Wake up call in Krakow

Of course, we didn’t expect the roof to fall in during the night. Nothing could have prepared us for the freak 4am wake up call. The night before, drunk and not used to the Polish cold, we had whacked the heating up to the highest setting and conked out on our beds. The heat and humidity of the room had gotten a little too much for the ceiling plastering, and it gave up the ghost in a dramatic middle of the night exit by crashing down with an almighty bang.

To say we shit ourselves is to completely undersell the synchronised fear of god that flashed through Emma and mine’s mind. It is the middle of the night, we have been discussing the finer points of the Taken plot all day and we were only half joking when we lavishly barricaded our hotel room’s front door, and we are one hundred and ten per cent about to be fucking kidnapped. Well, we weren’t, but we couldn’t tell for sure just yet because in the blackout darkness Emma had frozen, rooted to her mattress like she had literally turned to stone, so couldn’t outstretch her arm to turn on the only light.

‘What the fuck was that Farrah’. A low, deep urgency.

‘I don’t know Emma, turn the fucking lamp on’. She reanimated, hand shooting out of her duvet to scramble at the switch. Nothing, just the room staring back at our alarm. The radiator that lines the wall is pumping out heat with such determination that the air is thick and soupy. Looking at the pile of smashed up plaster on the floor, in our sweaty, panicked daze, I don’t think either of us were convinced that it wasn’t going to come to life and murder us. Eyeing it with suspicion, we settled back into our beds, and fell back asleep with the light on.

Silly, dazed and breathless laughter the next morning, we swept up the plaster and got ready to start our next Krakow adventure…



Girls I Used To Know

I’ve ordered a mocha, and immediately regretted it. The problem with coffee, as opposed to tea, is that once you’ve started to drink it- which you HAVE to, for temperature reasons- it’s game over.

I’m halfway through my mocha, and my date hasn’t even arrived yet. She isn’t late, I was just a little early and was jumped on for an order the moment my shadow graced the front step of this cafe. Now. I’m going to have to either order another coffee when she gets here, or sit here with no drink as she works her way through ordering, waiting and drinking hers. This is the stuff of nightmare, truly.

Before she arrives, I have a few minutes to muse over my nerves. It’s low level nerves, don’t get me wrong, but they are trickling around in the back of my mind. The girl I’m meeting is an old friend. We only met a handful of times at university, and in the years since barely spoken, unless you count Instagram likes- which I do, incidentally. I guess it’s quite scary putting yourself forward for friendship this way.


She arrives, I sip on my cold mocha and take wistful sideway glances towards the genius on the table next to me who is gleefully pouring and repouring cups of tea from a lovely, warm, teapot. Fucker.

Obviously, she hasn’t noticed my mocha anguish, and we chat away with happy abound. It’s nice to catch up. We haven’t spoken in a few years, and after a few Instagram posts reveal that we pass like ships in the night at various cafes and restaurants, realise we have a very common taste in restaurants. The busy cafe empties out, I buy another coffee, we share doughnuts, we arrange to do this again some time.

Working your way through your twenties, I think it’s a common enough feeling that it’s everyone else having a good time. Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO for the time-starved. The electricity two people share over a cuppa (gah, of tea or coffee), whether once or recurring, quashes that feeling that seeps in while you scroll endlessly through feeds at home in your bathrobe alone on a Saturday afternoon.

On my way home, I messaged another girl I used to know.


108 Garage – Restaurant Review

The struggles you face in London are truly real. Sure, there’s the ones everyone knows about (rent rises, Southern Rail, the chaos of the first snowflake landing, the ‘liberal London elite’, etc etc). But those pale in comparison, surely, to the guttural need to be constantly ~ I N – T H E – K N O W~.

I’ve tweeted about FOMO to an audience of eye rollers before, and it did seem a contender for Word of the Year before alternative facts got in the post-truth way (A shame of many facets, to be sure). Whilst in the midst of my tweetstorm (three likes and a scathing reply, shout out to my fans), Giles Coren posted this:

And let me tell you, friends, that when Giles Coren tells you to get to a restaurant, you immediately stop what you’re doing and book a table. Or at least I do, so I did.

108 Garage Wine

Round rolls the fateful Saturday, and after battling through the carnage that is Portobello Road Market, we emerged into the promised culinary haven to settle in for a few hours. Perched at the bar (another great Giles tip), we had a vantage point straight into the tiny kitchen and across the red-brick hues of the restaurant. Copper and industrial steelwork lined the walls. The beautiful staff joke with us and each other. Chef Chris Denney asks if we had allergies and hands us appetizers. I make eye contact with Jonathan- who is typically a fair but harsh judge of my restaurant choices- and he is buzzing.

Chris Denney at 108 Garage London

We order, as you should too, the five course menu. For food this good it is startling value at £35 a head. Between the two of us it meant we got the try every dish on the set menu, so go with someone you’re willing to share the good stuff with.

The chicken parfait was so smooth you wouldn’t be certain you had actually popped it into your mouth if it wasn’t for the blow-away flavour. Cured mackerel is light, happy. The beetroot is sharp, happy. We sit wide eyed, happy.

108 starter five course menu

108 Garage John Dory Dish

Our mains are John Dory and wagyu, respectively. The fish (pictured above, out of focus in excitement) is exquisite alongside an almost Portuguese-style sauce, the samphire and pumpkin seeds genius texture additions. It was a smart dish and a lovely dish. The wagyu comes donning a mustard seed relish, and melts just by looking at it. This dish was a particular flirt- Chris Denney was preparing other guest’s wagyu tantilisingly in front of us, meaning that even as we ate we were driven to distraction by the next batch of beef…

108 Garage - wagyu main

A palate cleanser, served over the bar by one of the chefs, of pink-lady apple sorbet.

Pink Apple Sorbet palate cleanser

I cannot reliably report on the date and IPA cake as I did not get a look in. I can however report that the cheese was fantastic. Black bomber is a little cheesy punch in the tastebuds. It came crumbled onto fresh (and also crumbly) cracker breads and generous pickle. Every morsel was appreciated and licked up.

108 Garage date and ale pudding

Not willing to let go of our experience just yet, we ordered cocktails to prolong the joy. I had a rosemary and tequila concotion, Jonathan had the house signature (£10 each). As we sipped and stared out into the restaurant, Jonathan decided that we would come back. Which, forgive me Giles Coren, is probably the best compliment you can give a restaurant.

108 Garage cocktails


Prophecies in pubs

I was at a pub in Spinningfields with some people I didn’t know too well. I’d shlepped out to the outskirts of East London (far, so far!) after work to maybe solidify a friendship or two out of a group of women I’d only met once before.

As the evening twinkled on, and as we chatted through a few bottles of red, the conversation turned to careers. These guys were quite media-y, and we compared notes on our bosses, work kitchen sanitation and plans for the future. Radio presenter, author, journalist, screenwriter. Paths paved and journeys halfway through- all going somewhere else with a nervous energy and wicked eyeline flicks.

The group had shrunk a little and I probably had volume-control issues thanks to the Malbec. I declared that all I wanted was a job that was a) interesting b) paid the rent and c) fulfilled me in some way and (drumroll please) d) I had someone to gossip and go for lunch with there.

Now. Judging by the reaction of my coconspiritors, this was asking a little too much from the media industry. We chortled at the likelihood of me finding this special snowflake princess job, and carried on merrily until it was time for the last tube home.


That morning, I’d had a job interview. I was pretty happy with how it had gone, but post-performance doubt was dripping it’s way in. I wanted it to work out- it hit so many passion points and it felt like the right place to switch things up for me. But, ah well, you never really can tell with these things.

One phonecall in the midst of TK Maxx Christmas hell later… I got the job.

A month or so on, I’ve started my new role. I can’t guarantee it’ll meet my Princess criteria just yet of course, but either way I’m feeling really damn well positive about the whole thing. These women I’d admired – at the same, earlier and later stages of their career journeys- had seemed so full of zing that I can’t help but think this whole dream career thing has a whole lot more to do with attitude than I’d thought.