This blog comes to you after coercing from more than a few readers who feel news of my peregrinations is rather overdue. And they are probably right, so, armed with a glass of vino and the crust of a beautiful Notting Hill loaf and lashings of French butter and Vegemite, here it comes!  The vino of course is also French: I have avoided antipodean drops like the plague because many on offer here run into the the vin ordinaire category and whilst I don’t mind experimenting with a French and getting the odd one I don’t like, I won’t do it with the others.  This is also one of my rare evenings at home and since the wind is howling outside I’m happy to be snugly and warm in the best end of Old Church Street Chelsea.

It rather amazes me actually: in my almost 4 months here I have not seen a light on in most of the windows of the two beautiful buildings facing me, and have only met 2 people who live in the 7 apartments in my building one of whom leaves notes under my door that I must not continue to move furniture at night. I think she has kangaroos in the top paddock but have resisted the temptation to tell her. I presume that they all have places in the country or abroad and when I look in the windows of the local estate agents and discover that a one bedroom flat in this area is around $1.2 million Aussie dollars, I am conscious of how rich a city London is.

Around me, in Fulham Road and in Pimlico Road, Kings Road and Kensington Church Street there are wall to wall design consultants and lighting, furniture and fabric shops, paying horrendous rent, still in business and all competing against one another. In other areas it is the same, although this is definitely one of the smartest parts of London, and I love it. Of course I venture into other places but when I come back here I feel at home. This is extremely dangerous because if I decide to buy an apartment here then I will have to sell my 3 bedroom/one study/garage all mod cons house in Australia to get a dog box with not even a 12 inch balcony.

Anyway that is a decision I have not yet made and am not going to make just yet. London however is a city I feel decidedly happy in and stimulated by. I love that there is so much to do and I love not having to work so if I want I can head over to the British Museum, as I did yesterday, for just an hour or so not having to see every room to be satisfied. I’ve popped into the Tate Modern a few times, and the National Portrait Gallery to see Richard III when he was unearthed from the car park, and the Marilyn Munroe exhibition and to drink champagne in their top floor bar. And of course to see Germaine Greer in her Jean Muir dress looking very academic.

Walking in London is one of my great pleasures which is just as well because I have one car in a snowed-in box in Italy and another in a airline hanger 20,000 kilometres away. Even in the cold and the drizzle over winter I love my daily walks and often detour off the beaten track just to see what is round the corner. There is always something interesting: beautiful buildings, lovely shops, green parks with bare winter trees, and a plethora of gorgeous cafes. Oh and there is my twice weekly Pilates which I love and an occasional swim in the local pool to keep me fit. (The National Health Service has still not located my number and are still looking I am told so its a good think I am so healthy and fit!)

Living in London in my 20’s was a very different kettle of fish. Coffee was a non-event (and really good coffee still has to be searched for) and Wimpy Bars flourished. For those of you from a different era, they were the precursor of all the vile fast food outlets and often the only place you could get fed in a high street shopping centre.  Now there are hundreds of places and many with delicious offerings.

Food being such a barometer of the good life, I can happily report on some wonderful successes. From the mouth-watering Otto Lenghi in Islington with the most wonderful aubergine salad and pomegranate in everything to the Michelin starred South West French Club Gascon near the Smithfield Meat Market and the Sicilian Michelin Locanda Locatelli where we could only get a table around 10 pm.  I have eaten and drunk delicious things at the Soho Fernandez and Wells, the former Courthouse Browns also in Soho, BAFTA, the Salt Yard charcuterie bar, the bar on the top but one floor of the Heron Tower with magnificent views over the City and enjoyed a wonderful crab pasta at Pellicano in South Kensington.  Champagne has been consumed in Fortnum and Mason, the Dorchester and the Royal Court Theatre, sherry at a Spanish bar in South Ken and frozen Margaritas at the Cuban La Perla in Covent Garden.On a more prosaic level I have coffee-d and juiced at Recipease, Jamie Oliver’s joint, at Wholefoods Warehouse and at delicious little places in Notting Hill Gate, The Royal Exchange and of course my local, the Chelsea Quarter Cafe. It was a salutary moment when the champagne at the Royal Court Theatre came in at £17 a glass for that was my entire week’s salary as a 21 year old.

But it is not all about food and wine.  Well….. No seriously I have spent amazing times with old friends and new. Lots of theatre especially with Charlotte whom I met in Florence a decade ago, a pre-Christmas candle-lit Messiah with Linda, carol singing at Royal Albert Hall, and many films courtesy of Hugo who gets free tickets but wont allow me to catch him serving the patrons of The Lounge, the up-market cinema in Queensway, where the viewers drink champagne and eat top quality chef designed meals whilst lounging in their four thousand quid seats.

Every week includes a date day with Hugo and his girlfriend Eve. We’ve sat in on court hearings, been to movies, eaten lots of dinners and luncheons, visited museums and walked for miles around this glorious city. It is one of my favourite parts of each week, and one reason why Australia is not on the agenda for now.  Hugo’s life will change radically in September when he enrols in a 3 year film degree, as will my finances!!!  No such thing as buy-now-pay-later here for an international student; fees will be around $60 grand! Hopefully he will be able to work enough to pay the rent and buy the odd potato!! Anyway I am delighted he has found some vocational studies that he is excited about, and which of course will keep him here for the long haul. And possibly me. I thank my long deceased father for the ability to have a Brit passport and look forward to the time in a few years when Hugo can apply for his. Saves endless hassles if you want to stay in Europe indefinitely.

Have I done anything useful, I hear you asking. And no, probably not. I have had a few business propositions put to me but I’m not ready to move from the being to the doing; maybe I never will. I have however agreed to be on the board of a group of Australian entrepreneurs based in London and to be on the advisory board of an Australian and New Zealand literary festival and I’m very happy that I feel valued thus far. I have no doubt I will do ‘something else’ but what and when remains a well concealed mystery which is just fine.

There have been a few men who have tried or not to divert my attention but so far none of them have inspired me to leave home. One erudite man I dined with at The Ladbroke Arms on Monday insisted British men (apart from himself of course) had no passion and that only women were interesting.  Well, the jury is out on that and I shall continue dating suitable candidates! There are a few other dates on the agenda and time will tell whether I am capable of falling in love again, or indeed want to.  I did go to a sensational party after Christmas: amazing hosts, one had designed the interior of Elton John’s Venice palazzo, and diverse and fabulous guests, divine food and plenty of good champagne. The music was amazing, the energy was dynamic, the conversation brilliant and it was one of the best nights I have had in years. Definitely reason to hang out in this cosmopolitan city.

I spent New Year in Copenhagen which was rowdy and lovely, a week in Paris mid January to have my hair cut and hang out with my girlfriends Ellen and Amanda who live there and Beata who was on the end of a 3 month sabbatical. I had a wonderful time as always; I love Paris! I’ve been to the country a few times to visit friends, Neil and Jacqueline (him from uni days), Geraldine whom I worked with in the city when we were both 21, and Brigitte for a lovely day at Eastbourne after the delayed trains due to someone jumping on the track (again) went back to business. On Saturday I am going with a bunch of friends to Norway and up to the Arctic Circle to go in search of the Northern Lights. This is a long-held dream and hopefully the expensive tracker we have hired who says ‘bring your passports we may end up in the Finnish tundra’, will do what we’ve paid him for although I can’t imagine a border post in the middle of nowhere! Other delights include an afternoon husky sledding and sleeping in a (heated) Sami tent!  It will be fun and given NASA’s prediction that this year is the best in decades for the lights we should be lucky. I once was 2 metres from a tiger in the Nepalese jungle when everyone said we would not see one, so I think I must have a rabbit’s foot somewhere in my energy field.

There are lots of things I have not done that I thought I would have. I wanted to troll around the part of London where I worked in my 20’s – St Mary Axe, The Minories and Mincing Lane where I parked my car every day. It still amazes me how I drove to work across London each day and persuaded one of my 18 staff to feed the metre each day as a 24 year old. Nowadays you would not dream of driving to work unless you had a large ego and a chauffeur. There are other things on the agenda and there is no rush.

Last weekend’s glorious sunshine brought out the convertibles, the daffodils and an abundance of Ferraris…..if that is the correct collective noun for them….somehow I feel its rather too prosaic, but it will do.  However it is still cold and today was freezing. Rather than meander down the lovely Kensington Church Street I caught the 328 home to the warmth of my apartment and this blog.

Recent photos of my house in Tuscany have it covered with snow: well 50 centimetres have fallen and although it looks gorgeous it has but 3 and a half weeks to melt before I get there. Sadly I will be leaving Lovely London in mid March after an amazing 4 months that have reaffirmed that this is the most exciting and cosmopolitan city on the planet, and that I need far, far more of it to be sated.

Anyway that is all the subject of more blogs…..and hopefully more frequent. Lots of good things in the pipeline for Spring and Summer but I will keep those surprises under my Arctic Circle fur hat.

Hope this finds you all well and enjoying 2013.

Until next time, with heart