My Sunshiny Life

History was made today, as the first meeting of our unashamedly geeky book club took place in Highgate.  The book we’d been tasked to read was called 3 Cups of Tea, about Greg Mortenson – written by him and David Oliver Relin.

Out of the five of us in attendance the stats went something like this: 2 people read it totally, 1 person read half (that would be me, totally underestimating how fast a reader I am!), 1 person wikipedia’d it this morning and 1 read the back cover – but had other fabulous stories to share.

The book is a very interesting story about Greg Mortenson, a climber who got lost in the Himalayan mountain ranges and stumbled across a village that didn’t have a school.  He promised to help build them one, little realising at the time how profoundly this promise would affect his whole life.  He has whole heartedly devoted his life to building schools in Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan – and the book documents the adventures, challenges and triumphs he has had along the way.

An excellent first book for our fledgling club, and it prompted some discussion about how it made you feel like stepping outside your comfort zone, doing something that really matters in the world.  Leaving your mark, and making the world a better place through selfless acts of generosity.

Sassy had done herself proud on the organisational front, and we wouldn’t expect anything less from a seasoned project manager.  We got handouts containing insightful questions about the book.  There was a slide show with maps of the area in Pakistan, we saw pictures of the bridge he built (to get the school supplies across), and of  course of the schools that he built.  We sat there chatting, listening to Pakistani music, eating fabulous home made burgers and drinking delicious Himalayan tea – a milky sweet beverage, infused with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. 

All we needed for total authenticity was a yak dung fireplace in the middle of the lounge, but Sassy’s landlord may have taken issue with that.

The next book club is in May and it’s my book choice, which is going to be Road to Nab End, by William Woodruff.  The theme for the food this time round will be British Picnic Fayre.  I’m going to be a little more organised, and will actually finish the book BEFORE the book club meeting.  Being realistic – I think I need to allow myself more than four hours to get through the whole thing!


{April 24, 2010}   People all over the world!

Get on the soul train!

Pimp Daddy and Soul Sister

I love a good fancy dress party and take every opportunity I get to don an afro wig and get on down groooooovy soul train style!  For one afrotastic night I was an albino soul sister.

DJ Soul Brother

Soul Daddy-O

Sherv, who doesn't let volcanic ash get in the way of a good party, and drove from Prague!

Happy Birthday Rose and Eddie, fabulous night, outrageous outfits and hundreds of photo opportunities!

{April 1, 2010}   Hummingbird Bakery

“Thou shalt eat red velvet cake before you die” should have been one of the commandments.  Especially if it’s from the Hummingbird Bakery. 

Now, I’m on a sugar free, alcohol free AND wheat free gig this year (yes, you did read that correctly, it’s for a whole year) but I wanted to buy a lovely cake for Naomi’s birthday.  She helps look after all my clients, so it seems fair for her to be rewarded with delicious cake on such a special day!

There is a new branch open in Soho on Wardour Street, and there is a massive difference to the Portobello branch where I’ve been a few times before. NO queue.  Granted, I was there at 10am, but it was nice not to have to push through a horde of tourists to get to the cake.

Naomi was ecstatic to have such a delicious cake, as was the rest of the office who coasted through the afternoon on a red velvet sugar rush buzz.

{February 21, 2010}   Columbia Road Flower Market

I can’t believe I’ve lived for 7 years in London and I still hadn’t been to this famous London flower market.  When I got there, I was even more astounded that I’d never made it until then.  What a vibrant, colourful, character filled, bustling place.

Flowers from Columbia Road

Columbia Road Flowers

Kylie and I walked through, choosing flowers and taking in the atmosphere of the East End institution.  Market traders yell out their specials of the day, and we were lucky because it was nearly closing time so there were a few deals to be had.  With calls like “they’re only this cheap cos we nicked em” how can you not love it!

As well as the flowers, shrubs, palms and a multitude of other flora and fauna you’ll find some gorgeous boutiques, cafes and charming shops. 

Columbia Road Shops

My sign for when I get my dog Dolly

I was shocked, until I clicked what the C word was

There’s also a mini market down the side street where we bought some delicious kalamata olives.

Adding to the vintage, quaint feel, there was a couple busking, singing and playing the cello.  As we slowed down to watch them, the girl forgot all the words for the song, so we left them for a bit so she could compose herself (excuse the pun) and went back to watch them again, filming this time.  The guy totally cracks me up.

It won’t be another seven years before I go back.

Find out more about the stalls, traders, shops and history of the market here

Opening Hours : Sundays 8 – 3 (or thereabouts).  Most shops are only open on Sundays but check the site for more details.

{January 25, 2010}   Beer then?

We celebrated B’s birthday in the Chamberlayne pub in Kensal Rise on Sunday afternoon.  It was a lovely bunch of people and two of the cutest dogs, Oscar and Freddie. 

Sarah and Oscar, Naz and Freddie

A few people were intrigued about my new regime and were surprised that I’m not drinking for a whole year.  I seriously think I’d have had less of a response from everyone if I told them I’d developed a smack habit. 

The conversation with B and D the night before went something like this…

“So you’re not drinking for a WHOLE YEAR?!”

“Yep, that’s right”

“What about vodka?”



“Ew, I don’t like whiskey anyway.”


“Gin makes me mental and I’m actually ok with not drinking.”

Cue a look of disbelief…  “BUT you’ll have to find a drink for S and B’s wedding or you just won’t enjoy it.”


So back at lunch now and I was recounting this story to Benny who was sitting opposite me.  My food arrived, a lovely roast sirloin, (with no gravy or yorkshire pudding).  I had a few bites and then we did a happy birthday cheers to B, the birthday girl.  Then calamity struck and glasses just started toppling over on our side of the table.  Benny’s beer spilled into my plate and on to my food.  “Oh no, I can’t drink beer either” I exclaimed.  Benny kicked into action and rustled me up some more food and all was well in the world again.  I’m still a happy teetotaller.

Thanks for a lovely afternoon B, many happy returns sweets xx

I think she likes it

Birthday Balloons

I’ve been clean for 15 days now (bar that little incident with the hash browns) and am feeling great.  It’s not just that I’m not mindlessly grazing on peanut M&M’s anymore or that I’m giving Haribo sweets a wide berth… do you know how much sugar is hidden in packaged foods?  Who would have known that they sneak it in to so many things, seriously – hash browns! 

So my 360 degree switch change on my diet has been weirdly easy.  I’d been expecting to hang around outside Patisserie Valerie with my nose pressed against the window looking longingly at the pretty cakes.  Or reaching for a can of coke at 4pm in the afternoon or settling down to a movie craving a big fat glass of merlot.  But no, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

As well as sugar I’ve discarded alcohol, white junky refined carbs, anything yeasty, anything smoked or fermented and fruit.  Not that fruit isn’t healthy because it is and I love it – but because it doesn’t fit into the sugar free regime. 

I’ll be on this healthy path for a year and keeping it in perspective that I’m only a few weeks into my regime, (and haven’t been to the pub with my friends yet) I’m faring rather well. 

Just in case I get a mad craving to stuff my face full of jaffa cakes I’ll take inspiration from my slightly adapted version of the serenity prayer


Universe grant me the self control
not to stuff my face full of cream cakes; 
willpower to stay away from the sweets aisle;
and wisdom to embrace the healthy food difference.


{January 7, 2010}   London Snow

Well the burbs might be snowed in, but we’d need a fair amount of snow in London Town for that to happen.  It hasn’t stopped some people cleaning out supermarket shelves, JUST in case there is a blizzard.  I have to confess at first I was confused when news reports came in that kitty litter was running low everywhere.  I found it odd that people would stock up on kitty litter for their kitty litter trays in case they were snowed in.  Duh!

Scare mongering in the media is so crazy.  Every single day is dominated by the snow and how gas supplies are low, grit supplies are low, food supplies won’t be able to truck on through and we’ll all die a slow, cold, miserable death.  Enough already!

The snow makes my park look really pretty.  We need more though as there are too many footprints in it and some of it’s a little bit dirty.  Don’t buy into the media hype, go sledging! 

It’s not quite as impressive as the snow dump from last year which you can see below.  Now that’s snow.

{December 28, 2009}   Walking in a Winter Wonderland

The smell of candy floss and hot caramel almonds permeates the air, along with the sounds of shrieking kids on fast, stomach churning rides.   Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has all the fun of a fun fair with an added bonus of mulled wine and cider.  

Not only mulled wine, but also fabulous German food like bratwurst and mini pancakes.  I missed the hog roast unfortunately as I was stuffed by then.  As well as the rides there’s also ice skating and fabulous people watching. Snapping away with my new camera I captured some of the highlights.

{November 2, 2009}   Love life, not stuff

This is my mantra for NO-vember, when Little Miss Sunshine is abstaining from any sort of consumerism.  No shopping for this little retail princess.  Aside from supermarket shopping, I am not supporting the retail economy in the UK.  ASOS’s like for like retail figures will slump, Boots will go bankrupt and SpaceNK will never be the same.

Defeating the purpose of my virtuous crusade just a wee bit, I made sure I did loads of shopping last month, getting my ASOS fix in before the credit cards were put on ice.  I also made a slight error in judgement today, when I downloaded an iPhone app – but that’s hardly stuff now is it?  It’s not going to take up any space in my tightly packed wardrobe or my overflowing drawers.

I watched this video called ‘The Story of Stuff’ some time back and it made me think about the life cycle of stuff, about all those things I’ve bought and not used, about the cheap little things you buy – just because you can.  I don’t agree with everything in the video, but it does make you pause and think.  There are repercussions for all of our consumer habits, some of them are positive, like keeping the economy flowing and people in jobs.  Some of them are not so positive however, as our creaking planet can attest to.

So I’ll keep you updated as to my one woman crusade to save the planet this month.  Who knows, some frugal habits might just extend past this little experiment, god knows my credit cards and bank balance would benefit greatly… but then there are all of those people who depend on me shopping to keep the economy ticking over.  What a shopping dilemma I face, but not until next month so I’ll mull it over until then, feeling all virtuous and frugal.

Shopping Girl

{October 23, 2009}   New York Night Life

If you need someone to show you a good night out then you can’t go wrong with Miss Adi.  My partner in crime from the good old days, now a mum, but still a party queen underneath it all.

We started our night with cocktails at Sushi Samba, moving on to sake (quite nice, could be my new tipple) with our sushi.  Telling the waitress to bring out what she thought we’d like was a good way to order and the food was to die for!

Sushi Samba Magic

Sake Kanpai

More Sushi Samba Magic

These shoes are not made for walking

These shoes are taxi shoes, not walking shoes!

From Sushi Samba we made our way to a fabulous bar in the West Village, I’ve no idea of the name.  There were a couple of things that amused/bemused me when we first arrived.  It was the seat hunt at the bar, which we excelled at, then it was the gigantic tip Adi gave the barman up front so he’d keep serving us! 

Our attentive waiter

Our attentive waiter after a big tip

The biggest thing though, was the amount of absolutely stunning girls in the bar and very average looking men.  The girls were still eying these men up, like hungry lions that haven’t eaten for a while.  We spoke to one girl, who we decided was the epitome of the single New York girl.  Stunning, high maintenance, confident and very very single.  While she was talking to us, her eyes constantly flicked around the room, settling on men, she’d scan them from head to toe taking in the quality of their shoes, clothes and doing a quick assessment of their bank balance.  Most amusing to watch.  Single guys, get over to New York, it’s a cherry picking dream.

Stunning and Single in New York

Stunning and Single in New York

Making our way to Buddha Bar, we watched as groups were turned away at the door, being told there was a minimum table spend of $350.  Ok, I was up for a big night, but not that big!  Adi assured me we’d be fine and hustled her way to the front, gaining us access with no problems whatsoever.  Work it baby!

Home time!

Fabulous night babe, can’t wait to see you back in Blighty! x

et cetera