Saturday, 24 April 2010

This year I turned Thirty-Seventeen....

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was also St George's Day and the sun was shining.  Mind you, it's been shining all week and been utterly fabulous.  It's not always so lovely on my birthday, and I'm not just talking weather-wise.

One memorable birthday I woke up with severe tonsillitis and couldn't swallow a thing, so no cake for me.  But the very worst one was sometime in the early 1990s when my first husband, The Artist, admitted he'd been seeing another woman and couldn't decide between the two of us, so went to spend a few days with her in order to decide! That was cheery....

Why I took him back and just didn't build a bonfire of his belongings on the driveway I don't know.  We only lasted a few more years so the relationship was obviously on its last legs, so I've always been a bit ambivalent about birthdays.

This one was a good one though.  I turned thirty-seventeen this year which sounds a lot more palatable than 47, that's for sure. I certainly feel more like either thirty or seventeen, rather than the perilously close to the half-century that I am.

I decided I wanted to go up to London and finally spend the money I've been saving over several months on a new handbag.  I'm not what you'd call a shoes and handbag person.  On my feet I only wear trainers in the winter and Birkenstock sandals in the summer.  That's it.  I've had the same handbag for about 12 years, well, when I say the same handbag, after 3 or 4 years the zip always goes in the same place, so I buy another one, exactly the same.  I've decided that I now want a proper, grown-up handbag, a classic that will never go out of fashion, that's well-made and will last years.  Basically, the last handbag I'll ever buy.

I saw the Mulberry Bayswater and fell hopelessly in love. It fitted my criteria exactly, except for the eye-watering price.  I could have put it on my credit card but I decided to do the sensible thing and actually save up for it, using money earned from selling my jewellery and suncatchers, flogging stuff on eBay, plus whatever Christmas and Birthday money I'd get. I'll do a proper reveal with pictures and everything, don't despair all you handbag perves!

We caught the train and got to Waterloo about 3.15pm.  We jumped on a bus (so much more pleasant than the tube) to get us over the river and walked up to the teeming streets of Covent Garden.  I was very surprised to see great crowds of people standing around outside every pub, clutching pint glasses and wearing red roses in their lapels.  Some even had the cross of St George painted on their face and others were wearing flags like cloaks. It was rather nice to have reclaimed the English patron saint and his day from the fascists and football hooligans.

I love Covent Garden, especially when the weather is as kind as it has been. London is beautiful in the spring sunshine and even those that weren't well irrigated with horizontal lubricant were having a good time. Everyone was very laid back and chilled, enjoying the antics of the street performers.

We wandered up and down the handicraft stalls, at least one of which gave me a good idea for a new item of jewellery.  There's loads of lovely stuff on the stalls so if you get the chance, I would definitely recommend checking them out.

We then headed over to the Mulberry shop on Floral Street where I tried to act like I spend loads of money everyday but probably still came over like the hick from the sticks that I really am.

Then we sauntered down Neal Street, gazing at all the lovely shops.  Aren't there are lot of shops selling 'natural' shoes down there?  The Natural Shoe Store, Birkenstock, Joseph Siebel and I think a couple of others I've forgotten. I'm all for comfortable shoes but even I thought that was a bit excessive.

We got to the end where it joins Shaftesbury Avenue, where TLH used to work many years ago, and we realised we were opposite Forbidden Planet, not having been aware that it had moved there from, er, wherever it was before (near High Holborn, I believe).

Forbidden Planet, Shaftesbury Avenue

For those that don't know, Forbidden Planet is a sci-fi cult memorabilia/comic/bookstore.  It's the sort of place I can mooch around, finding no end of desirable items but usually buying nothing.  As TLH says, seeing, for example, all the models they have en masse looks brilliant and very tempting, but if you bought, say, a model of the Predator and brought it home, it would look pretty sad and out of place on the mantelpiece. It's also a very, very nerdy place filled with blokes that look like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.  But I do like it.

It was, by now, just after 5pm so we retraced our steps back towards Covent Garden and ended up at Seven Dials...
Seven Dials, Covent Garden

...before heading off to Chandos Place to try and find Wahaca, the Mexican eating place, for an early dinner.

I can highly recommend it.  It has a similar vibe to Wagamama's in that it's very busy, quite noisy and you get fed very quickly.  There are three in London, the one at 66 Chandos Place WC2N, one in Canary Wharf at 40 Canada Square E14, and one in the west at Westfield Shopping Centre W12.  They all serve the same food, you don't book, you just turn up.  You might have to queue but probably not for long.  You can see the menu here.

As this was the first time we'd been here, we chose the Wahaca selection which is for 2 people and is a mix of fish, chicken, pork and vegetable things.  We had tortilla chips and their homemade guacamole to start:

Tortilla chips and homemade Guacamole

But what to drink?  Beer?

Or Margarita?

Hmm - decisions, decisions....

I know!  I'll have both!

I'll start with the beer:

Then move onto a Margarita:

and maybe just squeeze another (or 3) in:


I was starting to get very amused by TLH's photographic recording of my slide into alcoholism:

What?  I'm just pushing my glasses back up my nose....

And then the food started arriving.  The first items to arrive were the two herring tostadas but I forgot to take a picture of them.  The portions are not huge but you get quite a few of them so although the waiter said it would be enough and we didn't believe him, he was quite right as we were totally stuffed by the end.  I think the tortilla chips and all that booze helped, mind.

Anyway, next to arrive were the three pork pibil tacos, which were piles of spicy shredded pork on soft tortillas:

Pork Pibil Taco - I was halfway through mine before I remembered I should also photograph the food, never mind the drinking.

I can't remember the order the rest of the food came but there were three seasonal vegetable tacos which didn't look all that appetising but tasted fab. They were made with winter greens, field mushrooms, borlotti beans and feta cheese, with a chili sauce:

Seasonal vegetable tacos

Then there were 2 huitlacoche quesadillas (Mexican corn mushroom, British field mushrooms and cheese on a toasted flour tortilla) and 2 chicken taquitos (marinated chicken, shredded lettuce, Lancashire cheese and tomato salsa, all in a rolled, deep-fried corn tortilla) served with refried beans and green rice:

Top of the picture - chicken taquito; Bottom of picture - huitlacoche quesadilla.  We'd eaten one of each.

When we arrived at about 5.30pm, the place was about a quarter full.  By the time we had finished, about an hour and a bit later (we weren't rushing and they weren't rushing us), it was full and people were queuing down the stairs, look:

We were so stuffed it hurt to move.  I would have dearly loved another Margarita as they were so unbelievably good but we still had to make our way to the station and get a train back home, and I'd rather do that in full control of my faculties.

As it is, I can't really remember which way we walked back to the station, but I took a few pictures while crossing Waterloo Bridge for all the Londonphiles out there. They're not great - I just pointed my phone and clicked:

View towards the City

Houses of Parliament and the London Eye

Not sure what this building is called, I just fancied shooting into the sun to see how it came out!

View along bridge towards Waterloo.

With regards to the last picture above, right at the end of the bridge you can see the dark dome of the IMAX cinema and to the left of that is a new building that has been constructed since I was last in London.  I'm afraid I wasn't in much of a fit state to think about how this picture would come out, but it was this building I was trying to capture, because it's been built with three huge windmills in holes at the top and I thought you might also like to see it.  I'll go online now and see if I can find out better information about it and a decent picture.

Aha, it's unofficially called 'The Razor' (officially, Strata Tower) and is in Elephant and Castle.  It looks like this:

Cool, huh?

We got home at the terribly sensible time of about 8.45pm where I found a lovely bouquet of flowers on the doorstep for me from my good friends Joe and Sam:

Today my good friend Jamie (my 10-year old chum who is planning to be the First Girl On the Moon and Probably Mars Too - an ambition I am wholeheartedly supporting) presented me with a huge birthday card she made me, and a lovely creamy white Azalea bush.  Jamie, you're a complete star.

I left the official unveiling of the new handbag and transfer of contents until today. And I took pictures for your vicarious pleasure.  Here we go then:

Isn't it fab?  I am, of course, expecting that it will make me look like this:

Happy birthday to me....


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday - it sounds like a very good day; love the photo diary. And love the handbag too - it's beautiful. A nice grown up bag for a nice grown up thirty seventeen year old. I, on the other hand, am a hundred and eleventy twelve (in cat years). It said so on the card my little sister sent me last birthday. I think I prefer your method of counting.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely birthday you had! You don't look TOO inebriated in the photos. Your new bag is beautiful and classy-looking - just perfect for you! I want one too ...

Anonymous said...

Oh, Oh! It's sounds like you that a brillient time.. Happy Birthday and thank you for all the lovely photos, your handbag is superb. Well done you..

Mrs Jones said...

Alienne - thank you. Handbag is surprisingly heavy so I'm going to have to watch what I put in it. Thirty-seventeen will work for another 3 years, then I'll have to be thirty-twenty which sounds a bit cumbersome. God knows how old I am in cat years!!

Pinklea - we were, actually, fairly plastered when we left the restaurant but I've got to that age now (and had the practice) where I can pace myself so hangovers the next day are avoided. I could have drunk those margaritas all night though. They had both lime and a touch of orange in them and were utterly fab.

Ms Cheese - It was a very good day. Am still getting used to the new bag but will jolly well have to!!

justmeagain said...

VERY happy birthday to you......sounds like a lovely day, and a a lovely handbag. Result!

sas said...

fantastic post! love the bag.

happy birthday doll :)

Bryony said...

Mrs J - Happy birthday indeed!!!! If I interpret the title of your post correctly, you and I are exactly the same age!!!! I however awoke on Friday in a hospital bed having had my achilles tendon rebuilt! Escaped by lunchtime though- you definitely had the better day!!! much love bxx

Mrs Jones said...

Justmeagain - hello and welcome! It was, indeed, a day that should be repeated as often as the weather allows.

sas - Isn't it lovely? It's like a proper, grown-up handbag. So unlike me. Capacious too which is handy as I shove all manner of stuff in my bags.

Bryony - hello! Happy birthday to you to, although bad luck on the hospitalness. Hope the leg's better, that can't be much fun. But at least you got some drugs......

Anonymous said...

All the right ingredients for a great birthday - Margaritas and expensive handbags. What else does anyone need?

mountainear said...

Happy birthday to you - you don't look a day over twenty seventeen.

That handbag is seriously covetable. Want. One. Now. Can almost smell its gorgeousness.

Mrs Jones said...

Anonymous - only more Margaritas!

Mountainear - I forgot to mention the smell! Yes, you can smell the leather as soon as you walk into the room. Even Jamie's mum commented on it. Shame it won't last though.

Kella said...

Yes happy birthday to you, sounds like a great day was had, I like to treat myself on my birthday too, and prefer to spend a few hours just by myself, before regrouping with the family :)

katyboo1 said...

You are, as ever, a genius. I have been reading a lot about Wahaca recently and wanting to try it. So hooray for a great review. And I love your bag,and when I get my Alexa bag we can be bag twins without clashing horribly. It is lovely. I'm glad you had a great

Mrs Jones said...

Ms Boo - and how clever of you to recognise it - I'm dead zeitgeisty, me. The cheeriness of my birthday has, however, been eclipsed by The Cold From Hell and I'm now very fed up indeed. Glad you had a good holiday (apart from the neck thing) - bet you can't wait to get back to Leicester, eh?

A Woman Of No Importance said...

That is some bag, Mrs Jones, and well deserved! I might have filled it with Margaritas, they looked so wonderful! Take care of yourself in your thirtieth year! xox

Mrs Jones said...

Ah, Ms Woman of no importance, I can only take care in my thirtieth year if we can time travel back to 1993, more's the pity!