Category Archives: The City

A (Great) Day in the Life

There were many possible names for this post; Yesterday (only if I posted the day after), Hey Paul, Here, Out There & Everywhere to name but a few. The name had to be something Beatles related as nothing else would do justice to announce my trip to see Paul McCartney in the flesh for the first time on his Out There tour at the O2. It was only apt that I went with the very person that sparked my interest in the Beatles in the first place all those years ago. 20 years to be exact.. another title comes to mind…. It was Twenty Years Ago Today.

We arrived by car at the O2 and just as we wondered where to park, a flashing sign said “This way for Paul McCartney Parking”. Some people would call it “Synchronicity” so we followed the signs. We were followed by another car driven by a woman shocked by the parking charge. She explained she had only come to watch the concert as she was given a free ticket, wasn’t really a fan and didn’t want to pay more than £10 for the whole night. This set my judgemental side into motion and as we were two hard-core fans, she was not talking to the right people if she wanted sympathy.

However, I hadn’t paid for my ticket either but the least I could do was pay for dinner so we went in search of food with a quick detour to look at the merchandise. There were a few things I wanted to get but food was more of a priority and was also a chance to calm down before I spent my life’s savings on Paul McCartney trinkets. At dinner it seemed I was the only person wearing a Beatles T-shirt and felt a little self-conscious but two Chilli Queens later we left Byron Burger and saw another girl with a Beatles T-shirt which made me feel better.

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A few mandatory Instagram pictures and another wander past the merchandise stall we went through to the main event. We had Amex Lounge tickets so we leisurely wandered into the arena not having to queue with the regular folk and sat in the plush lounge with live acoustic guitarists and enjoyed a couple of drinks before the big show.

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In here there seemed to be no true fans with T shirts on until a German couple sat down at the next table having just returned from the sound check. Sound check?! I didn’t know we could do that. We were amateurs at this. We started chatting to them and found out this guy was from East Germany, the Beatles were illicit but he loved them and as soon as the wall came down in ‘91 he made the pilgrimage to Abbey Road. I would daresay he was a more hard-core fan than us! We were trumped plus he was wearing a Paul McCartney T-shirt.

A couple of drinks later I made us go through to our seats against the wishes of more drinking time. We probably did go through a little early but it was a great opportunity to point out all the people that were true fans and not really fans which you probably have guessed depended on whether they had a suitable T-shirt on or not.

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It was nice to see someone had made the effort and had put on a Sgt Pepper outfit. Whilst we judged (none of the people in the seats either side of us were wearing the right T-shirts), we also watched the video stream, listened to the DJ and discussed the T factor until the man himself, Sir Paul, entered stage right.

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He covered all the bases; classic Beatles, Wings, the odd one here and there and a couple of new ones. I’ve listed exactly what he played and my thoughts at the end of this if you want to have a look but for now the things I learnt:

  • I’ve underestimated the brilliance of Sir Paul McCartney
  • Wings is actually a good band and Band on the Run is a really good album
  • How to do the Wings hands thingy
  • Always buy merchandise beforehand
  • This now makes sense…

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After the show we went back to the Amex lounge just because we could. Another round of drinks before heading out to buy merchandise meant I missed out on stocking up on T shirts. As I write this I’m considering driving up to Birmingham where he is performing tonight and raiding the stand.

Anyway my last thought; I’m almost glad I never got to see the greatest show on Earth that is all four Beatles performing together. I could barely handle a quarter of it.

Setlist

Before the next song Sir Paul placed his thumbs together and palms out to form a set of Wings. I copied but ended up forming a ‘whatever’ sign with my hands. Rookie mistake.

This would make a great dance track. Although perhaps a little sexist these days.

Tried the Wings hand thing again and succeeded.

This brought a tear to my eye even though it’s never been one of my favourite Beatles songs

A new song that I immediately  liked

Here is where I lied to Sir Paul as the stage rose with him upon with nothing but a microphone and a guitar. He asked the crowd how many of us had tried to learn to play Blackbird. I stuck my hand up but I haven’t… but I am now. Hopefully I’ll be forgiven.

A conversation with John Lennon.

Played on a ukulele all by himself again before his tribute to George.

Another tear and i have no idea why. I don’t even know this song that well. I think I finally realised where I was.

Did you know Sir Paul does a pretty good Russian accent. He told us the story f when he met the Russian Minister of Defence to be told the first record he had bought was Love Me Do.

Wow! Fireworks and real fire, drummer wearing a hard hat and I’m sure Sir Paul was playing the piano with his eyes closed throughout the whole song probably out of fear of some incendiary flying off in the wrong direction.

Ok so picture this… Sir Paul moves from his black piano to his snazzy psychedelic one, all is quiet until he utters two words that sent me back in time to the 60s and I became one of those screaming/shrieking/screeching fan girls. I was waiting for this moment all night but I had no idea that “Hey” & “Jude” could do that!!! My life is complete!

Encore:

Encore 2:

Big Birthday Breakfast

Despite being over the age of 30, I woke up on my birthday with the best surprise ever laid out in the kitchen. The best sister in the world had gone to town. turtles cakes with prsents and candleNo not the Gucci and Smythson bags but this..

turtles cake

When it comes to birthdays in my family, we each have a meal we like to celebrate with. My brother enjoys his over dinner, my sister has nabbed afternoon tea and I have the most important meal of the day. I call it the Big Birthday Breakfast.

One year this involved my favourite breakfast of all, a soft boiled egg. However it wasn’t an ordinary soft boiled egg.

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It took a hammer to crack into but once we got inside the hard shell, we dipped whole slices of toast in. We didn’t need soldiers here.

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This year’s was planned to be at London’s newest high profile building at Aqua Shard.

the shard the shardWe ordered practically everything on the breakfast menu which only just about fitted on our table.big birthday brunchMy sister’s kedgeree was delicious, I barely got more than one spoonful. birthday breakfast bigI went for my favourite soft boiled egg and marmite soldiers with a side of pannacotta muesli knowing that my mum would happily share her vegetarian cooked breakfast.boiled egg and soldiers with marmiteWashed down with three kinds of tea and three kinds of smoothies.berry smoothiepassion fruit smoothieWe barely looked up from our food to see the views but glad we did.

IMAG3584 london from the shard dirty old river more views from the shard st pauls from the shard view from the shard reflections at the shard

One last surprise before we left to wander the streets of London. A birthday swan.

birthday surprise me and my mum at the shard the shard sharmeen khan

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A couple of years ago someone asked me what I wanted for my birthday and, unlike when I was much younger, I had no idea. Having your own disposable income you can pretty much buy what your heart desires and it doesn’t even need to be your birthday. That’s when I thought maybe I should be buying my mum a present on my birthday. After all she did all the hard work on that day. So on a visit to the Apple store I tested my mum’s ability on a touch screen. She did better than expected so I had no choice but to buy her an ipad to Skype friends and family.

IMAG3601It’s not often that we spend time with Mummy in central London so we stopped off to soak up the sun at Trafalgar square and a walk through the National Gallery before going home for Turtle birthday cake, tea and a play on the ipad.

trafalgar squareYup best birthday breakfast ever!

 

 

Hold on to your Hats and Kites

‘The celebrated Mr. Kite
Performs his feat on Saturday at Bishopsgate’

Change Bishopsgate to Ally Pally and we have a perfect description of last weekend. It was so windy in London that my sister and I decided it would be the perfect opportunity for a couple of first timers to fly a kite. We headed to the nearest biggest hill to make it easier for ourselves, as if the gale force winds already blowing weren’t enough. Instead of seeing seasoned pros laugh at us at Hampstead Heath we headed to Alexandra Palace.alexandra palaceThankfully we were the only ones with a kite so if all went terribly wrong there’d be no witnesses. I prepared the kite in the car having bought it from Toys R Us thirty minutes before. power ranger kite

To go with my Power Rangers kite, I wore Topshop jeans, Burberry wellington boots, my thickest, warmest coat newly purchased from the Topshop sale (similar here) and a fur hat from Portobello market was definitely required. Finishing preparations on site…

preparing the kite

I was expecting to have to run around like a headless chicken but the wind helped our amateurish kite flying skills look intentional.alexandra palace alexandra palace sharmeen khan

kite and me blowing in the wind

Even the sun came out to play which has been a rare sight this year.kite 2

kite 3The ground was still quite sodden in parts so an outing for the wellies was a must.

Look at the concentration on my face…kite 6

Then things calmed down and it was a breeze (breeze, see what I did there)…kite 10kite 18I even managed to multi-task. Flying a kite and striking a pose…kite 20kite 33kite 35kite 36Flying a kite like a BOSS…kite 39

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Here’s proof the kite really did fly…..kite 43And it was me controlling it.kite 51

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kite 59kite 60IMAG2911By the end we were chilled to the core so there was nothing left to do except….hot chocolateWarm up with a hot chocolate…warm up with hot choc Sharmeen KhanIMAG2936and one helluva piece of cake.gold dust chocolate hangover cakeChocolate hangover cake to be exact at Coffee and Cake in Crouch End. Three layers of chocolate cake sandwiched with chocolate ganache, covered in marzipan and re-coated in another layer of ganache.chocolate hangover cake

cake 4 cake 3 cake 2 cake 1 Coffee cake – chandeliers and cake in the window

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Who Needs Boys?

This Valentine’s Day I decided to see my mummy. The day fell on a Friday so that evening I found myself on the M25 stuck in traffic trying to get home for dinner wondering if this was such a good idea after all. It didn’t help that I was travelling from flooded Surrey to the windy city of London. Then with 3 junctions left to go my car reported 0 miles of petrol left so I immediately headed for the services. Fortunately it was the next junction but there was a long queue on the slip road. As tense as a bow string I contemplated my options….

  1. If car stops now…. panic!!! If car stops now… that’s a good spot to park. If car stops now… I’ll have to push it. Hazards.
  2. Then I could get petrol… garage can’t be too far from the slip road. Have flats in the car so can walk.
  3. Hope petrol garage sell petrol cans…

Luckily Ophelia (that’s my car) made it to the petrol station and then on to home in one piece. She’s such a good girl! I should blog about her one day.

Once home I was greeted by my mother with a red envelope for me and that’s when I finally relaxed.valentines card with my mumWe headed out to dinner at the newly opened local halal American diner called Grill Krayzee.

I got my paws on a calming maple walnut milkshake.leopard milkshake

Then the food arrived… starting with lamb ribs just seen in the picture below.

me and my mum at grill krayzee

For the main event I had a Rodeo burger as it came with turkey rashers and onion rings with cheesy fries.cheesy chips & halal beef burger

My sister contemplated her long lost loves…sister waiting

before tucking into her beef burger with turkey rasher and curly fries. It’s all about the rashers with us!halal burger at grill krayzee

My mum who is one hot chick, had the mad hot chick alongside her all time favourite, potato wedges.  Take a look at all those chillies and jalapenos…one hot chick

Then for the table I ordered a paneer sizzler just to be greedy. Oh yeah with mash potato and coleslaw.

panner sizzler

The burgers were ok nothing great but the turkey rashers were very good and my mum enjoyed her chicken burger. But the star of the night was the paneer. If all that food wasn’t enough, we couldn’t leave without trying their vast selection of ice cream.

One nutrageous sundae and 2 spoons…

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Who needs boys on Valentine’s Day when you can have a great dinner with of your favourite girls.

Sunday Night Sushi

Is there anything better than driving into Central London and parking up directly outside your favourite shops? No waiting for cabs, tubes or buses. Plus you don’t have to carry around your shopping bags all day. It’s a treat reserved only for Sundays.

After strolling around the shops till closing one particular Sunday, we made our way back to the car to drop off our bags. I did my best Ziggy Stardust impression along the way.

Sharmeen Khan

phone box ziggy stardust impression

tartan sequin trousers christmas
sequin tartan trousers, furry jumper, grey leather biker jacket, Jeffrey Campbell, Prada handbag

We decided to drive instead of walk the few streets to Nobu. One of the benefits of bringing the car along. Nobu is the hottest ticket in town for Japanese food. It’s trendy. It’s cool. It’s fancy pants. It’s expensive. But you can expect to bump into any number of celebrities. It was my sister’s birthday after all.

Arriving a little early for our reservation we started with a quick drink downstairs.

The bar downstairs NobuNobu drinks I chose my drink purely for the bottle it came in.Nobu drinks 2

sister at nobu plates and chopsticks

The menu was a maze and we had no idea what to order but our helpful waitress guided us through and suggested that 4-5 dishes would be enough for the two of us.

Nobu menuOur first dish that arrived was probably the best, the delicious crispy rice with spicy tuna with yuzu sauce for dipping…

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna

Then came the tiger prawn tempura with jalapeno sauce (my favourite), creamy spicy sauce and more yuzu sauce. Simple but definitely a must if you like sweet succulent prawns.

shrimp tempura with three sauces nobu Baby TIGER SHRIMP TEMPURA

Quickly followed by soft shell crab Kara-age with Ponzu sauce.

Soft Shell Crab Kara-age with Ponzu Soft Shell Crab Kara-age with Ponzu

eating at nobu

Mushroom tempura

mushroom tempura Then came the reason why we picked Nobu, the black cod den miso. Sweet, salty and a little slimy in a good way. Make sure you practice your chopstick technique.

Wrapped black cod den miso nobu Black Cod den miso half portion Black Cod Den Miso

Finally the Wagyu beef gyoza which were crispier than expected.

Wagyu Gyoza with Tosazu

We were still a little hungry and couldn’t resist ordering a little sushi before dessert. After all sushi isn’t fattening is it? I chose the eel and cucumber while my sister opted for salmon skin roll. I loved their little soya sauce pots. A tip: eat each piece in one go. it just makes a mess otherwise.

soya sauce sushi

Now we were properly ready for dessert. My sister’s chocolate tart arrived adorned with a special message and a spectacle. A chocolate shell that melted after pouring hot chocolate sauce over to reveal a delicious sake kasu ice cream.

happy birthday at nobu

happy birthday dessert nobu Happy Birthday at NobuI had dragon eyes this time for the name!! I’m such a shallow orderer. I must have consumed it before I could get a proper picture but you can just about see it in the above picture.  It went down pretty easy!

sistersThe loos were good too. Elemis hand wash and lotion get the thumbs up.

khan sisters

Sunday Brunch

What I’m here to tell you about is something I’m sure you’ve heard before. I’m not telling you anything new and even I’ve mentioned it before. If you ever find yourself in north London looking for a place to eat breakfast or a languorous brunch then head for Islington. There are many, many, many places to grab exactly what you want for the most important meal of the day. marilyn monroe

flying horse

For starters there’s the ever popular breakfast club (not my favourite place) or you could try Gallipoli which has a beautiful sunny back garden in the mornings or there’s a great Sunday foodie market with sweet treats and smoked salmon but if you’re more of a granola yoghurt type of person then you could head for frae for a frozen yoghurt treat.

frae fro yo

salmon on ryeHowever the Islington branch of Ottolenghi is something special. They have long shiny white tables where you can sit down and enjoy the delicacies that Ottolenghi has to offer. The best thing about this place is that at breakfast you can toast your own bread at your own table. So you can have your bread exactly how you like it and eat it too, with amazing jams and spreads! Plus they provide a complimentary glass of water that is kept topped up throughout your meal.

ottolenghi menutoasters at ottolenghi

ottolenghi toaster

no fry ups here shakshukajam and spreads ottolenghi banana spread

Rare delicacies: banana jam and passion fruit jam homemade nutella

Homemade nutella or perhaps I should say chocolate hazelnut spread flakiest croissant

The flakiest, crispiest and therefore best croissant I’ve ever eaten. No word for it except perfect.best croissant traditional brioche

Classic shaped brioche

Lamborghini Macchiato Bar

Over the Easter weekend I managed to meet up with a London friend and squeeze in a little bit of shopping. After picking up a new pair of cowboy boots that I’ve been wanting for a while I thought I deserved a quick little drink. We stopped off at the Tonino Lamborghini Macchiato Bar.

Nearly everyone sitting down was Italian which surely must mean that this must be the place for the perfetto espresso. They also have a fantastic range of sweet nibbles such as honey cake and mini croissants to dip into your bitter coffee. They also sell everything you need for your coffee: percolators, cups and saucers and of course coffee. Although I bought amaretto flavoured hot chocolate for my  hot chocolate collection.

tonino lamborghini tissues

canoli and biscuits

tea and milk lamborghini double insulated cup hot chocolate lamborghini tissues

Neither of us had a coffee so we missed out on these cups and saucers cup and saucer lamborghini cup and saucer

tonino lamborghini amaretto hot chocolate hot chocolate cupboard