Last Thursday I went to Amsterdam by Eurostar to the Van Gogh Museum. I shall draw a veil over my youthful trips to Amsterdam; suffice to say that art was not an integral part of any planned visit.
This time my best girlfriend and I travelled business class, but still shared a room, as we used to when we travelled in our university days. This trip had been planned off the cuff and felt like a naughty escape from our family responsibilities.
We stayed at the Conservatorium, and were as giggly as I remember being on earlier occasions – this time from the sheer disbelief of travelling together again, but with the immense pleasure of better credit.
We spent more than three hours at the museum, enjoyed dinner in a trendy Japanese fusion restaurant and went on to have a drink in a “secret” bar. We walked into a fluorescent takeaway burger bar and buzzed at a well-hidden steel door, provided the password when prompted and were ushered into a glamorous, plush, dimly-lit area. We paid for a couple of rather over-priced vodkas before walking home.
We realised that it was hardly an underground operation – we had been given the location and the password by the hotel concierge – but were unreasonably thrilled by the clandestine nature of the transaction, and felt momentarily much more plugged in to contemporary culture than we usually do. We are going to Brussels and Bruges next.
Saturday was my daughter’s 10th birthday. For some reason – I’ve no idea why – I decided to host a sleepover in our garden for the girls in her class on the Friday night.
Amy, our long-suffering nanny, and I had had a trial attempt at putting up the tent last week – and thank goodness. It took us four hours last time and only two hours this one.
As the seven chattering and excited girls arrived after school, I felt a terrible sense of responsibility. The early part of the evening went as planned with a film on a big screen that we had rented, and the girls eating popcorn on beanbags.
As we were keeping the garden doors open, for loo trips, I was sleeping on a blow-up mattress in the dining room. By 1am, with the high-pitched giggles showing no sign of abating, I had to get tough and demand respect for our neighbours. They fell silent by 2am, and then the sun woke them at 5am and I crawled into bed with my husband, Marcus. Parents arrived to pick up the children at 11am, after pancakes and birthday cake.
I finally fully understood the phrase “Here comes the cavalry”…
I have been invited to present a trophy at Royal Ascot this week, so I have borrowed a hat, invited three girlfriends to lunch with me and only fear that my complete lack of knowledge about anything horsey will be revealed rather too quickly and I will be exposed as a fraud.
I do not enjoy gambling either as I have always found myself completely equal to the challenge of spending every penny I earn. On the few occasions I have been encouraged to gamble, notably on the dogs at the old Wimbledon track, I have lost my shirt and been very grumpy about it. I shall be resisting any blandishments to place a bet on this occasion.
I am not working at the moment and I have found my social life has expanded to fill my available time. The extraordinary weather is very conducive to a glass of rosé at lunchtime, and a quick meal with friends in Hyde Park – at Chucs in the Zahar Hadid extension to the Serpentine Gallery – ended, to my astonishment, at 5pm. This just left me time to walk home, change, kiss the children and go out to dinner.
I have another ladies’ lunch this week to celebrate a friend’s birthday, at 5 Hertford Street, and I must be more sensible as I have my daughter’s play to attend in the afternoon, and then an evening at Nobu. Even as I write these words, I can’t quite believe how glamorous it all sounds, most unlike usual proceedings. I don’t know how I ever found the time to work.
Before we know it the summer holidays will be upon us, which is why I decided to refuse another project until September. Four weeks in Cornwall beckon, and I am keeping every finger and toe crossed that this blissful weather continues.
Two pretty miserable summers on the trot, two years of soggy barbecues, watching the children rock climb while I try to shelter from the drizzle, will be consigned to oblivion if this year, at last, we can again mess about on boats under sunny skies, enjoying long, lazy days chatting on the beach. It seems almost too good to be true, and the weather-gods may yet mock my optimism, but goodness, doesn’t a bit of sun make such a difference to one’s mood?
Alex Polizzi is a television presenter and writer
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