Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kew Tropical Extravaganza

Yesterday was a proper Spring day here. There were blue skies, and the sunshine was more than welcome. During the week, we decided to go to Kew Gardens to see the Tropical Extravaganza, so the gorgeous weather was an added bonus!
The Gardens were carpeted with beautiful crocuses and gorgeous Galanthus, which were a sight for a sore eyes. I adore Galanthus (Snowdrops) as they herald the coming of the Spring. I also adore their resilience as they fight through icy, cold soil to be the first flower in bloom after the winter. Yesterday I found the snowdrop beds amongst the alpine flower beds, which was a real treat as I had never seen them before.
Then it was off to the Princess of Wales Conservatory to explore the Tropical Extravaganza. Kew Gardens seems to do this every year and it's such a lovely thing to go and enjoy the orchids, pitcher plants and other tropical beauties during the winter months. This was the first time we had been and it was truly amazing! There was just a sea of gorgeousness and colour everywhere. As 2009 is Kew's 250th birthday they had sculpted birthday presents from tropical flowers - lovely!
I always find myself getting overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. Although I'm not particularly religious in any way, I almost feel I can see the divine spark when I look at something like an orchid. I'm not sure why many religions look to the sky when there is such beauty here at our feet.
The Waterlily House had been transformed into a display of orchids also. Some looked almost good enough to eat! There were some real oddities there - some with frilly leaves and some that looked tie-dyed. If they weren't so expensive (and if I wasn't likely to kill them), I would have bought some to bring home.
Despite all my misgivings about London, Kew Gardens continues to be a real delight. I know I am guaranteed a lovely day when we plan to go there. There's also the added bonus of cake and Curiosity Cola at The Orangery! We are really lucky to live near so many green places and it's something I really treasure!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flat-pack Valentines

G and I went for a bit of a different approach to Valentine's Day this year. We exchanged cards as usual - mine was silly, G's was arty and subtle. G gave me two tickets to see Eddie Izzard in December (SQUEE!), and I'm taking us for a slap-up lunch and wine tasting in the near future.

We had a lovely brunch of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, toast and orange juice in the morning. Then our new bedroom furniture arrived... in the usual flat-packed format. We've been waiting ages for these to be delivered, and I was so astounded they even offered Saturday delivery that we agreed to accept delivery on Valentine's Day. Most of our afternoon was spent building our wardrobe, which looks fantastic now it's completed but needed way longer to build than we expected (isn't it always the same?).

Once it was done, it was time for a three course meal courtesy of Waitrose. We decided against going out for a meal, as you just pay a fortune for a set menu in a restaurant full of couples. There's something a little "factory farm dining" about it all! So, we had salmon, horseradish and lemon terrine, followed by sirloin steak, pommes dauphinoise and roasted vegetables, and finished off with chocolate souffle. Absolutely yummy and cost us about £15 to put together!

A slightly odd (but romantic in it's own way) Valentine's Day methinks!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

The dreaded trip... wasn't so bad!

For months, I have been dreading our workshop at a place off junction 28 of the M1, which is apparently near Mansfield (it's not). Mainly because a) it was in the sticks and we needed two trains and a taxi to get there and b) I generally hate workshops now. However, I had a rather nice time yesterday despite the long day.

My boss had kindly booked first-class tickets as there wasn't much difference in price. First-class on East Midland trains is much nicer than first on GNER/National Express. It's lovely and comfy and they continually offer you tea/juice/biscuits. We even got a glass of wine on the way home! My boss missed our morning train, so I made the journey to Nottingham myself. I find that I really enjoy the quiet introspection of train journies. The carriage was so quiet as it was 7am and only 4 other people were sitting in it. I sat watching the sunrise over the snowy countryside and blissed out for a little while.

Once I got to Nottingham, I enjoyed the luxury of the first class lounge while waiting for my boss to arrive. Although I've travelled first class before, I've never had the need to use the first class lounge. Yesterday it was snuggly bastion of comfort (and further free tea and snacks) where I could escape from the freezing platforms.

Then it was on to the workshop, which was surprisingly good. The group were excellent and good fun. Admittedly, working with scabies, lice and other pleasant conditions probably calls for a sense of humour. I learned that pubic lice prefer single hairs, whereas head lice like many, which I not sure that I really needed to know!

So, I am pleased to say that yesterday was not the trauma I thought it would be. That often seems to be the case actually. I am wondering whether it is worth dreading everyday to ensure they are better than I expect!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back from the 'burgh

We had a lovely few days in Edinburgh and at my Parents catching up with people. Thankfully, my Dad is much better after being in hospital, which is an immense relief. I think he'll have to take it easy for the next month or so but at least he's on the mend. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to see my Gran who has been very ill also. I had some stomach bugness going on over the weekend and I couldn't risk infecting my Gran with it.

As always, going away made me realise how much I miss my family and friends. G and I had a chat on the train about the possibility of moving back or closer, at least. It's odd but I just get all confused whenever we discuss it. I don't want either of us committing career suicide by moving back to Scotland, as I can't see how that helps anything. I'm also worried that my general inability to settle here has been due to a lack of direction in the career department. I don't want to spend my life running away from problems instead of solving them. What I do know is that I don't have the social network here that I need. I also know that I don't feel any sort of deep connection to London and I'm unsure that I will ever manage to make one.


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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Possibly one of the most frustrating days ever

After the joy of Monday, yesterday was probably the most frustrating day I've had in a long time. All in all, I spent 5 hours yesterday getting to and from work. The district line surpassed itself in failing to provide anything resembling any sort of service at all. As far as I could see most of the problems weren't weather related but due to mechanical failures. The only respite was courtesy of buses that, although slow, were actually heated. By the time I got home, I really, really wanted to break something!

On top of this, the councils of London seem unaware that there is a concept called "gritting the pavements", so most pavements in Putney are now best negotiated with ice-skates! Makes getting to and from the tube station a very slow trek. It's still awful this morning.

Nevermind though, it's off to Edinburgh for a few days tomorrow! Hooray for going home!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow day!

I peeked out the bedroom blinds yesterday morning to be greeted by a gorgeous winter wonderland. It's been a long time since I've seen snow that deep (even in Scotland) and I certainly never expected to encounter it in London. As I trudged around to the tube station I was aware that the streets were eerily empty. There was hardly another person around! All was explained when I reached East Putney tube station to find it closed and a sign outside stating that all buses and trains were cancelled too. As heartbreaking as it was, I had to acknowledge that getting to work was a futile endeavor and that the only thing to do was head home for a nice cup of Lady Grey.

It was truly lovely to watch all the kids (and adults) playing in the snow. Loads of snowmen began springing up all over the place and things just felt magical. It was like everyone's mood had lifted and adults could let their inner child run free for a little while! G and I ventured out for a walk to Fulham Palace, which just looked like something off an old fashioned postcard. We enjoyed the sound of snow crunching under our feet, threw some snowballs and generally acted silly. On the way home we warmed up with a Caffe Nero hot chocolate. Bliss.

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