Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Working Wednesday

Tomorrow brings another day in London.

After checking that I've turned all things hot, electrical or gas powered off, instructed Recaro on the items that need to be packed in Ellie's nappy bag and assured him her lunch/dinner bag is ready to go, I'll dash out of the house to catch my train.

Here's a few highlights of the journey I'll be taking. Just before crossing the river, my train takes me past the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. They've got a few buildings around here and I sometimes see them training some of the working dog breeds in the yard between these arches.

If I was sat on the other side of the train, I'd see the derelict Battersea Power Station. No one knows what to do with the Battersea site. It's contaminated land and has a listed building power station in the middle of it. Even though it's in central London and on the River Thames, I'm not sure it'll ever get developed.

Once I get into Victoria , my bus takes me past 'Little Ben'. I think this is one of those 'invisible' landmarks of London - you don't notice it until someone points it out to you. There are plans afoot to revamp a big part of Victoria. This clock will be taken away while the work goes on and then brought back again after all the heavy duty building work is finished.Here I am on the bus. The bus is empty - which means I took the photo last Friday when I went into work late. I'm far more stressed out and cross when I travel in early, but I think you can still see my frown lines between my brows.

This is a another picture of the New Zealand War Memorial on Hyde Park Corner. It was Anzac day last week , so you can see all the newly laid wreaths. Sadly I missed out on the Anzac biscuits that an Australian woman brought into the office. She's a cookie baking fiend, so I hope to get another chance to eat these when she organises a charity bake-off.In their crazed optimism about the British weather, the park keepers at Green Park have already started setting out the deck chairs. It poured down with rain today, so I'm not sure they've made much money so far this year. It costs something like £3 to use a deck chair for an hour. Bonkers. I'd sit on the grass and save my cash for buying some M&Ms at Disneyland one day...Or perhaps I'd save my money for buying an ocean going yacht. He he. I think ocean going yachts are just rich people's equivalent of caravanning. And as far as I know, there isn't a kitsh yachting equivalent to an Airstream caravan, which means that yachts are not cool. (See how I just saved myself loads of money and still sounded superior and snotty).

I jump off the bus shortly after the yacht shop and head into work where I get myself a coffee, raid the biscuit box for fig rolls and swipe a banana from the fruit box before everyone else gets to them first.

I take a random approach to my London posts. If there's anything you'd especially like to see or know, just say and I'll do what I can to oblige.

I nearly burnt the house down

I am so ashamed of myself. Yesterday afternoon, I left a pan on the hob and then left the house for an hour.

After shopping and collecting Ellie I got home to discover the neighbours had called the fire brigade. My neighbour took my housekeys as I was getting out of the house and he opened the front door. After I'd handed Ellie to my sister-in-law for some emergency babysitting, I raced straight into the house to turn the hob off.

I was followed almost immediately by a fireman in breathing apparatus. It's an odd thing - nothing was going to stop me going in the house to rectify my mistake.

And then I stood outside the house trying to calm down while the firemen checked the place over, before going to have a cup of tea with SIL. Ellie thought she was in heaven - she was playing with a miniature tea set. I was so relieved that I hadn't got upset in front of her.

Thank God for good neighbours. The house was full of smoke - there's a tang of acrid in the air - but no damage done. Apart from to the saucepan. When I'm feeling brave enough I'll take a photo of the pan. Until then, I'm still recovering my equilibrium.

Everyone (even the firemen) is telling me it's the easiest mistake to make, but I still feel like a dumb, distracted, klutz.

The thing I continue to discover is that as hard as I try, I'm still making new mistakes and I don't always learn from other people's. Dammit.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

And the sun shone

When the sun shines, the English (and Scots and Welsh too - they aren't proud either) go outside for as long as possible to sit, to eat and to drink beer.

It's traditional.

As I'm a very lucky girl, we did our errands first thing and had plenty of time to go to our closest pub for a fish and chip lunch, eaten out of paper on the beach.

Once we'd eaten, we polished off a couple of beers too. We reminisced about the times we've spent on the beach as just a couple and relished the life changes and delight brought about by having Ellie in the family.

I wish you could have been there. You'd have seen Ellie sleeping in her buggy and then getting up to play and stagger about on the shingle.

In a concession to diet and to Ellie's lunch I didn't eat all my chips but saved some for her to eat along with mushy peas once she woke up. I don't like mushy peas myself - bleurgh. It's possible that Ellie hoped it was guacamole (this would explain why she didn't eat much of it!)

The cod and chips went down a treat though. We don't often eat take away chips. These were from V C Jones - also known as Meaty Jones. All the fish and chips are fried in lard. This makes them very tasty, but a bit of challenge for most people's guts.

After that we rolled back to the High Street to collect my bike. We had got it fitted with a child's seat so that I can start to get some exercise with Ellie in tow.

We gave her a choice of a Dukes of Hazard number or a pink one with white daisies. She pouted and smiled with satisfaction at choosing the flowery lid. Yet again I crumble in the face of the pink conspiracy.

I took this photo while pushing the buggy. Ellie cheerfully waving and crying out, 'Hello! Hello!" I think she likes the bike ride experience.

I've got a great big wicker basket that I can put on the handle bars. If the weather's any good tomorrow this might be her mode of transport for going to her childminder's house.

I love these little adventures. We cycled to church this morning. All the way there, I could hear her giggling and chuckling behind me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Marylebone High Street

London has taken up a lot of my time this week. Work started off with a disaster on Monday, but by Friday things were a lot better - though frantic in other ways.

The worst of it was not spending time with Ellie. However, Recaro and Ellie have been getting on great. I can see that she's far more willing to hold his hand when out walking and will look to him for cuddles in a way that she didn't always before.

I'm a bit behind in blogging. I've got loads of ideas that I need to work on, but I did at least get out on Wednesday at lunchtime to check out the quality of window shopping on Marylebone High Street.

For those of you that don't know it, this road connects up to Oxford Street, but quite frankly is a world away from London's main shopping street. Marylebone is very central, but somehow has a small town village quality in a very up-market way. It has a number of boutiques and interesting food shops. There are chains like Shoon and Saltwater, but these are smaller chains and I'm not sure where else they have outlets.

I was very excited when I discovered Shoon. The clothes were beautiful. When I'm feeling a little more flush, I'm coming back here for a major trying on session. These are clothes I want to wear.

Marylebone High Street is a relatively expensive place to shop, but I think has what it takes to make me feel more original, better dressed and stylish than if I stuck to Gap, Next or Zara. (I need all the help I can get - I don't have the knack for going to Primark or a charity shop and finding anything I like or that fits.)

Even the Waitrose is smarter than the average supermarket. I took a photo of its street clock - I love street clocks. How helpful is that to someone on a lunchtime shopping expedition? Very considerate.

Marylebone also has a number of great restaurants. The Providores is one that really stands out for me. It's tapas style but with an antipodean edge. Downstairs is informal with some shared tables. It's fantastic for breakfast, is great for lunch and I've heard good reviews of its restaurant upstairs for evening meals.

Another restaurant just off the High Street is Relais de Venise. This place only serves steak and frites - French style. Apparently it's brilliant so I'm trying to persuade my team mates that we should try it next time we all go out together.

I didn't have time to check out the home furnishings shops. There's the Conran Store at the top of the road and loads of others.

For the creative types among you, there are some excellent haberdasheries here too. I don't think you'll ever see a wider selection of fancy ribbons and braid on one street.

I don't think my photos do the place justice. If anyone can make any other good restaurant recommendations in the area, let me know. I'm hoping there's going to be few good lunches over the summer and I need to know where to go.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Baby in the Mirror

I had some reservations about this book by Charles Fernyhough. I thought a man would write too objectively about the development of his daughter and would fail to acknowledge the impact she had and continues to have on his life.

I thought he would be more interested in pursuing his research and academic goals.In fact all the technical cortex-schmootex stuff in the early chapters did make my eyes glaze over. But I persevered - or should I say skipped past all of that - and by about half way through I discovered that Charlie is giving himself over to simply telling a wonderful story about his daughter's developing mind.

A student could find the book a helpful guide to putting loads of different research into context. It's probably more likely to be aimed at someone like me who wants to understand more about their own child's development.

He uses her story to illustrate the findings of various researchers and philosphers. He is something of a house husband, writing at home while his wife lectures. His daughter goes to nursery 2 or 3 days a week. In my eyes I see him as his daughter's principal carer though he sees himself having 'daddy days' for just 2 or 3 days a week. 

During the course of the book the family move from northern England over to Australia for a six month sabbatical. His wife gets pregnant and miscarries. Inevitably these real life events draw you in. His consideration of how children see themselves in relation to the world, people and time are inextricably linked to his and his wife's parenting decisions.
  • How (much) do you tell a child about their lost brother or sister?
  • How long can/should you protect them from death?
Their self doubt is endearing - mostly because I recognise it in mine and Recaro's discussions about bed times, tantrums and controlled crying.

The miscarriage is a tough part to read. But it does offer some interesting thoughts on how to deal with death. Small children struggle to understand the duality of body and spirit so even atheist parents can find merit in telling small children there is a heaven when someone special dies. This helps them understand someone has gone without scaring them half to death with the fear of someone precious being buried underground or burnt. (Shocking to think some people might regard their 'truth' to be so much more important than a small child's comfort).

A big theme in the book is about the significance of story telling. Stories illustrate a child's development in terms of imagination, metaphor, jokes, ability to lie, take control, making up rules, mirroring and so on.

So while a small child might first tell a random story or word as a joke, their ability to tell a joke will develop along with their language skills.

Imaginative play ( say using a spoon as if it is a brush) shows them thinking about using objects to tell a story about the experience of hair brushing.

There can often be an overlap between understanding other people's emotions are separate from themselves and developing empathy for others. So if mummy is upset or grieving a child will worry if its their fault. Their empathy for another's sadness will coincide with their feeling that the world IS all about them.

He also considers whether his book is exploitative or might later embarrass his daughter. If you have read a particular Candian newspaper recently you'll appreciate what a hot topic this is.

Well Charlie comes to the conclusion that a toddler is a very different person from the older child or adult that person willl become. There's a lifetime of personal experience, memory and reflection to accumulate and that will allow for significant distance from any writing about the child in its early years.

"Perhaps she is simply proving that the things that matter to you when you are small are not the same things that matter when you're bigger. Or perhaps I am learning that not everything that is valuable in life takes the shape of a memory... That doesn't mean that it (the book) wasn't worth doing."

So even if she reads the book one day and objects or quibbles about details "it's her word against mine, her story against my story. The point is, there's a story. In a way, that's all I've been trying to say."

And on that note - I think we can conclude that Charlie is alright. He gets the parenting gig. Her story is his story too and sees his behaviour, life and attitudes reflected in her (sometimes dimly and sometimes with startling clarity). That's true for all of us I think.

So here's a game. Here are some questions you might have the opportunity to ask a 3 year old. It's not a quiz or a test and don't think you should ask them all at once, but they might net you some interesting responses:
  • Where do dreams come from?
  • Tell me a joke? (Will you get an abstract idea, a story, a dream or an attempt to repeat an adult's joke?)
  • Do you remember being smaller?
  • Ask them to draw a lollipop on a stick and a balloon on a string. A while later ask them to tell you about their drawings. Will they recall their creative intention?
  • Ask if they remember a specific event 6 months ago? (Do they rememember a feeling, an object, a person)
  • Ask them to imagine doing a specific thing in 6 months time. How might they remember today?
I look forward to reading about any good answers.

This post was brought to you entirely by Blackberry. My poor thumbs! At least I made good use of my commute home.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Working Wednesday

Again, I'm at work in London - a long long way from my little lovely. Posting a photo of Ellie looking incredibly cute goes some way to satisfying the Ellie-shaped hole in my heart that I'm feeling right now.

What's worse, is that I'll be working in London again tomorrow. It's quite possible that since putting her to bed last night (Tuesday) at 8.30pm, I might not see her awake until Friday morning at 6.30am.

Gulp.

Thank heavens for photos. And a husband who knows how to play, bath, feed, put to bed and dress our darling daughter. If anyone's husband out there isn't pulling his weight right now, you can tell them about Recaro. He cooked dinner last night too after he got home from work in time to play with a tantruming/over-tired daughter.

Of course, he's trying to persuade me that we should get a dog and that I should buy him a boat.

Not a chance. Ha ha.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Knives! Tea bags! Whistling!

See what happens when you leave me alone for a day or two. All of a sudden my blogging ability is running riot with outbreaks of exclamation marks!! and random title ideas.

I'll wrestle this blog back under control if. it's. the. last. thing. I. do.

Okay. Now I've got it pinned down. All I need to do now so is get through my back log of memes. Other blogs are giving away exciting goodies - I'm just here telling you stuff about ME. Who could ask for more?

Saralynn - the Happy Baker - tagged me for a Six Word Memoir. The rules are as follows:

1. Write your own six-word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five more blogs with links.
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

So here's the memoir: Laughing loving mother. Adventurous sassy woman.

And an illustration to accompany the first part of the memoir at least:


And I've also been tagged by Cajunchic at The Simple Cajun Life (though if you ask me, her life is anything BUT simple). If she can find time to blog, then I can find time to get through my memes.

So here are the rules:

1. Post 3 random things about yourself.

2. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.

3. Tag at least 5 other bloggers.

4. Let them know you've tagged them by commenting on their blog with an invite to participate.

Here's some very random things about me;

1. I'm clumsy. Especially with kitchen knives. Right know I have two cuts healing up. I'm not a self harmer, but if you saw my hands right now I could forgive you for wondering. In case you wonder - I wax my legs. There's no such thing as a safety razor.

2. I listen to weird bits of advice. Like my aunt telling me that used tea bags can stop bleeding. My uncle is on blood thinning drugs, so any shaving nicks can get way out of control. It really works. I can't remember what the active ingredient is, but if you ever you get an annoying paper cut that won't stop (and you don't want to cover your hands in plasters) try putting a wet, used tea bag on it. It stops the bleeding as if by magic. I'm almost looking forward to the next time Recaro cuts himself shaving... (just kidding).

3. I can't abide whistling. I think it's an abomination and one of the rudest things people can do. Co-workers, husband and many others think this is nutty. Including random strangers who I ask to stop whistling. It's got a lot to do with my mum telling my brother it was rude to whistle. Maybe he was whistling in an inappropriate place. Nonetheless, the feeling stuck. I find the noise really irritating and it bugs me that there's a tune going on in someone's head and I have to hear their awful accompaniment. I used to work next to a guy who would whistle as soon as it was past 5.30pm. He believed he only had to comply with my no-whistling directive during official work hours. It was okay though. I soon ran him off the premises and he's not come back since.

Tagging?

You know what. I'm not going to tag on this occasion. There are some really great posts going on around us right now. What I believe at The Natural Mommy (not that I agree with her - but isn't that part of the blogging fun?) and Eight Windows at I invented Motherhood to name just two and I don't want to get my tag in the way of someone else's well written, inspiring post. And of course we are just a post or two away from Reluctant's 100th post - which I'm looking forward to because I've asked her at least 14 questions and can't wait to read her answers. Also I haven't finished discovering the new blogs that Working Mum is enjoying. There's so much to read, comment on as well as laugh, cry, sigh and awww at. And that's before I've seen what Amanda's only gone and done now...

But just wait, because next time I might just throw a tag your way.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hyperactivity in the adult male

Boys on a train can be easily bored. If you also factor in the excitement of going to France, playing golf with your mates, and the channel tunnel train, it's inevitable they will find a game to play.

Check out the video of what Recaro stood by and filmed his mates doing on the train. 

It was shortly after the first running man started taking his clothes off that an announcement was made; 'Would the people on carriage 23, lower deck, please start acting their age'.

Amazingly, this announcement had great effect and they got back in the car and calmed down. 

Or at least that's what I've been told.

The Baby in the Mirror

I have a whole new book to read. It makes me feel quite giddy with the excitement of discovery. Also it was a freebie from my sis-in-law. Given my ability to fritter my money away on presents for Ellie and other small people this comes as a relief. Sometimes (err always?) it feels like cash is just flowing away from me.

The book is The Baby in the Mirror, by Charles Fernyhough.

I know. A book about babies written by a man. Already my cynicism, scepticism and negative stereotypes are firing up and I'm getting ready to take a few cheap pot shots at any naive, glib or pompous assumptions. But that would be my female chauvinism at work, wouldn't it?

I'm going to try and get a grip on these less attractive lines of thought and give it my best shot. My mind is open and I'm going to see what there is to discover.

It should be interesting - it's all about a child's development and growing sense of self awareness between the ages of birth to three years old. Since this covers the terrible twos, I'm hopeful that I'll gain some useful insight into what Ellie might be thinking and feeling and therefore have a clue about what I might do in response.

I've only read the first chapter and I think it bodes quite well. He's a lecturer and researcher in developmental psychology, so I'm expecting him to be quite thoughtful in his approach. He's written the book following the birth and first three years of his own daughter. So he does have some recent, first-hand experience. This isn't all clinical research.

Already it feels like stepping into an alternative world. The first chapter sets the scene of his research and the birth of his daughter. He has a rather intense (on his part) and amusing (her part) conversation with his daughter where he asks her what she remembers of her life as a baby. This serves to illustrate how children only start to see the world subjectively from about the age of two and a half. He does confirm that his life did alter when she came into his world. However, he doesn't once talk about caring for her, being responsible for her, loving her.

I'm not saying he doesn't feel any of these things. I just find it odd to read a book about children, by someone who has had a child for the first time, to not acknowledge the impact this new person has had on their lives.

Is it a fatherhood thing? He says having her was like bringing his work home with him - albeit in a very positive, fascinating way. I get the feeling his life and focus shifted - whereas most women writing a semi-academic/non-fiction book like this would describe their life and focus to have changed (in both positive and negative ways).

In writing the book, he seems to have the ability to hold the experience of fatherhood at a short remove from the task of research and observation.

It's a curiously male perspective. I'm definitely going to read this book. It might tell me useful things about Ellie, but I'm hopeful it might tell me more about fatherhood and men's ability to compartmentalise their life and work.

If I'm very lucky, I might even see some of my own prejudices overturned. And if I do, I'll share them with you. 

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another strangely lush adventure

Recaro took the day off work and went to France for the day to play golf with his mates. I don't mind at all.  I might even have to encourage such events.

1. His preparations included tidying up the office so that he could find any stray golf kit.

2. His cleaning frenzy extended to the living room. 

3. He was in a really good mood. It was like Christmas Eve last night he was so excited.

4. He'll be back by 10pm but knew he was going to have so much fun and since I wasn't going to be there, he made me book a facial, so that I had some time to myself that I would enjoy.

Although I usually try and get chores and errands done on Friday, so that we have a good family weekend - I've not done any of that today. We'll shop together instead. 

This means that today could be all about local history, shopping and lunch. You can come too, just guess where we are going first. Here's a clue:

Okay. That wasn't that helpful, but I liked the photo. It's Canterbury - one of the UK's five centres of Christianity. I think the others are places like Iona and Lindisfarne and maybe York (can't remember the last one).

I hope you've noticed this particular gargoyle is a scary female one. It's odd to see aggressive breasts, isn't it? There's a phd thesis on that subject somewhere. 

But before we got to Canterbury, Ellie and I had a tussle over the car keys. I let her drive. Duck navigated.

Which was all a bit hopeless because we ended up at Blean Farm Shop. It was time for me to take over the driving if we were going to stick to the plan.

After parking at the unpronouceable St Radigund's* car park (I love the name), I follow my nose to the Cathedral.

This is the building with the gargoyles. It's next to a very tacky leather jacket shop - I've cropped the photo. I didn't want to show you the things that displease me.

Take a peek in the window at Babylove. A fabulous, if pricey, children's clothes shop. This is great for boys clothes because they don't always involve applique patches of tractors and dinosaurs.


We are nearly at the Cathedral now. Here's the Sun Hotel. Charles Dickens apparently made this hotel famous by either staying here or writing about it. Mind you, he didn't make it that famous. I only read the plaque on the wall about this when I took the photo. 
There's also a shop over the road from here which sells very lovely, very expensive Orla Kiely handbags. I can sometimes be found drooling at the window, but I have not purchased one of these fine items yet. One day, my beauty, you shall be mine

At last, we are at the Cathedral gate. And a very fine gate it is too. Here are lots and lots of foreign students. Today the tourists appeared to be either French and young or Italian and old. The Italians were all dressed as if they'd got lost on their way to the ski slopes. It was a bit cold, but not fur cold. I think they just wanted an excuse to wear their fluffiest hats.
Voila.
The scaffolding at the back is where the stone is being cleaned up. I didn't take a photo of the clean parts of the Cathedral, because quite frankly, it all looked too new.

And no one goes to Canterbury to see a new cathedral, do they?

Here's the inside. The photo somehow makes it look very narrow, but honestly, it is pretty big.
Here's little lovely. She was very happy to get a run around inside. Because of increased security, I had to take the buggy around with us, but at least there were lots of French students on hand to lift the buggy up and down the numerous stone staircases for me.

I was quite committed to getting around the Cathedral, because I wanted to show you this.

No, not the gate, the altar behind it.

Isn't that a spooky altar.  I'll read up on what that's all about one day. Please don't have nightmares about this altar. 

As soon as we got outside, Ellie wanted to go back in again. But I wasn't in the mood to attempt all the steps and deal with the teenagers again.

Instead we went Ellie-shoe shopping in possibly the most old-fashioned shoe shop left in England. This tiny shop had masses of staff and shoe boxes lined the walls. I had to describe what I wanted and they'd bring back masses of boxes for me to look through. 

They didn't bother to display everything in the window - that would be a new-fangled, marketing-schmarketing thing to do. I don't think they hold with that sort of nonsense in these parts.

Luckily, they had a slide for Ellie to play with, but we didn't buy a thing. All the summer shoes were either ugly or really ugly. 

Next stop was lunch. We met the Style Queen and Bolly-boy. Style Queen had a daughter just three weeks ago but she'd left her at home with her maternity nurse. 

Yes, SQ is posh. I barely know which knife or fork to pick up first. This is why we go to Pizza Express so I can eat with my hands.
Within a minute of taking this photo, Ellie was asleep. Always a sign of a good day.
Have a lovely weekend everyone.


*Because we are all curious people; St Radegund lived from 518-587. She was the daughter of the King of Thuringia, whose assassination was avenged by the Frankish King Clotaire I. Clotaire had the twelve year old Radegund baptised and educated, and eventually married her. However, her ill treatment by the King, and his murder of her brother, compelled Radegund to leave him. She became a nun and went on to found the great nunnery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, where she spent the last thirty years of her life.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flashback Friday

Rewind a year and I recall giving Ellie her first messy, scruffy, painting playdate with our best pals The Guru and Little Om.

The Guru is a fantastic yoga teacher and supremely arty. I think she even has a fine art degree from Goldsmiths among her many achievements.

I think this had something to do with how she managed to keep Little Om - a very boisterous and mobile 7-month boy - pretty  clean. His hand and foot print paintings were really very classy.

Meanwhile, the strangelush gals had a rather more random time.


But at least when it was all over, she really knew how to chill out and enjoy her nap.

There was a time that I always knew when she was ready to sleep. Her arms would go up to her head, ready for her sleeping position.

Now? Well, now I'm getting away with deciding when she needs to nap and putting her in her crib when I think she - and I - need the break. It's said you can't bank sleep - but I've got a feeling the time will come when I'm really pleased I made the most her afternoon naps. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This was my day

I did lots of good stuff today. I even met a deadline four whole days early. But you don't want to know about that. You want double decker buses. There's three at once, but not one of them was my number eight.

None of these were the old fashioned, jump on, jump off, routemasters though. These are new-fangled buses with automatic doors. Fortunately they aren't bendy buses. I'll post a photo of one of those crazy things another day.


Because I know some of you will have filed your US tax returns early enough to qualify for some free cash, I thought I'd get off the bus in fashionable Mayfair and take a walk up Bond Street.

So that you could spend you dollars in patriotic style, I checked out Ralph Lauren first. If you ask me he's getting frivolous, frilly and slightly 80's all in rebellion against the tougher economic climate in the noughties.


Just take a look at that top hat and ra-ra skirt ensemble. If that's not the stuff of 80's dreams/nightmares I don't know what is.
These old guys are found half way along Bond Street. During the middle of the day, tourists almost queue up to have their photos taken sat between FDR and Churchill. See how shiny FDR's arm and leg is. I think quite a few people have stroked that knee.
Eek. Not sure this is really going to help the hosiery department at Fenwicks.

After this, I'm afraid I had to go and do some work. It's okay though, I was super efficient.

At lunchtime I stayed on track and went out to get my glasses fixed. Apparently they aren't supposed to withstand the full weight of an 18-month old trying to punch your lights out. Isn't that silly?

I was going to the 20:20 Optical Store on Tottenham Court Road. This meant I had to walk through Fitzrovia. What a great name for an area. Very George the first, second, third and fourth. (My knowledge of this period of history isn't very good. I'm sure nothing too important happened during this time...)

This is upper Regent Street. Lots of crane and church spire action going on here. Peeking just around the corner at the end of the road is the home of BBC radio and the World Service.
Over the tops of the roofs, you can see the Post Office Tower. There used to be a revolving restaurant at the top and down in the basement there's a royal mail train service. All very secret agent. 
I went for a very indulgent burger and fries at Hamburger Union. It was so tasty. Much better than I ever remember McDonalds being - but, shall we say, a little bit more expensive.

After collecting my repaired glasses (done for FREE! because I bought them from there last year) I headed back to the office. I thought to myself, I'll keep my camera switched on just in case I see something interesting.

And then I saw John Hurt walking towards me.

All sorts of thoughts dashed through my head. Should I do some self and celeb photography? Should I just ask if I could take his photo? Clearly I spent far too long thinking about this because he disappeared into this hardware shop.

So I took a photo of his back for you. He's the one holding the blue IKEA bag. That's how cool JH is. He reuses IKEA bags. I try and use mine for beach picnics, he uses his for DIY supplies.

I know what you are thinking. I really should have tried harder about this. But I know the agonies I have gone through after harassing people for autographs. It's horrible. I feel so bad about making a complete idiot of myself. Taking a photo of John Hurt's back is definitely the best solution.
Please console yourself with a photo of Cavendish Square - which has secret underground parking below. Very handy for a spot of Oxford Street shopping.
And also consider the strangely lush plate and cup I bought for Ellie. And the very wonderful notebook for all my bloggy ideas. Isn't that colourful and non-workie?

Okay. I know you are getting tired now. You'll be wondering when I went home. Well I did catch my train - along with six mothers and their many children, happy meals, quiches, ham sandwiches, home made brownies. 

My threshold for family fun is so much higher than it ever used to be. Even so, I was delighted to make it into Whitstable. Here's the beach - this photo is taken from the train by the way.
This is the scooter that will take me from the station to home and family.
And this is one strangely lush mother who is really looking forward to seeing the love of her life and her beeeeyoootiful, funny, lovely and clever baby daughter.