london1967: (knocker)
The first outing of the month was on the first Friday; in the evening after dinner at Vico's we went to the Royal Academy to see "Painting the Modern Garden:Monet to Matisse".



It was our first visit to the Royal Academy! We really loved the exhibition: there were some great paintings.

On the Sunday I made some bugie - traditional Italian fried-pastries for the Carnival. I took some into work the following day, and on the Tuesday I used the other half of the dough to make more for Adrian's Italian class.


The following Friday it was the long awaited trip to the Menier Chocolate Factory to see Sheridan Smith in "Funny Girl". The show sold out in a matter of hours when I booked it back in August.
We had the meal deal: dinner followed by the show.


I must say that the show was absolutely brilliant!
And being in such a small and intimate space is always a bonus.


Then of course there was Valentine's Day, celebrated at home.


3 days later it was my birthday.
Adrian surprised me the night before with a yummy cake, decorated for a disco diva! LOL



I had booked the afternoon off work on my birthday, and I met Adrian at Hammersmith tube station to go to the the River Cafe



where we had the most beautiful meal! It was great to see that the 'hype' that has surrounded this restaurant in the almost 30 years of activity was well deserved.


The food was delicious and the service very attentive.
Adrian mentioned to a waitress that it was my birthday and my dessert arrived suitably adorned!


After lunch we travelled to Victoria, to catch the end of the RHS "London Early Spring Show". We got there at 4:35 pm but most of it had already been dismantled! (it closed at 5 pm).
Luckily the tickets were free (thanks to Richard, who had gifted us an RHS membership for Christmas) but we were a bit disappointed.


Nevertheless, we bought a little something: 2 bulbs of Sparkling Striped Gloriosa Lilies.

We hung around near Victoria after the show, since we had booked tickets to see "A Bigger Splash", at the Curzon.
The film, by Italian director Luca Guadagnino, features Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson and is set on the Italian island of Pantelleria.
It's beautifully shot and, erm, there is lot of nudity, full-frontal! LOL
The cinema opened almost 2 years ago and is very comfortable (and expensive!), and we had never been before.


(Sadly I don't have any of the pictures I took on my birthday as my PC decided to fry the camera's memory card.)

As it was my birthday, I thought it would be fun to cook a Piemontese meal at the week-end. We invited Chris and Michael to join us.

I suppose I was a bit over-ambitious at cooking 9 courses (and making bread, and filled pasta) but I managed to do it. I cooked all day on Saturday (and a bit on Friday evening) and I have to confess that I was utterly exhausted.
It took me the whole day on Sunday to recover! I guess I am no spring chicken any longer. LOL



Bread making:











A bit more baking the following week: Adrian went up to Leeds for a couple of night mid-week, and I thought I'd bake him a coffee and walnut cake (his favourite!) as a welcome home surprise.
I'd never baked it before because I don't like coffee.

(The pretty plate is a birthday present from Michael and Chris)

Surprisingly, I didn't mind the taste of coffee at all in the cake and had a couple of slices.

And the month ended with another meal at Vico's on Friday (probably the last one for a while now that my 25% discount card has run out!)



followed by theatre




(the play was great fun! we enjoyed having a box to ourselves although it meant leaning over to be able to see the stage)

and some more baking on the Saturday.

We had invited a new acquaintance/friend for tea. Adrian baked scones and made sandwiches, and I tried a new cake which required quite a lot of work.



A choko-berry fraisier (cocoa Genoise sponge, filled with berries and a very sinful crème de cassis crème mousseline, topped by a thin disc of marzipan stuck with blackcurrant jam, and a chocolate mirror glaze).
I dread to think about the calories!

london1967: (knocker)
Day 4 was Adrian's birthday. I had planned a little boat trip for it.
The weather didn't look too promising while we were having breakfast at the hotel but we decided to press on with the trip.

We drove to Port de Sóller, parked the car and caught the boat to Sa Calobra and the Torrents de Pareis.




We enjoyed some nice views of the coast on the way to the small harbour of Sa Calobra





You can see from the boat the small opening where the small 'twin' rivers (Torrents de Pareis) that have cut the 'canyon' in the mountains flow into the sea (when there's been substantial rain).





From the small harbour a path takes you to the canyon floor


(The sun came out for birthday boy!)






The path includes a section in a rather small and claustrophic tunnel, cut in the rock

(Here I was chastised by an English father because I had put fingers in my ears as his small daughter whom he carried in his arms - they were just behind me - screamed all the way through the tunnel. As I was on my second day of constant tinnitus and on the second week of having problems with my right ear, I feel that my reaction was justified. In the old days, the parents would have apologised for their children's behaviour; now it seems that anything they do has to be gratefully accepted as gift from the gods to us mortals).

Anyway, the canyon is rather lovely, although it was quite crowded.
Apart from a couple of boats, there are lots of coaches coming down one of the most dangerous roads in Europe, which includes a 270 degree bend!

Have a look here!

I'm glad we went by boat! Just imagine finding coaches on that road...
















Back in Port de Sóller we had a late lunch (toasted sarnies and chips - how very Spanish! LOL) and then decided to drive down to Palma to visit the Gothic Castell de Bellver on the outskirts of the city.

On the way we encountered a thunderstorm but it hadn't rained there.


The castle is positioned on a hill from where there are beautiful views of Palma:




















Once back in Sóller, we decided to open the bottle of Cava in the mini-bar to toast Adrian's 63rd birthday:



and later we went for dinner at a restaurant in the square.
london1967: (knocker)
After 2 nights in Las Vegas  it was time to go. Vegas loved us so much (sadly, unrequited love) that she tried to stop us by engineering some heavy traffic and some kind of ‘incident’. (We saw a helicopter on the ground as the traffic was diverted via the Bellagio car park. It didn’t look like a police or ambulance helicopter, so it wasn't a road accident: maybe it was someone with money who decided that it was the quickest way to get into town?). But we eventually got out and travelled down to California on Interstate 15.


It was my birthday and, proof that one never really outgrows their inner child, we celebrated it by visiting a ghost town and had a jolly good time.




Calico was founded in 1881 to mine silver (and later borax) and reached a population of 3,500 before dying out by the end of the century when silver lost its value.
It was then bought in the 1950s by Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm who then restored the town and later donated it to the county.



We really enjoyed our visit there.

We had a great, tasty lunch – the meal was gigantic and we couldn’t finish it! And good job that we ordered from the plain and simple section of the menu!











After lunch, we enjoyed a ride on the narrow gauge Calico & Odessa Railroad, a remake of the original railroad used to carry the minerals. The ride is almost shorter than the name! LOL




But it was great fun (do you see how happy Adrian is? He loves trains, trams and boats!)














From Calico we drove to Palm Springs




and arrived at the La Dolce Vita resort (where we stayed for 4 nights) just in time for cocktail hour.
Adrian relaxed over a couple of G&T and made a couple of guys from Minnesota laugh out loud with his description of the people in Las Vegas: “never seen so much man-made fibre in one place!”
I don’t know whether that was before or after he told people that it was my birthday and they all sang Happy Birthday to me. So embarrassing! I am told that I went bright red!
My birthday dinner consisted of a microwaveable burrito bought at a liquor store round the corner for the resort…

It was a birthday to remember! 
london1967: (knocker)
I normally arrange a surprise trip or a surprise something for Adrian's birthday, and as he had never been in Venice (a city he adores) on his special day, it was high time  we did!
Add to this that La Traviata - an opera that we love - was on at La Fenice, et voila'!

Adrian's birthday started with breakfast in the hotel courtyard

(window boxes opposite our room)

and this is birthday boy looking out of our room

Awww, he looks happy!

One of our favourite things in Venice is to travel down the Canal Grande on a vaporetto. So we took one from S. Stae to the Piazzale Roma terminus, and one back all the way to the Lido.
We managed to get seats outside although it got busy  later on with people standing: an Eastern European tourist invaded my personal space many times, with her arms surrounding my head on each side trying to take photos. But I stayed calm.

I told myself that I didn't need to take yet more pictures of the Canal Grande (I have a large collection of photos taken over the years), but well it's impossible to resist!

(The gondoliere on the right was on his mobile phone... tut tut!)

I had promised Adrian a lazy day but it's an unwritten rule that on his birthday we always end up walking/marching somewhere.
We decided to have a look around the Lido (we had been before but not on the side facing the sea) but it turned out that the map from the hotel was not quite to scale!
So we walked much more than expected and in the end had to catch a bus back to the vaporetto stop (the Lido has cars) as we were pretty exhausted.

All the beaches were already closed for 'winter' (but it was so warm that we had to remove all but one layer)

This is the Palazzo del Cinema, famous for the Venice Film Festival

You get a different view of the lagoon and of Venice from the Lido

We took the vaporetto back to Venice

and got off at Accademia. Crossed the bridge

and had a pizza at a restaurant on Campo S. Stefano

We then walked to Palazzo Grassi, a palace on the Canal Grande which is used for art exhibitions.

The palazzo - as part of the Biennale - houses a retrospective of Italian artist Rudolf Stingel.

The main attraction was the palazzo itself because it had been transformed into an art installation by fitting carpet on three floor - and from the first floor up - on the walls too. The carpet is a photographic reproduction of Turkish rugs; they have the peculiarity of looking blurred close by but sharp from a distance. (Apparently the inspiration was the rugs that Sigmund Freud had in his Vienna studio).

It's quite impressive

Some of the art left me rather underwhelmed...

(now this is Art!)

We really enjoyed our visit at Palazzo Grassi.
When we left we had to rush to catch a vaporetto (water bus)

back to our hotel to get ready for the evening.
The vaporetto was packed; just before we got off at S. Stae, an old lady pushed through the crowds complaining about how busy it was. She went on to state that she was a Venetian, 100% disabled and that she had to put up with all that.
Fair enough, I thought (although my 2 crutches won over her 1 stick) but couldn't help smiling considering that without the tourists the vaporetto wouldn't probably be running. In many ways, she represented what most Venetians think of tourists: we want your money (a vaporetto ride is 7 euros!) but not you!
If it wasn't for the tourists, I don't know where Venice would get the money to survive.

Anyway, we got back to our hotel, changed and we were back waiting for a vaporetto in the opposite direction (luckily we had bought a 24-hour pass for 20 euros each).

The vaporetto was rather late and there was a lot of traffic on the canal (rush hour!), so we got to La Fenice only 10 minutes before the show

I had booked (last October!) 2 tickets in the gallery, in central position. I was expecting 2 seats in a row but it turned out that it was a little (unadorned) box with 4 chairs. We had the 2 front ones and there was no-one else in the other two. Eccellente!

The performance was preceded by the Swedish and Italian national anthems (to honour the presence of the Swedish ambassador in the audience).
It was excellent and we loved it.
I expected a modern staging (which it was - it was directed by Canadian Robert Carsen) but it was quite lavish at the same time.

It was wonderful to see La Traviata at La Fenice as the opera had its premiere there in 1853.

We noticed that people dress up much more than they do in London. We had a drink in the intervals (the first one was very rushed because some of the ushers started yelling to go back to the seats when we still had 10 minutes ago and we had just been served the drinks; a German gentleman got very irate and just thrust his drink into the hand of an usher saying "You drink it then!" Needless to say, in the second interval we just ignored them until it was really time to go back)


Buon compleanno Adriano!

Now how can I top this next year? LOL!
london1967: (knocker)
It's not my birthday yet for another 20 minutes or so but I have already started celebrating.

We've been out all day.

First stop was 'The Shard' the newest skyscraper to grace (or blight! - take your pick) London's skyline. It opened to the general public a couple of weeks ago.

It is the tallest building in the European Union and the second one in Europe.

The views from the 68th floor and the 'open gallery' (as in open to the elements but still behind glass) on the 72nd floor are breathtaking.
London spreads as far as the eye can see and the river and the complex railway network really look as the arteries of this city...

The views are magnificent

You can see many more photos in this slideshow

After we left the Shard, we took the Jubilee line to Green Park and walked down to Buckingham Palace

and the nearby Goring Hotel where we had a scrumptious and relaxed afternoon tea.
It exceeded expectations: a 5 star tea with a 5 star service in a 5 star hotel!

We were there for over 2 hours!

We had the

A glass of Bollinger
Eggs Savoury
A selection of finger sandwiches, including chicken with soured cream, tarragon & red pepper, smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise
Freshly baked, warm homemade scone with Devonshire clotted cream and jam
Spice cake with Brandy icing
Chocolate and mandarin dome
Chestnut roll
Mulled wine jelly with cinnamon cream
Chocolate and hazelnut slice
Tea, brewed to your liking (or coffee if you prefer)

(this is the menu from the website - it slightly differed. The Bollinger was accompanied by strawberries; they also served a mini-trifle at the end)

We then attempted to walk off a few calories by strolling in St. James' Park

(from the park you can now see the top of the Shard)

to Leicester Square. We went to see the Supreme Fabulettes at the Leicester Square theatre.

As we were early we had a drink at Manbar (previously 79 CXR)

The show was great fun!
The three ladies were joined on stage by a (former?) American porn star called Johnny Hazzard who had appeared in 2 of their videos (which were directed by Boy George).
He was wearing very short jeans cut-offs and he suffered a bit of wardrobe malfunction a couple of times with some of his family jewels dropping out! And guess what? Even a porn star blushes! LOL! (We got an eyeful as we were in the second row).

And here you can see the three ladies performing their latest single "A drag queen is a cowboy's best friend"!

And after all this excitement

it was time to catch a bus to Victoria and the train back home!


Feb. 15th, 2013 11:36 pm
london1967: (knocker)
When I got home tonight, this was waiting for me in the kitchen

Adrian ([ profile] london1952) had baked me a Neapolitan Cake to celebrate the start of my birthday week-end!

It was yummy! I mean it is yummy: even I couldn't manage to eat it all that in just one go!! lol

Thank you Darling Adrian!
london1967: (Default)
We went to a really nice place. 

next to the place where princesses and people who are on telly go to

Adrian said that many years ago before the Germans came to throw bombs from planes, it was a place where people got money from, and also a place selling big cars, like the one the queen drives.

They didn't have any cars for me to play with but they gave me some nice sarnies and sweets

and some juice that made my nose go all funny with bubbles.

Then we took the tube to a big station where there were so many people and big, long trains.
Near the station there were trees with lights

it all looked very pretty. It was like being Cinderella without the evil witch.

The theatre was pretty like the little cakes that were now in my tummy.

Inside the theatre, I took a photo

but a nasty, old man scolded me and said that I was naughty. I asked "Why?" and he said "'Cause it's the rules"...
I wanted to cry and shout that it was my birthday but he was too nasty.

But I didn't cry. I laughed so much that my belly was achy and everyone was laughing so much that the theatre was shaking.
The nice lady from the telly was very funny too but didn't say anything about my birthday

but I forgive her because she was nice and made me laugh.

When we arrived home, I had pressies to open and Adrian made me a yummy cake with chocolate and jam and flowers but without the bees

And the candles were pretty and so many it looked like a forest of flames, and I made a wish fast

because I wanted to eat a big slice. It was so yummy.

And that was my birthday.

Franco - aged 5 years and 1 day
london1967: (Default)
Unlike previous years, I worked on my birthday, but at sunset

the fun started. 

I met Adrian at the Menier Chocolate Factory first for dinner

(my grilled squid starter)

and then

Well it was an interesting show, funny but quite moving at the same time.
Vulnerable is not an adjective that you would normally associate with Ruby Wax, but last night she managed both to make people laugh and bare her soul, talking about her spells in the Priory and her battle with mental illness and the downfalls of fame.
The funniest bits were perhaps the part where she mimicked the English and their curious habits! 

It's a two-woman show: singer Judith Owen provides musical accompaniment and sad but funny songs. The two have in common mental illness and Judith's husband (Harry Shearer - best known for being a voice in the Simpsons - who had dated Ruby).

1 in 4 of us are affected by mental illness at some point but last night there was much a higher proportion in the audience, as it became evident  in the Q&A session that is the second part of the show. 
The last person to ask a question was a lady who said that it was the first time she had left her home in 20 years to come to see the show with some friends with similar problems!!

In the audience two rows in front of us, there was a lady who looked and sounded very familiar.
Adrian is convinced that she was Nigella Lawson - but I am not entirely sure. Certainly she had the voice and the mannerisms and the posh but slightly bohemian friends but she didn't look quite as voluptuous as she does on the telly, and she looked younger. Perhaps she was just having a night off from her on screen 'character'.
I know, we should just have asked her, especially as she walked with her friends just paces away from us for a couple of blocks before disappearing somewhere near Borough Market but well it would have been an invasion of privacy.

All in all, it was a lovely birthday.
Plus now I can say that I am a 'quarantaquattrenne', which sounds quite nice, don't you think?
london1967: (Default)
Lynne and Miranda said that they would call for a cup of tea this afternoon to see us and the lovely Ricardo ([ profile] bazanges ) who's visiting for a few days.

So I was rather surprised when I answered the door and saw them with a birthday balloon, a Patisserie Valerie cake, cards and presents!
Such a lovely surprise! (my birthday is next Thursday).
Thank you so much!


london1967: (Default)

Our first port of call was the Victoria and Albert museum, an oasis of art and peace in the nightmare that is London during half-term (we walked past the 300 yard long queue outside the Natural History and the shorter line for the Science museum, full of ill-tempered mothers and ill-behaved children).

We were so lucky to have wonderful weather yesterday: it almost felt like spring. We even spotted a few people going around in short sleeves and one person in shorts. After all, yesterday could have been our only day of summer, you never know here!

At V&A we visited the newly opened Medieval and Renaissance Galleries:

and a smaller exhibition of pictures of actors taken, over the years in London theatres, in that half an hour before the show:

Next stop was the National Gallery, where we saw... modern art under the guise of a corner of Amsterdam's Red Light District: Kienholz: The Hoerengracht .

After a walk through St. James' Park basking in the glorious sunshine


we met Lynne and Miranda at the Rubens Hotel where we enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea for almost 2 and 1/2 hours!

Once we got home, we all went (with Sharon, a neighbour) for fish&chips in Beckenham

Mushy peas: yum!

and then to the cinema to see "Sherlock Holmes" which we thoroughly enjoyed.
A very full day but great fun! Let's do it again soon!


Feb. 17th, 2010 11:59 pm
london1967: (Default)
Thank you so much for all your birthday good wishes!

I had the most fantastic day!  I took the day off work and spent with Adrian around London, and later with Lynne and Miranda.

I'm going to post about it tomorrow in more detail.

For the time being, here's the wonderful birthday cake (a cascade of cupcakes) that my romantic Adrian ([ profile] london1952 ) made for me yesterday: he lit up the candles just after midnight.

london1967: (brindisi)
I recall that, as a child, I thought turning 33 (in 2000) next to impossible. Well now, I'm 42 and still alive and kicking!

Thank you to all of you who posted/sent birthday wishes: you are a very nice bunch of people!

And of course a big thank you to my lovely husband [ profile] london1952  who makes my life special and worth living every day, and not just on my birthday.

He went to a lot of trouble picking and wrapping presents:

(apart from the paper and ribbon, he even colour co-ordinated the card!)

I didn't want any big "do" for my birthday; so instead of inviting all our friends from the neighbourhood, we spent the evening with Lynne at our local Turkish restaurant (I suddenly realised last night that the waiter is quite dishy!).

Before going out to eat, Lynne came round with a tray of fairy cakes (she said she had  to bake two batches because the first one came out flat. Bless! Really too much trouble)  

london1967: (Default)
All my lovely LJ friends who sent me birthday wishes over the last few days! They have been greatly appreciated.

To David and Richard for coming all the way from Cardiff and Gloucestershire to celebrate my birthday!

To my adorable husband Adrian ([personal profile] london1952)  for making another birthday very special (and organising last night's suprise celebration with some neighbours and [profile] williamthebruce).

And last  but not least, to neighbours/friends and [profile] williamthebruce

I'll be posting a full report on my birthday week-end later.
london1967: (Default)
At last some pictures from the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin and our wonderful afternoon tea.

Here's birthday boy  [personal profile] london1952:

and his sidekick, in a rare appearance in front of the lens:

london1967: (Default)
First of all, a big thank you to all of you who wished Adrian a Happy Birthday. You are a lovely bunch of people!
Our day in Dublin was great!
  • 10 am flight from Gatwick; we were in Dublin (city centre) by 12:15 pm and had 5 hours to spend in town
  • it was sunny but chilly, with big, white clouds travelling fast in the blue sky
  • we had a nice walk along the river Liffey up to Smithfield square. We planned to go up the observation tower (an old chimney that used to belong to the nearby Jameson distillery) to admire the view but sadly it was closed for maintenance
  • then we walked along the south bak of the Liffey up to Temple Bar, the TrinityCollege and finally to St. Stephen's Green
  • the afternoon tea at the Shelbourne was superb and relaxed; great food, and lovely setting with live piano music in the background
  • flight back at 6:55 pm and we got home just before 9:30 pm
 We didn’t do any real sightseeing (as we didn’t have the time and we had been before) but I took plenty of pictures (I’ll post some at the week-end).
london1967: (Default)


Today is Adrian ([personal profile] london1952)'s birthday and we celebrate it by being carbon criminals, and flying to Dublin for the the day, to enjoy the scrumptious afternoon tea in the Lord Mayor's Lounge at the Shelbourne Hotel on St. Stephen's Green!!

P.S: I've just noticed that Adrian shares his birthday with Google!
london1967: (Default)
LJ has just reminded me that my husband ([ profile] london1952)'s birthday is only 2 days away.
I/we have a plan: we are taking the day off work and going on a day trip somewhere we've been before, to indulge in their sublime afternoon tea (we are two gluttons at heart!)

This picture may tell you where we're going. Can you guess the city?

William ([ profile] williamthebruce) knows the answer, so (sorry Darling!) he cannot take part in this "competition" (but you can always try to bribe him to win!)
london1967: (Default)

Well now I'm a year (and a decade older)! LOL!

I had a great birthday.

On Friday night when I got in, I found that Adrian had baked me a birthday cake (a gorgeous Victoria sponge with lemon curd filling and lemon icing!)

so the celebrations started a few hours early.

On Saturday (Feb 17th) [my birthday] Adrian and I went to Richmond to collect one of the rings for our wedding... and then Adrian took me out to lunch.
[He had meant to take me to the Orangerie at Kensington Palace but they don't take bookings and so we decided we'd play it by ear].

The high tide was in and the lowest riverside path was flooded! The boat cafes/restaurants on the Thames were out of reach (unless you wanted to get really wet).
We had an al fresco lunch in a Bavarian restaurant by the river! I had Wiener Schnitzel and Apfel Strudel... I just love both.
Unfortunately the strudel came before the Schnitzel but hey it came with a little candle.
[Perhaps I should do everything in a reverse order in my 41st year? Like wearing pants over trousers, jumpers and socks inside out, etc.?]

We then did a bit of shopping in Richmond and then went into town. We had arranged to meet a few friends in the Kings Arms but we were gasping for a nice cuppa... Fortnum & Mason, and Richoux were packed... we decided for Liberty.

We had a few rounds in the Kings Arms with Ross & Jim, Kevin, Ken and said hello to a few other guys: it was a very jolly evening!
After the pub, we went to Ed's Diner in Old Compton Street with Ross & Jim: a perfect end to a lovely day (and thank you R&J for dinner!)

A big thank you to my lovely Adrian, and to all my friends: the ones that joined us for the evening, and also all the ones that couldn't and sent cards and called me. You all made my birthday so special: life at 40 is not so bad after all !!

My 40th

Jan. 5th, 2007 04:15 pm
london1967: (Default)
I'll be turning 40 six weeks tomorrow and would love to do something to celebrate.

The original idea was to have a party at home, but we only had one at the end of December and we are going to see our friends at our Civil Partnership ceremony in April (and they'll probably be sick of the sight of us!)

My birthday is on a Saturday and I'm not a big party animal (quite the contrary), so not much point in going out and getting plastered. Still that could be an option.

I guess it's time for a poll!

[Poll #901022]


london1967: (Default)

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