Happy Birthday Vesper

It was around this time two years ago, that I wrote my first ever blog post. At that time, I was sitting upstairs in the Punch & Judy in Covent Garden, typing away on my brand new laptop, Vesper, getting exciting about my forthcoming long haul adventure, starting to count down the days. So much has changed since then, yet once again I find myself sitting with a drink in a London establishment, typing away on Vesper, starting to count down the days until another long haul adventure.

I’ve wanted to do the Canadian Grand Prix for a couple of years now. But in 2012, I used so much of my annual leave in going to Honkers and Australia, I couldn’t justify or afford to go to Canada, so told myself I’d do it in 2013. Last year, I moved house, relocated to the other end of the country, left Xerox, joined Barclays and started a new role, all in the space of a week. With cars roaring around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve just two weeks later, it didn’t happen in 2013 either. At that point, with plans to head back to Australia in 2014, I started to think Canada would never actually come off? But when my uncle in Melbourne told me he won’t be around in March when the cars hit Albert Park, the decision was made – defer Australia to 2015 and nail Canada now!

Planning time – yesssss!

So last night I finally booked my tickets and once again, my head is now filled with the excitement of planning. It’s worth noting at this point that, yes, I do have a spreadsheet. It’s also worth noting that it does include a cash flow forecast. And, before you laugh louder, yes it will be evolving over the next few weeks, to incorporate such essentials as currency conversions; climatic data, potential wardrobe contents, itinerary options and full version control, and I now want to stay up all night tonight researching! Last night it was 2am before I powered down – possibly due to excitement, although having been caffeine-free since New Year, the three cups of coffee I drank may have had something to do with it?

However, there are two slight complications. Rough guides are on order from Amazon (I tried two Waterstones stores today but neither had them in stock, gutted) and, critically, the key ingredient when planning anything exciting, is a good bottle of red wine. Having also been off the sauce since New Year, this key ingredient is also ‘on hold’. Bugger.

Oh how times have changed…

So two years ago, I was sitting in a West End pub drinking a pint of lager top. Tonight, I’m sitting in a Bloomsbury coffee shop with a decaf soya latte. Yes, seriously. What’s even more worrying is that I actually asked the Barista to put chocolate on my latte. Nowhere in the UK seems to do this, but in Turin they did it everywhere? I followed suit over there (when in Turin…) and liked it, so I now have it with chocolate on top here too. Oh god, I’m starting to think about how I like my coffee… Is it February yet? I clearly need caffeine and alcohol again…

Don’t get me wrong; I love Covent Garden, but it’s very touristy and there’s so much of London I’ve never seen, so tonight I figured I’d try somewhere different. And Friday night is one of the best times to get out and explore. In honesty, there another influencing factor in my choosing Bloomsbury which, strangely, brings me back to wine…

In search of a fruity Romanian

Tomorrow night is Bo’s birthday party. Because she is Romanian, and I’m encouraged (easily) to bring a bottle, I set myself the challenge of finding/taking her a bottle of Romanian wine for her birthday.

Having got The London Guide to Cheese & Wine for Christmas (and having it torment me for the past four weeks) I find a wine merchant in Greenwich which specialises in Eastern European wine – perfect. So after work on a wet and windy Wednesday night, I hop on the DLR (not my favourite form of transport, having previously been fined £80 for not tapping out properly) and head for Greenwich. Using my new-found London navigation skills (I seem to have replaced Bruno and his posh German SatNav, Bella, with a London Bus app and Google maps?) I find my way to Maze Hill and fall through the door of Theatre of Wine looking somewhat dishevelled. The torment continues, as I look around me at the extensive selection of wine, the wooden communal table stretched out down the middle of the shop, with a cheeseboard and carafe drifting it’s tempting aroma around the shop… Rather than suffer the torment, I head straight to the desk and ask the assistant whether they have anything Romanian. She’s all smiles, and takes great pleasure explaining how extensive their range is (I can see that) from all countries in Eastern Europe (yes, that’s why I’m here) except Romania. What? Really? Instead, she suggests I download the Wine-Seeker app and that’ll apparently tell me everywhere in the world that stocks the wine I’m after. So I make use of their wifi whilst I’m there, download said app, and it tells me that the closest reseller is Adnams. What? Why ever didn’t I think of that! The biggest wine importer in the UK. I knew this. I also knew they stock Romanian, given the volumes of it which I consumed at my parents’ place over Christmas, which they bought by the case, when they went to the Adnams brewery in Southwold. Of course! Not that I needed an excuse, but if I must pay a visit to Adnams, I will. Bo – I thank you for being Romanian, and for having a birthday party on the day I’m allowed to drink again, and for agreeing my challenge to find and bring a bottle of Romanian wine. To toast the occasion, I’ll bring two – I thank you :)/p>

Must I really wait until tomorrow night?

It has been suggested that the definition of a kid in a sweetshop, is a Wallin in an Adnams shop. I support this theory wholeheartedly. So on visiting Store Street in Bloomsbury this evening to obtain a fruity Romanian, I ask myself the question: given that I haven’t had a drink for 31 days, given that I have some serious planning to do, and given that I’m presented with perhaps one of the best selections of exciting and delicious wines in the greatest city in the world, should I purchase a bottle for myself? Clearly it’s a rhetorical question, as I find myself asking the assistant which bottle he would pick, if he was to try something different.

Yet again, having entered the shop to buy just one bottle of wine, I walk away with four bottles and another new mug for my collection – oops – but the question remains, must I wait until tomorrow night to drink it? Or can I just go home, crack it open, and start planning my trip? Wine… Travel… Planning… Writing…