We’ve been in London for a couple of days. I always enjoy a day out and staying overnight means that there’s more of a chance to catch up with Edward, to enjoy a relaxed meal (or two) and so on. But this last week, we’ve each had other reasons for catching the early train to spend time in the city on different days and unusually, we hadn’t managed to coordinate ourselves very well.
We both caught the 0905 train on Thursday though, because that evening, Tra was giving a recital at Pushkin House, a rather interesting venue in Bloomsbury. Not only that, but my hero was giving a pre-concert talk about his own hero, Joachim Raff. No pressure then, but every reason for a relaxed, easy afternoon pottering around beforehand.
Every reason, too, for a decent lunch at Nopi. We sat downstairs with a good view of the kitchen, surveying the stocks on the shelves alongside the table. Fascinating ingredients and an enviable larder on which to call. We chose well – the middle eastern flavours served tapas style suits me perfectly. I am easily intimidated by a huge plateful of food and get easily bored when ploughing my way through a large bowlful of pasta, say. So, a few choice and rather intriguing flavours kept us well entertained for a couple of hours and the friendly atmosphere was great. What did we eat? Well, three dishes each:
- Valdeón cheesecake, pickled beetroot, thyme honey..
- French beans, smoked wheat, tahini lemon dressing, mint..
- Spiced gurnard wrapped in banana leaf, pineapple sambal..
- Seared organic prawns, feta, fennel, Pernod..
- Pork belly, caramelised Nashi pear, grape mustard jus..
- Confit press duck, burnt miso butterscotch, pickled mixed mushrooms..
Yummy, n’est-ce pas?
Tra’s recital was superb; an evening full of warmth and the most wonderful music eloquently put into context by you-know-who beforehand. Tra’s playing is sublime, her interpretation and the way she communicates her enthusiasm for these rarely performed works is remarkable. I could have
danced listened all night!
A rainy Friday wasn’t quite what we’d planned, but we had things to do. A brisk walk via Selfridges and Blink, a mooch along Marylebone High Street with a quick stop in Eileen Fisher and a longer linger in Daunts, before meeting Edward for lunch in our favourite Orrery.
Yes, food does tend to feature large, doesn’t it?
We enjoyed another delicious lunch, accompanied by the usual easy conversation with Edward, who always delights and entertains us in a way which inspires the greatest parental pride. Thankfully, he didn’t have to return to his office that afternoon, so he went off to the London Library to do some research and we planned to stop by Heals, to look at bedside tables, so we went our separate ways on Marylebone Road and we jumped on a bus to Warren Street.
Things were not flowing freely in that area, however. High-Vis jackets were much in evidence and a police cordon was in place around the top of Tottenham Court Road. It seemed as though there was “an incident” in progress and we soon learned that a visit to Heals was going to be quite out of the question. Not wanting to linger in a potentially threatening area, we changed our plans and headed towards Charing Cross Road and Foyles, thinking that a bookshop is never a bad place to spend a rainy afternoon!
But whilst we enjoyed a cup of tea in the Portrait Cafe in Trafalgar Square, the clouds parted and the sun came out. Too late for us – we were headed back to collect our bags from the hotel and make our way back to Paddington by this time, but there were certainly plenty of people around to enjoy it.
For me, though, it had been enough. I was ready to return home, to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and to spend a quiet weekend in the peace and quiet of Gloucestershire.