Farewell 2012...

I've been looking forward to 2013 for at least two months now, so I'm really happy it's finally here! My resolutions are all a bit hackneyed, but include: eating less sugar, going for a run twice a week, reading more books and finishing my third novel. But first, a look back on last year, with its enormous highs and lows...

January

Baltic

The year started with my 31st birthday, and a lovely dinner with friends at Baltic restaurant in Southwark - recommended!

February

Living room

My little flat had five minutes of fame in February, featured in the Guardian.

laser eye surgery

And... I had laser eye surgery, which was AMAZING. Will do a separate post about that next month!

March

Brighton Pier

I took advantage of some early spring sun for a day in Brighton - god sea air is the best for getting you out of a winter fug.

April

UBM

I started a new part-time job, working three days a week on the websites for leading interiors shows Decorex and Interiors UK (that's me with some of my colleagues above). I only went in to meet the team there to discuss freelancing for them, and they ended up offering me a permanent job so it was quite unexpected really! I'm really really enjoying it - it's been great to get out of the magazine bubble and meet different folk, and I actually went up to four days a week at the beginning of November.

May

Mykonos

A much-needed week's holiday in Mykonos, where the shone ridiculously brightly for us. As ever, I had a wonderful time. It just went a bit quickly.

June

Grandad

June was a strange month. I lost my beloved Grandad, who died exactly a month before his 100th birthday. He was 99 in the picture above, taken Christmas 2011. I miss him so much, and still think of him every day. But I'm trying to remember his positivity, his love for life and his ability to find the best in everything, and use that to inspire me. I'm very grateful that I saw him just a couple of days before he died, and that he was his usual smiley, lovely self.

The last day I saw him was also the day I found out I'd been offered a publishing contract for my novel. Life's a funny old thing. I have dedicated the book to my Grandad. I know he would be so happy for me.

July

Olympic torch

I finally caught Olympic fever, after having had no interest whatsoever in the build up. This was my first glimpse of the Games - when the torch went past the Decorex office on the barge. Sadly I only had my iPhone, hence rubbish pic!

August

Paralympics Opening Ceremony

After spending hours - maybe days - of my life searching for tickets, I finally somehow wangled two £50 tickets to the Paralympics opening ceremony. I took my Mum, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I only wish I'd been blogging back then, because I could wax lyrical about it for ages. It was fab. Unforgettable.

September

Paralympics

Olympic fever continued when I got press seats to the Paralympic athletics in September. This time I went with my friend Amy - I'll never forget the atmosphere in the stadium, and the park itself. Just brilliant. Wish we could make the 'Lympics an annual thing.

October

Gliding

A flying trip with my Dad went a bit scary when we got stuck above thick cloud. And then my Dad decided to stall the plane for fun. I now know what kind of scream I'll give off in a near-death situation. It's loud.

November

The Perfect Suicide, Lotte Worth

I got to see the cover for my novel. I love it.

December

The Cube

The festive season began with a bang, with a trip to The Cube. My culinary highlight in a year filled with culinary delights. Hopefully more of that in 2013...

I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store, and fully intend on recording as much of it as possible on this blog.

Happy new year to you all!

I'm spoilt: lunch at The Cube

The Cube, Electrolux So yesterday my colleague Grahame Morrison, web editor for KBB, made my winter by telling me he had wangled places for me and two other colleagues to have lunch at The Cube. For those not in the know, The Cube is the pop-up restaurant to end all pop-up restaurants. It's actually a self-contained restaurant 'pod', which has been touring Europe, and seats up to 18 for a blow-your-mind dining experience. It's currently moored on the top of the Royal Festival Hall, and each week a different Michelin-starred chef has taken up residence to cater for the ultimate dinner party.

I've wanted to go for absolutely aaaggggesss, but couldn't justify the £175 (lunch)/£215 (dinner) price tag. Which is why I literally danced round the office and squeaked in delight when Grahame told me he'd got us in. Yes, I know. Jammy journalists.

Cooking for us yesterday was Tom Kerridge, of Hand & Flowers fame. This was also mega exciting as I'd actually seen him on Masterchef just last week. You don't get to see the menu before you go - it's kept back right to the end of the meal, when you're given an autographed copy to keep as a memento. Every course was introduced by Tom himself, and we were able to mingle with him and watch him work throughout the meal.

The Cube Tom Kerridge

 

So what did we eat?

To start with, we were treated to champers as we hung out on the roof terrace (despite the sub zero temperatures), admiring the view of the river. The south bank is my absolute favourite part of London, so it was a real treat to be supping champagne and scoffing canapes while gazing out. Here we are getting excited about our imminent gastrofest...

The Cube

Our first course (of six!) was a delicious pumpkin soup, with king oyster mushrooms, blue cheese and garlic butter. Thick and heartwarming, it would be the perfect thing to eat on Bonfire Night! It was baked 'en croute' with a pastry lid which Tom cut into, and removed, so that we each got a piece to dip into the soup.

The Cube

The Cube

Next up was all the meat from a pig's head, rolled into a little croquette-type thing. I baulked a bit at the pig's head bit, but Tom ensured us that it didn't contain any ears or eyeballs, just the flesh around the head. It turned out to be a bit like pulled pork, rich, meaty and satisfying. It was accompanied by something that looked like a worm, but which was apparently a Jerusalem artichoke - its texture surprised me, being crunchy and sort of like celery (without the strong flavour). A piece of crackling finished it off perfectly.

The Cube

Then came my favourite course of the lot - hake with grapes. The hake was perfect - beautifully moist and wrapped in vine leaves, with a beurre blanc and shallot sauce. Yum.

The Cube

I should mention that we were given a different wine with each course - and these were described to us by the very knowledge and friendly waitress before being poured. I have to confess that I'm not used to drinking six glasses of wine at lunch, so I fell behind a little. I'd also been a bit overeager when the champagne was going round at the beginning so was already a little bit tipsy - but it WAS delicious!

The 'main' course was salt-baked lamb with salsa verde, pomme boulengere and sprouting broccoli. The rosemary-encrusted lamb was blow-torched before our eyes before serving - an impressive sight!

The Cube

The lamb was a revelation - I actually hate lamb, but it was amazingly tender and packed with aromatic flavours, thanks to having been cooked for eight hours. I ended up having three helpings - which got me into trouble further on in the day (more on that later).

Apologies for my rubbish presentation, but we got to help ourselves to this course!

The Cube

The Cube

The Cube

Finally, it was time for pud. A classic crème brûlée , with a beautifully crispy top that cracked satisfyingly when I tapped it with my spoon. This was accompanied by Innis & Gunn oak-aged ale. By this time I was feeling unsurprisingly tipsy and full...

The Cube

After this, we were served coffee and biscuits. Overall, the whole thing was absolutely amazing - and I would heartily recommend it. It's very expensive, but such a fabulous experience that I don't think it's bad value at all. I loved the fact that Tom chatted to us throughout the meal, and it was great to hear about the cooking techniques involved before we ate dishes. I wish you got that at every restaurant. I can't cook to save my life, but I found it all fascinating.

My only regret? My eyes were bigger than my stomach. I felt fine after we left, but later on that day a mini mince pie sent me over the edge into the world of severe tummy ache! So if you're going to go, don't get carried away like I did and help yourself to three portions of lamb. Unless you're prepared to be in pain later that day. Although, to be honest, it was probably worth it...

The Cube

The Cube stays in London until the end of 2012. For more details, visit The Cube website>>