Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekend Whirl

Only one thing gives me the will to wake up on a Monday morning and trudge to the gym and then to work - it is the prospect of a weekend in 5 days. I know I know 5 days is awfully long and the work week does drag exhaustingly - usually bringing me to re-think my position on a Tuesday morning. Of all the days in a week I find Tuesday the hardest to get through. I question everything about my life on Tuesdays. But mostly the work week is a constant buzzing reminder of that weekend ahead.

When I worked in India we had a 5.5 day working week. And it was a joke really, as for the 5 week days we worked all the hours god sends and then some. Then on the .5th day we came in hoping to leave by 1pm and catch an afternoon matinee of the latest blockbuster and a leisurely lunch. Of course we never left before 4pm by which time there was just time to grab a slice of Domino's pizza and get ready for an evening out on the town. And that left just sad old Sunday to be the sole day of recovery before the madness began again.

Living in London I treat my weekends as a near religious experience. For the year between last April and this, when I worked only occasionally and volunteered mostly, the whole week was a bit like a boring weekend with no time demands, no rush hour traffic and no V. Now that I am back at a busy day job my 5 day week is mainly focused around what to do this weekend. The weekends are something of a luxury here – two entire days to call our own and do as we wish, mainly. The two months after moving home were a bit different (read manic) and along with any socializing we needed to buy stuff for the house, await a timetable full of deliveries and unpack and organize like at boot camp.

Usually our weekends are gentle and calm in quality and include a heavy dose of sleep. Both of us are deep sleepers and many a Saturday has passed by without us noticing much except a quick meal and the news headlines. However weekend planning is an activity I take seriously. With no immediate family or festivals to devoutly follow, the weekends are our oyster – to craft and mould into time well spent, to balance out the time it takes to de-stress with the need to be entertained, to eat with pleasure & Tabasco or discard as rotten fish. Who shall we meet? Shall we entertain? Shall we be entertained? Shall we go for yet another child’s birthday party? Shall we visit this exhibition? Where shall we eat? What should we watch?

This weekend was no different from the others. We entertained on Friday evening; making friends with our new neighbours because neighbours are important in this lonely world (my mother will be so proud). It was a relaxed evening of talking family histories and swapping stories of life. NICE nice NICE nice NICE (you gotta sing that otherwise it just looks like repetition for no good reason)

On Saturday evening we met up with a bunch of friends to bid one couple, M&A, a fond farewell as they prepare to relocate to Zurich. We met up at the Brew Wharf, which is tucked away off a little unobtrusive entrance by the side of Borough Market (Tube station: London Bridge; Tube line: Jubilee Line). Once inside the magnificent proportions of this microbrewery and restaurant stake their claim. Built under three huge railway arches this is an impressive space with along list of beers to match. Each arch houses its own specific task; thefirst of these is the bar area with some scattered seating. This leads into the second area with its big open plan kitchen and some long tables and benches. The next arch leads into what is called the Brew Hall and is essentially the main dining area. We sat under the second arch, at a big solid wood table quite close to the kitchen. The arches provide for great acoustics and the music was excellent. And while the guys enjoyed a variety of beers when the time came to order we found ourselves assigned to a rather smirky, irritated waitress. Of course part of our order got taken down wrong but over all the food was excellent. I had fish and chips, where the fish was haddock in a very light beer batter, the chips were in fact 3 halved potato wedges and the tartar sauce was a treat in itself. V had a pair of delicious fishcakes, each of which was lightly spiced and of a consistency very unlike the processed supermarket fishcakes. The space and the food more than made up for the service which got better as the evening progressed. So much so that by the time we finished our meal the waitress was smiling and asking how our meals were. Cynical me wonders if it had anything to do with the time to include a tip with our payment. At around £20 per head I will definitely go back because as an exciting ambiance and meal the Brew Wharf came out tops.

To top the night out we caught the tube one stop west and hopped off at Southwark station (Tube Line: Jubilee). In 5 short strides we entered the very swanky Baltic. The Baltic is the second in the mini-chain of Vodka Bars and restaurants and is every bit as swanky as the reviews describe it. A long long bar extends from the entrance, adorning one half of a white and muted light corridor till the actual restaurant space. And what a space it is! It must have been our night for magnificent spaces because the cavernous restaurant took my breath away. Large and airy, with great big beams holding up a vaulted glass ceiling, the space shimmered over the candlelit tables and amber(?) chandelier. And although we didn’t sit in any of the little alcoves and sip vodka, I walked rather slowly to and from the restrooms just to gape at the space and imbibe some of its ambience. We sat near the bar, around a small metal table appropriately lined with alcohol: 2 different types of Vodka’s (of a list of 35 would you believe), 2 different whisky’s (one of which was called the Monkey’s Shoulder much to my amusement) and 1 still water (that was for boring ol’ me). I read the compact bar menu and then the main menu with some delight. Baltic offers an eclectic menu of Eastern European food, from Uzbekistan to Poland, Moldavia to Siberia. The bar staff were a bit unhelpful and non-smiling but once again ambience wins and I shall certainly return to try out some of the food. By the time we ambled home it was past midnight and the only way to calm myself down was by watching ‘Criminal Intent’ on Hallmark (which is fast becoming my favorite cable channel for showing constant CSI type serials).

I had planned to go and look at an exhibition at mid-day but discovered in time that the space was shut on Sundays. So I called and cancelled that appointment to meet friends and instead enjoyed a late-ish brunch with V at our steady favourite, Tootsies. Then V went off to sit at his laptop and simultaneously work and watch reruns of the Natwest win instead of the washed out match. I traipsed across town to attend the 1st birthday of young Z where I was repeatedly asked if I had a ‘little one’. The first time my reflex was ‘little what?’. But then I got used to it. As I had to continuously reply in the negative and endure stares of disbelief that I would be invited let alone bother to show up, I indulged in some brilliant Tallegio with cream crackers. I got home exhausted from watching a roomful of youth and innocence run around screaming and eating and talking and singing. Seeing as I regularly get invited to kids birthday parties I’m coming around to the view that I must have the patience of a saint. Or the thick skin of a Rhinoceros.

It’s Monday again and in 5 days the weekend begins all over again. Hmmm. What shall we do this time?

Brew Wharf: Brew Wharf Yard, Stoney Street, London SE1 9AD
Baltic Bar & Retsaurant: 74 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA


  1. Weekends are awesome.. but they just whizz by.. and it gets extremely diff. by the time it's Wednesday.

  2. Friday's are for pizza
    Saturday for late night movies
    Sunday for sleeping the whole day


  3. ah... a weekend in the city. You have no idea how I miss one of those!

  4. I am usually ok with Tuesdays...its the Wednesday's which are a bitch to overcome! :)

  5. I usually work on weekends. Except for Saturday mornings where I make it a point to do something. Gallery, museum, etc just exclusive couple time after the mad week. And promptly work Saturday evenings (apart from X factor) and Sundays as well. Kinda sad eh. I need to get an adult life soon.

  6. Oh yeah, I've caught the "weekends are sacrosanct" attitude in the last year or so that I've been working full time. :) I LURRRRRRVE my sleep... and one of the biggest pleasures in my life is to open my eyes at 7.30am and realise that I DONT have to get up. Oh the bliss of going back to sleep, cuddled up in my duvet... indescribable! :)

  7. You didn't mention the sunday evening blues that a lot of people tend to suffer. You did call it sad, so it may be the same thing :-)

  8. Anonymous12:03 PM

    interesting...there was a point when i had a full-time job and 2 kids...and actually dreaded the weekend and waited for monday mornings...when i could go to work and hear myself think...40in2006

  9. Hey there,
    That was a lovely write-up.

    1. You truly are brave, attending all those kiddie birthday parties.

    2. Thanks for the recommendations!


  10. Anonymous7:03 PM

    Impressed with all your birthday party attendance.

    Loved the description of Baltic.. seems awesome. can't wait to go try some of the 35 types of vodka.

  11. John: Weekends do whizz by which is why my main plan is sleep, movie, sleep, eat, sleep and sleep!

    Beks: I hope you have a weekend in the city soon. Sometimes they can be too tiring though and then work comes as a relief.

    Sonal: Today is Terrible Tuesday. Arrgghhh!

    Jane: Working on a weekend is a no-no in my book - unless you can have a few days off in the middle of the week. And watching more stuff like the 'Dirty Dancing' musical night out all make for brilliant adult life if you ask me!!

    Shyam: All this early morning gym activity means that my body clock has reset itself and I get up 'automagically' on the Saturday at 5.25. Thankfully that passes real quick and I'm back asleep in minutes. On Sunday I just sleep through any sunrise etc.

    40in2006: I've had a whole host of mad busy weekends when coming back to work and falling asleep on the keyboard has been the Monday morning norm. Luckily we are back to endless sleep and fun activity weekends.

    Nee: Thanks. And thanks again for calling me brave. But I'm not really because I get to leave without a poopy diaper child! It's all those parents that are brave...
    Hope you enjoy some of the recommendations - there is a whole list along the side of earlier forays into London's food world.

    Pea: I too am deeply impressed - how much I must like these people to go to all these kiddies parties. Baltic is uber swanky and I wish I drank vodka!!

  12. Weekends are more tiring than weekdays since I try and spend every waking moment making up for for lost time with my son - but no less fun or looked forward too than before...

    I actually have a policy - I will never work for a place that expects me to work for more than 5 days a week...