So, Franny came to visit us last week, which was lovely. She arrived earlier than planned, on Monday, due to dirty thieving Lisbon scum (I am sure everyone else there is lovely though), and we went to meet her in town. Eurostar is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more convenient than flights in terms of pickup and dropoff but also waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more expensive for that particular trip (Belgium-UK; the real killer is anything crossing the Channel).
Subsequently we got to take her to our local cheapy Thai where I think she got her first vegetable intake in some weeks. On Tuesday I took a day off work and we spent all day hiking around the more charming bits and pieces of the local area - Kensington Palace Gardens, Holland Park, etc. It's always great to do this with someone new, as otherwise I tend to forget that it is all INCREDIBLY SPECTACULAR. The chavs were misbehaving in the quad outside that night, but Franny was too tired and Grant too knocked out on Night Nurse for his awful cold to notice, so that was a plus.
On Wednesday we headed out west on an adventure. First stop was Kew Gardens, aka The Most Expensive Botanical Gardens Ever. Lovely though. Because, our return home being quite imminent at this point, I am getting increasingly homesick, I liked the eucalypt grove best. There are actually gum trees all over the place here, but usually singly and therefore not in sufficient numbers to make that lovely homey smell. They also had a very fancy chilli display in the lily house, which in turn had some very fancy lilies on display, including an amazonica. We spent about 4 hours there all up.
Afterwards we headed further west out to Richmond to have a wander around, climb Richmond Hill (not as hilly as the name would suggest, but nice view over the Thames Valley and a particularly nice part of the Thames, too - too bad there was a Heinz commercial being filmed in front of the best part of the view), and have a stroll in Richmond Park. Richmond Park is where the deer hang out, but it was quite a hot day, and unlike us I think the deer had the good sense to go somewhere quiet and shady! I was glad we went, though, as I've only ever been driven through it before and it isn't really the same - you don't get quite the same sense of how BIG the joint is.
Then we had a very lovely dinner with Jen in Richmond. And then I got a really awful headache/buggered neck thing which put me flat on my back for two days thereafter, thus making me a pretty shit host all things considered. Franny being a trooper managed to get around quite a bit of the city on her own though, so the only thing that really suffered was study. AND WHO CARES ABOUT THAT?
Oh, and on Friday it stormed and rained so hard that the drains started backing up inside. Including the toilet. Awesome. However, gravity prevailed over crap British drainage design and it was all sorted within an hour or so, here. Up north the floods were much much worse, as you may have seen on the news. Supposedly the Thames was supposed to flood this week, but I have my doubts as the rain has slowed up - in any case, might be one of the few advantages of Ladbroke Grove being a good long way away from the water!
Franny left on Saturday morning, and after that Grant and I made the bold decision NOT to go to dim sum for the first time ever. Instead we went to my lecturer's party in one of the private gardens of Notting Hill. It was amazing to see what lies behind the hedges and the locked gates but unfortunately we didn't get to see it for very long, as it bucketed down! Instead we got to see lecturer's lovely flat with view over said lovely garden. It was a very pleasant afternoon, rain notwithstanding; also we were outed as expectant parents by a fellow student who knew to those who didn't (she thought they did, and kindly proposed a toast). The fact that otherwise bright and shiny students didn't apparently notice that I now have a giant bump in front of me is either flattering or raises some concern as to their powers of observation. Anyway, it was nice to get so many good wishes in one hit, upping Plan B's karmic points dramatically no doubt, and also very nice to be spared the effort of telling everyone individually, as my "does not like to make a fuss" phobia is still in full swing.
Saturday night's dinner was the spoils of the Saturday market - fetta, olives, hummus, salad, weird but tasty multigrain bread from Paul's - yum. I kind of love how one can still do the dodgy lawyer-home-at-8.30pm style dinner as a mostly full-time student and get away with it. More time to avoid writing blog entries and bugger around on the Internet! Yay!
On Sunday we went out for breakfast to our local overpriced but relatively tasty joint. It was overpriced but relatively tasty, and also they are of the view that I can eat a kilo of spinach in one hit. We used to go out for breakkie all the time especially in Sydney, but Grant has been doing the honours most weekends for most of our time here. I am a bit cross about the going out for breakfast experience these days given that my favourite breakfast dish of all time - eggs royale, ie. smoked salmon, soft poached eggs and partially-cooked egg sauce (hollandaise) - is off the menu for the time being courtesy of the FOOD NAZIS. If I can't have that, it's kind of hard to muster up enthusiasm for something I could make just as easily myself. Dammit, now I've made myself hanker for eggs royale. Argh.
Then, because we are lazy, we headed the pitifully few train stops out to Hammersmith for a spot of shopping. I am now the proud owner of underpants that fit. Lifechanging. We had a very pleasant stroll beside the river on the Thames River Path (passes just behind Hammersmith, then kinks back down to protect Ladbroke Grove from flooding), then went home for luverly chicken and chips for lunch, English-style. Well, technically if it had been proper English it would of course have been cod but never mind. Regan came over in the evening for pizza and a bracing game of Starbase Jeff, at which I suck and have always sucked and will never ever be anything other than sucky. Regan was victorious in his starbase construction and insists that the trick is to play against two people locked in matrimonial battle. I will see if I can arrange that. Regan has now left us for Switzerland of all places, but we will be over there to visit in about a month, aka THE OTHER SIDE OF EXAMS.
And now back to the study, and the growing of the huge, weirdly itchy/tickly belly. Mum is here in under two weeks - YAY! My first exam is the day before she arrives - boo! And Grant is off for an alpine mountain biking adventure a few days before that - yay or boo, depending on perspective!