibit at the V&A, then head home. We went to see the Cast Courts, but did get a little distracted by the V&A’s immense shiny-ness.
After a brief V&A stop (we felt humbled by the Trajan Column – I think everyone should gaze up at that in amazement), we decided to head back to the flat for some lunch – I’m sorry, benugo, your food is good, but £5 is too much for ANY sandwich. So, I made us a nice prawn stir fry, courtesy of Sainsburys 🙂
All too soon, it was time to take Becky back to Paddington 😦 I had such a wonderful time catching up with her, and reminiscing, and marvelling at how much has changed since we left school, and how much growing we’re doing…
So, to all of you who had That Really Awesome Friend at school, who you sort-of keep in contact with now, but haven’t seen if FAR too long: get together. Chat. It’s brilliant. After all, as Baz Luhrmann so wisely told us:
“Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”