02 December, 2006

jaunts of a holiday nature















Oh, we've been busy. The ornaments from the glorious Matt McGhee shop on Christopher Street in the West Village are on the tree, I have my traditional copies of Agatha Christie's The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Ngaio Marsh's Tied Up in Tinsel at the ready, we've been watching our favorite Christmas movies, "White Christmas," "Elf," and "The Santa Claus," and are waiting for a new English-friendly copy of "Christmas in Connecticut" just to make us homesick. I'm busily amassing presents on a chair in my study, but of course a lot of it is being done online, I'm sorry to say, to avoid having to ship. Still, it's fun to shop, even in the virtual world.

I bought a couple of sweet things from the Christmas Fair at the darling little Jesuit church around the corner, across from the glorious Connaught Hotel, and really enjoyed eavesdropping on the conversations of the church worthies who were manning the jelly and book stalls. How wonderful it would be to have been born English, and have that marvelous identity. The Vicar. As Lord Peter Wimsey would say, "Oh, jolly good. I collect Vicars, and this is an especially fine specimen."

Walking around the neighborhood trying to find the entrance to the church (yes, I can get lost even within three blocks of my home, don't worry), I was reminded so much of our early days here, when I first discovered these gardens at Mount Street, where they filmed an episode of "Spooks." I kept my eyes peeled for Matthew Macfadyen, but no joy. No, I may have to find a new crush. I have an actual candidate in the wings, a certain Irish comedian called Dylan Moran. OK, he's scruffy, he's on the edge, but he's smart, and there is that accent. Come on, Matthew, are you jealous? When was the last time you sat on chat-show host Jonathan Ross's leather sofa and gave us something to think about, huh? Normally I am a great fan of all things Scottish, and our various adventures there have been encouraging of that predilection. But Ireland is beckoning in the form of Mr Moran, so I have some catching up to do there. He's just hilarious. And the hair doesn't hurt.

Well, I've had my first iffy London restaurant lunch. You know how I dote on my lunches with my friend Twiggy. We chat, we gossip, we look for famous people, and normally we really enjoy our food. Twiggy is a vegetarian and so it is necessary to find a good menu for her. I am going to mention our adventure on Friday only because the location was absolutely gorgeous, a glittering and charming hideaway in Mayfair called Lancashire Court. The restaurant itself, called Hush, was overcrowded, loud, the waitstaff nonexistent and the food nothing to write home about. They put parmesan on Twiggy's risotto and she doesn't eat aged cheeses, and the dish was listed on the vegan menu, and as far as I know, no vegan eats cheese, so points off there. Then the salad was nothing but iceberg lettuce (I didn't know they even made it anymore, frankly), and and slimy red peppers. I had halibut which was completely forgettable, and scary lentils. Ah well, the gossip was good and I will go back to the Court.

Twiggy herself lives in an area of London that I would really like to visit, called Butler's Wharf, in St. Katherine's Dock. Very sort of urban, lofty, perhaps a bit too much like where we've come from. But we'll go visit them soon and see what's up with that. Meanwhile, of course, real estate continues to consume a vast portion of John's attention. He's deeply attached to a Grade 1 Listed house in Bedford Square, with its air of decayed aristocracy. We took our friend Vincent with us to see it last week, and then today we hung around West Kensington, again with Vincent, to see some more housey houses, and without the restrictions on building that would apply to a listed house. Today we looked with longing at several falling-down houses in Oxford Gardens, so I'll keep you posted.

I have to say, the tree makes all the difference in our living room! It's very cozy. And just so you know, the place to buy a tree in London, unless you have a car big enough to bring it home (in other words, not our car), is Homebase. Now, I know what you're thinking, how boring. But lovely Australian Michelle helped us out, and there was a big selection, and they delivered. So there. Sorted.

We're ready. I refuse to be hurried over Christmas, my favorite month of the year. I would have to say that the sight of the movers' boxes full of ornaments brought back unpleasant memories enough! Oh last year was such a hash. And yet, there was the memory of Rollie and his tree farm, and all the wreaths, so lovely, such wonderful Connecticut memories. I wonder what Rollie's up to for Christmas this year...

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