18 ways to survive autumn in London

Summer is ending. Raspberries are out of season and the nights and the spiders are drawing in.

OH WELL. I’ve already moved on to my new boyfriend – Autumn – season of opaque tights, stained red wine lips and double helpings of carbs.

London by David Holt

You do need a survival plan for this time of year in London though – or it gets depressing, in a ‘being soaked by a massive bus splash and then questioning the meaning of life’ kind of way – so here is my list of 18 things I plan to do in London in Autumn to *BASICALLY STAY SANE*. (Please note I make no apology that 80% of these things involve eating).

  1. Dinner at The Dairy in Clapham – supposed to be an incredible restaurant – and autumn is the  time to eat in incredible restaurants so you can order desert with custard with the excuse we need the ‘nutritional value/warmth to SURVIVE THE WEATHER’
  2.  Noodles at the newly reopened Pepper Tree in Clapham –  my secret restaurant when I lived in Clapham. Except everyone loved it too. I had a minor stroke when I thought it had closed down. But they were just renovating it. PAD THAI I’M COMING BACK FOR YOU.
  3. See Gone Girl at the cinema – remember the cinema? I know I haven’t been for months either. Gone Girl is blatantly going to be  insane.
  4. Buy a leather jacket and maybe a big tartan scarf and definitely also an aggressive new eyeliner – October needs confronting with a strong look
  5. Make a vat of chicken casserole and eat it whilst watching Homeland and Downton Abbey – Lady Mary and Carrie Mathison are survivors and inspirations
  6. An autumn walk to pick sloe berries and make sloe gin – sounds idyllic, probably will descend into stealing berries from bushes outside people’s houses in SW London and making some kind of weird poison but I DON’T CARE I WANT TO DO IT
  7. See the Constable exhibition at the V&A – because I’m embarrassed I’ve been living in London for 8 years and never been to the V&A
  8. Book to go to Harry Potter Land and see the snow scene – I make no excuses
  9. Plant spring flowers – I’m thinking bluebells? Keep meaning to get down to Battersea Flower Station for some ideas
  10. See Live at the Apollo – tickets aren’t for general sale but you can apply and potentially go for free *how amazing is that*
  11. Plan a firework party/trip to Battersea Park or Ally Pally – honestly one of the best things about living in London in November, love the feeling of layering up for some communal pyrotechnics
  12. Make a roast dinner for friends. With cauliflower cheese as a focal ingredient…Oh and crumble
  13. Brixton Vilage for dinner – because I haven’t been for months and I’m getting withdrawal
  14. Shopping at Bicester Village which is definitely a bad idea but so what…
  15. A night at The Dogs at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium – I mean it sounds kind of scary, but also I DO own a sheepskin coat
  16. Drink beer/tour at a London brewery – like Meantime in Greenwich or By the Horns in Earlsfield (see the nice write up on ‘Go Earlsfield‘).
  17. Curry in Tooting Broadway – the South West Brick Lane
  18. Book a winter holiday – I mean…all of this is great, but I’m not Jesus – there is only so long you can go without summer

The photograph in this post is London October 13 2013 015 Conkers Clissold Park Hackney by David Holt.


Easter: Football, family and Welsh lamb

So we traveled up to the North West for Easter and in this part of the world – as I’m sure is the case in many others – the season is all about family, football, chocolate and Welsh lamb.

Image of Easter place settings with rabits and chicks

I am always given the job of setting the table

Football is particularly in focus this year for my family as Liverpool Football Club have edged up the league, with the chance of winning for the first time in my living memory. In my family LFC is like blood. The sound of the male voice choir of football fans chanting – on radio and TV –  was the soundtrack to family weekends for years. Everything stopped for the match today. And even I, who can barely name significant players from the line-up and never catch a game,  paid attention (I think they call us glory supporters?).

Then family came over and lamb was on the menu. Jamie Oliver’s ‘Best Roast Leg of Lamb with garlic and rosemary with hassleback potatoes (the only way to do potatoes in my view). Only yesterday we were admiring all the lambs frolicking in the  hills (always amazes me how many sheep there actually are here in Wales). Bit awkward.

And afterwards was of course desert – a combination of chocolate puddings and Easter eggs so calorific it could have been on Renee Zellweger’s meal plan to put the weight on for Bridget Jones the movie (have always thought that sounded like an amazing work project). But we’ll deal with that and the rest of real life in the morning.

Until then, here are some beautiful reminders we are now into spring…..

Happy Easter x

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.


Favourite fancy London restaurants for Spring

In an attempt to document more of the places I’ve been (and would recommend) I wanted to write about a few restaurants I’ve been to this spring. (As established in earlier posts on eating that this is what I mostly seem to get up to):

1. Roka.

Image of sushi chefs cooking at Roka restaurant

Get your rocks off at Roka

An old friend is getting married and as I’m not able to go to her hen party, I wanted to take her out to celebrate. I had a feeling she would like Roka  as she is a big fan of Japanese and fish and was wanting to try here for her 30th (but Roka weren’t keen to accommodate a big party). Sadly for me (I’m told) I detest fish. I can only manage to eat fish which is deep fried and served in newspaper whilst on a beach – anything else turns me into a total child. So my affliction made it slightly hard to share all of the sushi and sashimi on offer, which Roka is famous for. But we managed. I loved the Japanese grill (and the theatre of being able to watch the chefs in action), and of course, the cocktails…But we ended the night in a proper British pub with a bottle of pinot, as every (alternative) hen night should…I think Roka is a great , but perhaps best enjoyed by people who actually eat sushi…

2. Simpsons on the Strand

Image of two chefs carving roast beeft at Simpsons restaurant

The best roast beef in London

There is something of the Orient Express about Simpsons on the Strand (as you’d expect of the Savoy) – an old fashioned gentility and oak-paneled tradition that provides such a sense of occasion, even I am tempted to shun my Northern roots and say I went there for ‘supper’. I’ve always wanted to go, but you need a reason. So we went there for my friend’s 30th, with her family, which made the experience fittingly grown up. Simpsons has a lovely menu – but the stand-out order is the roast beef, which comes complete with two carving chefs who are generous with insights and (importantly) slices of meet. Its the kind of place you expect to spot a politician. Like Winston Churchill.

3. The Modern Pantry

Image of Modern Pantry menu

Yes I know this menu is impossible to read…

I don’t often go to East London – I’m definitely not cool enough (and practically, I just live too far away). But I do have some trendier friends and a group of us we went for a lovely dinner in Clerkenwell to the Modern Pantry. I’d describe the menu as elegant. Just like my friend whose birthday/engagement celebration it was. So it was a perfect place to raise a glass to her by fairy light.

4.  Paramount


View of London from Paramount restaurant

A lovely view of London from an old favourite

There is a lot of buzz about the latest restaurants with ‘sky-high views’ currently…(and I am very excited about my first trip to the Duck and Waffle for a birthday dinner in May, and will inevitably join the throngs and visit the Shard and Sushi Samba  as soon as I can). But the fact is these places are wildly popular and almost impossible to get into. So for an early Mother’s Day treat we went for Sunday lunch at a rather forgotten favourite – the Paramount restaurant at centre point. It was very pleasant – lovely food,  peaceful and private (we even spotted a few celebs) and had great views of London (which I’m sure are just as beautiful, whether you are on the top of a crane, in an office block or at the top of the Heron Tower).