On the marvelous back stairway of Heals on Tottenham Court Road, sits a bronze statue of a cat by the french sculptor Chassagne. Sir Ambrose Heal the eponymous owner bought the cat to sell in the shop in 1905 but refused to part with it as he liked it too much and it became known as the Heals Cat.
You can’t walk around with baby and be unfriendly. When I was pregnant, I was warned of the likelihood of people touching my tummy. It didn’t happen. I must have given off a certain aura of touch at your peril, or I’m just plain scary.
In fact one of the places I worked when I was younger, the boss was a bit too touchy feely, and always standing rather too close to the ladies and rubbing their shoulders, whilst studying their work onscreen. I was only in my twenties yet he never laid a finger on me literally. I ended up working quite closely with him, in his house when I was bit older and he told me I’d always come across as rather Amazonian – you’d laugh if you saw me. Still it set me in good stead, no unwanted advances from any quarters, well unless I digress even further and as it is I’ve already digressed half way down another street.
So no one touched my pregnant belly, not strictly true, a lady shopkeeper in Lesvos while we were on holiday (defences must have been down), touched the very top of it over the counter in a very gentle way, and I found I didn’t actually mind.
Carrying a baby however is a completely different thing, I can throw off all the stay away aura I can muster and Erbie just waves away at mad old ladies and beggars smiling magnanimously at everyone, their dogs and pigeons.
People I have been in contact with in my daily life for 4 years without so much as a nod of acknowledgement are now on first name terms with Erbie.
All the staff in my local superstore now say hello, the moody newsagents ask how he is doing if I pop in for a paper without him. The local homeless guy and his dog smile and say hi. Erbie waves madly at the dog.
Strange ladies come up to me and ask how old he is, tell me how beautiful he is, smile right in close to his face. I get followed round shops, I get sat next to on public transport.
Someone came up to him in the park today touched his chin and then kissed him, walking off again without so much as a by your leave.
A guy with two small dogs who I see walking around daily looking hard as nails said: ‘good morning’ to me yesterday.
It is a bit like having a dog I guess, people feel they can approach you with an opening gambit.
People even chat you up, which is strange, um I’ve got a baby, would not the chances of me being single be slightly less. ‘He’s very cute – so are you.’ Fluster fluster, stifle laugh, leave quickly. The GR gets his fair share of girl attention too if he’s out carrying him.
It’s nice, I now feel more a part of our local community than I ever did before. The only down side is I get recognised so much more now, (not such a common occurrence, a baby in the west end). I get recognised when I’ve just pulled my Wellingtons on over my pyjamas to get a pint of milk, when I’ve popped for the papers before washing my face, when basically I look like shit, oh well.
I won't keep going on about the Belle Mere, but I'm astounded she'd rather miss her grandson's first birthday than try and get in touch. I've thought about it and decided to forgive her, it's the only way to continue. Otherwise I get angry and upset which is counter productive, and also there could be a case of methinks thou protest too much. So, serene forgiveness. I'm still not talking to her though, which makes me feel a lot happier and like wall stickers more like this!
The next thing on the list, now first birthday is done, is to decorate the bedroom in a more child friendly manner. None of us like going to bed and Erbie is no exception, he rolls around head butting pillows then starts having a conversation, stands up, tries to get to the books on the windowsill, says neigh neigh, looks up at the bare light bulb, rolls over, eats bunny, head butts pillow again, sticks his bum in the air - you get the picture. So I'm thinking, a mobile, wall art, fairy lights, a duvet cover, cot bumper that kind of thing!
Wall stickers are everywhere, Habitiat, Heals, the Disney store, ebay, and are rather good for rented accommodation as they peel off again.
I went to visit an old friend in Narf London yesterday, on the Harringey Ladder no less, yes I did. The number 29 goes all the way, but bendy buses are so boring, so I got the tube to Finsbury Park and then the number 29 a much shorter distance. I picked up some pizzas for lunch in Finsbury Park. Dylan had just returned from a field in France and wouldn't have anything in. I took left over Pimms and fruit from the party for us, and some fizzy flying saucers and cola bottle sweets for the girls. She has three girls. Three girls aged between 9 and 3, they are all adorable and doted on Erbie. He lapped it up to start with but was soon trying to escape by any means possible. He got stroked and carried, given toys and popcorn, missed a nap and fell asleep exhausted on the bus home, which I stayed on all the way this time.
I sat next to a lady on the way there and asked if she knew the stop I wanted, but she was just visiting and a friend had told her to just get on a bus and see London, some friend, she could have told her what number buses to get on, I suggested upstairs on a double decker might be more fun as she sailed off towards Wood Green.
I think Erbie's birthday is going to become the signalling of the end of Summer. Time to look for Winterwear. I realised the other day I haven't got a clue, not a clue what is in fashion today. I know there has been talk of thigh high boots and shoulder pads, God that's the way I used to dress at college. From my round window I have seen on the street lots of blue denim, mini skirts, full jeans and shirt dresses. Summer was all pretty retro patterned 80's frocks with leather belts aka Sex and the City the movie, these are now being worn with long men's cardis. There seem to be lots of long scarves wrapped round lots of necks with skinny black jeans again. Horror of horrors I saw lacy tights in Marks and Sparks and found them strangely desirable, (I also used to wear those) isn't there some law about being to old to wear stuff the second time round? I need to research more fully.
Going for absolute non-fashion I bought this jumper, a bargain from H&M's children's department at £7. I've got the cowboy boots already, just need the denim mini to complete the look of chavel.
Next must try to look more Chanel. Research would include going to see the movie right?
We had presents, lots of lovely ones. The GR got the wooden train set, I showed you before. I decorated the room, with animal masks:
Neigh neigh, Bab baa, Moo moo.
The key worked and we got into the square for a picnic, the sun shone. I made vodka jelly shots with berries. I found some dairy free sunflower spread Pure Dairy Free (not as easy as it sounds, all margarine has milk protein in as does olive oil spread) and made chocolate cupcakes - that Erbie could eat.
Look at this fab plate, a gift from Joojoo. Available from the US and Balham! A simple idea beautifully executed; a face on a plate that you add food to, a broccoli beard, a gravy lip, mashed potato eyebrows, pea brains, I could go on. Check out the website too, lots of brill things.www.fredandfriends.com
Sleep when you can, if you can. The housework can wait.
Sometimes it is lonely, the internet helps.
No one tell you how much you and your partners relationship will be affected.
Some people close to you will freak out, usually the ones you least expect.
You don’t need to have a pushchair, if you don’t want one.
Establishing some semblance of a routine helps. Have at least one set nap time a day.
Trust your instincts, always.
Babies cannot regulate their body temperature, if they have a fever you need to bring it down with a cool damp flannel to the brow and removing clothes.
A poorly baby wants its mummy, (just like a grown-up baby).
Teething hurts, a lot. Use anything that helps, teething powders, cooled chewing rings, bickiepegs, your finger.
If you are going to administer baby medicine – get the one with the syringe.
Milton’s bottle sterilising tablets get out most stains (fruit / wine).
Banana stains are forever.
Throw away all books that tell you how to bring up a baby.
Get as much information as you can on everything you can.
Your tummy will go away eventually but not if you subsist on chocolate cake and icecream.
Make sure other people know, if they want you to do something, to write it down and leave it in a prominent place. If not you will probably get caught up changing a nappy or feeding a hungry baby and forget to make those mortgage payments, collect that prescription, make that very important phone call before 5pm.
You will forget everything.
If you have forgotten to get something, do something, don’t forget you can’t go out after the baby has gone to bed unless there is another adult in the building.
Don’t become a baby bore, only talk about babies to other people with babies; your brother probably really doesn’t want to know about your latest theory on breastfeeding.
People don’t pop round to see you with a bottle of wine, however much you’d like them to.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, a little of what we like never hurt anyone.
You won’t get time to watch TV, read a book or flick through a magazine – for at least 9 months, if you do you’ll fall asleep anyway.
Never say never. All the stuff I said I’d never do, disposable nappies, ready made baby food, co-sleeping.
Baby food in squeezable pouches – why didn’t we think of that.
Just as you get to know what your baby is going to do, they change.
Book yourself a pedicure and get someone to baby sit. *I did not do this, but I SO wish I had.
Give yourself a break. All mothers beat themselves up about something they think they are doing wrong.
The NHS advice is to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months.
Breastfeeding – although it is what they were put there for, initially I found it quite an alien experience.
Ask for help.
It gets easier, and easier and easier.
When I started breastfeeding this theory helped a lot.
Breastmilk changes during a feed, it starts with thirst quenching fore milk and finishes with thicker hind milk. Think of each feed as a three course meal, starter, main and a nice rich soporific pudding (no coffee). If you stop after the first or second course, your baby and breast will start on the first course again at the next sitting. Lots of fore milk = lots of gas = tummy ache. To avoid this, wake your baby up gently by stroking their cheek and getting them to feed a little longer or if they wake hungry after a very short nap continue on the same breast. Don’t change breasts during a feeding session. Only when the next feed is due change to the other breast. You’ll get to know when your baby has had their pudding course as they drop into a deep smiley sleep.
I drank raspberry leaf, fennel and cumin tea (anti-colic) from Neal's Yard religiously every night before bed. My baby didn’t get colic and rarely fussed or cried. (I may have been very lucky.)
Drink lots of water, eat well, sleep as much as you can when you can.
I've set aside today for party planning - too late to get this lovely nautical themed bunting from the cotton bunting company. Bum! I might get it anyway, so that it becomes Birthday Bunting and comes out every year. Not the bunting mummy, not the aunting bunting. Yep.
but I'm getting nowhere fast. I keep going round in circles in my head and doing nothing.
I had one task today - get a lampshade for the living room.
In my younger days I would have been full of ideas, now all I could come up with was Argos. I trudged over to the one behind Tottenham Court Road, what was I thinking, it was pants. I started to come up with an idea, visions of a very large white shade that I could stick black cutouts of bird silhouettes onto.
Where to get a large white lampshade? I went to Habitat, no large white ones, but some nice black ones.
But I still wasn't sure and for that price did I really want to be getting my gluestick to them. The chandeliers started winking at me. Concentrate. It was getting closer to Erbie's bedtime, panic set in and I caved and bought one of those paper chinese shades for a paultry £3! It's an egg shaped one, it'll be a stop gap I told myself, until I can decide on which one to get. I'm thinking of something in apple green now.
Erbie's first passport arrived this morning, I admit I shed a tear.
Both my boys are sleepy and weepy and tired today. I sent the GR back to bed and put Erbie to sleep on the sofa, with sore throats and runny noses.
I'm applying for a job, two days a week, something I haven't done in over ten years - apply that is. Not expecting anything back, I can't even seem to upload examples of my work!
We have a mouse, the cheeky *****er was gnawing at the door frame last night. It's not easy to set traps or put poison down with a baby crawling around. Don't get all cruelty free trap on me, we've tried those, they don't work. I'll just name him Hunca Munca and call him a pet. Oh dear. Unfortunately it's never usually just 'a' mouse. Perhaps I could borrow my sisters pub cat for a week, she is evil, a pretty as a picture petite grey tabby cat that brings home baby rabbits and tortures them in the bath.
How would you feel if you came home one day and found one of you favourite artists had left one of his pieces nearby, well it happened to me. Four days ago I went out in the morning and there it was, gaze upon it's beauty, I'm not being ironic I really DO love Invaders work. I look out for them all over London and have been taking photos of them whenever I see them for years.
It's because he's got an exhibition at Lazarides down the road. Which I shall be going to as soon as I can get out of the house on Monday (after waiting in for Erbie's passport to arrive).
He started off with saying egg, egg, egg, egg, egg, and I realised the opening of The Very Hungry Caterpillar which has a weekly if not daily outing is:
In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.
Next we have ‘neigh neigh’.
Neigh neigh, big smile, neigh neigh, to which we respond ‘neigh neigh’.
This is from The Very Busy Spider.
Now whenever that book comes out he excitedly turns to the horse page and as I read: ‘Neigh neigh said the horse, want to go for a ride?’ Erbie is neigh neighing at my side.
He also says ‘Um then pauses as if about to pronounce his theory on relativity or how Calviucus will always come out at a higher ratio to Barnibus in the society of spectacle as we know it, but this has hither to continued no further than ‘Um’ long pause. I’ve since noticed that this is a rather unappealing habit of mine, just before I’m about to say something of no particular interest whatsoever, to make sure people are listening to me before I say nothing of any particular interest, of which they are usually not.
The Grandfather picked up on Erbie doing it, as did the GR and now everybody is ‘Umming’.
If someone brum brums he will go off brum brumming for ages with dribble.
If I clip clop by clucking my tongue he will copy.
He also does ‘whoo whoo’s’ initially singing along with us to ‘Sympathy for the Devil' by the Rollong stones, but now just before we get to the front door, and to say hello to daddy.
This is also at the end of the Very Busy Spider ‘Whoo whoo said the owl, who built this beautiful web, so maybe it’s rather more from that than the Rolling Stones but who who am I to rain on the GR’s fireworks.
We went to the new EGA wing of UCH yesterday to see the paedriatric allergist. Arriving at 10.30 and leaving at 12, I know this cos I've got the piece of paper I was supposed to hand back to the receptionist here, whoops.
The allergist informed me he didn't do blanket testing of everything, good I thought. We talked about what reactions Erbie had been having and that he may grow out of it. We talked about free school milk and I asked him who lined all the toy dinosaurs back up after each child had been in. (Certainly not him, sometimes the children do). He seemed impressed that I was so well informed (mainly that I knew what casein was) and asked where I worked to know so much. I said I just read the internet a lot, much to his chagrin, so I told a little white lie and said I sometimes worked at the British Medical Association, which satisfied him.
So 2 nurses do the skin prick allergy testing. One to entertain the baby and one to scratch. Erbie sat on my lap, while one nurse held his left arm over a pillow, to his side. First she wrote 1, 2 ,3 ,4 on his arm in biro, next a drop of control liquid was put next to the number 1, blotted then a scalpel blade dotted quickly on top to break the skin. Much entertaining involving puppets and flashing lights from nurse 2 in front of Erbie. Then another control drop of histamine was put next to the number 2 (histamine is what causes an allergic reaction). Next milk, then boiled milk.
Sleeve down, nurses happy, Erbie happy, all over within 5 minutes.
Back to the waiting room full of parents with buggies and children for a 10 minute wait. Then up with sleeve, he'd had a big reaction to the milk and a slight reaction to the histamine and boiled milk. The nurse drew around the welts in biro and stuck tape on top, she then peeled this off, taking some of the ink with it and transferred the outline to a paper chart.
So, nothing we didn't know then. He has a contact reaction to milk, and milk protein, so no dairy in his diet and then back for testing again in a years time. This means no cow, goat, or sheep dairy products. I've recently tried him on soya milk and he seems to like it.
So next comes proper weaning, which I'm scared about. There will be tears, on both sides no doubt, but I feel it is time, my baby boy will be a year old soon.
I found some crisps without milk in - you'd be surprised. Vegetable ones from PRET 74p. They are lightly salted but I've given up worrying about giving Erbie the occasional thing with salt or sugar. Everything in moderation I say, apart from dairy.
I'm really not a jean person, I've got short legs and a long body, so they're not a good look for me. However, I keep seeing girls in lovely soft denim wide leg ones around town and wanted.
I found these in Marks and Spencers. They are their new range and called 'The Boyfriend' , they look absolutely shocking here, but looked suprisingly good in the changing room and for £29.50 I had to do it. I got the medium length ones so I can wear them with flats, I usually get long jeans and wear wedges hidden underneath them, but I shall a have a go with the casual look now I have a baby attached to my hip most places.
IMAGE Marks & Spencers
If you miss the 'n' out of 'boyfriend' it's 'boy fried'
Not quite Breakfast at Tiffany's. Primark, Marble Arch now opens at 8.30am, yep! I popped Erbie on the Hipster and marched up there this morning to get some plimmies (£4) to go with my new casual jean look.
I also got this necklace (£3), a touch les nereides at a fraction of the price.
The managing agency of our block sent round the guy who runs the buiding, the lady who drew up our contract and a planning officer to discuss 're-housing'.
We cleaned the flat, hoovered, set the camcorder up to record. The GR bought a whoopee cushion, oh there were no flies on us.
When they showed up 5 minutes late, they were children. The planning officer must have been all of 18 and sat on the whoopee cushion without even noticing, we were too ashamed to tell them we were filming.
So, it transpires if the permission is granted by Westminster council the building work will start in April, and they promised to give us at least 3 months notice before any scaffolding goes up. Ho hum.
They were off to see the old gentleman in the flat above us after and probably got more of an ear bending from him.
As to the fridge noise from downstairs, we've kind of got used to it and it transpires the manager has been given his marching orders (nothing to do with us). So heaven only knows what will be under us next, it could be a 24 hour roller disco playing techno very loudly, as I said before 'better the devil you know'.
Only time will tell. But we're hoping we might get a peaceful Christmas.
But due to the yeast / egg free thing going on presently this is mine and Erbie’s biscuit tin.
No fat , no sugar, a bit salty, fairly dry. Read as: no work, no sex, housing meetings, fairly boring.
Biscuit tins are another oddity, certainly not something I utilised before Erbie. Biscuits didn’t last long enough to put in a tin, and if they were, were usually forgotten about well past their sell by date. This tin was my mother’s and now I am a mother it has got biscuits in, all be it little savoury ones.
I met up with Suki and Missy yesterday and we went to check out mummy baby type stuff, which neither of us do, as neither of us have fully come round to believing we're actually mummies yet. We went to check out this garden on Grays Inn Road. We looked around the wild garden at the end of the space and I spotted a rather laden blackthorn tree, I may offer to pick and return with sloe gin. We met Teresa a super Columbian lady who runs the drop in. Missy and Erbie crawled around on the decking and played with lots of toys in delight. We had a cup of tea and chatted about possible baby sitting, childcare, shop and drop, lots of parent type things and felt much better about ourselves. We scurried off, Suki to go the the British Library and I to put Erbie down for his afternoon nap. This morning I got out the tweezers and pulled 3 splinters out of Erbie's legs from crawling on the decking, he didn't seem to mind at all.
I happened upon this rather delicious looking cafe the other day on way up to Selfridges. The food looked Turkish and The Grandad had been hankering after some, so we revisited ensemble. On closer inspection it is actually Lebanese cuisine, but was still what we were after, some felafal, pickles, wraps, a nice meze. I had a nice fresh pomegranate lemonade and the felafal wrap, could have done with some more chilli sauce but thats just me, and they may well offer it on the side. They sell little plates of lovely things to make up a meze with fresh tabbouleh or salad, along with sweet treats like baklava or mouthwateringly good looking macaroons for a bargain £1.50. The mosaic deco is clean and lean and there are nice treats for sale in the deli / shop like Turkish coffee, or delight and harissa YUM. I'd say worth a visit even if it's just for a mint tea between Selfridges and Top Shop.
I nipped out in shorts and shirt this morning with Erbie on the ‘Hipper’ , throwing caution to the seagulls and not wearing bra, not something anyone above a C cup should ever really do. Anyway I’d spotted a briar of brambles behind the British Museum it’s fruit being left for the wasps and blackbirds and had decided to go ‘a scrumping’. I managed to get quite enough for a blackberry and apple crumble leaving plenty for the wasps and blackbirds. Whilst collecting my booty I also exposed a booby, Erbie’s blackberry stained fist undid a couple of buttons whilst trying to hang on. Thankfully Montague Street was deserted at that time in the morning apart from a couple of pretty young shuffling Japanese girls who came over and took pictures and tried a blackberry each all smiles.
The Belle Mere’s retaliation for being ignored has been astonishing, she has managed to scupper the plans of her ex husband (on a rare visit from Central America), involve other family members, move people from country to country, and invite a stranger into the mix for a particular outing this Sunday, snubbing us and rubbing everyones noses in it. This lady is not for taming.
Whilst we were in Southend I overheard The GR having a heated discussion with our managing agent who offered a meeting to discuss the possibility of rehousing us, Jeez, we just moved in 2 months ago, I’m sure they knew of the proposed building plans.
On the train back from Southend I pointed out our horoscope in the London paper to The GR:
‘Don’t yield, not because you’re necessarily on the brink of success (indeed that could be some way off yet) but because you recognise that if you feel strongly enough about something to take a stance, then you’re going to have to show people that you’re in for the long haul. Be defiant this weekend'.
Oh, no easy way out, or happy reconciliations on the horizon then.
The Grandad was so impressed with the accuracy he took the paper to read the Belle Mere's horoscope. This was scarey:
'They just won't listen, will they. But you can make them listen. I'm not going to tell you how – I mean, you could make a banner, form a an air display or simply shake them hard – but I suspect you know of a better way to get under their skin. So put it into practice this weekend.'
The Grandad, worried now and not really wanting to get involved having been divorced from the woman for 25years read his:
'Don't court danger this weekend. It's true that even if you walk on the cracks in the pavement, the Big Bad Wolf probably won't eat you – but let that be as risky as it gets for the next couple of days. If you can make more trouble for yourself, then you almost certaily will. Don't move out of your comfort zone.'
Westendmum is reprimanded for not going to Selfridges or John Bell & Croyden for so long, when they make her smile so much. I had a lovely time today buying over priced products and silly presents. If you need a black eye mask to shut out light at night, where you gonna go? If you need vitamin drops for your baby, where you gonna go. If you need a first aid kit or a beautifully designed packet of herbal tea, where you gonna go? John Bell & Croyden thats where and they have a discount day on 13th August Woo hoo. I've been looking for baby vitamin drops, Bickie pegs, baby toothbrushes, John Masters haircare and Phyto all over, what was I thinking. There they all were aisle upon aisle of really useful and coveted stuff.
After receiving 2 notices of planning applications for the back of this building and the one next door, the GR has decided we shall not be moved, and we shall take action. It seems everyone else in our block is of the same opinion. The poor boys over the hall returned from holiday to the letters of intent. 'If they want to build at the back, that is it for me, I move out.' he said in his sweet Brazilian accent.
The old boy who lives upstairs is very displeased to say the least, he won't admit how long he's lived here, but I swear he could be in his nineties. It takes him a good while to get up and down the stairs, his head bowed with purpose and a walking stick. He sorts out the daily post, taking it all up to his flat and then delivering it outside each particular flat door.
So The GR has lodged a complaint with the council for both, and informed our managing agent that we are not happy. It just so happens that I used to freelance in the building directly behind, (a large design agency), and I still know the studio manager, so we are thinking of getting them to sign a letter / petition to the same effect as the building work would be right in front of their windows and eventually cut out their light source to some degree, not to mention the noise disturbance.
We've decided to get on to local businesses too, the corner shopkeeper over the road will no longer be able to park his car in the mews nor will several other people.
We have a mission, let's hope we can get our finger out and pull it off.
I hope we don't sound like terrible flies in the ointment. The buildings are owned by a very large and wealthy management company who have properties all over Covent Garden and Soho, we think they are taking advantage of the recession to stick another 3 flats onto existing properties for more income. The flat roofs at the back being prime location, but these are old buildings and not designed for mass living. They shake when a heavy vehicle goes by, I can't image construction work would make them happier.
I bought this book in the nineties, OK well maybe the eighties and loved it, treasured it, moved my bedroom furniture around to it – I was still living at home.
When I moved into various shared accommodation over the next few years, it was my style bible. I lent it to a friend at college, she moved away, we lost touch. I missed that book.
I recently found it on Amazon for 1p, yes one penny. I swooned and bought it. I had a quick flick and put it away to snuggle up with on the sofa at a later date to reminisce and stroke my youthful memories with.
The Belle Mere saw it and asked if she might borrow. I lent, tantalising myself with the knowledge it would soon be all mine to look at once more.
We cut off the Belle Mere, my book is languishing in North London, so near, yet so far.
Should I buy it again?
I've also had a strange whimsical yearning to read one of Jilly Cooper's girl series again. I read them in fifth year at school, I was very innocent, they are very innocent, all billowing hair and manly kisses if I remember correctly very jolly Jilly. Fabulous names too: Octavia, Prudence, Imogen, Harriet, Bella. On closer inspection -were they all images of Jilly Cooper?!!!
I guess I'm just harping back to a time when my greatest responsibility was making sure Bella (my rabbit) and the chickens were shut up safely every night.
Bare in mind I'm right next to Charlotte Street and I'm not mentioning any at that address, believe me we've tried them. I'm talking your traditional anglicised hard leather jacket wearing North Indian curry here, blow your head off spicy, washed down with a cold Cobra or sweet lassi. Tikka masalas, jalfrezis, tandoories, dhansaks. Not soft blousey Southern Indian cuisine, which is a different kettle of fish altogether and in which case I would strongly recommend Rasa on Charlotte Street.
For a good take away I don't think you can fault Olives at 20 Cleveland Street, London, W1T 4JA.
Telephone: 020 7636 1813 Open daily from 11:30-14:30 and 18:00-23:30
I had a king prawn Pathia, a curry I had not tried before - hot, hot, hot, sweet and sour - it hit the spot. The GR had a chicken jalfrezi, they do a vegetarian one too - always a good sign, suitably fiery with green chilli peppers, nice and spicy, a completely different flavour to the parthia. The Grandfather had a lamb tikka masala, only the lamb was probably mutton and chewy, but the red sauce was spot on. We also had sag aloo (potatoes and spinach softly spiced), a plain nan – good and moist and two pilau rice, which was ample for three of us. Reasonably priced too I think especially as the Grandfather treated us.
For a good sit down curry
The Punjab 80 Neal Street, Covent Garden. WC2H 9PA.
If you're in town and you fancy a sit down curry then I highly recommend The Punjab at the Shaftesbury Avenue end of Neal Street in Covent Garden. If you're not going at 2pm or 6pm I suggest you book in advance – I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great place for a good curry. It is one of the oldest curry houses in London, the staff are friendly the atmosphere is calm and quiet, the food is really good, so don't expect cheap take away prices, even so it's not too lumpy.
Always remember your eyes are bigger than your tummy when ordering a curry. One each plus one less rice than you'd imagine (you can always order more) one bready thing - nan, fancy or plain and one or at a push two side dishes is really, really all you need to order. You can always order more, and of course a poppadom per person while you're waiting with super hot lime pickle or mango chutney.
I've been trawling the internet looking for presents suitable for a one year old, as it's coming up to Erbie's first birthday. There's too much loveliness out there.
Cartoon all in one from Molo Kids a Danish brand available from littlesunflowers.com £28.99. IMAGE: Little Sunflowers 2009
Billy Odd Socks Striped from jellybabys.co.uk Ten odd socks that don't need matching up, complete with a colour chart for 45 different variations, if you can't work it out yourself! IMAGE: Jellybabys Limited
My Men Mr Happy T.Shirt from Fabric Flavours It's worth a look at their site, they have all sorts of cool Tees from Sesame Street's Elmer to Dennis the Menace. IMAGE: Fabric Flavours