JUST SNAPPED @littleswallowchinadoll

Baby showers and hens parties

I feel like a broken record saying I'm busy. And sick. For months I've been alternating between being sick and busy, and usually I'm ineffectively both at the same time. But let me put away my tiny violin.

The last two weekends could not have been more different.

One was all about kids and family. We celebrated Mrs A's impending arrival. 



I spent quality time with my ridiculously smart niece and super cuddly nephew. 




And ate way too much roast dinner at my mum-in-laws after encouraging some underage drinking.



The other was all about partying and lewd games in Norwich.



We accidentally destroyed the bride a little earlier than expected on our first night (that didn't stop us belting out karaoke around the sleeping beauty).


But after a good sleep in and a decent buffet breakfast, we were ready to rock and roll at a cocktail making masterclass the next afternoon. I've got to give a shout out here to Patrick at Vodka Revolution, because the class exceeded everyone's expectations. I can neither confirm nor deny whether the 46 drinks ingested had anything to do with our level of enjoyment. 




(Hint: if you want to impress a hens party, make great cocktails, claim you can cook and clean, tell them that you're broody and then hold a baby. As one of the party put it "I think our ovaries let out a collective sigh just then.")


Then it was time to get our dancing shoes on for some clubbing under the acrobats.


Or our trainers, as the case may be when you're a cheerleader for the night.


It was a brilliant weekend, and now I've got the taste for more. Girls night out, anyone?

Wait a second - you didn't seriously think I was going to sign off without at least one picture of gratuitous foodporn, did you?


Orgasmic rare fillet steak in pepper sauce on spinach and potato rosti on a flying visit to Leeds. And on that note, I bid you adieu.

The Ship, Wandsworth

We waited patiently on Sunday for the sun to show itself. Even at 2:45pm, with not a sign of a break in the clouds or a rise in temperature, I clung desperately to my iPhone weather app which foretold of fabled sun and a balmy 18C. It was all a lie.

We headed to The Ship anyway, despite the chance of us soaking up the sun in the beer garden rapidly disappearing.


In a fit of ridiculousness (likely spurred by the lack of sunshine, and the fact that we were eating lunch at 3pm) we ordered starters. Let me assure, you do not need a starter when you're having Sunday lunch at The Ship. 

That doesn't mean I regret it though. 



And anyway, Sunday is all about overeating and needing a nap.

While I toasted to summer with a Pimms, Miss J plumped for a BBQ cheeseburger option, despite being forced indoors.


M and I opted for the beef, which was the best roast I've had, oh, since I last cooked one (ha!).


While the CG went for pork, which also got a two thumbs up.



And after it all, despite the overstretched bellies, there was no cleaning up. Which is a pretty perfect Sunday lunch in my opinion.

The Ship on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Maltby St Market: Ropewalk

I used to have a "London list" that I'd add and subtract from religiously, as I found new things to do, and went and did them. When the CG and I first got together he found it a bit of a chore being dragged around the place every spare moment, but as he came to realise that he'd basically seen nothing of the city he'd called home for 5 years, I like to think he became somewhat grateful for my annoying penchant for waking early on the weekend.


My poor list has fallen by the wayside of late, but Maltby Street Market has been high on there for a while. So with a Saturday at home and no prior engagements, the boys and I headed out for lunch.


After a stroll from end to end, we unanimously voted on African Volcano fulfilling our ravenous hunger. I opted for the Dirty Porker (which I'm pretty sure was named just for me). 

While the base of baps are prepped before being piled high with pulled pork heaven, the bun tops are tossed into the pot with the meat to soak up the sauce. 


Your choice of medium or hot peri-peri sauce is laid upon your meat pile before your bun is topped and precariously handed over (with cutlery and napkins thankfully). 


The CG went for the Dirty Heifer which was equally as delicious.


And nothing could have gone better with our fiery lunches than Bloody Mary's from Little Birdie - complete with a dash of African Volcano's peri peri sauce. 


I rolled out of the Maltby St, greatly saddened that I had no room for donuts or gelato, but vowing to return again soon.

Voyaging with Vestal Vodka

What's better than soaking up the sunshine in London, when it finally rears its head? 

Soaking up the sunshine while sipping vodka cocktails on a houseboat, obviously.

I tagged along with the lovely Gin Monkey last week for a Vestal Vodka voyage along the canals.


Hosted by the charming Will, we navigated our way from Kings Cross to Angel and back again while the sun dropped lower and lower in the sky.


As testament to how good a vodka Vestal is, I happily sipped on it neat (while I was totally sober, I might add) and it went down a treat.


Happy days.

Soif, Clapham Junction

I hardly had time to sling my heels on, have a night out with friends who were in town for one night only, and catch up on some sleep, before I was on a plane again for work heading to Amsterdam.

The ever understanding CG waited patiently for me to repack before our one meal alone together for the week. That man is a damn good man.

We headed to Soif, a little place on Battersea Rise with an impressive wine list, for an unusual Sunday lunch.



The CG plumped for roast pork belly with some of the most decadent black pudding I've ever had the pleasure of melting on my tongue.



I had the lamb sweetbreads and a zesty asparagus, rocket and parmesan salad. Exactly what we both needed after a night of sweating it out on the dance floor (must be a sign of age that I opted for salad over carbs - sometimes I don't even recognise myself).




As I kissed the CG goodbye, my conscious (at least) was clear that I'd suitably fed and watered him for the day. I'm already plotting when I can get back there.

Soif on Urbanspoon Square Meal

2 nights in NYC at the Mondrian, Soho

There's nothing quite like getting a call from your boss at 10pm on Friday night before a long weekend, letting you know there's been "a change of plans" and you'll need to be ready to travel to NYC for a couple of nights the next week. 

Flights organised while camping on the Monday, we found ourselves boarding our flight on Wednesday morning. And finally, FINALLY, after all the hundreds of flights I've taken over the years, I was upgraded. Only to premium economy, but still, when you're working 6 out of the 7 hours on the flight, that teeny weeny bit of extra room makes a difference.

Between the airport and our hotel we were in a car accident, and when we finally arrived our rooms weren't ready. So it's lucky the Mondrian has this little gem to work in: Isola Trattoria & Crudo Bar



Not a bad joint to spend another 14 hours and 4 meals working in. Especially when the meals include the freshest hamachi crudo, and the most delicious pancetta and spinach omelette of all time.



And when the rooms are the prettiest blue and white havens I've ever had the pleasure of laying my head down in.


Major presentation completed on the Thursday night, we had a slightly more relaxed day on Friday - by which I mean, a full day of meetings, but just enough time to squeeze in a visit to our Soho cafe for a request to Stanley Piano (Britney, obviously). 


We won't mention the fact that I left my passport at the hotel, and lost my boarding pass in the airport. When we finally boarded the red eye home that night, my upgrade luck held out and a flat business class bed was waiting to carry me home. If you've got to travel, it's not a bad way to go.