Christine, Nuala and I stayed at the City Inn Westminster on Friday for a day’s Christmas shopping (or that was the excuse). I met them at Euston and then we headed out to Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, where we had lunch at Wahacas. The food as lovely and spicy but the atmopshere was a bit frantic for a catching-up lunch.
A couple of cocktails helped: we had a margerita and a mojito each to get us in the mood for shopping, before setting off to scour Westfield Shopping Centre. It’s pretty big! We went into loads of shops, but I was the only person to buy anything, which was amazing! I bought a new t-shirt for tonight from Desigual, a Spanish outlet that is very colourful, then I also bought a Christmas present for someone special. 🙂 Christine fell in love with a lovely desigual handbag: but it was a bit too pricey! They tried to talk me into getting a jacket which fitted me very well, but which I’d probably never had worn. Now that I see the jacket on the web site I realise that I’m probably 20 years too old for it!
At 5.30 we headed back to the City Inn for a quick rest and to get ready for dinner. A shower of rain had us taking a taxi to Benares in Berkeley Square. Fantastic service, and good gin martinis. The service really was excellent with waiters who brought the food out on large trays, for head waiters to then inspect it before serving the table from the tray. The food was lovely: For starters I had a whole soft-shell crab, in a light batter, which was lovely (and a bit scary), Christine had some potato cakes with a cumin and tamarind sauce, which was beautiful and Nuala had an asparagus salad. The mains were lovely: rare lamb on chickpeas for me, tiger prawns Tawa Jingha for Nuala and tandoori chicken in a dry sauce for Christine, with lots of bread, rice and a rich black dahl. The two hour time slot wasn’t a problem, dinner took about two hours. It was pricey, but worth the money for a special night out. We had a bottle of Sula Sauvignin Blanc, which was fun.
After dinner we headed over the Vauxhall for a drink at Barcode, just made it in by 10, before we had to pay for entrance. The music was great (although Nuala wasn’t very popular with the DJ for asking him for Freddie Mercury requests). Nuala was very popular with some of the customers, who though she looked like someone out of EastEnders. Michael joined us for a few drinks, after coming down to join us from work. We lasted till about 11.30, and I was pretty shattered, so Christine, Nuala and I walked back to the hotel, whilst Michael went out to Starkers. I had been planning on joining him, but I was too tired so he went on his own. I was even too tired to join Nuala and Christine in the hotel bar for a night cap, where apparently they met a nice lawyer that bought them drinks.
Michael came back around 2, but then I spent the rest of the night in the loo being ill, probably food (I hope it’s not Benares!). It was a long night for both of us. Michael had to leave to go back to work at 7.30, and I didn’t meet Nuala and Christine till 10.
We headed out to Piccadilly, where Nuala and Christine had breakfast and I had a cup of sweet Earl Grey. We went to Fortnums, which now seems to have priced itself completely out of anyone normal shopping there. I can’t imagine anyone but rich tourists buying the things there. We also went to the Japanese Sweet Shop there, Kamakura Minamoto Kitchoan, which Nuala loves. We brought a few sweets! From there, up Regent Street which, sadly, has largely all the same shops as Westfield! We bought a few present things and then headed into John Lewis, where we tried to hunt down a nice glass teapot for Christine to buy me for Christmas. (I broke the last one a few months ago.) We came out with some Christmas-scented candles.
Took the 88 bus from Regent Street pretty much back to the door of the City Inn: via Trafalgar Square and Westminster, so a good bus route. Nuala picked up her mobile phone (which she’d left in her room) and we picked up our bags and then headed home. Me to my bed (for 15 hours) and Christine and Nuala to a long train journey with bus replacement 🙁