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Team GB sweeties

TFL take note, this is the way to tempt people to ‘move down inside the carriage’…

LoveRichCashPoor went to the Stratford last night to watch the Paralympics. It was utterly, fantastically brilliant. Thanks to the most wonderful husband in the world for securing us tickets (and *cough* paying for them *cough*).

Even I, greedy as I am, can’t claim that the best part was when they handed out Team GB sweets on the way home, but it certainly was a highlight!

 

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Friday

Wake up with: £80 + £28.86 (from last week)

Go to bed with: £80 + £28.86

At 6am, I am pacing in paradise. I watch the rosy glow of dawn spread across the lagoon from my hotel window, it’s going to be a scorcher today. And suddenly, there it is; the news I have been waiting for all night: my wonderful, clever, brave sister has given birth to a little girl. And so the waterworks begin…

The day has a dreamlike quality to it: breakfast with the client, a last wistful wander around Hotel Cipriani’s kitchen gardens, then an hour to get lost in the streets behind Piazza San Marco before I have to jump on the vaporetto to the airport. I get home to an immaculate house, and the husband has even bought me flowers. Did I mention how much I love the husband?

Saturday

Wake up with: £80 + £28.86

Go to bed with: £80.04

Can there be anything better than the utter decadence of a Saturday morning with nothing to do and no one to see? I laze in bed, conducting a multi-media, cross-channel campaign to get my poor beleaguered brother in law to send me photos of my new niece. Then transfer to the sofa for full Olympic immersion.

I was going to offer to take my long-suffering husband out to dinner with the £28-odd pounds I somehow have left from last week, but the Olympics coverage is too exciting and we settle on a takeaway instead so we don’t miss a second of the Gold Rush. Go Team GB! I am really not accustomed to this winning lark but I could certainly get used to it: three golds. THREE GOLDS!

Sunday

Wake up with: £80.04

Go to bed with: £64.31

I have a date with my younger goddaughter to check out her new tooth today. I know it’s a cliché but I just can’t get over how quickly babies grow. I see Tiz at least once a month, but I’m amazed how much she changes in that relatively short interval. She’s now at the delightful shuffling and gurgling stage. Heart-meltingly cute — it makes me ache to see my niece. In a mad moment, I almost get on a train to Lancashire on the way home, then I remember they are still in hospital; so I return home via the greengrocers and cook a tomato shorba soup for the week. I will have to be patient.

Monday

Wake up with: £64.31

Go to bed with: £45.62

Supper Club is back on now we have the full complement of facilities, but we’ve no food in the house and I was too distracted by the Olympics to plan a menu at the weekend, so I cycle home via Sainsbury’s. Monday night is definitely the night to pick up a bargain in Dalston. I get 12 sausages for £1.50 and can’t resist a rack of lamb reduced from £7.99 to £3.29; the freezer will have a field day. I use half the sausages to make enough sausage and roasted pepper cannelloni to feed four hungry boys and the husband and I for the rest of the week. Yum!

Tuesday

Wake up with: £45.62

Go to bed with: £45.62

Tuesday is a whirl of meetings and emails so I’m exhausted by the time I get home. I spend the night relaxing in front of the Olympics, whittling down the enormous ironing mountain.

Wednesday

Wake up with: £45.62

Go to bed with: -£19.08 (oops)

My sister and niece have been given the all-clear and are on their way home from hospital. I promptly break the cash-only rule and order her a Sainsbury’s delivery online so she can just concentrate on her new family of three and not worry about the shopping.

Tonight I’m booked in for dinner with the girls. Despite the fact that I spent all my remaining weekly budget at lunchtime on my sister’s surprise, there is no way I am cancelling an evening with some of my bestest girls in one of my favourite restaurants, so I peddle off to Gallipoli Again for gossip and mezze: at £17.70 including wine, it’s reasonable—I’m not going to lose any sleep about blowing the budget this week.

Thursday

Wake up with: -£19.08

Go to bed with: -£19.08

I am supposed to be meeting a friend for drinks tonight, but she is unwell – and the budgeting side of my brain breathes a sigh of relief. We re-schedule for next week, when hopefully I’ll be able to comfortably afford a glass of vino or three.

I end the week £19.08 down, but one niece up, so on balance, I think I must be the richest person in the country this week. Welcome to the world our little Golden Girl, I cannot wait to meet you. X

Friday

Wake up with: £50

Go to bed with: £41

Another £50 week, to account for the purchase of wedding presents this month. I am very much looking forward to next week, not only because it will herald the return to the full budget, but also the return to normality on the home front: the DIY project is scheduled to finish on Monday. Phew.

The week starts on a real high, a drink and a gossip with a former colleague at The Book Club Basecamp, a pop-up outdoor bar, kitchen and playground that is screening the Olympics everyday until 12th August. It’s awesome, but unfortunately everyone else thinks so too. We finally manage to secure a bottle of rose, (£18) and a nook to drink it in (free) and so the gossip begins.

As the wine peters out, I check in with the husband who sounds unusually strained for a Friday night, so I decide that I’d better head home to ply him with some food and cuddles. Plus, I’m really looking forward to seeing our newly-installed bathroom floor…

When I get home, I discover exactly why the husband is tense. The tiler we have drafted in, the self-same tiler who promised it would take just a day to lay our new bathroom floor is still there. The toilet and sink are disconnected and there is precisely one tile on the floor. We try to cajoule the tiler into calling it a day: surely he wants to watch the opening ceremony? Apparently he doesn’t.

I walk into the garden, take a deep breath and resolve to put on my happy face. I am zen personified. The husband and I retire to the sitting room to watch the show, which is enough to banish all DIY stresses. It’s amazing, transporting us to another world where London is a dream city and the UK a utopia of all things lovely and wondrous. And I really want a pair of those glow-in-the-dark wings. Good job Danny Boyle.

The husband has bought us steak for tea and, when the tiler finally leaves at half ten (curiously, no noticeable progress has been made), we sit down to enjoy it on the balcony.

On this night, I am proud to be British, at least until Paul McCartney starts warbling, anyway! 

Saturday

Wake up with: £41

Go to bed with: £41

On the plus side, this DIY business sure is cheap. I’m so busy sanding, painting and cleaning today I haven’t got a second to spend any money—as long as you don’t count all the pennies I have to spend in the local pub; our loo is no closer to being connected at the day’s close, although we have at least got a few tiles on the floor now.

Looking on the bright side, at least I’m here today to remind the tiler not to smoke in the house, use my kitchen worktop as a tile-cutting bench, or to wipe up excess adhesive with my shower curtain. Honestly, I have spent more time over the last few weeks desperately fire-fighting after spectacular carelessness than I have actually doing DIY. It took an hour to pick the paint off my jute chair covers (they were in a room where NO DIY was taking place!), I have washed, dried, ironed and folded endless amounts of towels and teatowels that have somehow leapt from the serried ranks in the airing cupboard into a bucket of plaster. Not to mention the irreplaceable and precious fabric I was using as a window panel in the sitting room, which is now liberally daubed with white gloss paint and consequently ruined forevermore.

Humph!

Sunday

Wake up with: £41

Go to bed with: £32.90

I am no longer zen. At 3.45pm on day three of the bathroom floor debacle, there is no sign of the tiler, ergo sum, the bathroom floor is no closer to being completed. The tiler said he would be here between 11am and 12pm. So far, so four hours late. I am not impressed. He finally turns up at 3.52. Grrrr.

I try to distract myself with a trip to the greengrocers and a bit of kitchen therapy, but it’s an ask with all the bathroom appliances and several toolboxes underfoot. Still, we’ve got to eat something this week so I persevere. I make a couple of moussakas (one for now, one for the freezer), a dame blanche cheesecake and some quesadilla filling, as well as a pot of chicken stock. By the time I have shopped for and made that lot, the floor is no closer to completion.

I should point out at this juncture that our bathroom floor is approximately two foot by six foot; I could have taught myself to tile and plumb in the amenities by now. The clock ticks on, the floor is grouted but the ‘conveniences’ remain in the kitchen. Curious. Eventually, at ten pm, when I am ready to weep with frustration, the tiler decides he is going to come back tomorrow. It takes every single ounce of willpower I have to nod and smile, and not punch something (or someone). As soon as the door closes the floodgates open. I can’t take this anymore.

Of course I am grateful that he worked through the weekend to finish the job. Of course I appreciate that you can’t have good, fast and cheap. But: builders please note: if you think it will take three days, say so. But don’t tell me it will take one day and then drag it out to four.  And yes, that is a newly-painted wall you have just smeared with grout. Thanks. I’ll just repaint that before I go to bed then.

Monday

Wake up with: £32.90

Go to bed with: £28.86

I’m not the greatest fan of Monday mornings, but boy is it a relief to be at work today. There isn’t dust on every surface and I don’t have to leave the office to relieve myself. Bliss.

One big shout out has to go to the husband, who got up at 6.45am to clean the bath so I could wash for the first time in three days. The husband is amazing. FACT.

It’s lucky I’m feeling buoyed up because the carpet fitter calls in sick. Oh joy! On the plus side, the husband tells me the tiler is on his way at 11am. All he has to do is re-plumb in the loo and sink… When I get home from work at six-thirty, guess who’s still there? Yep, the tiler. Oh joy! And neither the loo nor the sink are plumbed in. How is this possible? What has he been doing for six and a half hours? Reader, I am baffled – and furious. This is beyond a joke now. Maybe I should stop feeding him? The tiler eventually leaves at nine-thirty pm (after I’ve cooked him dinner), so another night ruined, but at least we have a working bathroom now. Thank god.

Tuesday

Wake up with: £28.86

Go to bed with: £28.86

Hurrah! The carpet fitter has been and I am going to sleep in a proper bed tonight. The husband and I spend the evening re-assembling the bed, and gradually shuffling the furniture into the right position in the right room.

At just after midnight, I climb into an actual bed, in the actual bedroom and delight in the clean sheets. This is the definition of bliss.

Wednesday

Wake up with: £28,86

Go to bed with: £28.86

To say I have a humdinger of a day at work would be an understatement. Luckily, I have the perfect antidote up my sleeve: we’ve been invited to cuddle the brand new supper club baby this evening over dinner. The tiny one is utterly gorgeous, and I scoop him onto my lap, apparently just in time for his evening ablutions. I quickly try to hand him back to his dad but it’s too late; he’s christened my dress. I mean, really, really christened my dress. His mum and I are so busy crying with laughter that we can’t even wipe it up. Luckily, it doesn’t put me off my dinner (I’m not sure what it would take to put me off my dinner!)—delicious chicken satay—followed by my dame blanche cheesecake.

On the way home, I reflect on the day: there has to be something wrong when the high-point of your day is being poo-ed on! Luckily, I am escaping from everything tomorrow: I’m off to Venice for a meeting with a client. No more DIY, no more ‘challenging’ work situations: just me and Italy. I need this, reader, I need this.

 

Thursday

Wake up with: £28.86

Go to bed with: £28.86

My sister has gone into labour. MY SISTER HAS GONE INTO LABOUR! It’s a huge surprise when I get a text telling me that her waters broke yesterday as she isn’t due until the 27th. I rise at 5am to catch my flight to Venice, frantically checking my phone every 30 seconds for news. I know this giving birth business can take a wee while, but I can’t stop myself.

There is literally nothing in this world that can rival the feeling of arriving at Piazza San Marco from across the sparkling lagoon. Venice is just magical and I feel my spirits soar instantly; now, I remember why I love my job. Our client is waiting for us at The Cipriani dock, and immediately ushers us poolside for lunch and a bellini—that’s what I call a welcome. We retire to the bar to brainstorm contents for the next issue, followed by an aperitif on the terrace and a tour of the hotel. After a magnificent dinner, I’m ready to sink into my five-star bed. It’s ridiculously comfortable, like  sleeping on a cloud, but I toss and turn, constantly glancing at my phone in case my new niece or nephew has made an appearance… To Be Continued.

Had any DIY dramas of your own? Dreaming of escaping the daily grind? Get it off your chest, or simply divulge your dream destination in the comments box below… Thank you, as ever, for reading.

 

chicken stock

Making your own stock really couldn’t be easier yet curiously I’ve never done it before. It’s a combination of time (or lack thereof), combined with the fact that I only have one casserole – and whenever I have some blissfully uninterrupted time in the kitchen I’m usually cooking up a vat of food for the week ahead.

When you work full-time, especially ‘London’ full-time, which tends to be a 12-hour stint out of the house, it’s hard to carve out a five-hour slot in the kitchen. I should really invest in a slowcooker, but the budget and distinct lack of available storage space in our flat has prevented me from doing so, thus far. Still, ever since I started this project, I’ve been freezing bones and carcasses for this very purpose and it has finally paid off.

1 chicken carcass, stripped

1 carrot, cut into three

1 onion, quartered

Any odds and ends of herbs (I used half a bunch of parsley on the wane, plus sage, rosemary and thyme from the garden)

A handful of chopped celery from the freezer

Bung all the ingredients into a large casserole, cover with boiling water then simmer for four-five hours. Strain, then freeze the liquid in portions to use in soups, stews and sauces.

Note: I’ve had to change the title of this piece in view of our FIRST GOLD MEDAL!!!!!! Go Team GB!

London 2012, G Kelly eels, Roman Road, Bethnal Green

To continue my countdown to London 2012, I cycled to Roman Road in London’s Mile End on Saturday. My clever little iPhone took me past Well Street Common and through Victoria Park where the paths are lined with lime trees giving off the most intoxicating scent. Roman Road is a long old road, so to avoid confusion, I visited the easternmost section, sandwiched between St Stephen’s Road and Parnell Road.

The Eastenders are a friendly bunch. Admittedly we had the world’s cutest almost-seven-month-old in tow, which tends to make people smile and chuck indulgently, and gets you more free samples of smoked sausage than you can shake a stick at, but baby or no baby, Roman Road is a wonderful place to rediscover your faith in humanity and to fall in love with the marvellous melting pot that is London all over again. It’s not the prettiest of places, but therein lies its charm. The gentrifying upper-middles haven’t moved in en-masse — yet — and the cool creatives are too busy working their magic on Dalston. This feels like real London. And if that’s too much for you, then retreat to The Morgan Arms just off Tredegar Square and you’ll be back in Kansas.

Roman Road is a foodie paradise, but utterly unpretentious—here, delis are still about the food and less about the Farrow & Ball colour schemes, although that is not far off… it’s already changed considerably in the past few years if Google Streetview is anything to go by. Fact checking was tough for this one – I really must carry a notebook wherever I go.

Here’s my top 5:

1) Roman Road market

Fruit and vegetables, plants, home-wares and clothes all at rock-bottom prices sold by friendly stallholders more than willing to engage in a bit of banter. Oh, and you can nip into one of the many salons along this road and get your eyebrows threaded for £3. Beat that!

London 2012, Roman Road market, Bethnal Green

2) Polskie Delikatesy

Run by a lovely, smiley mother and daughter duo, this exceptional Polish delicatessen sells everything from specialty breads to jars full of pickled cabbage and smoked sausages. In a word: yum.

London 2012, Polskie Delikatesy, Roman Road, Bethnal Green

3) G Kelly Noted Eel & Pie Shop.

You can’t get more East-End than a pie and eel shop and the queues stretch out of the door and on to the street for this Roman Road institution. LoveRichCashPoor had a job getting a photo.

London 2012, G Kelly eels and pie shop, Roman Road, Bethnal Green

4) Bangla Halal Grocers

Looking for a catfish that is bigger than a 10-year-old child? You have come to the right place. This little gem of a shop also sells every spice under the sun.

5) Old-skool confectionary delights at Mickey’s Sweets

London 2012, Mickey's sweets, Roman Road market, Bethnal Green

It’s not often that I get a lunch break, but yesterday I succumbed to the sunshine’s siren call and went for a wee walk around the block (I also wanted to buy some squid ink spaghetti for a dish that is coming soon to LoveRichCashPoor). With just over a month to go until London 2012, I thought a little sneak preview was in order…

1) Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Christ Church, and adjoining garden: the beacon of Spitalfields and a great place to stop and stare on a sunny day.

Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church by Nicholas Hawksmoor

2) Fournier Street, E1: this stunning terrace was originally home to Huguenot silk weavers, the entire street is perfectly preserved.

Fournier Street, E1

3) Fournier Street, E1. The original loft extension: the Huguenots constructed glazed lofts to house their silk weaving operations

Fournier Street, Spitalfieldsv

4) The Town House, Antiques, Gallery, Coffee and Cake. I have always wanted to peep inside one of the houses on Fournier Street and now I have, courtesy of the fabulous Town House. This antiques emporium has been here for 10 years, apparently, but LoveRichCashPoor only noticed it yesterday; it has just opened its doors to the wider world, with coffee and cake served in the small but perfectly formed courtyard garden. Every single item in this two-storey shop is gasp-makingly beautiful. I would move in tomorrow if I could… it’s clearly a common problem, to the extent that Town House is now accepting paying guests on the upper floors. Thank god I cut up my credit card on Monday is all I can say.

Town House, 5 Fournier Street, Spitalfields

5) The Town House (cont)

Town House, 5 Fournier Street, Spitalfields

6) Old Spitalfields market, London E1. A treasure trove of boutiques, street food and market stalls. Thursday brings a host of antiques traders to hawk their wares inside.

Spitalfields market and Christ Church by Nicholas Hawksmoor

7) Food glorious food: tucked inside Spitalfields’ perimeter, there’s a magnificent array of food emporia: cheese at Androuet, felafel at PilPel and John Torode’s Luxe — my go-to for after-work drinks or working lunches (on expenses, you understand). Across the road, St. John Bread and Wine is our venue of choice for a feast (again, not on my tab).

Androuet cheese shop and restaurant at Spitalfields market

St John Bread and Wine, Spitalfields, London E1

St. John Bread and Wine

8) Adnams Cellar and Kitchen: enamelware and real ale, what’s not to love? Seriously, this is a real gem, with wonderful cookware and kitchen accessories in the basement, a wide selection of beers and wine and there’s always a little tipple to sample…

Adnams, Spitalfields, London

9) Spitalfields. For some reason best known to itself, Spitalfields is divided into two parts, with two different websites. I’m generally to be found on the Old side, but the New side has lovely open squares, great views over the city, art installations, regular concerts and events and Patisserie Valerie.

Market with a view: The Gherkin

10) Crisis Skylight Cafe: a coffee with a conscience, this award-winning café serves great food  with a side of optimism; it’s run by the eponymous education, training and employment centre next door.

Crisis Skylight Cafe at Spitalfields market

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