Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Treating myself like a Queen

I've never understood why, but the Queen seems to have two birthdays: one her actual birthday, and the other the day that her subjects celebrate.  I took a leaf out of her book on Monday, and decided to belatedly celebrate my birthday by taking the day off and just doing whatever I wanted to.  It was so nice on Sunday night not to be thinking about getting pumped for a Monday at work, and instead I just imagined what I was going to do with my day.

It not being quite as responsibility-free as I might dream of, I woke up and got the boys off to nursery.  I kept thinking all day Sunday that one of them was going to wake up sick and rain on my day-off parade, but miraculously they were both well and ready to go to nursery!  I headed over to get a latte and a pain au chocolate at the Dulwich Bakery; I had intended to go to La Gastronomia but apparently my alarm went off a lot earlier than theirs - they weren't yet open when I turned up ready to sip my latte in their peaceful back garden.  The Dulwich Bakery has undergone a sort of makeover and was actually very nice.

Now, here's something interesting: some people feel caffeine affects their ability to sleep, but I personally have always had my doubts about this theory.  Monday being truly a day to do whatever I wanted, I headed back home and at 9:00 am, just 10 minutes after my latte, I got back into bed and slept til 11:30.  It was BLISS of the highest level.  See what I mean about this caffeine theory?  It just doesn't hold up against the evidence.

At noon I headed off to get the bus to Brixton, for lunch at a place I've been meaning to get to for, oh, a year and a half now: Franco Manca in the Market Row parade.  I had a wonderful wood-fired Napoletana pizza and an organic lager while people-watching and checking the England v. India cricket score on my phone.  It was a very tasty lunch.

Afterwards I went to discover the Brixton Village market, which looked interesting apart from a lot of the shops being shut because of its being Monday.  Still, it looks like there is a lot to discover there.  One of my first memories of London was after I'd been here only about a month and I was on the hunt for a place to live, since I was being housed in my company apartment for only 3 months.  A young colleague said she lived in Brixton and that she loved it, so she told me to go have a look and see what I thought.  The tube wasn't working that day so I headed off on some replacement bus service, to be dumped at the top of Electric Avenue as the market was closing for the day.  All of a sudden, I heard lots of screaming and there were people running - I was petrified!  Turns out the screams were from a group of about half a dozen young girls who were egging on a group of similarly-aged boys (they were probably 10, or 12 maybe?).  A poor dazed rat was making its way rather raggedly down Electric Avenue and the boys were chasing it to the squeals from the girls.  Let me say, it was not exactly a great first impression, and needless to say, I didn't live in Brixton.  In fact, it took me 10 whole years to live south of the river, in fact (unless you count my year in Southfields as being south of the river, which I hardly do). 

Brixton has changed quite a bit since then, it seems, with its vintage shops and eclectic boutique foodie places with organic coffees and an entire shop dedicated to wheat and gluten-free foods.  Still, the market is still there, with its mix of fish on ice, meat hanging from hooks behind counters stacked with parts of the animal that I couldn't even begin to identify, fruit and vegetable that looks pretty incredible compared to what you get in the grocery store (like corn in husks, as opposed to already peeled and nicely cut into cobs, which is all I can get at Sainsburys).

I then checked out the Brixton Library, before having a drink at the outdoor tables of the Ritzy Cinema.  A busker played an electric guitar and I enjoyed watching a new mother having lunch with a friend - those days of the newborn seem so far ago to me!  Finally I hopped on to a bus and met Matt to go have a look at a kitchen design, which we're hoping to pick fairly soon so we can get on with our work.

By this point in the day, it had turned into a real scorcher!  I got the boys and told them that I had a special treat lined up, an ice cream cone from Kahvah on Norwood Road, whose Movenpick ice cream is the best I've tasted all year.  Blake had chocolate, I was feeling generous so Noah got his own cone of Panna Cotta, and I had double cream and meringue - awesome!  

I finished up my birthday (observed) by heading over to the Odeon in Streatham and watching Bridesmaids, which I've been wanting to see.  It was very funny, but oh-so-painful to watch at times.  The dress-fitting scene was particularly cringe-worthy, but I loved Annie's antics to get the cop's attention when Lillian was "missing".  The character of Meghan was also a trip; her line about Fight Club as a shower theme was just genius.  It had the "I laughed, I cried" effect of a girly movie, but with also the "I couldn't look away as if at a car crash" effect of a boys' film.  It was the perfect end to a fantastic day.  Now, to figure out how to do something like that more often...

I nearly ate the whole thing...

Brixton Village, serene on a Monday...
More traditional market shop...

Outside the Ritzy Cinema...look at that blue sky!

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