Friday, 10 September 2010

New home and new home

First, this blog has a new home at I would love for you to come visit me over there and to say hello. I'm still getting used to Wordpress though so I'm not sure if you can follow me or how I keep track of all your blogs but I will work it out! Plus there's lots of bits and bobs I need to do to polish it but I was too excited to wait for all of that! Oh and this is a big ask, if you link to me could you update your link please? It would be very very much appreciated.

Over there I also tell you about my new home :) So please come and find out where, if you haven't done so already!

Thanks, M xx

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Images from Istanbul

A few snaps from our trip to Turkey last week. It was a fabulous visit, spent with wonderful friends and seeing some lovely sights. I'll write a little more about it soon but work is busy and I am tired (although refreshed mentally from the holiday).

Friday, 27 August 2010

Holiday time...

We're off for our final holiday of the year, until Christmas that is. Two locations, down to see the in-laws for a few days of relaxing with them and then off abroad for hopefully a bit of sunshine!

Things have been busy but I'm getting much much closer to being able to spill the beans on the Big&Scary, hopefully in a couple more weeks! And feeling a hell of a lot more positive about it all, so all's good.

Wishing all UK bound bloggers a fabulous long weekend and for everyone else hope you have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


I found out this morning that I am now a thrice Auntie and the two most recent additions to my brood have come in the last four weeks. Which has all been very exciting. Both are little girls and both born with lots of hair! (Which I happen to think is very cute in a baby)

But what's so nice about all of this is that I have been learning (a little) about pregnancy and birth from my sisters. Which both fascinates and scares the s**t out of me. I think pregnancy is such a miracle and all that the body does is amazing. There was a time when I thought about midwifery but I think I'm not cut out for it. Although getting to help with the experience of bringing new babies in the world every day, wow. So for now I shall stick with the delight of babies without actually having one.

This is because I don't think that just yet I am at that baby stage. In fact I'm more than certain I'm not ready at the moment. There are too many other things I want to do first, which is not to say I don't ever want to have babies but not just yet.

It gets you thinking though, seeing other people's babies, especially those related to me, makes me think about my own one day...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Polpetto - Review

J and I went to Polpetto on Saturday night, I had managed to book a table for the preview evening and was super excited to go having been to Polpo a few times and absolutely loving it there.

And so we arrived, to this little room about the French House on Dean Street which had sweet simple tables, lovely big mirrors and the same light bulbs as Polpo. Luckily enough we got a table next to the window so enjoyed the breeze coming through as we ate.

Deciding what to eat wasn't easy, it all sounded yummy and there's a fair choice (although not quite as many dishes as Polpo). In the end we went for a mix of Cicheti, breads, meat and fish dishes and some vegetables.
As we had a few dishes I'll list them and highlight the ones I really really loved:

Melanzane Parmigiana (small bite)
Smoked Swordfish, lemon and dill ricotta (small bite)
Fig and Salami bruschetta
Zucchinni friti
Pea, Fennel and Ricotta salad
Sliced flank steak with white truffle cream
Pigeon Saltimbocca
Soft shell crab in parmesan batter
Pannacotta and blackberries
Tiramisu Pot

Those in bold were the ones which really got me excited, especially the steak, that truffle cream made me a very very happy girl. (On the right in the photo above, it was amazing!)

The food overall was all great, I love being able to eat a selection of smaller dishes and so having a different meal everytime which is flexible to what I feel like that evening. I could keep going back just to try all the dishes.

Plus I would keep going back because the atmosphere is lovely. It's relaxed, attentive and fun. We were able to enjoy ourselves, catch up, relax and then just make mmmmmm noises with each mouthful without feeling self-conscious or stupid.

In brief I would recommend it, it's a lovely place for dining in. Either at Polpetto or Polpo, both have that great atmosphere and fabulous food which keeps you going back for more.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Paris Photos - Just because...

A little taste of our weekend in Paris. If we had food markets like this in the UK I would be a very very happy lady...

Monday, 16 August 2010


Paris was lovely, just the tonic we needed, we strolled around, chatted, laughed, ate some reasonable food and drank some yummy red wine.

And then it rained all Sunday...

Friday, 13 August 2010

Working through the tough times

Things have been a little tougher than normal in the Wife in the City household recently. There's something on the horizon which is taking a lot of thinking and is quite big. And big stuff tends to have an impact on relationships. J and I deal with things in different ways. I talk, talk, talk and work through things by talking aloud (sometimes this gets me in trouble but most of the time it works for me). He doesn't talk (until I piss him off so much by niggling he finally breaks, which is never a good way to extract information). But we also focus on different aspects so get caught in that moment of mis-click where you're both aiming for the same point via a different path and those paths sure as hell don't cross.

The thing is we're married. We got married to work together through big and tough things (or a big and scary as trademarked by Peonies). And we're working through it. I cry and he hugs me close and tells me it'll all be okay. Or we work through how it'll be okay and what the options are. But it's hard, in all the time we've been together (almost eight years) things have always been relatively easy, university, jobs, family, living. So having a challenge is probably good for us but it's also unchartered territory, and as such just takes a bit of getting used to.

And when we have a tough week and come out of it smiling I know we'll be okay. Because we have invested in this relationship too much for it not to be okay. And because I love J too much not to work through a slightly tougher than normal time.

And then soon I'll finally share this thing which has been chewing at us. Until then my apologies for horribly cryptic posts. And hopefully I'll be perkier after we return from Paris this weekend!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Another year older

Yesterday was my birthday so I celebrated with a wee party for a few friends. It was a great way to celebrate turning older, although at times I'm still like a child when it comes to my excitement for my birthday!
Birthday's are always a time to reflect a little, at the year that has just passed and at what the future may hold and I'm hoping that this next year will be exciting! In fact I'm pretty sure it will be. That thing I was worrying about a while back, well stuff is happening and hopefully it'll be good news. I'll be sure to let you know!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


I love the way the clouds look when you're flying. Like a huge fluffy carpet ready to run over...

Sometimes this is where my head is but then everyone needs a little time with their head in the clouds.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Wedding epiphany

J and I were at a wedding in Germany this weekend, one of a close friend of J's and we had a wonderful time but what I wanted to write about here was why (in my opinion) we had a wonderful time and the epiphany I had about what makes a wedding a GREAT wedding.

This will, I suspect, come of no surprise to most of you but here are the two things I realised (as a guest) that make a wedding truly wonderful:

1. The bride and groom really have fun. They smile, laugh, greet guests with delight and spread infectious joy.
2. The bride and groom have the day they want, not the one that all the other involved parties want...

And there we have it. The very very simplified recipe to a great day. Or at least with both of these you've got a pretty good chance of having a wonderful wedding and your guests enjoying it too!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Some light photographic relief

We recently spent a weekend with my parents in the countryside. J and I went to relax for a while, which was long overdue, both to see my parents and to relax a little.

So we had some fun taking a few photos and playing with our camera. Hope you like them!

Still makes me long for a garden though... To grow tomatoes and gooseberries would be enough :)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

In search of domestic godessness

I've been trying to get more in touch with my domestic goddess recently which has been quite good fun, it's been really nice trying some new recipes and working at old ones. First are some of the old ones J and I work on, his tabbouleh (soooo good), my houmous with lamb and pine nuts and some labneh. Yummy! This all went with our lebanese feast we had when we were in one weekend recently.

And then up come the choux buns! This was the first time I've made Choux pastry, and it was surprisingly easy. I thought it would be much more liable to go wrong but somehow it turned out really well. And tasted good too! I then filled these bad boys with creme patissiere and covered with melted nutella...

And finally the meringues from the egg whites left over from the custard. These were a little crumbly, something went wrong somewhere but they tasted okay so all good in the end!

Now I think I might have promised the choux pastry recipe at some point so below please find the recipe, taken from Michel Roux Jr's recipe book "A life in the kitchen"
125ml water
125ml milk
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon sugar
100g butter
150g plain flour sifted
4 eggs
Put the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar into a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Take off the heat and beat in the flour. When the mixture is smooth put it back on the heat and beat vigorously for a minute. Take off the heat and put the paste into a bowl, beat in the eggs one at a time. Now put the paste into a piping bag with a 1.5cm nozzle, pipe out buns measuring 3cm across onto a non-stick baking sheet (I used oiled baking paper). Cook in a preheated oven at 220C/Gas Mark 7 for 5 minutes. Open the door for a few seconds to let out the steam, then turn down to 180C/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
And enjoy!!!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Being Unhealthy

This week has not been a good week for being healthy. I have been out three nights on the trot and am really feeling it. Nowadays I really cannot take the pace any more.

I really must try harder. Which is why I'm writing this post. Having it written down often makes one think about it more and hopefully take more action.

So here is my plan:

1. Schedule nights in rather than out
2. Make a conscious effort not to snack between meals on crisps and chocolate and think about all I am eating
3. Try and drink less and less often
4. Start doing yoga at home and find another class to attend during the week

I'm hoping that if I can start making little changes and feeling more healthy then it'll become habit to be better. And once it's habit then hopefully I can introduce even better habits and proceed on an upward trajectory, not an up and down and sometimes spiralling trajectory...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A final Italy post - the artwork

My first real life Damien Hirst - stunning, vivid colour and a subtle skull which isn't menacing.

One of the two Mark Quinn Kate Moss statues. J did ask if Kate Moss really could do that. I suggested probably not... Fascinating and loved the gold.

Anish Kapoor's concave circles. For their simplicity I loved these.

Another Damien Hirst, this was perhaps my favourite. All butterflies in a fabulous mosaic/geometric design. Ticking my symmetry and colour and material boxes all at once. If only I could have this in my house one day...

Not sure who this one is by but it made me smile and I like having it hanging off in the first room you walk into.

So there we are, I'm finally going to stop banging on about our one night in Italy!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Having the time to stop

This weekend we had nothing planned, nothing at all. And for once I was delighted (I'm a planner as well as a worrier). Things have been busy, work for both of us has been busy and we've had functions booked in for weekday evenings and weekends for quite a while now. So much so that I got ill at the beginning of the week, my body's way of telling me to slow down and relax. So I slept most of Monday.

And then this weekend. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bliss.

We have made the most of it, cooking most of yesterday, making Lebanese, some of my favourite food, but time consuming to do properly. Making ice cream, from scratch with no machine and then just sitting and not doing.

This weekend has made me realise the value of stopping. Of sitting down together, sometimes in silence, sometimes chewing the cud about whatever is on our mind. We've had the time to appreciate all we have, how lucky we are to have each other and all else that we have.

What joy nothing sometimes is...

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Verona Arena - A night at the opera!

The whole reason for us to go to Verona was for a night at the opera. Every year they hold an opera festival which lasts during the summer and is held in the Roman arena in the middle of Verona. We went to see the first night of Carmen showing and it was just fabulous!

The sets were all done by Franco Zefferelli and were beautiful. Plus the stage is about three times the size of a normal theatre so you fit many more singers and animals on stage! As you can see by the horse above...

It was a great opera, a wonderful experience and one I won't forget for a long while.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Review: Byblos Art Hotel - Verona

We stayed at the Byblos Art Hotel, a leading small hotel of the world, and boy is it a leading hotel. Not only is the setting absolutely stunning, on a hill just outside of Verona in an old villa but then inside is a delight. The service was great, breakfast was a feast and dinner was fab. Plus they provide a shuttle service in and out of Verona making staying a little further away not a problem at all.

Our room was a riot of colour but put together beautifully. I love bold colours so this suited me to a tee. The bed was big, and comfortable plus the bathroom huge and really well equipped (bar the hairdryer which was like all hotel hairdryers I have ever experienced, pants).

All around the hotel are various artworks, I have a whole other post about the artworks because they really were stunning and exciting to see too! but below just a small example of how the fabulous old architecture was mixed with modern art.

And then there was the pool... Oh sweet delight when it was nearing 40C (over 100F) on Saturday and Sunday! We spent most of Saturday afternoon relaxing in the sunshine and frolicking in the pool.

The gardens were beautiful, so verdant and full of fabulously scented herbs which left the air smelling sweet.

Finally one of the art pieces, a painted bronze orchid by Mark Quinn. Truly beautiful, the colours popped out.

In short a hotel I would absolutely recommend, for it's service, for the luxury, for the beauty and for being such an escape from the humdrum of normal life, which was really just what I needed right now.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Whisked away to... Verona!

What a lucky lucky girl I was, early on Saturday morning we hauled ourselves up, me excited to go away but tired. And then at Victoria we met some friends who were joining us on our mini adventure and were off on the Gatwick express. We left a very cloudy grey Gatwick to arrive in a scorching Verona, a city I have never visited before. And what little we managed to see of it was lovely.

After lunch we hopped in a taxi to our hotel, again no idea where we were staying so to turn up to the below driveway I was excited to say the least...

And then we walked into this entrance hall, wowee! And we were at the Byblos Art Hotel, just outside of Verona. Another post to follow on the hotel, we spent most of our time there!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Whisking away

For the first time in 7.5 years J is whisking me away on a surprise trip tomorrow morning! I'm very excited, I know its Europe, for one night and with a couple of friends. Beyond that nada...

So I shall have stories and photos on Monday!

Hope you all have lovely weekends, xx

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Thoughts on friendship

I saw a couple of old friends recently on a couple of separate occasions, both of whom I haven't seen for a few months but who I am close to and have been close to in the past. But it got me to thinking, both these girls had no idea about something which right now to me is important and having a big effect on my life. Something which somehow they were unaware of. How had they missed this? Because I hadn't seen them or because our friendship had changed.

I know friendships change, I know they wax and wane and someone who is close at a time in your life might not be so close at another time. Often due to circumstances. But for some reason I always feel a little confused as to why these thing happen.

I also know that relationships need to be worked at but it's a fine balance between both parties working at it and one party putting more effort in. I'm never sure when to cut the effort off. Is a past friendship something which should always be worked at or do I need to accept when a friendship has passed that that's what happened and there are always plenty more opportunities to build relationships and new friendships.

It's something I have found myself pondering on as I've grown up and changed, life has changed, relationships have changed and so have friendships. I guess though that throughout it all I've always understood the precious value of friends, be they bloggers, colleagues or childhood friends.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The fear of bra shopping...

I finally plucked up the courage to go bra shopping today, something I've needed to do for a while... And it got me to thinking, why am I so scared of asking for help with fitting my bra?

I tried my normal tactic, picking up some styles I like in the approximate size I think I am. Five bras later and none of them fitted. So I stood in the changing rooms and wondered if I should go home and try again another day. And then a deep breath I walked out and asked for help.

For some reason the very idea is one which I get slightly unsettled by. Even though I know I need to get some advice and buy the right size I still shy away from it and have a drawer full of semi-fitting bras.

It also made me think about all those statistics of 90% of women wearing the wrong sized bra, how did this come to be? Or is that just marketing puff. When did we not get taught how to shop for the right size. Who is to blame?!

Should there be compulsary fitting with every new purchase to try and avoid this. Should we be taught at school the importance of buying the right size. And then almost as importantly, how is it right that even once you have been sized different brands fit in different ways. I know this brand size difference is the same for clothes as well as underwear but it just doesn't seem right that it's like this.

Thankfully Selfridges have lots of very helpful and lovely staff and a lady arrived to help me with my fitting. She was very sweet and I've managed to find two bras which actually fit! Now to relax until the next time...

Friday, 2 July 2010


I'm a worrier. Always have been, probably always will be. Mostly it's silly little things that I occupy myself with but sometimes something bigger just sits over me and hovers there occasionaly tickling me with the little worries.

There's a big thing there right now, with each day passing it's either getting better or being replaced with another little thing all related to it.

One of the frustrations is not being able to talk about it here, for another few weeks at least. Blogland is so full of warmth, support and fabulousness that it would be nice to share. Until then I shall share with J who is my rock and without whom I don't know how I would have got through many of the big and little things in my life.

Sorry for being cryptic but even writing this helps me feel better so thank-you!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Things I do when my husband is away...

J is away for a few days and it got me to thinking how I change my behaviour when he's not around and so I thought it might be fun to share and see what others do/don't do when other halves go missing...

I watch trashy TV and don't feel guilty
I stay up later than I should to try and make myself tired enough to sleep
I eat on the sofa instead of at the table
I cook mushrooms (J hates mushrooms, which is very upsetting, although oddly enough he'll eat Morels...)
I stay late at work as there's nothing to go home for
I think of people to call to talk to because I miss coming home and telling him all about my day
I try and catch up on blogging!
I leave the washing up overnight
I miss him...

So now pray tell, what do you do when your other half isn't around?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Manon at the Royal Opera House

Last night papa and I went to the opera. We were off to see Manon at the Royal Opera House. This is not an opera I've been to see before, in fact I've not seen any Massenet operas before and I wasn't sure what to expect.

I was therefore delighted by the first few strains coming from the orchastra sweeping through the house and transporting me away from dreary life. The opera was stunning, Massenet's composition is just fabulous and I was so pleased to be seeing an opera I hadn't seen before and really enjoying it. Plus the new production by Laurent Pelly was pretty good, the set a little dreary but the costumes amazing!

We were incredibly lucky with the cast, Anna Netrebko as Manon and Vittorio Grigolo as Des Grieux. Plus a host of other very talented singers. I was especially impressed with Vittorio, as a tenor his voice flows over the orchestra and has a power and richness to it which I often feel is lacking in other tenors. My favourite singers are generally deep male singers, bases and britones.

If you have the time and are quick there might be tickets left, I would highly recommend it. And of course if you do go let me know!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Skinny jeans

My absolute favourite skinny jeans are almost dead... I've had them for a few years so it's no surprise that holes are appearing but I now feel at a loss about what to do. Where to go from here?!

I bought my original ones from Ted Baker, they fitted a treat and were the perfect length (being a tall girl this is not always guaranteed). They were black, the perfect going out jean colour and one which I suddenly found I could not live without.

So here's the crux of it. I need help! Advice on where to get black skinny long jeans, they need to be at least a 34" inner leg. Also if possible not wildly expensive. I've looked in Ted Baker again but nothing there and the Selfridges sale was only selling short jeans so there's another dead end.

Anything you can offer will be accepted with glee and warmest thanks! Xx

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A walk in London...

Last weekend J and I were at a loose end on Saturday and hungry. Struggling to decide where to go for lunch we ended up heading off to the Hawksmoor on Commercial Street for lunch. This was to continue J's quest to find the best burger in London. In my opinion great meat but far too heavy and the cheese which came with the burger was too overpowering. Not sure I would entirely recommend it but the Hawksmoor I would recommend, especially the cocktails :)

So both of us feeling rather heavy after the thumping burger we decided to walk home from Commerical Road to Pimlico. Which meant a walk along the river. I hadn't been along a lot of these sections of the river for a long time and really enjoyed strolling along reminding myself of how lovely London can be.

The roof of old Billingsgate market with the fish detail which caught my eye.

The Monarch's entrance of the House of Lords. And then we were home ready to relax on a Saturday evening instead of going out and about for a change. (Although we did have to watch the England game).
Oh what joy weekends are...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

V&A Quilting Exhibition

On Sunday I went to the V&A with middle sister. We were off to see the quilting exhibition which is on until sometime in July. Sorry to not be more specific.

It is a very lovely exhibition full of items which made me do a slight intake in breath at their intricacy. The exhibition is not too huge, and sister and I are quick exhibition goers, none of this loitering and staring for us...

There are a few pieces which stick in my mind, one is made by a soldier of the tiniest hexagons and is amazing. Another was made by prisoners at Wandsworth prison and is so very moving. I loved the idea of using quilting to get the prisoners to create a community and express their feelings.

But most of all it inspired me to keep on trying with the quilting to push on to finish the second and start a third. And to think of new ways to use them. I would like to make some cushion covers and also to try some new shapes. I have always loved Arabic geometric patterns and think I could acheive some pretty spectacular patterns and colours using quilting. Perhaps this is all for a time when I have less work and more time but it's nice to feel inspired.

It did also make me realise how much happens in London which passes me by. So this weekend J and I plan on going to Tate to see their Rude Britannia exhibition. We shall see if we make it!

Apologies for the lack of pictures, I wasn't sure I was allowed so took the safe option of keeping the camera in my bag!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Summer wedding

Last week we attended the wedding of J's cousin. It was held on a gloriously sunny day up in Bedfordshire. It still feels slightly odd going to weddings when I know that I haven't got mine to go to and I can't be sitting there picking up ideas. Instead I can enjoy the day and night and not worry. It was a fun wedding, as evidenced below right before going into the church...

PS The dress I'm wearing I bought in Argentina, it's one of my favourites, especially the colour.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Office move

We've moved offices and I now have a different position in a different office. It's odd, nice to change but strange to be somewhere different. I am of course slightly resistant to it. But I think the change will be good. It's already changed some of my working practices, for the better I think, and I think it will do so more over the coming months.

However it has also made me have much less time for blogging so my apologies for my quietness. I am also recovering a far too heavy week last week with too much drinking. My body is definitely telling me to slow down.

More soon... Once I've caught up on my greens and my sleep :)

Friday, 4 June 2010

Ashburton Coookery School

The real reason for going to Devon was to spend a day on the Gastro extra course at Ashburton Cookery School. This was a one day course which we thought might be fun to do before middle sister has her baby and we'll not be able to escape together so easily.

And it was fun! We started with making a starter of curried mussel soup. A nice light soup packed with flavour. Although neither of us were too keen on muscle so it was a bit more of a curried veg soup with the odd mussel in it! Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it. We also made yummy bread, which came out really well. A lot better than my bread normally does! I felt like I learnt quite a bit from the bread making bit as it's improved my confidence a lot and taught me a couple of tips.

Our main was pork medallions with braised fennel and a creamy taragon and haricot bean sauce. My only criticism of this was that the haricot beans weren't quite right with the meal to me but the sauce was lovely and the pork good to cook as it's not something I normally cook. Oh and this also came with a shallot tarte tatin! Yummers!! And another thing I've always wanted to make (tarte tatin that is) but haven't quite had the confidence to.

For pudding we griddled pineapple, peppered it, added passionfruit sorbet (which they showed us how to make) and a spiced syrup, which was lovely and had a great chilli kick. Plus a couple of extra bits. Although by this time a little full as we were eating all we made :)

Finally a picture of me and of instructors. On the right is Phil who was lovely and really helpful, on the left James, equally lovely and you might recognise him from the Restaurant on BBC2 or 'Out of the Frying Pan'.
Highly recommended, even if you are relatively confident just to pick up a few tips. I now feel much more confident about my seasoning as we were told that our seasoning was good :) I would definitely go for it also if you have no confidence in the kitchen as they do all levels of teaching and the instructors are great.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

2 days in Devon Part 1

To start my holiday this week I tottled off to Devon. It was a grey miserable rainy day and as I sat on the train I thought just how leaving London was taking some of the stress from my shoulders. And then the sun began to come out and I steadily was getting closer to my destination. I arrived in Ashburton and joined my sister and her friend in a little cafe with a garden. Lunch followed by the yummiest cream tea. Great homemade scones with yummy cream and jam. And to continue the Twitter debate I must admit to putting cream first then jam...

We were staying at the accommodation which the cookery school ran. Our room above we both thought was just lovely. The cookery school was Ashburton Cookery School, of which more on the next post... Then a gentle afternoon, a stroll in the sunshine and catching up with my sister. She's very patient with my moaning but also offers a different perspective on some of the things I moan about. So we dined and then off to bed to make sure we were ready for the next day!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Baby Picture This the results!

Above my beautiful Baby Picture This prints in their new frame from Cargo. Aren't they lovely! Soon to be gifted to a friend of mine as a very belated Christmas and birthday present. Although now I've got them on my wall it'll be hard to give them away!