stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Zero Weekend

This weekend happened earlier in May, but because the weekend celebrated a whole year, it's not really time sensitive! We have lots of "zero" year celebrations this year in the family - the MoH is 70; I am 60; our Eldest Daughter is 30; and we will have been married for 40 years.

We decided to have a family weekend in London to celebrate ALL of them, staying at our Eldest Daughter's place just off Brick Lane. We had thought that taking in a show and some nice meals would be great. But the ED had some great tricks up her sleeve.

Not only had she booked us in (several months ago) for drinks at the exclusive Vertigo 42 bar (at the top of the NatWest tower, the highest building in the City) but had arranged for a very special surprise alongside the champagne (I really like this photo) We took it in turns to have a bite of the cake, and then to eat the chocolate lettering around the plate. We now how to enjoy ourselves!

So the first place we go to is this exclusive building - this is the view as I looked up as we went up the first escalator. We got whizzed through into a lift that went all the way up - coded purple colour- the theme colour of Vertigo 42 - and up 42 floors in the wink of an eye (or the swallow of an eardrum).

We got shown to our seat and this was the view that awaited us! How thoughtful to place the compass direction by each window. I think we had the best seat in the house, with the view back along the Thames to Westminster. We enjoyed the champagne, the "cake", the views and each other's company. And also the thought that we weren't having to pay the prices for the food up here! AND the fun of going to the loo, knowing the plumbing went down 42 floors - well, the thought appealed to me anyway!

As dusk was falling, we descended and strolled back to Spitalfieds to an exceedingly brilliant tapas restaurant, Meson Los Bariles. Those are stuffed mushrooms in the front, and in the rear are calamares, mussels, patatas bravas, shell-on prawns in garlic and olive oil, chorizos, a mini-paella. And that was just the first round! Eventually after a relaxed meal, we wandered back towards Brick Lane and bed.

There are a couple of famous Jewish bagels shop in Brick Lane, a legacy of the time when it was the heart of Jewish London. We walked around the corner to buy our breakfast bagels - smoked salmon and cream cheese made up most of our order, with the MoH having traditional salt beef. There was a long, good-natured queue (I love Londoners) and the slightly unreal looking cakes and pastries caught my eye. But it was way too early in the day to indulge!

(the exterior shot is not my photo)

The evening saw four of us booked in for the musical "Wicked" It was decided not to pay the high prices for some seats, so we were up in The Gods, which are now quaintly known as The Nosebleed Seats! But even at that distance, it was a real spectacle, and very cleverly staged. I would be quite happy to pay a return visit to appreciate it again. A working knowledge of the film/book The Wizard of Oz will make the experience even better, it really is well written, with the story interweaving with the well known one. Excellent songs and singers. Lovely to see all the congnoscenti and fans wearing bright green clothes. Even the foyer was green!

We walked outside the theatre, and got straight on a red doubledecker us that took us through the busy bustle of the centre of London and the City, and almost to the door. Better than a taxi!

Then another surprise was revealed. She had arranged an even more exclusive visit - to The Gherkin aka 30 St Mary Axe aka Swiss Re buildingThis wonderful, wonderful building is not open to the public, and the lounge/bar at the very top is only for tenant companies and their guests. One of the ED's good friends and neighbours was able to whisk us in as guests! Wow. So at the appointed hour, late afternoon, we walked to the Gherkin and marvelled at the building - not a curved piece of glass in the place (oh apart from the lens at the very apex) and each piece of different dimensions, only a computer could have known which bit went where! That's us walking in the Sunday deserted City.

How fantastic to look back from the base of the Gherkin up to the NatWest Tower where we we were yesterday.

The corporate offices were plush and in very good taste. Ive seen all the documentaries about the building of the Gherkin, but of course they dont show the decor and office furniture.

Tower Bridge looked historic in the sunlight, and "Ken's Building" (Ken Livingstone, London's Mayor) looked spherical,modern and sleek in glass to the right. People say it resembles a pile of plates about to topple over, but I couldn't see the similarity. Then we watched an approaching storm and the sky darkened. But somehow it felt safe and secure.

There was more "fizzy" - Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut which we brought ourselves + glasses in a cool bag - and for several hours we luxuriated in the quiet opulence and strolled around admiring the architecture. We were very aware of what a special privilege it was to be there, on our own.

The views over London were spectacular. At one point we watched a small red balloon float by below us, and watched it float across the rooftops (just like the famous French film) towards where ED lives - a building with white triangular roof beyond the white spire of Hawksmoor's Spitalfieds church in the centre.

What a great weekend and a really special time with wonderful food and some exclusive visits.
A time to remember and treasure.


At 11:02 pm, Blogger Tabor said...

Wow, Val, you do know how to celebrate! Most envious but thanks so much for sharing!!!

At 12:39 am, Blogger Val said...

Whew, a monster post! I will come back again after I return from the city, to read properly. But already I am enjoying along with you your memories and photos of these celebrations.

At 11:27 am, Blogger Rowan said...

What a fabulous weekend you had with all those special treats - London is a great place to visit. I've seen the Gherkin from outside when I've been down there.
The bagel shop looked good - and I have to tell you that it is NEVER too early for cakes:)

At 9:26 pm, Blogger kerrdeLune (cate) said...

Val, thank you for taking me along with you on this fabulous weekend.

At 3:59 am, Blogger Kerri said...

Your celebratory weekend sounded wonderful Val! I love all your photos, especially the first. Your ED really had some grand tricks up her sleeve, clever girl :)
Mmmm, bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese. Isn't it called lochs and bagels, or some such thing? I've only ever had it once, and loved it! That feast of seafood, etc. looks absolutely delicious!
Thanks so much for sharing this happy time.


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