Friday, 30 September 2011

TBC: Back to basics....

....After a long, long hiatus, Lorenzo, (remarkably), initiated a TBC* gathering. Not a full blown affair, more a chance for him, Ed and I to hang out on the loose premise that we are the TBC originals.

Roy & Lorenzo

Whatever, it was a pleasure. We grabbed a tinnie on Golden Square before heading for some fantastic Lebanese food at Yalla Yalla.

Lorenzo & Ed

Then, what night would be complete without some cocktails at Frevd? We duly obliged.

Unfortunately the only thing missing was actually a bit of messing around on our bikes. But we're too old for that now, right? Probably, but I suspect it won't be long before we gather all the troops and ride like teenagers again. Long live TBC!
*Thursday Bicycle Club.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Han hits 31....

....So, the 31st birthdays have started to come around and this was a modest, (by Han's standards), lunch at a lovely pub in Islington.

Nathan, Nick, Alex, Richie, Max, Han, Niall

Hannah gathered, (due to various reasons, including fashion week), a throng of men to dine with her at the Duke of Cambridge. It was a fantastic feed and the perfect way to celebrate. Happy Birthday!

Roast pork

A raspberry something!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

People. Pictures. Property. Pizza....

....A busy Saturday this one. With Kel away in Copenhagen for the weekend, I had harboured plans for a busy day of gallery going. Nursing a hang over, it didn't happen. Instead I went and met with Rich, Anne and Clem, and Anne's sister Julia and her boy, Xanti on Hackney Downs.

Clem & Xanti discuss scooter set-ups

We played in the park, (I passed the ball with Xanti in awe as he put his foot through it every time with aplomb), and Clem showed off her tie dye threads. I had to nip off to view a couple of properties - one nice, one not - before meeting back up with them all at a familiar favourite....lunch at Hackney Farm.

Xanti, Julia, Clem, Rich & Anne

The early afternoon was spent relaxing, before Nick & I went to an early evening showing of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The modern take on the John Le Carre novel, directed by Tomas Alfredson, had received rave reviews. Our expectations were high. And they were met in terms of the superlative cast, and the beautiful cinematography, but ultimately we left disappointed.

I think it was largely our own doing - having never read the book and not knowing the rough plot, we were simply befuddled. Leaving the cinema only with an, "eh?". I'd certainly like to watch it again, to do it and myself the justice the film no doubt deserves.

We decided to go for pizza afterwards, so walked up the road to Pizza East. I love this place and it was Nick's first time, so we sat up at the bar and ate and drank til our hearts were content.

We popped for another drink at Mason & Taylor before heading back to mine for a cheese board, drinks and X Factor repeats. Ha ha. Perfect. (And totally understandable!)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sunday social....

....Despite a heavy head from the night before, Kel and I rose early to meet Ian & Susie. On Open House weekend, we decided to pay a visit to nearby 19 Princelet Street - a former Huguenot silk weaver's home, which is a thing of unrestored beauty.

Queueing for entry (far left)

Behind the front door opens in to a tardis-like space, where in the main room a balcony flanks all walls and light shines through stained glass.

We left the guys to meet Matt, (over briefly on business from NYC) and Phil & Maddi, (the latter who's due date is officially tomorrow and is a walking bump!).

Maddi, Kel, Phil, Matt

We took a coffee and pastry at AllPress before meandering through to Columbia Road flower market, nattering all the while.

Kel, Maddi & bump

It was great to see everyone, particularly Maddi so soon before giving birth. Lovely.

Faye hits 30....

....Dan surprised Faye by gathering us all at Barrica, a lovely tapas restaurant on Goodge Street, for her birthday.

Post tapas cake is presented to Faye

The food was superb and I felt good value to boot. The wine flowed and we carried the night on at the Sanderson Hotel bar, which made for a late one. A great night amongst great friends.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Dinner with Chris & Sarah....

....A long overdue catch up with Chris & Sarah happened today over dinner at Leong's Legend Continues.

Sarah, Roy

The food was good, (particularly the shredded turnip - see, I told you so!), and the chat better. A great evening.

Kel, Chris

Sunday, 11 September 2011

D Day....

....And then there was just me. Well, and Kel of course. Today Doug left Goldman Close, hot on the heels of Liam, meaning the end of an era at no. 69. Sad times.

Ross, Doug & Ed in front of a tetris-like-packed van

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Kel hits 30 : Drinks....

....Not content with a dinner party and a foreign weekend away, Kel also had drinks planned for those who she'd still not celebrated with. The evening was spent at The Lauriston, before heading on to London Fields, (shame on us), before bed.

Richie, Bugs, Kel & Joce

A really fun night that wrapped up a great series of celebrations.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Kel hits 30 : Marrakech....

....I surprised Kel with a birthday weekend away, after she'd wanted to visit Marrakech for some time. Fortunately, the hugely anti-social flying times didn't disturb what was a beautiful break. We stayed in Riad W, hosted by the fantastic Elsa - who even upgraded us on arrival, as it turned out that no one else was staying at the 4-bed Riad that weekend, it was all ours. Bonus.

Riad W courtyard

We dropped our bags and headed straight out to the souks, meandering through, getting lost, getting sold to, enjoying the bazaar. We stopped for mint tea on the terrace of cafe des epices, before heading on to the former Islamic College, Ben Youssef Medrasa - full of beautiful rooms, scattered around a central courtyard carved from marble, cedar & stucco.

We still found time to visit the equally impressive Bahia Palace, a 19th Century home to an Islamic Sultan, who used the site to show off his prolific wealth to women. (For once, this money also had taste!)

[ceiling detail]

We returned to the riad for a siesta, (only 2 hours sleep the night before had taken their toll), before an early even stroll around the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, before it had really kicked in to action. We dodged the snake charmers and (cruel) monkey owners and headed straight to one of the various juice stalls for some liquid refreshment.

On returning to the riad, we got ready for dinner, which I had arranged with Elsa prior to our arrival - we would be eating at there, a special dinner cooked by the live-in chef and a birthday treat of champagne & wine.

Happy 30th!

It was a wonderful dinner, in wonderful surroundings and we crashed out shortly afterwards. The next morning, we rose and after breakfast on the balcony, took a dip in the plunge pool to get us going.

We then set about a trip to the Saadian Tombs, dating back to the 16 Century, yet only re-discovered by accident in 1917. Still a beautiful, decorative sight, but the least captivating 'attraction' to date.

Jardin Majorelle, owned by Yves Saint Laurent was next, stepping it up a notch. The gardens are a wonder of colour, ceramic and cacti that come together in a vibrant, beautiful collision. A modernist building houses a cafe & restaurant for those prolonging their stay, but even without it a seat on a bench to absorb the tranquil environment is more than enough.

We returned to the souks, via the dominating Koutoubia mosque, for some more shopping - securing a tagine, a rug and some bowls. (We couldn't be more predictable). A bite to eat and then a drink at Cafe Arabe, on their terrace, provided wonderful respite.

Then came Kel's final treat - a berbere hammam at the Jnane Mogador riad. Much more relaxing than we anticipated, Kel & I stripped down together in a small cement wet room in the bunker of the riad. There we were washed, scrubbed, pasted and washed again. Well worth it! We returned to our own riad, pulled on some evening wear and headed out for our final dinner at Le Tanjia.

Recommended by Elsa, it was a great choice, out on the balcony and live music right by our side. Afterwards we walked back through the medina to Jamaa el-Fnaa Square, to see the real night time scene. The night sky was filled with the glare off lamps on stalls, filled with smoke from open grills, filled with flutes serenading pythons, filled with crowds gasping at street performers. We were thrilled.

We decided to remove ourselves from the throng, and retreated to the balcony of a nearby restaurant, where we grabbed an ice cream with which to survey the scene.

We looked down and summed up that we loved the city, (despite seeing so little of it), we'd had a fantastic time and more importantly, Kel had enjoyed her birthday. We left for bed, then the following morning, after breakfast, left for home. We thanked Elsa, the perfect host, and said goodbye.

Hugs for Elsa

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Friday, 2 September 2011

Kel hits 30 : Dinner....

....On reaching the landmark, Kel celebrated in numerous ways. The first was this dinner with a huge table of friends, at Bistrotheque.


Given the private dining room, we feasted on a fine three course dinner, before retreating downstairs to the bar for a digestif.
It was a fantastic evening and great to share it with so many friends.

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On arriving home, well after midnight, Kel opened her presents and we packed our bags for what was to be her next celebration.....