I have measured out my life with coffee spoons

I am SO SORRY for being atrocious at posting lately. I got tangled up around Fashion Week and haven’t quite regained my footing until now. Someone even contacted me the other day to check if I was dead, so I knew it was probably time to post. Also, this weather is making me feel totally miz. I’m looking outside and can see a fat grumpy pigeon perched on the bare branches of the tree at the end of the garden while it rains on him, and that sort of sums everything up. I’m desperately in need of sun.

So what have I been doing with my life, I hear you demand? (Correction: I like to think I hear you demand. You’re probably just thinking about pigeons right now. You philistine.) I’d say in the month since I last posted, I’ve mostly been eating. I went up to St Andrews in February to judge the Alfa Romeo Young Designer Award for Lady M Presents, write up coming shortly. That was an awful lot of aceness. Also, I love Scotland, and I managed to resist doing my famously awful Scottish accent for the entire weekend, AND I didn’t even refer to anyone as the ‘Scotch’, as Stewart Lee is always getting people to do. Or quote any of this video.

The weekend after that, I went to the London outpost of the St Andrews Fashion Show, including dinner at Circus with the winners of the award. Circus is a unique concept: Pan-Asian cuisine served alongside…well, circus acts. And of course, we saw the St Andrews show again. Eating sushi while watching fire-eaters was a pretty fascinating way to spend an evening… On the whole, the food was delicious, the entertainment very absorbing, and we were shown into the venue by a man in a top hat and much more eye makeup than me, which is the way any good night should start.

It was great to see the designs on the catwalk again, and I’m still bowled over at the huge amount of hard work that must have gone into the organising of the show. I skipped out earlyish to get some much needed sleep, and also to eat plum jelly in my hotel room. Yep. That’s how I roll on a Friday night. Jelly roll. The next day, nursing a jelly hangover, I got taken to one of the most delightful restaurants I’ve been to in a very long time, which was The Delaunay, a charming place tucked away just off the strand. Beware the photo of the waffles I had, which can be seen in the pictures below. It has been known to induce fits of jealousy.

Then I went to Sketch, and back to Canteen, and to the wonderful Brasserie Zedel, and I made brunch, and sausage and mash…In fact, I really have been more or less eating non-stop for the last month, and having a rather wonderful time, all sorts of adventures and smiling non-stop, but I’m going to catch up with posts a bit at a time to avoid any essay length blogs. In the meantime, take a look at some pictures, why don’t you? And if you’re wondering where the title of this post comes from, I say firstly to you: get sum edukashun, yeh? And secondly, this.

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I was wondering how long it’d be before I cracked and did a Valentine’s Day related post. Thing is, I absolutely LOVE Valentine’s Day. I don’t love it because I have to buy crappy overpriced cards with cheap sentiment on them. I definitely don’t love it because restaurants are suddenly shoehorning in a ‘special’ Valentine’s Day menu, ‘at the great price of only £80 per person’. Seriously. I actually saw that advertised earlier in the week – at least have the good grace not to say ‘only £80’.

The more I am connected to hoi polloi and businesses on Twitter and Facebook, the more I understand about why people really despise Valentine’s Day. It becomes contrived, meaningless, and a shameless revenue driver. So, chaps, I totally understand. I see now why you think it’s an appalling bit of fakery and a nonsense.

Thing is, I still love it. I loved it when I was about 10, and I got up really early in the morning to cut out purple and red hearts from crepe paper to decorate the sitting room with, and presented my parents with French patisserie I’d purloined, and handmade Valentine’s cards. As I got older, I was lucky enough to have equally thoughtful boyfriends. My first proper boyfriend made me a whole scrapbook full of photos of us and things that had meant a lot to us, little drawings and ephemera from our time as a couple. Another year,  I’d only been seeing one boyfriend for about a week or two, and he turned up at mine with a whole picnic he’d made, as well as presenting me with a packet of flower tea (he knew I loved the stuff), and a single lily. I in turn had baked some chocolate and strawberry cupcakes, then pulled out my champagne saucers (ooh err!) and we had a picnic on my bed.

Every boyfriend I’ve been with for Valentine’s Day has gone out of their way to make it special and unique, and much better than some overpriced meal in a crowded restaurant. This year, for the first time since I started dating, I’m going to be single on Valentine’s Day (unless something dramatic happens in the meantime!) And I refuse to conform to how I’m supposed to behave. I’m not going to sit at home on my own, eating ice cream and weeping. That isn’t my style. I still love the day, and instead I’m going to feel lucky that I’ve had so many lovely past experiences.

In the spirit of not handing over our hard-earned lucre to contrived experiences, I’ve decided to put together a list of my favourite date venues, in the hope that it might inspire you to be a little more creative, a little more relaxed, and to have a much better time. I’m allergic to cheap, vulgar sentiment, and these are my picks of where to go. They’re not all free, but they’re all ACE:

  1. Museums – absolutely perfect for any date, particularly the first date. The picnic chap from above took me to the Natural History museum on our first date, and I thought it was brilliant. Imaginative, intelligent, and also not putting too much pressure on anyone. There’s always something to talk about.
  2. Cellar Door, Zero Aldywch – if you’re after something a little naughtier, I can’t recommend this underground bar enough. It feels like Sally Bowles would go here with one of her endless suitors.  Absolutely tiny, but with a comprehensive cocktail menu (all wonderfully named: ‘Starbucks Must Die’ or ‘Gingerbread Lady Boy’, anyone?) The staff all wear wings, you get popcorn brought to your table, and there’s often a cabaret act to entertain you as well.
  3. A comedy club – GREAT date venue. Just don’t sit too near the front. The last thing you want is for the comedian to sense you’re on a date, and start a dialogue with you. Likewise, choose the comedian carefully. If you think it might get racist, DON’T GO. Instead try somewhere like The Comedy Store, where you’ll get a few tried and tested performers for your money.
  4. Natural Trust properties – now, you do have to judge this on your boyfriend/girlfriend. I personally love a National Trust date. If you choose a big country house, you get to wander around pretending you own the place, and that all the visitors are actually your personal staff. It might not sound romantic on paper, but trust me on this one.
  5. Sketch – one of my absolutely favourite restaurants in the world. Ensconce yourself in The Parlour, order some unusual tea and a divine pastry, and allow the place to work its magic on you. It’s like a Lewis Carroll conception. All dark and sexy, entirely relaxing, and not remotely pretentious despite being spectacularly brilliant. A world away from a dinner for two at a chain restaurant.
  6. Country walk/walk in the park – I’ve sort of touched on this in my ‘National Trust’ point. I don’t think you can beat a good walking date. The perfect chance to talk, away from all the noise a clatter of a restaurant, and in this weather your cheeks go all nice and rosy. Saucy.
  7. And following on from that, a Winter picnic – just make sure you pack some hot chocolate in a flask. Do it on your bedroom floor if you can’t face going outside. Just use protection. And by that, I mean napkins. Obviously.
  8. Or if you want to stay cold, an ice cream parlour – there are heaps in London. Check out this list: http://www.timeout.com/london/feature/1329/best-ice-cream-in-london I particularly want to try out Chin Chin, which is liquid nitrogen ice cream! For real romance, get yourself there around midnight.
  9. Bowling – sometimes you need to be a little retrograde, and that’s a good thing. Don’t go to a crappy over-commercialised alley. Go to the All Star Lanes in Holborn.
  10. If all else fails, have an Anti-Valentine’s Day – do everything wrong. Even if you’re a couple. Buy a ready meal for one and eat it out of the packet. Don’t even bother with the plate. Drink cans of beer or bottles of cider – any wine or champagne is banned. Rent the most depressing films you could possibly watch: either some stark, foreign efforts (Lars Von Trier?) or bloodthirsty action movies. Don’t get dressed up. Present each other with Valentine’s cards that you’ve made by butchering ‘Pick Me Up’ or ‘Chat’ magazine. Relish in the misery, and have a good old laugh at the couples bankrupting themselves over the day.

Cellar Door

The Parlour at Sketch

So there we have it! A pick of some potential date options. In fact, you could even do them on your own, or with friends.  I’m still going to love the day, no matter what anyone says.

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, and whoever you are with, I hope you have a great day. I don’t believe anyone should feel bad because they are single, but I equally believe no one should hate all couples, ever, for no good reason. Happy Valentine’s all!

Amelia xx

*All images shamelessly plundered from Google Images*