I love a good day out. Yesterday, myself and James went up to London to meet my parents for lunch, and indulge in a spot of retail therapy.
As a kid growing up near Stevenage, heading to London for a day, or afternoon, or evening, was much less of an event. It was only 20 minutes on the train, and had everything there you could want to do. I used to spend many days as a teenager with my friends in Camden or on my own exploring with a camera. Now I live down on the south coast, it takes a bit more planning. I don't resent the 1 hour 20 journey, but I do wish it was just a tiny bit nearer - and cheaper.
We'd arranged to meet at Café des Amis on Hannover Place, near Covent Garden.
For starter, I chose homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli with sun-dried tomato dressing, and for my main, seared scallops and crab risotto with caper butter sauce. The crab risotto was amazing (you know I like my risottos), and luckily the caper butter wasn't too strong, as I'm not mad on the little guys.
I'm not usually one to say no to pudding, so I chose a 'divine' chocolate fondant with white chocolate ice cream. I wouldn't agree with giving it the tag of divine, but it was good. Chocolatey and gooey, which is pretty much all you want in a fondant. My dad had an indulgent soup au chocolat with black pepper ice cream, which a small part of me wishes I'd gone for instead.
It was very nice to catch up with my parents (who I usually speak to daily anyway) after their recent trip to Crete, and received some souvenirs - including a bottle of Greek Metaxa brandy. Has anyone tried this? Me and James are pretty scared of it!
Lunch over, we dragged our full bellies around Covent Garden and did a spot of window shopping. I dragged James into the Moomin shop, with my best friend (and avid Moomin-lover)'s birthday looming, and emerged with a Moomin Finnish cook book. Job done!
We soon said goodbye to my parents and hopped back on the tube to get to Stratford to visit Westfield - not realising that engineering works would make this near impossible. We persevered though, and got there after about an hour! The last time James went to Stratford, he was volunteering as a Games Maker at the 2012 Paralympics. I think it's fair to say he definitely missed it and was experiencing a lot of nostalgia for the excitement of last summer.
If you haven't been to a Westfield before, I'm sure you know what it's all about. Rows and rows of shops waiting to be explored, hooray! Our first stop was the Vans store, where I straight away managed to walk out with a new pair of shoes. Luckily, this wasn't a trend for the rest of the afternoon and saved most of my money. I felt bad for dragging James around so many shops, but he found something to make up for it. Getty Images have a gallery in the complex, and the exhibition currently installed is 'Kings of Europe' - basically, the Champions League through the years.
After a while we started feeling a bit peckish, and so enjoyed a Westfield tradition - Pinkberry. I recommend the pomegranate with all the types of berries they have available!
Eventually we felt as if we'd shopped until we dropped, and headed home. I'm pleased to say I won't be leaving it as long until my next trip into the Big Smoke, as I'll be heading north for aforementioned friend's birthday. I'm looking forward to more great food and fun then!