Saturday, 31 May 2014

100 Happy Days

From the wonderful Lizzy Stewart Diary
It's been a little quiet around this Happy Go Lucky Kingdom over the last few weeks... I'm beginning a job hunt at the moment and getting very worried and stressed in the process.

It's not good and, although I probably won't be able to stop myself from finding the whole process any less stressful, I want to focus on all the other good things going on at the same time. There are lots, really, but it's very easy to lose sight of them and instead dwell on how busy you are.

So I've signed up for the 100 Happy Days project. I'll taking part via Instagram, sharing a happy moment each day with the #100happydays hashtag. Apparently 71% of people don't manage to complete the challenge, saying that they were simply too busy. I'm determined not to let that happen, to find the happy gem in an otherwise disheartening day. 

Join me? :)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Review: Dishoom, Covent Garden (gluten free)

Oh I love a delicious meal out with good friends; catching up after far too long over tasty treats and sweet cocktails. On Saturday night, we went to Dishoom in Covent Garden - a restaurant that we've been wanting to try for a long time but when we've turned up on spec, the queue has stretched all the way along the front of the restaurant and unfortunately hunger had won and led us elsewhere. This time we made sure to book in advance and, although advance was several weeks beforehand, there was only a 5.15 table for dinner and we snapped it up! Was it worth the wait? My goodness, yes.

Dishoom describes itself as a Bombay café - according to its website, these cafés, also called Irani cafés, are a Bombay tradition dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries which were brought to India by Persian immigrants. With their atmosphere of faded elegance, these cafés were part of the fabric of everyday life and used as meeting places by people from all walks of life. The Covent Garden branch was full of all walks of London life on Saturday evening - families, pre-theatre groups, couples and lots of tables full of friends, catching up, laughing and sharing food. A truly wonderful atmosphere.

Indian food is generally quite a good option for coeliacs, with most dishes being naturally gluten free. I told the waitress that I was coeliac and asked what options on the menu were gluten free but she was able to do even better than this and brought me a menu with the gluten free (and gluten free-adaptable) options highlighted. 

We decided to  choose a mix of smaller (gluten free) items to share, choosing the Bhel (puffed rice, Bombay Mix and nylon sev tossed with fresh pomegranate, tomato, onion, lime, tamarind and mint), Prawn Koliwada (crispy spicy prawns served with a tamarind and date chutney), Gunpowder Potatoes (smoky grilled potatoes broken apart and tossed in butter, seeds and herbs) and the House Black Daal. I then opted for the Mattar Paneer and some basmati rice. My friends chose the chicken ruby curry (also gluten free) and chicken Berry Britannia biryani (not gluten free). They also had garlic naan and roti, which are baked to order and looked very tasty.

It was all so delicious - light, fresh and wonderful flavours, spicy without tears (or hiccups in my case) and all so fabulously moreish. I snapped a few photos on my phone so you can see that the portions aren't as huge as a traditional curry house but they were quite deceiving - we were very full after our selection! I'll have a little less next time so that I can have the Memsahib's Mess as a dessert - a variation on Eton Mess, consisting of fresh cream, crushed meringue and strawberries, with rose syrup and gulkand. 

With everything washed down by good conversation and several large glasses of the Bombay Pimm's, the evening passed far too quickly. Coeliac or not, you must visit this restaurant when you're in London...but definitely book to avoid disappointment, or a long wait on a rainy summer evening!

Monday, 5 May 2014

How does your garden grow?

Found via Pinterest
There's something terribly English about spending a bank holiday in your garden - pottering around in a contented fashion before sitting down with a glass of Pimms and enjoying the peace and quiet, perhaps with a bee buzzing lazily in the vicinity (not too close, mind!)

We escaped the city and headed to Norfolk for the long weekend, which meant that I actually got to spend
some time in a beautiful garden. I love our little flat in London but it is exactly that, very very small, and unfortunately doesn't have a garden. 

Found via Pinterest
So as the sun was shining brightly today, and I curled up in my mister's mum's conservatory with my first cup of tea of the day, watching the birds chase each other around her gorgeous garden, I started daydreaming about my future cottage and the fabulous garden I'd love to have.

There would be heaps of flowers of course, blooming around little stone footpaths leading to little concealed nooks where you could sit with a book on a warm day.

Fruit trees, herbs and a vegetable patch where I would grow all manner of seasonal delights, and make pickles, jams and chutneys to store in my larder. (I have a LOT of free time in my imagination.)
Found via Pinterest

A little pond.

Some sturdy trees for hooking up a hammock on a summer's day, and a wooden swing hanging from a high branch.

And last, but by no means least, some chickens scratching cheerfully through the grass and leaving eggs for me to go and collect first thing in the morning.

For now, as the buses pass outside our window, the foxes rummage through our bins at night and we can pop downstairs for a pint of milk late at night, I'm happy with our little London nook, but I'm counting down the days until I can have my own little cottage by the sea. And until that day, there's always Pinterest!