My lovely sunflower-gal Sarah and I went to high school together, but really bonded in sixth form over Hamlet, the corn laws and GCSE Spanish. We share a love of tea and books, and fond memories of broccoli and stilton soup with cheese grated in after a night on the town. For my 19th birthday she not only bought me tickets to the Rocky Horror, but insisted I get ready at hers – and organised for a mini-bus full of our friends to show up in full fancy dress to accompany us! She’s the only person I’ve ever seen successfully drop a new mobile phone in a flute of champagne – without even aiming! 😀
Violet martinis on my 26th birthday
Our GCSE Spanish was a work of genius – taught by our A-level French teacher on a Thursday afternoon (which got us oh-so-neatly out of double games!), our tongues loosened by gossip, tortilla chips and the occasional glass of Spanish wine (eek!). Luckily, Sarah and I had some self-starting motivation, and did actually put in the hours outside of school – the look of fear translating to shocked amazement and finally to joy on Mrs. Brooks’ face when we were actually able to speak Spanish in our oral exam will haunt me forever!
Anyway, Saturday was Sarah’s hen do. And in typical Sarah style, it was fabulous – a real event to remember.
Pretty in Pink, the bride-to-be
I began making preparations on Friday night. Having reserved a copy of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for Sarah’s birthday gift (which was also Sarurday!) I trotted up to Waterstones after work to collect it. I found the recipe I wanted, checked the ingredients and went straight to Tesco’s to buy them… Then I got up nice and early on Saturday to bake.
Look good, huh? They’re hollowed out and filled with gooey hazelnut chocolate! Unfortunately by the time I’d crossed London by tube they had kinda… melted (see below). I’m told they still tasted pretty darned good though!
Picnic! Well, what’s left of it…
Pants! There was a bit of a pants theme – everyone bought lingerie for the BTB!
Thank you Mommy!
We had a gorgeous afternoon picnic in the garden, and I was all set to come home… until I was persuaded that there was plenty of floorspace if I wanted to stay over! So, I walked Chrissie to Liverpool Street station via a couple of the marvy Brick Lane vintage shops. Which is where my adventures began…
As we walked to the station we gossipped. Chrissie said to me “You are taking notice of where we’re going, aren’t you?” and I said “Yes! Anyway, you know how my sense of direction is – I’ll be fine!” And then she got on the tube, with her umbrella, and I got outside to face the drizzle (which had now become a downpour) and steam-trained off, head down against the rain, into the East End…
Naturally I missed my turn, and got lost somewhere near Shoreditch High Street. And then my shoe broke. So I hobbled about, lost, half-drowned and feeling sorry for myself, until my other shoe broke, and something inside snapped. I realised no-one was going to save me, and just like thay my internal GPS clicked in.
After which I marched straight back to Annie’s without a second thought!
Annie was an amazing hostess, and not only provided tea and a towel (actually, Becky made me tea – thanks hon!), but also a dress and some flip flops. I found some super glue in a corner shop to fix my shoes, and we made our way to the Brickhouse on Brick Lane for the party.
Annie had organised the whole thing and it was phenomenal! The food was fantastic, the burlesque was magical, and so many people had made an incredible effort with fancy dress – having not brought anything to wear I felt I was a bit of a let down really!
Presenting the beautiful and talented Amber Topaz!
A candy gal!
Wilma and Marilyn (Sarah and Rachey-babes)
I know, I’m red and sweaty, there was much dancing, it was warm…
But isn’t Annie’s dress pretty!
After the burlesque and food there was dancing (seriously – these girls and guys dance!) and eventually people began to drift homewards. When most people had left, Sandra (one of the Annex Girls from Uni) and Sarah’s colleague Kim and I moved upstairs where Annie was being cornered by none other than Jeremy Clarkson. He was… persistent… (and super sleazy, apparently) and we were ready for bed, so Sandra, Kim and I got a taxi back to Kim’s for cheese on toast, and I slept on her sofa.
Sandra and I
The happy couple!
On Sunday morning I left Kim’s bright and early and walked down Tuffnell Park Road (a stone’s throw from where they filmed Spaced, Erin!) and got the tube across town to Liverpool Street again. This time I didn’t get lost, but took myself straight to the marvy Spitalfield’s Market to wander amongst all the fabulous one-off designs, then cut through the way we’d walked to the cash point the night before, past the Routemaster doubledecker bus-come-restaurant and the fabulous smelling Thai shack to Brick Lane again, to collect my stuff from Annie’s before heading home. My camera battery had long died, and I attempted a couple of phone pics, but in the bright sunlight they didn’t really come out…
Spitalfields Market – see, no idea what my phone camera is doing!
The Brickhouse – our venue, looking a little staunch the morning after!
Vintage street vendors
On Sunday morning Brick Lane was AMAZING! I the warm sunshine vendors were setting up along both sides of the streets, selling vintage and secondhand goods – everything from 40s shoes to old Kenwood mixers, early walkmans to VHS videos… it reminded me of the Portobello Road song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks:
Portobello Road, Portobello Road
Street where the riches of ages are sold
Anything and everything a chap can unload
Is sold off the barrow in Portobello Road
(You can eat like a king in the Portobello Road!)
I added that last bit because the array of food available was unbelievable. Piles of the most vibrant coloured, sweetest smelling, freshest fruit and veg covered stalls five pasting tables long; mango, pineapple and other exotic fruit juices were squeezed while you waited, while a brightly dressed woman in a batiked head tie chopped watermelon into slices; hot plates of paella, Thai noodles, Jerk chicken and Carribbean fish sizzled in welcoming shacks; a gangly man in a grey suit with a white beard sang invitingly as he broke coconuts for you to drink on the spot. I felt like I was on holiday: the scents assaulted you, a new flavour at every step – it was pure magic, the perfect end to such a brilliant weekend!