MTT Does London In 24 Hours

IMG_4555 Since I split from my husband I have relied on my friends more than I ever had before. When I was married my husband was my best friend and I definitely neglected my female relationships in favour of this relationship. One of the best things about splitting up has been re-discovering the connection I have with my lady friends and I couldn’t be happier with the brilliant examples of womankind I am surrounded by. Unfortunately one of the best friends I have is all the way in New York. Kirsty is the one I went to when things with my marriage went tits up and Skyping her is the first thing I want to do when I have a terrible date or rubbish day.  When we’re together we always have an absolutely wonderful time and I can hand on heart say that I know I want her to be in my life forever. I never laugh more than when I’m with Kirsty. We met in one of the first weeks I lived in London, having dinner with a mutual friend. Because I was the country mouse transplanted to the big city Kirsty took me under her wing, introduced me to people and showed me the ways of the London world. I remember meeting her for dinner for the first time at Mildred’s in Soho and she’d just finished scouring Primark; she had a brilliant on-the-side eBay business selling on 99p glasses for a tenner and was frantic because everywhere had sold out and she had orders stacking up. I remember feeling wide-eyed and in awe at this exuberant, confident chatty woman who took me to dinner and talked my ear off. She has remained my friend ever since, even helped me get a job at the place she worked, and though slightly less frantic and chatty these days (I like to tell her like a good stilton, she’s matured with age and is very cheesy) she is still one of those people whose spirit lifts you up just by spending time with them. IMG_4561 Enough Kirsty loving, she’s going to have an unbearable ego when she gets round to reading this. LOVE YOU DARLING. Anyway, because of the nature of Kirsty living on the other side of the planet it can be difficult for us to get together.  She has fleeting visits to the country every few months and this time I had her for a whole 24 hours. To say I was excited is an understatement, and even more so because we’d planned to jampack that whole time with FUN! IMG_4529 We started at Chuan, the spa at The Langham, at 10 am. The order of the day: body scrubs, back massages and mini facials. I had a foot massage that sent me to sleep (woke myself up snoring like the classy bird I am) and then onto the spa for a dip in the pool, jacuzzi and sauna. I do mean a literal dip: that thing was freezing so we promptly retreated to the bubbles of the jacuzzi and the serenity of the heated beds. Lovely. Now, I like the changing room at my gym. It’s always clean, the shower is super-powered and the hairdryers are excellent. But the one at Chuan spa was simply out of this world. The shower had about 12 heads and a million knobs, there were not only hairdryers but hair straighteners and every sort of beauty product was there available for you to use. Oh, and slippers. You know times are good when there are hundreds of pairs of slippers at your disposal. IMG_4531 Relaxed, we went from the spa to Soho house for a lunch of calimari, caesar salad, chips and some other things that I don’t remember. That’ll be the Prosecco. Of which there were lots… yay! I told you, there’s nothing I like more than sitting down to drink a bottle of something chilled and fizzy with a really interesting person and Kirsty, you’re no exception. Kirsty had a conference call to make so we headed back to our hotel three sheets to the wind. I don’t know about you but I find I get my best work done this way, and she seemed to be more hilarious than normal during her call. I of course spent the time flashing my bra at her, retrieving champagne and offering my own terribly important insights into her terribly important business. The dream team, that’s us. IMG_4534 IMG_4536 IMG_4537 We were put up by the marvellous people at Novotel at their Novotel Waterloo hotel. We had a room that was really generously sized by London standards; big enough for a huge bed and a desk that came in very handy for all the proper bizness that Kirsty was carrying out. We stayed on their shopping package, which meant we were greeted with glasses of Champagne (Taittenger too, very lovely) and a goodie bag for a trip to the shops. We had Westfield VIP vouchers (discounts, yo!), treats for our feet for when all that walking got too much, water and a brilliant breakfast in the hotel restaurant. IMG_4538 The hotel bar was absolutely beautiful and we enjoyed a second glass of champagne while we waited for our cab. My favourite thing might have been this London skyline rug, though. Absolutely brilliant. IMG_4542 The hotel was really well placed for where we wanted to go; we hopped in an Uber (best taxi service ever: if you want to try it this weekend use the promo code ‘sh99c‘ and you’ll get a £20 credit to your account, as will I, whee!) and on a whim headed to Heron Tower. We did the touristy thing and gawped at all the sights on our way passed: The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Tower Bridge. Ace. There’s nothing I love more than being a tourist in lovely old London. I’ve never been up Heron tower before, heights aren’t my thing, but on such a girly night out a fancy bar seemed to be the way to go. Let me tell you, that lift up to SushiSamba is a total headfark. I ended up clutching on to Kirsty’s arm, whimpering on the floor, not really sure what to do. My ears popped twice. In short, it was pretty awful but the view was just about worth it. Check this out: IMG_4548 IMG_4566 That doesn’t go any way to demonstrate just how stunning it was. Truly beautiful, a trip up the Heron Tower is definitely one for the ‘to do’ list. Fear of heights or not, I’ll definitely be back. The food at SushiSamba was incredible; we hadn’t booked and were seated at the bar, feasting on tuna sashimi, rock shrimp tempura and cucumber cocktails. It was pricey but worth it and the restaurant itself was beautifully decadent. IMG_4552 Feeling full we decided to head over to Shoreditch House, where most of our early friendship was cultivated over espresso martinis and stories about BOYS. Not much has changed really (though this time more tequila was involved and it was me rather than her telling stories of BOYS) and the evening was spent being borderline annoying to our fellow revellers (crashing the British Fashion Council’s Christmas parties was one of the better ideas we’ve had, I feel). We ended the night in reindeer antlers, crawling into bed back at the Novotel at about 4am. It was an awesome awesome night and I haven’t smiled, danced and laughed that much in a long time. IMG_4570It’s probably a good thing that Kirsty only comes over once every six months because it took me a solid 5 days to recover from our day of excess. Ugh, the curse of a hangover when you’re no longer 23. But I really really really can’t wait to do it all again in six months time.

A Night Out

Every time I journey the thirty minutes in to London on the train for a night out I feel so many things. Stressed: because sometimes I wonder if preparing the kids for a night away from me is worth the hassle (it takes at least 4 hours). Smug: I’m on my own! Guilt: both kids are a handful, i hope they aren’t too bad for my mother-in-law. Confusion: what do I do on my own on a train for half an hour (play iPad solitaire). Excitement: I’m going OUT!

This Saturday I had one of those journeys When I arrived at Euston I got on the tube down to Southwark, a novelty in itself with not having to research the most pram-friendly route which usually results in me getting completely fed up (i.e. getting a cab). Arriving at the hotel in good time was another shock without having any kids in tow and I had another hour to kill. So I did my hair. Ahhh the life of an escaped mother!

The night began at my sister-in-law’s flat in Dalston with wine and Take Me Out, a classic combination. We entertained the idea of getting the bus to our dinner but a taxi careered past so really, it would’ve been rude not to. We had a host of cocktails and a small amount of delicious food at Hawksmoor (Dirty Martini, French Martini, White Russian: done) followed by another cab back down to Southwark to my husband’s warehouse party.

 

Yep, a warehouse party. That’s music, in a warehouse, wearing suede heels.

I’m always immensely proud every time I go to one of his parties. Somehow he and his 2 business partners (one of whom is called Alice… concidence? i think not) manage to erect staging, get sound, lighting and video effects going, set up bars, security, loos and cloakrooms, then book super famous djs to come and play some records and entice 2,500 people to come. Hardly an easy task on a miserable rainy October evening How he can do all this yet still not manage to hang damp towels up after a shower beats me…

 

Admittedly, it’s really not my thing. I prefer the old days of when he worked for a club and there were VIP rooms and champagne. Cold disused carparks and vodka in plastic cups is not quite the same, but I like to see what he does for work once in a while. And a hotel stay is always nice.

I must remember, however, that 5am is a ideal time for getting up with babies, not collapsing into bed. Luckily my hangover was almost non-existent thanks to lots of water throughout the night but that sort of mess-up to your sleep routine takes DAYS to recover from. I was too tired for Homeland Sundays, for crying out loud! Situation critical. Even now my eyes are still a little scratchy and I’m enjoying my hoodie more than normal. I’m getting too old for this.

Luckily I’m not my husband and don’t have to do this every weekend (can you imagine?). Instead I’m happy to watch the X Factor in my dressing gown every Saturday night for the foreseeable future, though I suppose New Year’s Eve will have to involve another late night. I’d better start preparing now.

A Letter To Booze

 

Dear Booze,

We’ve known each other a long time now, going on ten years. Our relationship has had its ups and downs – that brief love affair with espresso martinis was pretty special – but something’s got to change. It’s too intense.

Remember the good old days? The fun we had a couple of days a week in the pub at work, the champagne on a Saturday night, the odd glass of Malbec with my steak at Gaucho? On the whole those days were awesome, with the exception of that time Sambucca made me throw up in the sink at work.

But I forgave you, we got past it.

 

We’ve had a different kind of relationship in the last two years haven’t we, booze my friend? We meet less at the pub as you now come directly to my house. Sometimes via The Co-Op or Tesco, often via The Wine Society or the posh wine shop down the road. This way we can say that our relationship is a bit special, it’s fancier if you spend more than six quid on a bottle. Nevertheless you still give me a fuzzy head, posh or not.

Recently I’ve noticed new things about my relationship with you. We turn to prosecco for celebrations, red wine for sad times. Cocktails for a special weekend. You always seem to be hanging around and it’s starting to make me uneasy. I don’t want to rely on you to celebrate or perk me up and it’s pretty hard to parent on a hangover. I’ll be honest: I’m tired of you. I’m fed up of going a bit cuckoo after a particularly potent Dirty Martini and rather like it when I don’t wake up with gaps in my memory after a big night out.

We need to go on a break.

I’m not ending things, not at all. I still see plenty of lazy Sunday lunches with a glass of red ahead of us and the odd summer evening with a crisp Marlborough Savignon. But something’s got to give, I’m way too reliant on your seductive charms.

 

 

We will be spending some time apart- I’m asking you to leave me alone until October 20th. I need to re-evaluate my life without you and work out where we’re going from here. We won’t have the same relationship going forward: I’m getting older, I’m more tired than I used to be. I have other priorities now which mean I just don’t have enough time for you.

I won’t be lonely, though, don’t you worry about me. I have my good friend Tap Water on hand, and for those special days I will reach for Appletiser. They’ve seen me through two pregnancies so you know they will look after me well.

I will probably miss you my old pal, so please believe me when I say it’s not you, it’s me.

See you in 20 days!

Love and cheers,
Alice xxx

 

 

Mama’s Night Of Bliss

The last time I wrote about Bliss products on my blog I mentioned that if I had all the childcare and money in the world I would spend my days going for facials and eating ribeye steak. So when Jenny from Mother’s Meeting sent me an email about a pamper evening for mums at Bliss Spa in Chelsea followed by drinks at the cocktail bar of fancy Argentinian steak restaurant Gaucho I was thrilled that they put together a custom evening just for me. Me and a few other deserving mothers.

If you’re not familiar, Mothers Meeting is an amazing London-based organization for savvy non-twee mums, holding interesting events for creative and cool mamas who want to get together with or without their kids to have fun. If I was still living in London I’d be at each and every Mothers Meeting; I have found it tough to come by ‘my kind’ of people out in the countryside and am not a fan of attending toddler groups to discuss potty training and weaning. My life is regularly saved by Kaisa and Wine Fridays and lunch with Bryony really needs to happen more often.

 

Adelle gets her nails did

Anyway, a week ago I got the train into London ON MY OWN and sped over to Chelsea for a glass of wine pre-spa with Charlotte. If the night had ended there it still would’ve been the best night out I’ve had in ages, but on we went to Bliss.

I’m not really a ‘city spa’ person, having spent a few days at Champneys, Ragdale Hall and Center Parcs’ Aqua Sana, but I am now a total convert: it was instant relaxation. We robed up and slipped on our flip flops before relaxing in the ladies room for canapés and cocktails. I had the most wonderful oxygen facial by a lovely therapist who immediately put me at ease (awkward beauty therapists are the pits, I’m sure you’ll agree) before having a manicure (they play Sex and the City episodes on TVs) and then Reflexology (another great therapist who would not be pushed when I pumped her for info about their celebrity clientele *ahem* Kylie *ahem*). The spa was thoroughly brilliant with a great atmosphere (I find health spas can sometimes come with the hushed reverence I imagine a 1900s mental hospital to have) and the changing room was insane: equipped with everything you might need from brand new hair brushes to deodorant, moisturizer and even tampons. (Enough brackets)

 

Beautiful ladies, Bianca and Jenny – photo thanks to Amelia

Feeling fresh of face the dressing gowns sadly had to come off and normal clothes back on for more cocktails over the road at Gaucho Bar Galante. HAPPY HOUR!!

After the cocktails we were poured a glass of delicious Malbec (we went to buy a bottle – £150 – oh – we had the House Malbec instead) and had a great evening manically chatting like only half-cut mothers who have escaped from their offspring for the evening can. I used to spend quite a lot of time at Gaucho’s Greenwich outpost in my old life and their steak is fantastic, I can now say the same for their canapés. Again it’s a place with an amazing atmosphere, all dark surfaces, glittery floors and good looking staff. I will be back when I next escape from the kids.

If you need any more affirmation as to how good my night was: I willingly missed the last quick train home. Meaning I had to spend an hour on the train that stops at 15 stations before mine with nothing to keep me company but a Burger King. And I would do it all again. Great company – great Spa – great cocktails – great evening.

 

I hijacked Julia Boggio for a photo (note the post-facial sheen, I mean radiance)

You can see Bliss’s website here or follow them on twitter, you can also check out Bar Galante and follow them on Twitter too.

As for the fabulous Mamas I met that night: Charlotte, Bianca, Alienor, Amelia, Coco, LeilaAfua, Jenny, Adelle, Lucy, Julia Boggio, Julia West, Malika… Such a pleasure.

If you ever wondered what 5 drunk mums on a tube train look like…

HUGE thank-you’s for the wonderful hospitality offered to us by Bliss Spa and Bar Galante! As a treat, Bliss are offering 20% off all full-size products on their website, all you need to do is enter the code ‘MBLG20′ at checkout.

Chambord Rendezvous 2011

Last week the very kind people at Chambord invited me to Chambord Rendezvous 2011, an industry event held to find talented bartenders and chefs from across the UK and bring them together in an award ceremony to celebrate food and cocktails, with the winners having their recipes served at the event and accepting their prizes (trips to Paris and the Loire Valley). I took my lovely BFF Kirsty, as not only is she the only person I know who enjoys cocktails as much as me but she is moving to New York on Wednesday and I won’t see her for a whole three months, sniff sniff.

We were greeted with Chambord Royales and had the chance to nose around the beautiful venue, One Mayfair. That evening I’d had a huge ‘nothing to wear’ crisis and on a whim decided to debut some silk trousers from Zara that looked disturbingly like pyjamas until I reached London and put my heels on. Kirsty looked awesome as she always does.

Starter was Fois Gras with a Chambord jelly and Asparagus Veloute, matched with a Rosemount Chardonnay. This was followed by a delicious piece of Venison teamed with Chambord poached pears and Dauphinoise potatoes wrapped in pancetta.

Dessert was a Chambord and Raspberry parfait served with a Chambord granita. Award-winning Chambord cocktails were served pre- and post-dinner, though none were as good as my all-time favourite, the mighty French Martini.

After dinner the tables were cleared to make way for the arrival of more drinks insiders for a party led by DJ Edith Bowman and one of my favourite comedians, Russell Kane.

Girls in feathers delivered canapés and barmen mixed up more lovely Chambord cocktails… there were some serious shapes being thrown on the dancefloor but as Kirsty and I are elegant and refined we bobbed our heads on the sidelines (this might not be true).

 

We had an absolutely wonderful time and I left the party loving Chambord as much as when I arrived. Big thanks to Chambord for inviting and hosting us so well!

French Martini

2 oz Vodka
½ oz Chambord
2 ½ oz Pineapple Juice

Pour each of the above into a tall bar glass. Shake with ice, pour into a cocktail or martini glass, and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

What I wore, Ibizan edition

Ever since I became a mother I have struggled a little with what to wear. Is it still appropriate to wear hoochie mama miniskirts? Should I be wearing jeans and Converse every day? Can you push a pram in heels? It’s only now she’s coming up to one that I’m starting to feel comfortable with my sense of style again, and FYI as I wore hoochie mama miniskirts when 8 months pregnant I think it’s only appropriate to continue wearing them now I’m a mum.

I thought Ibiza would finally be an excellent chance to get some quality fashion content for my blog. I was looking forward to doing a day-by-day recollection of what I was going to be wearing and I took along with me an awesome vintage poppy print tea dress and my best sequins to show you all.

But then I got a hangover. And the 150 mosquito bites happened (when will these leave??! I am so ready to stop itching). Suddenly it was a lot easier to wear the crappy tshirt I’d brought along to wear in bed. And trousers, to hide the red welts all over my legs.

So, I only have one outfit for you. Sorry. Will try harder next time.

For our big night out I bought this dress from Motel Rocks, after seeing a post over on Blair on a Budget. I’d never considered buying a dress from then before, and to be honest when I arrived I thought it was quite expensive (£38) for the quality. But putting it on made me feel a million dollars – the skirt was fitted and the top baggy which suits my figure nicely. Price duly justified.

(The photographer – Will – got fired for chopping my feet out of this one)

I wore it with a white linen jacket I bought for my sister-in-law’s wedding and ‘forgot’ to return and flip flops. I also had an amazing Fake Bake spray tan before I left the UK (which may or may not have been the source of my mosquito bites). The satchel I’m wearing was 50p from a charity shop in 2005.

Apologies for the shoddy camera work, I blame a combination of the 2 year old compact camera that now seems to be hideously out of date (8MP? How quaint), too many of those 22 Euro gin and tonics and the impracticalities of not being able to take a tripod into a nightclub.

In summary: A+ dress, will wear again but as it requires no bra I will save it for warmer, more appropriate climes. Such as Ibiza!