Even a found Christmas can be dull and gloomy and it was like that when I headed out to Brick Lane on the Saturday before Christmas – Christmas Eve Eve! I visited the hairdresser and trusted my head to her. I came away wondering just what she’d changed – there was very little hair on the floor and more time spent on diffusing and perfecting my curls than cutting – but the back did look better, I’d had a good time, and I wasn’t upset. That’s a major achievement.
I stopped at Ambala for some samosas and grabbed a chicken tikka roll for some lunch. But the view from Whitechapel was dismal.
My friend, Judy, sent me a message when I got on the bus and we switched to talking for real (yes!). The whole of Cambridge Heath Road and Mare Street was the same dismal grey as Whitechapel Road had been. And then we passed Mare Street Market and the lights caught my eye. I had to get out to look more closely.
Inside was a real Christmas grotto. I wandered around and enjoyed the atmosphere, everyone laughing and everything glistening.
Just about able to see Esmeralda, who was visiting from Bologna for the first time since 2004 or maybe 2003. I was just recovering from having a virus but now Krish was sick and it was tough to tell if I could leave him alone or not. The day before I’d been to my mentor assessment day and then come home to find Krish in bed barely able to lift his head.
Thank God for the NHS. They advised me over the phone to get hold of the doctor, who then called me back to talk about his diagnosis and off I rushed to the drugstore before it closed. After just one double dose of antibiotics, Krish could get out of bed and inhale some steam. Relief! And some hope for the next day.
Esmeralda arrived in Dalston some time around noon and we set off pretty quickly to do some exploring.
No surprise that I followed my usual route. We made a quick stop at Shoreditch Church, then a peek into Leila’s, Arnold Circus and the glorious buildings on Boundary Estate.
Not many photos of that area today – I was feeling better but tiring quickly. Redchurch Street looked good, Boxpark was doing its retail thing, and on down to Brick Lane, watch some salt beef beigel action and a beeline to Meraz.
I ordered what I always do – no objections from Esmeralda. What is it? The tarka dhal (I really like their version), the sag aloo (not too spicy today), tandoori lamb chops sizzling wonderfully, and Es was brave enough to ask if they’d make a small portion of chicken korma – Of course! So delicious after a week or two of rather bland food. Esmeralda was pretty happy. What was really cool was the owner, Sami, arriving and coming over to shake my hand and say he hadn’t seen me for a long time. Oh, the groupie in me!
Embarrassing how I love this sort of encounter and I had one more to come.
I’m a huge fan of graffiti artist, Fanakapan. His art is so well executed – the 3D images he produces are spectacular. The first one I ever saw, in Star Yard, I honestly thought was a metallic helium balloon stuck on the wall! It was totally 2D but you’d never have guessed it. When we got into Star Yard, the first thing I saw was a hideous metal shed now built into one corner! The yard will never be the same! What’s it there for? There was an artist up a ladder working on the large wall at the entry. It was difficult to make out what he was doing but then a graffiti tour guide wandered by and mentioned the word Fanakapan. When he left, I asked the man on the ladder ‘Are you Fanakapan?’ He said he was and I managed to say that I was a huge fan of his work and delighted to meet him. He came down the ladder, asking my name and shook my hand. I had seen him before but never this close up. The piece he was working on wasn’t obviously his work and wasn’t finished. We moved on.
Later that night, I saw a photo of the finished work. It had only appeared to be far from finished. It was in fact an amazing piece of anamorphic art – you can see it at https://www.instagram.com/p/BfgYq8JhsGm/?hl=en&taken-by=fanakapan I must go back and see if I can take it from the right angle. He let me know on Instagram what to do:
I love going to La Chapelle. It’s a restaurant that is housed in what was the assembly hall of my mother’s old school, Central Foundation School for Girls. When I first came to London, they were in the middle of demolition and I was sad that it was disappearing. So I was pleased that a piece of the school was still standing. It was slowly transformed into a fantastic restaurant space, La Chapelle, by Galvin.
I’ve had almost perfect meals here, with a few exceptions. I always go for the discounted meals, a few pounds off or a free cocktail thrown in. It’s not the cheapest place to eat but it’s far from the most expensive.
My friend, Caroline, and I went to La Chapelle at the end of January. I chose the roast beef and she chose pheasant. In a way I felt I copped out but I knew they do a great job on a roast and I don’t make it at home.
A delicious meal and for once I couldn’t finish the whole three courses and had to go without my usual coffee, which is served with a beautifully presented bowl of treats – truffles and macarons. Another time!