31 October 2008

The perfect little village in the perfect Scottish countryside

I have officially arrived in Scotland for a wonderful four-day weekend to visit part of The Family McQuade (Marie, Robert, Jude, and Aiden) and so far I am LOVING it. We're in a village a half hour from Edinburgh, and to get here we drove through lush, green rolling hills dotted with lush, white grazing sheep under lush, dark gray skies, occasionally slowing through windy lanes bordered by tiny stone cottages that pre-date the existence of America. Driving through the village proper, we passed a white church standing sentinel over a perfect green park through which a group of children wearing colorful peacoats and caps traipsed hand-in-hand, no doubt on their way to a pumpkin patch or perhaps a lifesize gingerbread house. My particular room here has an entire glass wall overlooking a valley of more lushness and more impossible greenery, and I am tempted not to leave my perch on the window seat for the duration of my stay, unless it is to shift to a spot in front of the fireplace or refill my tea.

Tonight we head out to take the boys to a Halloween party. I'm excited to see how the Scottish do Halloween; I feel like I'm getting an inside scoop by having the privilege of participating with a personal, child-filled family.

In the meantime, back to my perch in the window!

29 October 2008

Brighton Sleeps and Brighton Shops

More of the 'Brighton Does' series...today I give you photos of the bed-and-breakfast I stayed in while in Brighton...it was a gorgeous little boutique hotel called Maison Mascara, and I of COURSE reserved the super duper luxury suite because one, there was a mid-week special, and two, that's how I roll.

Please note the huge Egyptian cotton duvet, so heavy that it pinned me down and made me toasty warm and happy.

Self-portrait. And despite the apparent crawling on top of furniture, I did not follow this up with jumping on the bed. At least not that I'm admitting.

Yes. My super duper luxury suite came complete with tub-in-room. So of course I rested my weary shopping feet with a hot bath before dinner...and then I rested my heavy dinner tummy by taking a bath before bed...and then I woke up and rested my...oh, wait. Needless to say, it was amazing I left my room at all with this amenity at hand.

Then there was the shopping...I had a to-do list of two items: I needed a pair of gloves (apparently sooner than I expected) and a zippered pouch to hold miscelleneous small items cluttering up the bottom of my purse. And it turns out Brighton is the BEST place to buy...anything, given the hundreds of stores packed into a maze of teeny tiny alleys (otherwise known as The Lanes).

Junk Funk is where I got the Greatest Zippered Pouch in all the land. I must photo it for you--it's a soft squooshy turquoise leather with birds on it and a white satin interior. I love it so much I want to go back and get one of each design (the orange one with robot, the green with giraffe...). They'd make great Christmas gifts, if I were generous enough to share...

28 October 2008

First Snowfall of the Season

Half an hour ago I made the mistake of looking out the window. And what is currently happening outside? A BLIZZARD. That's what. This photo of the back porch shows what has already accumulated. Looks like a greeting card, doesn't it? A GREETING CARD BY A SADIST. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the snow coming down.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hide under the covers until spring.

Brighton Eats

As my life becomes increasingly hectic with the needs of Mommies 1-10, vacations like last week's to Brighton seem like they may become fewer and farther between. However, now that Mommy 9 has hired me on three days a week, and I'm with Mommy 1 the other two days, I am considering paring down the remainder of Mommies, as watching their little ones in the evenings would create a child-minding schedule that would drive the most reasonable of humans to the brink of insanity. And since we can all admit that I already live my life on said brink, let's not tempt the crazy gods, shall we?

So let's tour Brighton together...this is the first of a posting series called 'Brighton Does.' Today, Brighton Eats.

This is Pokeno's Pies. According to my book, it is 'lauded by national food critics,' and while I can't actually verify this report, I can at least say I got one heckuva good chicken and butternut squash pie. (Can we now boast that Pokeno's has been lauded internationally?)

Gravy optional. To which I say POUR IT ON, MOFO'S! And don't be slow about it!

I met a Brighton local at the Sloane Square Market a couple of weeks ago, and I can actually thank him for recommending all of these places. His suggestion for me to try pre-dinner cocktails at Misty's (happy hour 2-for-1) was perfect--their beer garden was cozy and charming, and the bartender Ivan knew his stuff (which is a rarity in the average London pub-tender, so I can't imagine how Brighton typically fares).

Sidebar: what exactly defines a beer garden? Is there a such thing as a cocktail garden? Or just a straight up drink garden? Someone please to shed some light on this.

The Drink Garden.

Then dinner at Coriander! Coriander (below) is a North African-Latin fusion restaurant with an attached deli. The food was great, the restaurant was crowded with locals (as evidenced by their hearty greetings of Chef Dave, who occasionally emerged from the kitchen to make the rounds of tables), and the entire experience felt very warm and intimate.

And the next morning, before catching the train* back to London, I stopped at Sejuice, a tiny smoothie place in the Lanes (Brighton's shopping district).

Sejuice was great: I told Mr. Dread that I was fighting a cold, and he instantly added ginger to my citrus-laden beverage.

Also, is this not the sort of guy you'd want serving up your smoothies? He's got organic written all over him.

*A note on the trains: a train to Brighton from London takes a little less than an hour. This is like the transportation equivalent of taking Bay Area Rapid Transit from 24th Street Mission to, say, Walnut Creek. An easy day trip, basically. But if you tell people here that you are going to Brighton for a day and a half, they recoil: "Isn't that awfully far for just one night?"

27 October 2008

And that's how to get a job.

Yesterday, 2:47 p.m.:

Mommy 9: The baby totally shifted and his head is RIGHT ON MY BLADDER. I can barely walk right now.

Me: Really? When is he due?

Mommy 9: December 15th.

Me: That's what YOU think. He's so coming early.

Mommy 9: Don't SAY that.

Me: No, I'm serious. He's on his way. AS WE SPEAK.

Yesterday, 11:32 p.m., voicemail:

"I just had the baby. Can you start tomorrow morning?"

And so began Day 1!

22 October 2008


I'm off for a day trip to Brighton! Everyone tells me it's 'just like San Francisco,' and by that I think they mean 'super gay and coastal.' So in the spirit of enterprise and homesickness, I'm heading that way! I can't wait to see the ocean again...I'm going to LICK it, I'm so excited.

20 October 2008

Sloane Square Market

Welcome to the Sloane Square Market! Located in Chelsea, this is one of London's fancy food markets. It's a total cluster-eff of people until around two, and then it's all yours to move around, take some photos...and then eat eat eat.

This stall made me wish I had a sweet tooth...but if any of you would like some chocolate-covered banana raisins or yogurt-coated almonds, let me know! This vendor had something for EVERYONE. Though I will admit I ended up going for the chocolate-covered honeycombs...I'm only HUMAN, after all...

And for those of you who crave salty over sweet...

A solid half--if not more--of the vendors here make fresh food to eat on the spot. There is an overwhelmingly wonderful selection...from savory pies to Thai curry to Morrocan tagine to Indian to sausage sandwiches...it is nearly impossible to decide what to eat. So of course I must return every Saturday.


This is the girl who sells the tea. Have you ever SEEN such a nice face?? Be honest. I think we're going to be bff's soon, because I'm going to begin stalking her every Saturday until she breaks down and starts to hang out with me. And then someday we'll look back and laugh, "Remember how we met when you were taking photos of my tea??" "It feels like just yesterday!"

Take your pick--do you prefer a certain apple varietal? A certain press? Or maybe you like pear juice or blackcurrant? I ended up getting a single-serving sized mini-bottle for a pound and I totally sucked it dry within seconds...I really should've gone for the larger bottle...ah, well! Next Saturday, right?

And this was my lunch! I eventually settled on the chicken tikka masala at the Indian stall with a serving of vegetable curry that was so spicy it made my nose run. But then the apple juice cooled me back down again...it was PERFECT.

18 October 2008


So Daddy 1 (a.k.a. 'The German Mathematician') was telling us the other night of some new gmail feature he'd heard of that apparently will censor all late night emails by requiring you to answer five math questions before your email is sent. The idea being that if you are inebriated you won't be able to do it, which ultimately protects you from later embarrassment and regret. Turns out he was right! Once you activate it, you can set which days of the week and hours you'd like to be filtered, as well as the difficulty of the math questions. Seriously awesome.

Now if only they could do the same with texts...

17 October 2008

Maximum Velocity and a Walk through Notting Hill

Ladies, it's time to line up! Meet Max, the funniest, most happenin' guy cruising the London streets, and the darling with which I get the honor of spending my afternoons. Please note his crazy-cool drool-bandanna (or the 'drool-danna' I like to call it), handmade by a local writer and DIY mother. The drool danna does a killer great job of keeping Max's clothing dry and is WAY more stylin' than the average bib. Needless to say, he owns every room he enters.

This is the ridiculously awesome view from Max's Manor. Please note the gherkin on the left...it's everywhere you look, people. 30 St. Mary Axe OWNS this half of London.

Now let's go to the other side of town!

Today I met Mommy 6, who rapidly became one of my favorite Mommies yet. She has the good fortune to live in Notting Hill, which is where I'll be headed once a week for the next few weeks to watch her baby studmuffin. And I am PSYCHED about it. Check it out...

I know what you're thinking: I totally colored this in photoshop. I wish (mostly because that would mean I owned photoshop). But no...this is Portobello Road. The most charming street EVER.

When I first saw this book title, I thought, "WHOA! That is RACIST!" Then I looked at the image. Talk about disappointing.

Apparently there are two sorts of markets on this street: a Friday wares sort of market, and a Saturday fruit-and-veg market. I don't know if the antiques and costume jewelry and racist books are still pimped at Saturday's market, but they probably are. I'll have to go and check it out, though, just so I don't lead you astray. Even though that means fighting crowds. And we all know what crowds do to me. But for you, Notting Hill? Anything.

Bracelet? Orange? Tapestry?

16 October 2008

Happy Two Week Londoniversary!

Today is my two-week Londoniversary. (Yes, you will receive a weekly countdown; you may as well accept that now.) I feel like I should celebrate in some way, but I can't put my finger on a good way to say 'London, you do me right. Let's make love. Right here, on this wet cobblestone sidewalk.' Maybe I should do something secret, something that only we know about, like go out to eat in nothing but a trench coat. Something to make London go, 'That's right, baby. You and me, we gots somethin'.' (Apparently London is an Italian gangster in this fantasy.) But we'll see. Maybe I'll just settle for streaking across Tower Bridge.
In the meantime, though, here's a tiny ode to Wapping...

This is where I'm kitty-sitting. I love it. Staying here makes me feel very Jane Austen, very walks-in-the-countryside, very 'sweep me off my feet, Colin Firth.' (But then, all of Wapping tends to do that to me. So if you see Colin around, tell me to meet me at St. Katharine's Docks. I'll be the girl in the trench coat.)

There is a canal of some sort right outside my door called Spirit Quay. (I KNOW, right? That's the sort of brilliant naming they do here.) It's a gorgeous path down red brick sidewalks, with overhanging gardens and arching autumnal trees...

Totally. DUCKS. This place is out of control. And yes, I am officially that person who photographs ducks. I am but a short cry away from puppies and church steeples. Forgive me.

Okay, so this picture is less for photography's sake, and more to point out HOW MANY DUCKS THERE ARE. Seriously. If they decide to group and attack, we wouldn't stand a chance. In the meantime, there's always dinner on the table! mmmm...come a little closer, aggressive mallard friend...

A rainy night on Tower Bridge. I've decided TB does its best work in the rain--it glows a little softer or something...

15 October 2008

What's in a name?

Okay, so this London blog launch is LONG overdue. But the delay came with the name, of course. I battled for the perfect title for days, trying out a thousand variants on a handful of themes, as though I thought if my title were just one iota off of Ridiculously Profound, my readership would plummet. Because it would, of course. It even got to the point where I almost performed an animal sacrifice to the google gods as a plea to PLEASE free up all the blog names not used since, say, 2001, which in blog years is like, prenatal. Because all the truly good blog ideas (read: Lizzie's) were taken, and most had not been posted to since the days you clicked F12 to print.

But then one evening an epiphany hit.

I was drifting off to sleep when the beginning of 'Howl' entered my head. Please note this is not a normal occurrence, and usually only happens when I am starving hysterical naked and have been dragging through the negro streets. Which is only, like, once a month. But here is the direction my mind went when given complete pre-sleep freedom:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of
cities contemplating jazz

This entire thing did not go through my head, mind you, as knowing all of the above by heart would put me in the category of beat-worship and I draw the line at trying to reproduce the madness. But the first line, sure. Then my mind naturally proceeded to 'Footnote,' as one cannot have Howl without the Footnote to Howl, and I wondered if London was holy. And then I knew: 'Footnote' was my name. And I fell asleep.

Upon waking the next day, I raced to the laptop (and by 'raced,' I mean, 'read my book in the bathroom for a while, then went downstairs, then made coffee, then washed the previous night's dishes, then wiped off the counters, then rearranged my daisies, then pet the kitty'). I then got online and typed in 'Footnote dot blogspot.' Taken. Naturally. But this one--London Footnotes dot blogspot--was not. And so it was mine.

I feel like this year's blog is going to be a footnote in every possible interpretation: from the literal breakdown--'notes taken while on foot,' to the denotative definition of 'a minor or tangential comment or event added or subordinated to a main statement or more important event.' My posts, of course, being the 'minor tangential comment' to the greater statement that is London.

And so we have it: my London blog. Cheers!