Sunday, January 26, 2014

Celebrating Australia day with chocolate

Today is Australia day and to celebrate it my beloved and I went into London for posh afternoon tea which I bought on groupon at a discount. So whilst friends and family enjoyed sunshine down under we braved the awful weather for a chocoholics treat at the Hilton in Park Lane. A slightly coincidental thing, as I'm married to a Scotsman, is that yesterday was Burns night.

When we emerged from the underground at Green Park it was blowing a gale and raining  which was great considering that we had a ten minute walk to the hotel so please excuse my hair in the photos.

Afternoon tea started with lovely dainty open sandwiches - all scrummy.

Then the main event arrived, a three tiered stand full of absolute loveliness - scones, cupcakes, and other little treats.

When we walked in we noticed lots of people leaving with little take away boxes as they'd been defeated by the cakes and we made the bold statement that we wouldn't be needing one of the boxes.

The scones came with a choice of chocolate spread or jam and clotted cream.

The next tier up was four very brightly coloured little cupcakes, each with fillings and lovely delicate flavours - also they had glitter all over them which made them extra special.

The final layer was patisserie, and they were sat on a solid chocolate platform with a shot glass full of chocolate beads and two lollipops, one marshmallow and one meringue.

Whilst we were enjoying our decadent interlude we were being serenaded by a young man who was playing guitar and singing - he had a really good voice except when he decided to tackle the Chris Isaak song Wicked Game, there are some songs people should just leave alone.

One of the mini cakes was chocolate and it came with a little tube of Orange stuff - very cute. We shared all the cakes by cutting them in half.

Everything was decorated so nicely including this shortbread biscuit which is made with the bite mark in it.

Now remember our bold statement from earlier that we wouldn't need a take away box? Well we were very wrong - the cakes defeated us. Oh well, at least we'll have a treat for tomorrow.

Ken feeling very full - perhaps a wafer thin mint?
Our cake away box
The inside of the hotel is really posh - here's one of the many chandeliers.

As we left the doorman commented that it was nicer weather than when we arrived - it was still very windy but at least it wasn't raining.

To get back to the tube we did a bit of a back street wander and as usual saw some great things. There were lots of lovely doors - I always like to imagine what is behind the door and who the people are? Here's just a few of them.

The next one isn't technically a door, it's a gate leading to an abandoned mansion - very Great Expectations.

We also came across the Saudi Arabian Embassy - brought back some fond memories of our time there and all the friends we made. The area around had lots of middle eastern restaurants so we'll have to go back to try out one - maybe the Iranian one as I'm not sure if I've ever eaten in one before.

I took a picture of this hotel front as the window boxes were lovely.

Here's my beloved with a Maserati that he rather liked - what you can't see is that there's another Maserati behind this one which we thought was a little bit pretentious.

In the window of one of the many posh hotels (did I mention that this area is Mayfair, one of the expensive properties on the monopoly board) was a lovely sculpture that looked like a jellyfish.

Here's the first good shop name we've seen in a while - great name for a hairdresser in London. You'd have to hope he wasn't in a bad mood as he was cutting your hair.

Last picture of the streets is one that really got my imagination going - old buildings with old street lights, and a good layer of grime - you could almost imagine what it was like a hundred years ago.

So that was our Australia day - posh afternoon tea and a wander round lovely London.

Until next time, stay safe, keep smiling, and eat some chocolate as it's a great mood enhancer (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

Pamela and Ken

P.S: Another bathroom - not as funky as some but very classy.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Relaxation guaranteed

This week I've had some annual leave so have been doing things that help restore my energy and my soul. Firstly was our trip to the Shard (see previous post), and next on the agenda was walking dogs with my beloved - would bring a smile to anyone's face.

First I'd like to introduce you to Tinto - he's a nineteen month old Springer Spaniel and so cute and full of energy.

Next is the lovely Kenzie, who is a mixture of Shar Pei and German Shepherd, and she is very gorgeous.

Spending time with furry friends is an excellent way to lower your blood pressure and relax - they are the best medicine ever prescribed.

My next relaxation moment was today - the fabulous Ken gave me vouchers for the Spa at Presence for my birthday, so I'd booked myself in for a full body hot stone massage - pure bliss (don't panic, there are no photos of the actual massage). After the massage I spent some time in the relaxing dusk room - I nearly went to sleep.

Part of the lovely waiting room
Lovely candle in the treatment room
The hot stones post massage
The dusk room - I'd turned the lights up for the photo
It was a wonderful way to spend a few hours - I would recommend having a pampering session to everyone, even if it's only once a year, as being looked after for even a short time is a special kind of relaxation.

Final thing for today was a lovely cup of coffee made by the best barista in town, Ken, and a cupcake.

The mug was a Christmas present from one of Ken's dogs
I think that we all need to spend a little bit more time doing the things that make us feel renewed instead of rushing through life - even if it's just once a week make sure you stop and just reassess what will help you be re-energised. Tomorrow I'm doing one of the easiest things to increase my happiness factor, meeting a dear friend for coffee.

Hope you're all having a relaxing week, and until next time stay safe, be happy, and do something just for you.

Pamela and Ken

P.S: A picture to make the most stresses person relax.

Bertie Boo

Monday, January 20, 2014

Breakfast at the Shard

As a treat for my beloved I took him for breakfast at the Shard in London, which is the tallest building in western Europe.

On our journey in on the underground a very nice young man offered Ken his seat - now Ken would like you to believe that he did this because he could see how in love we are and thought we should sit together (we'll let him keep thinking that and not that it was an age thing).

We weren't able to book a specific table but joy oh joy we had a window seat. The restaurant, Aquashard, is on the 31st floor,and the viewing floors are 68 - 72, so we weren't quite halfway. I always love seeing London from different angles as it gives you a whole new perspective of the city.

We both could have sat there all day enjoying the view and watching the hubbub below. Now the photo of us above was a bit of a saga - we asked a waitress to take a picture of us with the view in the background but she sort of just took us (we even got another girl to take one and she did the same thing) so I've cropped it so you're not distracted by our lower halves. You can see that we're sat right at the window.

Breakfast was really scrummy and served in a lovely way. Ken was typically healthy (and Scottish) and ordered porridge with chia seeds (which looks alarmingly like frog spawn) and I had a croissant.

Here are a few more shots of the view for you to enjoy - thankfully it was a lovely clear morning.

Our second courses were eggs and soldiers and fruit bread.

Now you may have noticed that some times I will include a picture of bathrooms at restaurants at the end of the blog - not today, this bathroom deserves a special feature. It was quite spectacular!! The walls were mirrored and of course there was a view. It was quite disconcerting in the cubicles as these were totally mirrored as well.

I even made Ken take the phone into the men's bathroom to take a picture of the urinals with a view.

It was a really nice way to start the day, enjoying a new experience with my beloved, one that we will definitely be repeating again.

When we were leaving we noticed some men doing a job that looked a little bit terrifying, and that's an understatement. They were washing the windows, outside!!

To get a good outside picture of the Shard we would've had to be a long way away so instead I took one looking up from the bottom.

So that's our trip to the Shard - one of the staff said that if we're going to come for the view that it's best to do at night to really appreciate the magic of London.

Until next time, enjoy life, take care of each other, and do something nice for the planet.

Pamela and Ken

P.S: Socks of the day.