Sunday, April 29, 2012

Singin' in the Rain

I've been back in London for a week now, and I promise you, in that amount of time, there have been very few moments when it has not been raining. 

And, no, we are not Singin' in the Rain like the West End show, but are actually growing a bit "rain-weary."

The news is reporting that it's been one of the rainiest April's in recent years, and I believe it.

When everything around you is grey, you have to start looking out of the box to find some color. I decided I should trade in my black umbrella for something cheerier,

and I began to look out from underneath my umbrella as I walked, and saw some beautiful wisteria down the block,

and these beautiful flowers blooming overhead.

Flowers at the vendor on the corner,

no blue overhead, but a spot of blue on the For Hire bikes

and "black cabbie."

Personally, I can pass on sitting at a sidewalk cafe under an umbrella,

but I did pause for a minute to wonder what I could buy at the Superdry Store to make life a little more bearable.

Probably if I took the time to read this book I found at Waterstone's, I might be able to solve the mystery of British weather.


Proof that it won't rain forever was just outside my front door one afternoon for just a brief moment, and that was enough to give me hope that brighter days could possibly be ahead.

But I'm not holding my breath...

Just waiting and watching,
and waiting and watching some more, and being the seasoned Londoner that I am,
never leaving the house without the brolly.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

Time for a chocolate blog!   Paul A.Young is one of the finest chocolate artisans in the UK, and I'd had it on my bucket list for sometime to check out his shop, so when we found ourselves in the Soho area, we popped into his newest shop on Wardour Street,

where we were greeted by an unbelievable aroma of chocolate upon opening the door,  and then temptations at every step.

My primary goal was to try his chocolate brownies which have been awarded the title of the best brownie in all of London. These were unlike any other brownie I've ever eaten, fudgey, gooey and almost like baked ganache. More like fudge than a brownie. In fact, when I went back through security checks at Heathrow Airport, my purse was flagged, and after a lengthy search and much puzzlement on the part of the staff there, they finally concluded it was my half eaten brownie that triggered the x-ray since it was so, so moist.
I dared them to try and take it away from me!

And if one brownie is not decadent enough, then The Brownie Box should fit the bill, since there will be plenty to share.

All the chocolate is made by hand in the kitchens of his three shops

by Paul Young and his team, who

offer a wide selection of flavor combinations that are sometimes innovative and creative.

How about a cuppa' hot chocolate

or chocolate fudge dessert sauce to spoon over your ice cream or puddings...or maybe just to eat straight out of the jar?

Or perhaps you're a do-it-yourself kind of gal/guy who would enjoy one of his award winning cookbooks

or baking box with all the ingredients for your own chocolate fest!

How much better can it get than platter after platter of chocolates to choose from--imaginative flavors

and traditional favorites. The day we visited the most popular flavors were blood orange martini and banoffee pie, but you could also select from jasmine tea ganache, blackcurrant and Dijon cassis, peanut butter and raspberry jelly, roquefort roast walnut and honey, or salt and pepper marzipan. 

Told you it wasn't your ordinary flavors! Now what would you take home from a visit to Paul A. Young?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring at Petersham Nurseries

It's spring in London, and although today has been a chilly, rainy, less than desirable day, there have been some gorgeous days along the way. One of the highlights of my spring in London this year was a "field trip" with friends to hook up with more friends in Richmond,  just on the outskirts of London.

After taking the District tube to its final stop, we alighted and started making our way along the Thames River towards the village of Petersham, our destination for the day.
We saw some incredible scenery along the way,

some as we walked on the hill above the riverbank,

and other views right along the river itself.

We weren't the only ones who thought the view was picturesque!

We eventually made our way to Petersham Nurseries, a gardening shop unlike any other which boasts beautiful plants to be sure,

but also showcases gifts, antiques

and housewares in glasshouses decorated

with table top chandeliers

and treasures from the local antique market. From the divine...

to the daily, there is something for everyone here.

You might decide to dine alfresco or in glass houses at the Teahouse, specializing in an Italian inspired buffet

which can be enjoyed among friends after a long stroll.

Or you can opt, as we did, to make reservations weeks in advance for the Petersham Nurseries Cafe, which received a Michelin star just a year ago. Although the chef at the time has moved on, the new chef Greg Malouf is garnering great praise for his delicious and creative meals using fresh produce from local farms.

The decor might be some of the most beautiful in all of London, and the rustic charm of dirt floors and antique tabletops enhance the unique meal that awaits you.

Can't think of a better way to spend a beautiful spring day than among friends in such a relaxed and inspiring setting.

Thankful for friends who are like flowers in the garden of life...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Paddington-- A Star in Our Book

Recently, I put together a book about "our" Paddington Bear who lives with us in London, for our 4 year granddaughter who is  coming to visit us along with her parents and her 1 year old brother this June. We thought it would be a great way to give her a peek into our lives in London when we are away from her.

The book turned out really cute, so I thought I would share some of the photos with you.


We first "rescued" Paddington at the Paddington train station a few years ago, and took him home to live with us.

Since then he has tagged along with us all over London and the environs, seeing among many things, The Tower of London,

the new Olympic 2012 Stadium,

Westminster Abbey,

Big Ben,

Trafalgar Square,

the infamous red phone booths,

St. Paul's Cathedral,

the dragons guarding the City of London,

and the Tower Bridge.

He's not been so busy that he hasn't had time to soak up the life in the parks with Poppy,

and to frolic in the flowers,

taking time out of his schedule to smell a few roses along the way.

Never one to turn down a meal, he loves pizza from Pizza Express,

tea at The Dorchester,

and making friends with the ice cream man at the park.

He's traveled all around town in many types of vehicles, sitting by pretty girls in the tube,

listening to Princess stories read to him by Poppy on the way to church,

checking out the double decker buses,

and even taking his turn behind the wheel!

He's marveled at the Queen's State Carriage

and wondered how many horses it would take to pull the thing.

All along the way he has made friends at every stop,

in Covent Garden,

at the antique shops,

with William and Kate look-alikes in front of Buckingham Palace,

and even fallen in love with Rapunzel at the Disney shop.

But most of all, he just likes hanging out with family, looking out the window,

going to work with Poppy,

helping cook dinner with Aunt Kiss-Kiss and Uncle Jason,

celebrating the holidays with us,

and just filling our lives with joy.

Paddington can't wait to meet you Jordan and Jackson!