A lovely, busy weekend (featuring Karaoke, Tintin and Whirlpools)

Rachel and I had a long-standing engagement for Friday night, to have a girls’ night out on the town, gladrags, lipgloss and all. However Christmas Party fever, and in particular the Office Private Party strain, seemed destined to thwart our plans. Both Digress and The Cuban told us that our presence was not required, because we weren’t on the guest list. Bah. So Rachel pulled an excellent Plan B out of her hat – the Karaoke Bar in Farringdon. Now, I know I might not be the top of anyone’s list as a Karaoke-ite, but a pint of Spitfire combined with the Christmas spirit and a soupcon of devil- may- care- I- won’t- know- anyone- other- than- Rachel- and- she’s- known- me- since- we- were- five- so- she’s- seen- worse- (much- worse) made all the difference. We had a fab time. Our evening started with just the two of us, the songbook and a bottle of Corona each and ended with a bar-full of people singing along to the pick of the 80s power ballads culiminating in Alone, and Love is a Battlefield, via Whitesnake, Abba, Oasis, The Cure, Toni Basil, Christina Aguilera and many many more.

Surprisingly Saturday didn’t see any sore heads (all that singing left little time for drinking), and after an emergency trip to Somerfield for breakfast goodies, and a chinwag, Rachel headed home leaving me to start work on writing Christmas cards, with brief interludes of newspaper reading and City shopping.

TJBR arrived just after 5pm, bearing scrummy sushi after which we headed over to the Barbican for the evening’s main feature: Tintin in Tibet, as portrayed by The Young Vic. Back home, tom and Jo took their leave and soon after Barney and Rosa were tucked up in bed, and Mary-and-Phil’s lack of suitable bedtime story reading material materialised. Luckily it was late enough for that not to prevent B&R falling asleep.

Sunday had a surprisingly late start (9.45), which allowed for professional levels of tickle-monstering before a breakfast of toast and crumpets, slathered in all varieties of jam, plus honey and marmite (not together I hasten to add). Phil and I then took Barney and Rosa on a residents-only tour of the Barbican Estate, featuring the Circus, the Lakes, Waterfall Island, the duck slides, the Secret Garden (v1 – underwater), the whirlpool, and the Secret Garden (v2 – with the playground, all weather court and cricket nets – all new to me!). We rendezvoused with a hungover Tom who subbed in for Phil who headed off to Somerset House for December’s Sunday Brunch Bunch. After a semi-restorative drink and straw-construction session at the Waterside Cafe, we re-did the sight-seeing circuit, albeit at a rather faster pace and opting for the St Giles Church and Barbican Highwalk alternative ending.

After meeting Jo on the Podium, we retired indoors for a midday feast of yet more crumpets and toast. Jo and Rosa headed off for Damien’s party, leaving Tom to continue on his ‘recovery’ on the sofa, watching BBC News 24 coverage of the Hemel Hempsted petrol storage depot explosion, and Barney and me to upload our whirlpool photos and video footage.

Phil arrived home and kept Tom company in the lounge until Tom and Barney left, headed home (planning to go via the Museum of London) c 3.30pm, by which time I was succumbing to Rachel’s cold and feeling too tired to move (or to do any more Christmas card writing). I did manage to upload the best of the day’s photos, and made a small dent in the Yalta backlog: Chersonesus [tick], Nikitsky Botanical Gardens [tick]. They’re accumulating on Flickr, joining the ones of Hazel and my first day exploring Yalta (rust bucket chairlift, War Memorial, Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, coast road/path east (in fools’ quest to walk to Nikitsky), and the first half of the Ancient Wonders of the Crimea day trip, featuring Bakhchysaray in the morning which was followed by Cheronesus in the afternoon.