Things That Made Me Smile #14

017Hey there! Welcome to another round up of a week at the mad house! This last week has been crazy turbulent! Seesawing temperatures, yoyoying between glorious warm sunshine and freezing gale force winds have pretty much acted as a metaphor for the week itself. On the one hand I have had a lot of fun with family, friends, and even at work, and mine and Ben’s trip to New York is now officially in one day from now! (I still have to pack…) But on the other hand I have been completely snowed under at work, with ridiculous working hours (for ridiculous, read two 11 hour shifts and one 14 hour shift, all running consecutively!). I have basically existed to work: to get up, shower, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed, repeat. I got home Saturday night like an absolute zombie, drained and stumbling around in a daze. And then there was the General Election, which I spent nearly an hour discussing with Jon last night. With a series of shock departures and the protests following on from it, the UK has a lot to digest in terms of our prospects for the next five years. I’ve got to say I’m looking ahead with no small degree of trepidation…

But despite that there have still been plenty of small moments this week that made me smile. And here they are:

035– Discovering this gorgeous little fountain in the middle of The City when on the hunt for a New Look with my dad. Following an appeal on Twitter/Instagram to find out what it was, I learnt that this futuristic structure is the Glass Fountain, one of the earliest pieces of abstract art to be commissioned for public enjoyment in the City of London. Which is a bit of a boring explanation. So I prefer my one: that it is actually a shrine to the God of Pacmen! (inspired by a friend suggesting on Twitter that the top looked like a very sick Pacman)

– Spending Monday with my lovely dad. We don’t see each other as often as I’d like, and this was the last time until I get back from New York. So we arranged for a day in London together. We hit Cafe Rouge in St. Paul’s for lunch, which is becoming a bit of a tradition when we meet up in London. During lunch, Dad looked out of the window at the cathedral looming above us and suggested that we spend the afternoon there. We had been meaning to visit for ages but never got round to it, so with nothing else planned we decided to make Monday the day! It’s so beautiful inside, but to my everlasting regret they don’t allow photos, so I can’t show off just how gorgeous it is here. Just think of a towering ceiling covered in shimmering mosaic tiles, carved wooden pillars and pews, and a cavernous crypt underneath containing some of history’s best and brightest. It’s expensive, but worth it once for the wow factor alone.

019– The view from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral. So, so stunning. I’ve been to the top of the Monument and the Shard, but this was special in its own way, for the history of the building itself (everyone knows that black and white shot of St. Paul’s surrounded by smoke in the middle of the Blitz), and the view across our gorgeous city. The sky was scattered with thick clouds, contrasting with the patches of blue sky above. In the far distance shafts of sunlight burst through the clouds and lit up the city. It was truly amazing, and I snapped away to my heart’s content, hampered only by my fear of being swept over the edge by the gale force winds!

The London Bridge Experience. I went there partly to humour a friend and partly out of curiosity. It was billed as a terrifying trip into the history of London Bridge. I think the best way to describe it was like a low budget version of the London dungeons, specifically centred around London Bridge. In fairness, the history was all rooted in fact, although it made the inevitable detour into Jack the Ripper territory – but it was all about the theatrics. Maybe it is scarier than I give it credit for, but personally I was constantly waiting to be scared. The tunnel of flashing lights with plastic hands and heads hanging from it didn’t exactly send shivers down my spine! But it was very funny, if at times a little cringey, and we had a great laugh wandering round. It’s nice to let go of adult life and do something silly every once in a while!

– Discovering the Regency Cafe in Victoria. A good old-fashioned greasy spoon, it’s an asbolute hidden gem that provided us with breakfast three days running. The queue stretched out the door, but the service was prompt and good value for money and the staff were friendly. I’ll need to do some serious running next week to work them off, but the portions were generous and the food hearty. I can vouch for their omelettes, sausages, bacon, eggs, sausage sandwiches and hash browns (I do love a good hash brown!). To any of you who may be visiting London and want to find a genuine British breakfast experience, look no further!

040– Salted caramel brownies. Ben and I baked a load to raise morale at work (which was SO needed today after our long week), and they are the bomb. Gooey, soft, with the tang of salted caramel to lift the dense chocolate. I’m so happy with how these turned out that I think they are sure to become our default brownie recipe in future!

046– Seeing Parliament Square set up for VE Day, with flags encircling the green and adding a cheery splash of colour against the backdrops of Parliament and Westmisnter Abbey. For those of you who may not know, VE stands for Victory in Europe Day, the date which marked the end of the Second World War in Europe (VJ Day later marked Victory in Japan and the complete end of the war, but this was a very separate conflict from what the people of the UK experienced on the Home Front). As this was the 70th anniversary, there was a commemorative concert on Saturday in horse Guards Parade, and service in the Abbey attended by the Queen on Sunday. The flags around the square were some of the nations involved in the Second World War and the Allied fighting (although, as one of the blokes putting the flags up on Thursday pointed out, Germany and Italy were among the flags included. Awkward…)

048– Stumbling upon the prison cell where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned overnight for ‘gross indecency’ in 1895. (For gross indecency, read ‘Victorian inability to accept homosexuality’). These days, this historic cell has been reincarnated as a toilet. It certainly made for a more interesting trip to the loo than normal thinking about its famous one-time resident!

What things have made you smile this week?

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