Just made it back to Gloucester after a whirlwind weekend.
Had a lovely time at a Book Festival in Folkestone, where I was giving a talk about writing to a group at the local Youth Centre.
Then headed back via London to see one of the loveliest couples I know, who I cannot name as one half of the duo is currently off work today for reasons which are about to become apparent.
Last time I went drinking in London, I ended up throwing my business card into one of those draw pots in the ladies' loo of a pub. A few weeks back, I received a surprise e-mail informing me that I'd won a £100 bar tab, cashable any day except Fridays and Saturdays.
I made plans to stay with said friends, arriving at midday, just in time to crash their friend's birthday party. My friends, and their friends, were already slightly worse for wear after revelling into the early hours, such is the way of people in London with their crazy social schedules, so they all decided to meet in The Herne, East Dulwich.
It was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best Sunday roasts I have ever eaten in my life. Roaring fire, lovely atmosphere. When the plates started to arrive, it didn't look like much. Thought we might have accidentally wandered into a cordon bleu restaurant where food is more art than substantial. Then the sides arrived: roast potatoes and parsnips, mashed swede and greens... piles of it. We were as stuffed as the turkey by the end. Just managed to squeeze in a little of Gill's homemade lemon drizzle cake.
Most of my friends living in London have kids or jobs, so, after a period of digestive recovery, I rounded up those that didn't and we headed out for the night.
Public House (@Public_HouseN1) is absolutely gorgeous. It's everything I love about a nice bar: mood-lightingly lit, quirky, with plenty of candle wax, good music, and an incredible selection of cocktails.
Top left was our absolute favourite: La Fleur (de ma jeunesse):
Not a hydrangea, rather a twist on the Clover Club cocktail. Gin, home-made rose & raspberry syrup, calvados and fresh lemon.
Top right: Meteor-ice:
From nowhere, this pokey tipple hits you right between the eyes. Tapatio 110 proof tequila, apricot, grapefruit, lime and maraschino.
I must admit, I prefer my tequila in slammers. When it comes to cocktails, I have more of a sweet tooth.
Bottom left: Donkey Club Punch:
Light rum, peach brandy, honey water and fresh lemon juice served fruity; donkey's underground take on the missionary's downfall.
Bottom right: Little Queen of Spades:
Green grapes molested with the joy of elderflower, magic of oloroso, vodka and lime.
We also drank several beers (the main one I remember being Goose Island) and a healthy amount of prosecco over about a four-hour session. Then we managed to get a taxi all the way from North London to South London for £25!
We even got him to stop off at an offy so that we could buy more beer. Well, my friends went to buy more beer, whilst I waited in the taxi being propositioned by the very nice, but slightly hopeful, Bangladeshi driver.
A wonderful night had by all (even the taxi driver).
Woke up this morning with a free pass! (You know, when you haven't been out drinking for a really long time, then you do and you wake up the next morning expecting to feel like death, but you're actually bright and chirpy? Only ever happens once, if you try it again the next night everything catches up with you...) So, my friend and I headed down the road to The Duck Egg, which is this awesome little café that specialises in egg-related breakfasts made with duck eggs rather than chicken eggs.
It was outstanding, we soothed our bodies back to health with a massive English Breakfast and a version of Eggs Benedict with mushrooms.
It's been a fab, if exhausting, couple of days. Going to get a good night's sleep tonight ahead of what might just prove to be an interesting week...