Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life in the Snow Lane

Tuesday evening headlines

You know the temperatures have really dropped when your daily press carries an article on how to avoid hypothermia (wear a hat). Yes folks, the snow reached London today and I have been walking about in it, getting used to the grit strewn around to (hopefully) stop you slipping, the strange sensation of wet snowflakes on your lips and eyelids, the treacherous conditions in the streets and the very pretty parks.

Some of you (I’m looking at you, Philomena) have expressed some scepticism about my ability to weather, as it were, snowy conditions. I am proud to report that I am surviving so far, and in fact it’s all pretty exciting. I expect it will stop being exciting the first time I slip over, or a flight I really want to be on is delayed, or I can’t get where I want to go on the trains.

Yesterday I discovered a tanning place where you can rent a little booth and have yourself ‘automatically’ spray tanned in 20 seconds. No, it wasn’t as good a job as having a beauty therapist do it, but it was certainly worth the 20 quid for the boost it gave me. (You can all now erase the image of me getting a spray tan). I also managed a gym session, a manicure, lunch with my ex-pat South African friend Marilyn, winter hat shopping, and a lecture on political philosophy. I have much to tell you about the political philosophy in a later post – watch this space, hold your breath... So you could say that the weather is not cramping my style.

Indigo at One Aldwych

Marilyn and I lunched at Indigo Restaurant in One Aldwych, the hotel where my health club is located. It is a nice business lunch-y kind of place (they give you little note pads on the tables with which to take business notes, should you be sealing a crucial deal or something like that). I like the food (especially the cauliflower soup) and the portions are not too ridiculously large for lunch. We had a very pleasant time, and an amusing little Spanish red.


When I was walking back from my lecture, which is down at the main Kings College London building on The Strand (in the basement – ugh), I happened to look towards the courtyard of Somerset House and saw that ice skating was underway, beneath a brightly lit Christmas tree. Quintessentially  Northern Winter. But it was just for looking – I am as good on ice skates as I am on skis. Hey – I’m from Australia.

On the subject of food (we were, weren’t we?) I want to share with you the photos from Brigitta’s marvellous fish cooking feat with the sea bass on Sunday in Jersey. The fish is simply cleaned and placed in a baking dish on a layer of salt, and then completely shrouded in salt. Then it’s baked until it’s done (that’s the alchemy bit), the salt is then lifted carefully off, and – volià! – perfectly cooked fish. Feel free to try this at home.

Jersey Royals!

This evening, as I was walking (very carefully) through the snow to the bookshop after my Greek Philosophy class, two of my classmates caught up with me and we went off together for coffee and a whinge about how the class had gone. The class discussion had been dominated by some over-confident blokes, despite several attempts by others (including me) to get a word in. I stopped my note-taking and wrote in my lecture pad: ‘discussion hi-jacked by literal empiricists’. My two new friends agreed and we had a nice discussion in Starbucks, with the snow falling prettily outside, about how we thought things should have gone. Marissa is a single mother (five children, no less, who works as a teacher in an inner London school and is studying philosophy part-time. My gawd). Iza (short for Izabel) is 23 years old and a foreign student from Germany – Heidelberg, in fact. Her first degree was Chemistry – she is a very bright and interesting person.

On my now dark and snowy walk home I swung by the bookshop (short stories, Plato) and the grocery shop (Waitrose: soup, bread, ham, cheese, fruit) and made it safely home to snug St Pan’s. Where, by the way, I have acquired a roomie. Yes, I’ve ‘rented out’ my spare room to Brigitta, who seems to spend two or three days a week in London and is way over hotel rooms. So I’ll have some company from time to time – at least, I will as long as Brigitta doesn’t mind the noise and light from St Pancras. Living in a railway station has its own eccentric aspects.

This doesn’t mean that the spare room is off limits to visitors. Bookings remain open. And *preens proudly* I have even put up a token Christmas decoration - a Jersey craft purchase. Festive, huh?

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