"You're forever hopping on the train to London." That's the general consensus amongst my friends. Ah..yes... but it's for meetings or certain appointments so I'm constantly in a hurry, racing from one location to the next before jumping back on the train in time for after school activities, dinner, supervising homework and the lovely never ending housework that we ALL love to do.
So.....last Saturday, I decided to have a girls' day out. No appointments. No plans. No kids or husbands/boyfriends. Just my friend, Josephine and I. We relaxed, hung out, ate and just wandered into any place we fancied. Oh, did I mention eating? My favorite thing to do.......
First port of call.....coffee. We were both barely coherent, having no caffeine in our bloodstream first thing in the morning. After grabbing enough Nespresso capsules to last me for months, we staggered off next door to Hotel Café Royal. We stared longingly at the decadent array of cakes displayed on the counter but managed to resist. Just barely...... To think that once upon a time, I could scarf down anything and everything and not gain a single ounce. *sob* The coffee, cozy setting and service were terrific.
Hotel Café Royal
68 Regent Street
London W1B 4DY
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
I've tried my fair share of ramen but Shoryu remains a firm favorite. It's easy to get to (just a few steps from Piccadilly Circus tube station), the service is prompt and the hakata tonkotsu ramen is lip smacking goooooood. I've been to the famed Kunitoraya restaurant (and a few others) in Paris but nothing compares to the ones here in London, in terms of quality and price. £12 for a large bowl of tonkotsu made of pork bones broth that's been boiling for 18 hours, handmade noodles and melt-in-your-mouth pork belly. Yes, all of that for £12.
9 Regent Street
London SW1Y 4LR
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Outfit: Pinko leather jacket, Adidas wedge sneakers and Chloe Darla bag.
We wandered into the Japanese bookstore next door to purchase a pair of chopsticks for Lil L. They have the latest magazines and books from Japan along with beautiful ceramics and cute stationery.
We made a quick pit stop at Liberty to gawk at the breathtaking flowers on display. I'm sure the ladies over at Wild at Heart must be so used to a million Instagrammers photographing their flowers to death. I contemplated purchasing a bouquet but the flowers would've been bashed about and wrecked by the time I got back to Hampshire.
Shopping was a quick 30 minute affair where we chatted to a friendly sales associate over at the eyewear counter in the department store. I'm in desperate need of varifocals these days. My vision has gotten worse over the years. Long sightedness (yup...thanks to ageing. Pfffft) has set in which means I'm grappling with both distance and reading difficulties along with an allergy to ALL contact lenses. Lucky me. For those of us who're stuck with wearing glasses for life, we simply can't comprehend why anyone would wear glasses for fun. Garance Doré wrote an article recently about those who wear sunglasses indoors. That'll be me......if I'm only heading indoors for a few minutes. My motor coordination is rubbish. Juggling a bag, shopping bags and having to switch my glasses.....well, it's a recipe for disaster so the sunnies stay on.
London W1B 5AH
Tube: Oxford Circus
Outfit: Étoile Isabel Marant parka (similar), Étoile Isabel Marant Andrei linen t-shirt, Zara boyfriend jeans, See by Chloe ankle strap wedges (old), Hermes belt, Hermes Cape Cod GM watch, Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 35 and Miu Miu sunglasses.
I'm not really bursting into a song in the middle of a street. It's called "flicking your hair trying to look sexy but failing miserably" pose. Recently, Lil L shook her head in disgust as she tried to take a photo of me. "Mama, you look the SAME in every photo." True. Guilty as charged. Hand in the pocket and a cheesy grin :-)
Speaking of pockets......I A.D.O.R.E them. This military parka has been my summer mainstay for several years now. It may look like I only ever have one miserable jacket (actually, that's quite true) but it's so practical with half a dozen of pockets to store my junk. I sometimes forgo a bag and just fill up the pockets with my keys, wallet, cellphone and tissues.
Don't be fooled by the weather forecast proclaiming a high of 18˚C. It means that the temperature will be double digit briefly when the sun pops out between the cumulus clouds and the blustery winds miraculously eased off for a second. Poor Josephine was freezing in her shorts while I had my parka buttoned all the way up to my neck. We dashed into Coco Momo for a reprieve. As for the guys sitting outside in their t-shirts......they're not humans.
79 Marylebone High Street
London W1U 5JZ
Tube: Baker St or Bond St
Daunt in Marylebone has got to be the most beautiful bookstore in England with its dark wooden beams, narrow galleries and colossal antique stained glass window. This place is a heaven on earth for bookworms. I could spend hours poring over the huge variety of travel books along with stacks of massive coffee table photography books.
83 Marylebone High Street,
London W1U 4QW
Tube: Baker St or Bond St
We were peckish but not overly hungry so we opted to try Ping Pong. As you may have guessed by now, I'm rather particular about my food. These dim sum dishes were..........hmm......how should I put it? Wannabe dim sum? The glutinous rice with seafood were bland. The rice wasn't soaked nor cooked long enough. Crunchy glutinous rice? Hmm......interesting taste but um...not for me, thanks. The prawns were dry.........so dry that I felt like I was chewing my daughter's rubber wellies.
Let's move on to the dumpling skin. They're so starchy that they'd make awesome superglue. Be ever so careful that you don't accidentally knock one over another because they won't EVER come apart. There's a reason why Chinese tea is served in small porcelain cups. They're great insulators but allow the tea to cool down. These super duper modern new agey double insulator deep cups? Big no no. I felt like my lips and tongue were dipped in boiling water every time I took a sip. I'd give them credit for friendly and efficient service though because the staff were fantastic.
Perhaps I've eaten in plenty of authentic dim sum restaurants where the chefs were brought in from Hong Kong. If you're ever dying for AWESOME dim sum, I suggest you go to Pearl Liang. The food there is exquisite.