When I was a child and even in my teens, eating out was a big treat.
I think my children didn’t appreciate it as much as they should have because I’m ashamed to say, popping to a restaurant if mummy was working late was quite normal for them.
Rewind to this past year. We have eaten out a total of three times.
It was Ollie’s birthday this week so we went to The Ivy Chelsea Garden in London for a posh meal.
The surroundings were wonderful. It’s a beautiful terrace garden set in the heart of Chelsea. There are huge umbrellas in case it rains with heaters under them, but the stunning array of plants and a fountain in the centre makes you feel like you are either in the heart of Tuscany or a celebrity haunt in LA.
The sun was shining one minute and it poured with rain the next but we were cosy under our umbrella with blankets provided as an extra treat.
The food couldn’t be faulted and I had a little glass of Champagne to toast the birthday boy.
Somehow the same old memories of how much of a treat this really was, were very present. It felt really special to be out together.
Unfortunately Emily had to work, but Ollie, Gordon and I felt very fortunate to be eating lovely food, sitting in the middle of London, hearing people laughing and chatting to their friends and family and seeing the staff look so happy to be back at work.
London has changed so much though. Walking down Regent Street, the only shop which was busy was The Apple Store and so many shops are standing empty. The huge Topshop on Oxford Circus stands empty and the boarded-up flagship Debenhams store reminds us that things are very different now.
People look different too. Everyone looked casual, in a uniform of jeans and trainers. I wouldn’t have dreamed of going out for a posh lunch in trainers before, but it felt too strange to put heels on and not one single woman walked in without flat shoes while we were there.
We have all got very used to being comfortable.
I’ve got a wardrobe of high shoes begging me to put them on but I don’t see that happening for a while.
It was just as well I had my flats on. Gordon went to have coffee with a friend and Ollie and I walked for miles. We clocked up 20,000 steps on his pedometer by the time we got home and I was ready for bed.
So if you read your P&J on Tuesday you will have seen that I had some very high-class gardening advice from none other than Jim McColl himself.
Now Jim was also very modestly saying that he was chuffed to be talked about in the same sentence as Mary Berry in my column last week. However, I know that if Mary herself had a wee copy of that week’s your life magazine she would have been the one who was honoured to be in the company of our Jim.
Anyway, I was the one who was the most happy because my lawn problems were very helpfully addressed. Now though I need to try to take up said advice. I undoubtedly have a little bit of pressure to listen to Jim’s wise words and try not to let him down.
It’s a pity Mary Berry isn’t a north-east quine because I would love her to be glancing at this and see this picture of the oatcakes I made this week. My friend Catriona in Germany sent me a picture of hers and I just had to try some myself. I’m on to my second batch already.
Blue cheese is one of the superfoods we should apparently all be eating for gut health and having a nice homemade healthy oatcake with it can only be good, don’t you think?
Ooh now what did you think of the ending of Line of Duty?
Personally, I felt like it was a bit of a damp squib. I did, however, think it was very amusing that all the TV programmes the next day had a huge exclusive where they had booked H to be on. They were obviously expecting Ted, Kate or Steve and they ended with… who ?
Nigel Boyle, a relatively unknown actor, must have felt like he had won the lottery.
I’m just hoping we get another series.
Have a good week,