Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Quiet But Productive Morning at Home and a Dinner Party with Friends in Battersea

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It was truly a day with a difference! For the very first time since I moved in here, I spent practically the whole day at home. I awoke at 5.00 am, continued reading Banville's The Sea, then drafted a blog post and my monthly newsletter. I stopped briefly to eat breakfast (muesli with yogurt and decaff coffee) then continued working on my Powerpoint presentation for Edinburgh--and glory be! I finished it. So the morning was very productive indeed.

Excursion to the Bank:
     Then because I had to pay my rent for the month of September, I had a shower and then took the bus for three stops to HSBC Bank at Bethnal Green and withdrew the money. The teller was wonderfully helpful and I was very grateful for her assistance.
     Back home and on the bus, I awaited the arrival of my landlords who came in soon enough. We had a short meeting to discuss my departure from their home before they busied themselves with the gas man who had some boiler work to do downstairs.

Lunch at Home:
     I fixed myself lunch of open sandwiches: sardines on toast and blue cheese on toast with soup and a small coffee and then returned to my work. I drafted and then sent out an abstract for the talk I have been invited to give at the University of Leeds in October. The gas man left at 4. 00 pm after which I tried to take a short nap but did not succeed. I  decided instead to leave a little early for my evening appointment in Chelsea with my friends Michael and Cynthia.

Off to Chelsea (and Battersea) for Dinner:
     Our appointed hour was 6.45 pm, our appointed spot was outside the main doors of John Lewis at Sloan Square in Chelsea. I arrived there at 6.00 pm after taking the District Line Tube straight west. This gave me ample time to browse through the Home Section at John Lewis, a lovely department store with a really nicely situated café on the top floor--it looks out over the spires and rooftops of London.
     I was really pleased to find a small present for Llew--something he has coveted for a while--the dual handed long attached oven gloves that he saw in Cynthia's house and really liked. We do not get this design in the US. So, I am sure he will be delighted that I found them on sale and got them at a throwaway price and grabbed them immediately.
     At 6. 45 pm, Michael and Cynthia appeared and we took the 319 bus to Battersea to the home of my friend Rosemary whom I know as Roz. Since her partner Christie happens to be in town from India where he spends a lot of time on business, she thought it would be good to bring us all together over a meal. Hence, her generous invitation. Roz knows Michael and Cynthia through me and I had met them once before when I had taken all of them for dinner to Gordon Ramsay's Maze restaurant, a few years ago. They had always said that they would get together--but they never did. My return to London seemed to provide the right opportunity.

Dinner at Roz's Place:
     Roz has a really charming home in Battersea where I have stayed a couple of times in years gone by.  She is also an incredible chef and after every meal I have eaten in her home, I have clamored for recipes! Christie was his irrepressible self and regaled us with interesting conversation centering around religious theories and historical mythology. We started off in her pretty little garden under a Rowan Tree and a grape vine with G&Ts and wine and nibbles before the party moved indoors.
    Roz's meal was predictably perfect. She served us Chilled Red Pepper Soup with crusty bread, an amazing Chicken Braised in Sherry with Onions, Steamed New Potatoes and a Salad with avocadoes, cherry tomatoes, green beans, etc. For dessert, she had an absolutely wonderful Santiago Torte--made with almonds, lemons and cinnamon and served with whipped cream, mixed berries as well as grapes and cheese. There was coffee and mint tea (with mint from her garden) to end our meal--which I will remember for a long time to come. The best part is how effortless Roz always makes it seem, even though it was a work night and she had to get back home and then pull the evening together.

A Night Away from Home:
   Since it was 10.30 pm when the party broke up, I took Roz up on her offer that I spend the night in her guest room as I did not want to get home close to midnight on my own. It was in her lovely cozy room then (with a fan!! Glory be!!!) that I spent the most comfortable night I have spent since I came to London a month ago. What a difference the circulation of a little air can make on a summer's night! It was magical.
    It was about 11.00 pm when I drifted off to sleep in a charming and very tastefully decorated guest room (with which I am very familiar--it was like deja-vu) which made me feel as if I were in a Bed and Breakfast.
    As I lay in bed I couldn't help thinking how blessed and fortunate I am to have friends such as these who make me feel so much at home in their houses although I am currently so far away from the comforting presence of my own home and family.
     The last day of August has brought the month to an end and as September peeps around the around, I can see myself filling it with a mix of work-related and fun travel as well as the company of more fond friends and colleagues.
     Until tomorrow, cheerio...

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