Hello my friends! It’s now Sunday evening of my first weekend back in London, and I’m happy as a pig in shit. Which I’m told makes for a very happy pig, although I really don’t know if that’s true. But I do know I’m one happy Nikki.
The flight over was fine, although I did arrive to a bit of a debacle with the keys to my holiday flat, as I blogged about over at the Pens. But it was sorted out by early evening, and within a few hours I was unpacked and ready to start cooking for my friends.
I have a secret, paradoxical domestic streak. I don’t think I want children, and I’m ambivalent about marriage as an institution, but I love nothing more than making people food and serving them and pouring them drinks and making sure they’re comfortable. It’s odd, and I have no idea where it comes from, but I’ve learned to embrace my strange drive to nestle people into my domestic bosom. So within hours of unpacking I had my lovely friends Ruth and Linda over, as well as Linda’s brother who was visiting from Dublin. All I did was make salad and heat up pizza, but it was so nice to catch up and know I didn’t have to run around that night. Then we had delicious cherries and pots of delicious chocolate ganache, which was heavenly.
The next day I had a proper day out with Ruth, and our friends visiting from Edinburgh, Sarah and Robin. We went to Hampton Palace, which was Henry VIII’s stomping grounds. Indeed, Dr. Ruth has become rather obsessed with the Tudors, the TV series, and she especially enjoyed all the large-booted stomping performed by the actor playing Henry.
It was a gorgeous day out, and a great day for a picnic on the front lawn:
After which, we did the whole palace and gardens. I really enjoyed it, although there were a few rooms in which they piped in “authentic” sounds and smells. I was fine with the sounds, but the faux-beef stew smell in the first rooms of the kitchens nearly made me hurl. Any nausea, however, was quickly eradicated by the rest of the kitchens, which had live cooking demos with recipes from the time. Not only were the demos interesting, but all of the cooks were sporting proper period costumes, including these padded cod pieces that looked incredibly, hilariously vulgar underneath their aprons. It was a definite moment of “Is that a rolling pin under your apron or are you just happy to see me?”
As usual, we were definitely the least mature people in the room, and couldn’t stop giggling. But all in all the palace was gorgeous, and very inspiring. I especially liked the maze:
And here’s a picture from the gardens that is actually a cryptic spoiler from book 5, Tempest’s Fury:
After leaving Hampton Palace, we headed back to Islington and one of my favorite restaurants here, the Afghan Kitchen. It’s tiny and super cheap and I adore it. We ate ridiculous amounts of food, then headed down the street for one last drink at the pub:
It was a place I’ve been to often with Dr. Ruth, and it was nice to be back with her:
We went our separate ways after that, but Ruth and I were back at Waterloo Station the next day to head out to Whitton for a BBQ at the house of Dr. and Mrs. Whisky, and the Wee Dram. It was a lovely long day spent with good friends, and I had such a great time. The Whiskys are great, and Dr. Whisky has been very busy with his new job as Global Ambassador of Balvenie. Not too shabby, right? Meanwhile, Mrs. Whisky is expecting ANOTHER Wee Dram, so she’s not been slacking off, either.
Another uni friend, Steve, was also in attendance, and he’s been doing awesome work studying glaciars in Greenland. It was great to catch up with everyone and find out what everyone’s up to. I’m lucky to have such fascinating friends, and the conversation ranged from places to visit in Austin, TX, to the drinking culture in Korea.
Tomorrow I’ve got to get some writing done, but in the evening my friend Jo is coming round to stay for a few days. I can’t wait to catch up, again. Then I should have a fairly quiet (and hopefully productive) week till the weekend, when we’re throwing Mrs. Whisky a baby shower.
So all is going very well here, and I’m so happy I’ve come over. I’m sure I’ll have some more updates for you shortly, including some very exciting things that are happening over in the UK with Jane and her series. I’ll let you know as soon as I can!
Now, however, it’s time for some sleep. Book five calls, and I might be writing a very sexy scene with Jane and a certain someone . . . who do you hope that someone might be?
OH, and Happy Fourth of July!!! Watch some fireworks for me!