Friday, May 31, 2013

Pleased with Possum

Possum went to the vet to be weighed yesterday. He resisted being put in his carrier. He felt it was undignified to travel that way. I told him that he had no choice, and that his struggles were even more undignified — his head, feet and rump kept flailing about and popping out as we tried to zip him in. I reminded him that he refers to his carrier as "his apartment" and loves to hang out in it most of the time. He said it was much more comfortable when it was unzipped and on the floor.

We wanted him weighed on our vet's scale because we couldn't believe what our own scale had declared, a 2-pound loss. But it's true: our scale is accurate and Possum is now at his target weight thanks to a high-protein, low-carbohydrate canned diet. He weighs 14.1 pounds (from a high of 17.5 when he was a little over a year old). Our vet seemed surprised and pleased.

The other cats eat the same amount and types of food as Possum, and all are thriving. Now we need to make sure Possum doesn't continue to lose weight. We will probably start giving him a Nature's Variety Instinct raw patty for his extra calories. Now we need to weigh Wendy (we're gathering our strength and moral courage). She may need more food, too.

I pointed out to the vet that Possum doesn't look dramatically different after losing 12 percent of his body weight (it's the equivalent of my losing 15 pounds, and I'd be pretty thin if I managed that). She said that some cats' skin doesn't shrink after they lose weight, or at least not right away.  His coat might eventually size down to match his body; let's hope so. I mentioned that his "lion pouch" (the saggy lower belly that even the big cats have) was as prominent as ever, swinging visibly from side to side whenever Possum moves faster than a walk. It's a bit embarrassing for him, I think, because it bumps into things. But the vet said that she had felt it and, although it's still quite noticeable, it's mostly loose skin now, not fat.

So our formerly flabby tabby is at a healthy weight, and we're very proud of him. And yet he still looks quite luxuriously upholstered, as you can see:

Now it seems it's our turn to lose some pounds. If only it were as simple as opening a few cans a day.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trader Joe's Bath Tissue Strikes Again

It keeps escaping:

My camera came back from Canon today (another free repair), 
so I was able to document the crime scene.

I keep buying it because, since about last fall,* Shaw's only stocks 12-packs of the good brands. We can't store that much in our little place — one of us would have to move out for several weeks. 

But I never had so many behavior problems from a paper product before. I'm going to have to try something else.

* The fact that the kittens also arrived last fall is purely coincidental.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More Critters in Back Bay

On my way to vote this afternoon, I met these fellas on Newbury Street:

This little porker is a "Teacup Pig." As you can tell, he has a big personality in addition to being handsome and beautifully groomed. He's fully grown and he uses a litter box. He was trotting around on his cute pink trotters, squealing and attracting attention until a fire engine siren upset him. Then he needed to be held. Technically, he is not  a"Back Bay pig" because he lives in Mission Hill. But that still makes him a neighbor, and I hope to see more of him around here.

I'm less happy about the neighbor, or ex-neighbor, who left a bowl with tropical fish and a bag of equipment on the curb outside 458 Beacon Street (between Mass Ave. and Hereford). I still only have my iPhone camera but you can see there are at least six fish: 

We spotted this around 8 o'clock tonight. I know nothing about fish (although I live with four enthusiastic ichthyologists who would love to get their paws on study them). I hope someone with an aquarium comes along and rescues them.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Call THAT a Raincoat?

Last fall, at the Freeport outlets, I splurged on a Cole Haan raincoat, a sleek, black nylon "travel" model that folds into a little bag. It has a hood and all kinds of storm flaps, and, while it's advertised as "water-resistant," rather than "waterproof," I assumed this pricey coat would keep me dry in anything short of a deluge, and the salespeople agreed. I'd been wanting a waterproof, lightweight raincoat for a long time — something simple, without a belt. This coat seemed to be exactly what I wanted.

Since I got it, I've hardly had a chance to wear it. When it's cold and drizzly, I wear my Barbour jacket with a few layers under it. Or I stay inside.

I thought I'd wear my new coat in London, but it only rained for about an hour the week we were there. A nylon coat is not ideal for sunny, spring weather; it gets hot quickly. Before we left I noticed that there were already holes in two of its three pockets, even though it was barely worn and the pockets are too small to hold much. I repaired them with my pathetic sewing skills, but realized that the pockets are so poorly bound, with such a skimpy amount of fabric, that they will never be able to handle much more than tissues and a credit card, certainly not my keys or my phone.

That should have made me suspicious....

So, on Friday night, I was almost pleased that it was cool and rainy as we headed for dinner at Marliave, downtown. Finally, a chance to wear my coat. Since it wasn't raining that hard, we decided to walk to the restaurant. I zipped up and pulled the hood down to my eyes.

As we sped along in steady rain, sharing an umbrella, I noticed that my neck and the back of my shirt felt odd. Then my sleeves felt similarly odd. They were getting soaked. The hood was also leaking and soaking my hair. I was wearing tall boots and heavy denim leggings. The coat is 3/4-length, so water was pouring down it onto my knees. Cold water soaked my leggings and spread all the way inside my boots, tricking down my legs and puddling at my feet.

We decided to take the T at Arlington Street, maybe a half mile from our apartment. I unzipped the coat and found I was drenched, neck to toe. Head, too. Dripping. I might have stayed drier by not wearing a coat and positioning myself more strategically under our big umbrella. I wondered if the coat had strange powers. It was as though every drop of rain that fell anywhere near me was attracted by its magic, then was sucked through its fabric, and and deposited onto me.

My husband was quite dry in his Barbour. Somehow, his pants weren't even soaked, even though Barbours aren't very long.

At the restaurant, they gave me a stack of disposable towels. I'd packed a cashmere cardigan in case it was cold, so I removed my wet button-down and wore that. (I was carrying a nylon Longchamp tote that's old and has holes, but the sweater was dry. If only Longchamp made raincoats.)

I blotted and combed my hair and joined our group for dinner. I rolled my dripping shirt into a little ball and stucked it inside the hood of the coat, which was already much drier than I was. And then I shivered at the table for three hours, chilled and sodden from the waist down. I used my dinner napkin as a tiny blanket.

Fortunately, the company was fun and diverting, and the food was wonderful. I love the Marliave, there are so many appealing, decadent choices on its menu — everything from pizza to Beef Wellington, and all of it tasty and homemade, including the bread, pasta, and ice cream. As I was feeling somewhat cranky (and justifiably so, I thought) I decided to order whatever I wanted. As usual, I wanted cheese. So I started a beet salad with goat cheese and then I had their womderful truffled macaroni and cheese. Beet salads are usually mostly beets with bits of cheese here and there. Not this one: it looked like a small layer cake with three huge beet slices sandwiched together with generous layers of goat cheese "frosting," plus a few greens and toasted nuts. I could only finish half of my bowl of perfect, creamy, truffled mac and cheese. I had to save room for butterscotch pudding. I also had a cup of tea that failed to warm me up.

I dried off my chair with my damp napkin before we left. Back home, I peeled off soaked layers and stepped into a hot bubble bath. But I was already so tired of being wet that lying there bothered me. The kittens distracted me until I was warm enough to get out — they are still fascinated with bubbles and like to paw at them and eat them.

I went straight to bed. I haven't caught a cold... yet. But that stupid coat is going back to Cole Haan on our upcoming trip to Freeport. I have the receipt, it's guaranteed, and it's a disaster.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Robe to Live In

You are probably relieved that I haven't been posting as frequently lately. It's not because I'm out of ideas, or because the Four Housecats of the Apocalypse are less amusing. It's because my camera is still in the shop. So I can't document Harris, swinging from the curtains. Or Toffee, who seems to be getting fluffier.

While I ponder a replacement camera, I've been enjoying my new Garnet Hill Ruffled Wrap Robe ($78). I spend far, far more time in bathrobes than in winter coats. Yet I'll pay much, much more for a coat, even though I expect my robes to look as good and to last at least as many years. So I realized that spending a little more for a good robe is a sensible decision.

My previous summer robe was a disaster. It was a kimono wrap style in flimsy cotton. Kimono sleeves are an epic design failure in my opinion. The robe's sleeve openings ended just above my waist. So, whenever I'd move my arms, the sleeves would pull the whole robe up above the sash. Then the front would fall open and start unwrapping... it was maddening. Kimono sleeves are a terrible choice if you aren't a geisha who does nothing but stand around. (Those sleeves were always getting caught on cabinet knobs and the keys in our glass-front bookcases, too.)

I worried that my new robe might behave in similarly annoying ways, since it doesn't have any inside ties to secure it. But it's been great. It's a soft, cozy, cotton-cashmere knit, and the sweatery texture keeps it from shifting or unwrapping after I've tied it. The sleeves aren't long enough to get in the way when I'm working or baking, and there's enough fabric in the front to overlap modestly (although I wouldn't wear it alone outside....).

As you can see, it is also not frumpy, as so many robes are. On me, it looks a lot like it does on the model — much to my surprise. A robe should be flattering, especially if you're hanging around in it for hours every day. So I consider it worth $78, but since I'm instinctively cheap, I waited for a 25%-off sale with free shipping — a periodic deal for GH's Facebook fans.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hot and Cold

If you were wondering why the temperature in Boston suddenly dropped about 20 degrees this afternoon (the "real-feel" difference was more like 30 degrees), it's all my fault: I decided to pack away our winter clothing and bring out our summer things. The weather inevitably takes a turn for the worse each year on the day I tackle this tiresome chore, so I aim to do it during an early heatwave whenever possible; I know I can start a cooling trend all by myself. But I surprised even myself today — my effect on this afternoon's weather was quite dramatic. I didn't pack away all of our woolens and turtlenecks, or it might be snowing now.

The kittens were terrifically helpful to me as I worked, as you can imagine. They excel at lying on, or burrowing under, whatever I'm attempting to fold. Harris likes to eat dry-cleaning bags, while Toffee climbed into an unzipped garment bag, hanging on a doorknob, and was almost put away with my winter skirts. I knew my skirt bag was cumbersome and heavy, but not THAT heavy.

I can't believe it's nearly Memorial Day. This will be the fourth summer that we will be house-hunting and hoping for a little garden of our own. I'm also hoping we find a place with enough closet space so I don't have to pack away half of our of clothing into storage twice a year. Wishful thinking....

Monday, May 20, 2013

Recent Adorableness

Possum may be a little trimmer but he's still got a fluffy belly to flaunt:

Little Harris loves to cuddle:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Brimfield Weekend

We took the Mass Pike past Sturbridge to Brimfield yesterday, for the thrice-annual outdoor Antiques Show. We are always glad to hit traffic at the town line because then we're sure it's really happening — over the years, we've shown up twice on the wrong weekend (thanks to misinformed friends). Brimfield claims to have the largest antiques show in the country, spread out for more than half a mile on grassy fields on both sides of Route 20, a two-lane country road. There are a few barns and covered areas, but most of the thousands of dealers operate from plastic tents and open booths in fields with picturesque names: Quaker Acres, Crystal Brook, Heart 'o the Mart. It's much more enjoyable on a nice spring day than during a monsoon or heat wave. But I've been there in all kinds of weather.

This is pretty much how it looks from the road; each field is very deep, however, so there's much, much more than meets the eye.

We both feel the show's quality has deteriorated over the years. You can still find spectacular antique furniture, vintage clothing, silver, art pottery, and jewelry, but the vast majority of the merchandise is more of the rusty-junk-from-some-garage and the not-very-stately-estate variety. There's a lot more plastic from the '60s and '70s than there used to be. There are still whole tents filled with pink and green Depression Glass, old silver plate, and vintage sewing notions and buttons arranged by color. There are also dealers who sell homemade wares, such as these assemblages:

There's also a lot of rusty crap that makes you wonder:

WHO buys this stuff?

My husband heads for the postcard barn because he collects a specific type of antique foreign postcard. I roam around, looking for whatever might be beautiful or surreal. In his absence, I cover lots of ground quickly, fueled by a large apple fritter from The Apple Barn CafĂ©. (Unwholesome food is an important aspect of the Brimfield experience. I saw whoopie pies the size of salad plates and eclairs the size of sub sandwiches, along with everything from fried clams to pierogies.) 

To my great annoyance, my camera is back in the shop. I used my iPhone to shoot the more intriguing vignettes I spotted:

Nun and kangaroos with Aunt Jemima cookie jar in background. Aunt Jemima was a recurring motif this year. Other years, it's been items made from deer paws, or 1960's ceramic Christmas trees.

Pathetic. But I didn't buy it.

I spotted a similar basket-casket last year. Don't know if this is the same one.

Do those mannequins ever sit down?

An elephant and a baby pig among the crap piled in this truck bed.

Elves, buddhas, and dragons, just hanging out.

This lifesize (?) space alien never sells. 

Notice how the guy in plaid is in a kind of sidecar.

I didn't buy this, either. I'll post about what I bought tomorrow.

The next shows are July 9–14 and September 3–8.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Slimming Down Possum

My husband got on the scale today, with and without Possum. While I will not comment on what my husband weighs, I can tell you that we were surprised to learn that Possum weighs 14.3 pounds, if our scale is accurate. (Afterward, Harris got on the scale all by himself, being a model citizen. He weighs 8.4 pounds.)

When Possum had his last weigh-in at the vet in mid January, he was 16 pounds. We were told he was a pound and a half overweight. So now he is at his "ideal" weight, if our scale is accurate. I think we will take him for another weigh-in at the vet one of these days, just to be sure.

His weight loss is a testament to our new canned, high-protein, low-carb, grain-free diet. All four cats are thriving on it. No one has digestive problems (click here for a cute photo of our exploding, nameless kitten). We see less than one hairball a month; everyone has a remarkably silky, soft coat, and there's hardly anything solid or very smelly in the litter box. I know that raw food is supposed to be superior to canned, but we're clearly doing much better than we had been. 

Eliminating dry food and carbs is indeed the way to slim down a tubby tabby. We know Wendy is thinner; we can see it. She looks great now; before, she was barrel-shaped when we looked down at her as she was standing. Now she has a "waist."

Possum on the other hand, still looks rather rotund. He looks like his coat is too big for him. He still has his big "lion paunch," which may never go away no matter how skinny he gets, I guess. But he doesn't have as much upholstery under his coat. I feel muscles and bones now, not just flab.

A recent photo. Does he look svelte?

I've been trying to photograph him from above but he keeps sitting down. I'll keep trying. But I had to send my camera to Canon today after it developed another "lens error" problem exactly six months after the it broke the first time, in November. This is a known issue with Canon S100s, and I KNEW it would happen to me. Then I read that repaired cameras were breaking again, and I KNEW that would happen to me, too. So I'll be using my iPhone for the foreseeable, while trying to be grateful that the Canon didn't break when we were in England. My next camera will not be a Canon.

Here are some older photos of Possum from 2010 and 2011 for you to compare with the photo above. I see some degree of difference; do you?

With a chunkier Wendy.

In this recent photo with Harris, there does seem to be a bit less of that adorable, pink and white Possum belly.

I'll keep trying to get a photo of Possum taken from above. He must be thinner — it's certainly less of a painful shock whenever he jumps on me and walks around when I'm sleeping.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Back Bay Wildlife

I almost stepped on this little guy (girl?) on Beacon Street today, near Charlesgate. He was tiny — even smaller than his chocolate-caramel-pecan siblings, the only species I generally study. He was heading into the street, which I considered a bad idea. He wasn't making much progress, so I had time to figure out what to do.

There were a lot of runners passing by; it was likely he would get squashed on or run over if he wasn't relocated. Bringing him home to meet the cats flashed through my mind for maybe a second; they have never mentioned any interest in amphibians reptiles, although the kittens have more scientific curiosity than Possum or Wendy. But I didn't see that scenario ending well. 

Finally, I picked him up and carried him to some green weeds under a rosebush, not far from the Muddy River. A goose couple with five goslings hangs out there sometimes, but they weren't around. I figured he'd be safe and have some options, since he was within smelling distance of the water. 

Note: I should know my reptiles from my amphibians; sorry. I really only spend time with the chocolate kind.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Guinea Pig Toy

I had high hopes for the mechanical guinea pig I found for the cats at Harrod's last week. I waited until they were all together and tired of their other toys before taking it out, pulling the string, and sending it scurrying in the direction of all four cats.

I think it's made in Germany, but it doesn't employ any super-duper German-cat-toy technology, as I'd imagined. I was expecting a few minutes of life-like rodent movements and maybe some squeaking. Instead, it makes a grinding noise as it wanders for about 18" and stops dead.

The cats were taken aback by it — for about 10 seconds. They were mildly intrigued and then tepidly concerned. What kind of animal can only move such a short distance while making that weird noise? It didn't seem healthy. Was it homesick? Had we neglected it?

Toffee and Wendy investigate with caution and then pity, wondering why
we brought them a guinea pig in such poor shape.  

Harris turned it over as Possum and Toffee looked on. He couldn't find a way to help the poor thing.

Then they politely ignored their new rodent; preferring that I didn't keep winding it up and torturing it further.

I reminded them that it was just a toy. Possum said, "THAT came from HARROD'S?
 Just bring us home some lutefisk from their Fish Hall next time, okay?" 
(I see that Possum has been perusing my guidebooks.)

 I can read Harris's thoughts sometimes: "Just get us a REAL guinea pig, please."

Monday, May 13, 2013

Eight Trees Cut Down for This

In March, I complained about the loss of eight beautiful trees on the former site of Charley's Eating & Drinking Saloon, which now houses the Frye Boot Company. 

Why were the trees sacrificed? So they could be replaced by one small tree and seven brick planters that look like overbuilt chimney tops. That's an awful lot of masonry to hold a few little flowers. I find then unattractive, unimaginative, and awkward (and if you ask me in person, I'll tell you how I really feel). As they were going up, I thought they would become bases for plate-glass shoe cases. But, no, all that construction was for some pansies.

If they wanted flowers, they could have planted them in the ground, or used several large, heavy pots or tubs. Those would have looked less silly and offered much more flexibility — and preserved the trees. If they were worried about theft, the pots could have been discreetly bolted to the bricks. I'm sure other businesses have found good solutions.

Isn't it a disappointment? If you remember how lovely the dogwoods and the white birch were, I bet you'll agree. What a senseless waste of mature trees, and bricks, and oh, yeah, money. I know the latter has got to be the real reason all those trees were taken. But it will never make sense to ME.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Postcards from London: Last Bits

I didn't bring home any vintage postcards on this trip, but here's something better: a five-minute, early color film of London sites in the 1920s by Claude Frisse-Greene. It's like watching old colorized postcards come to life.

I wrote to the folks at Paul, the French bakery chain that has dozens of branches in England and several in America, especially around Washington, D.C.. I told them we Bostonians desperately needed them. They wrote back and said they were glad to hear it and were looking for locations. I told them Back Bay has four cupcake shops and no decent bakery except Flour, where the lines are always insane. Shall we start an email campaign?

I like cold tea and I drink it iced when I'm in hurry.

I should also write to the folks at the Underground and tell them we desperately need them here, too. Trains are scheduled frequently more often than not, and arrival times are posted and accurate. The stations and trains are clean. And the riders behave. It's expensive to ride but we bought an Oyster card that gave us unlimited travel for a week and it was so easy.

"Mind the gap."

We were instructed to have tea at Fortnum & Mason by a London-loving friend who goes there often, (sometimes on a weekend when she has nothing else to do). And she was right. I make good scones using an English recipe and homemade, self-rising flour, but I need to look into finding clotted cream over here. I'm sure it's around. 

On this trip, I realized the truth of how restorative tea is after a long day of walking and sightseeing. We felt renewed afterward, and I'm sure the sugar had much less to do with it.

Having seen only one cat in London, I was happy to see this ancient Egyptian tabby in the British Museum (look under the man's right arm). He (or she) reminded me of Toffee: he's grabbing a bird with his front legs, has another bird with his back legs, and holds a duck in his mouth. 

A busy, happy cat.

There are no cats in the Elgin Marbles as far as I know, but I looked at them anyway.

To me, the soldiers seem rather depressed, as if they were missing their cats back home. Very touching reminder that art's meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

People-watching in Trafalgar Square before sunset, with double-decker buses and Elizabeth Tower (home of Big Ben) in the background.

We were very happy here.

A dog relaxes in a great antique shop on the Portobello Road. I crave one of those 19th-century burled-wood stationery cabinets in the background but they were all in the range of £600 to £800. Not today, thank you...

This is the kind of gorgeous, wild garden you can sometimes find behind those elegant blocks of Victorian rowhouses, accessible only by residents. When there's a garden running along the front of the block, the residents have keys:

After a terrible dinner in a handsome, atmospheric pub (tasteless chicken-and-mushroom pies and severely freezer-burned peas and carrots, which took almost an hour to arrive), we didn't attempt it again until our last afternoon, where we went to The Gloucester, "the only pub in Sloane Square." The menu was identical to the first pub (many old pubs were bought up by conglomerates and run as franchises), but the food and service were vastly better:

Get your drink and find a table. Go back to the bar to order your food and pay.

Our ploughman's lunch consisted of quiche, salad with mustardy vinaigrette, bread, Stilton, Cheddar, apples, Branston Pickle, and pickle onions (which we ignored). It hit the spot.

You can find Branston Pickle in the imports section at Shaw's. It's sweet, salty, and pungent, a bit like chutney, only picklier.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


We're still wondering who ate the 6-inch, clear rubber hairband that our cat sitter lost last weekend. She was only able to find an inch of it when she hunted, leaving 5 inches unaccounted for — and probably inside a kitten. Everyone seems fine, but I can't imagine it's okay to have that in any pussycat's digestive tract. Although both sitter and vet have relayed reassuring messages, I don't feel good about this, and will call later to discuss in person.

I suspect the hairband resides in one (or more) of these bellies.

And now my Japanese coaster has gone missing. It has been sitting on my desk for years; I can't remember if I used it for my tea yesterday morning, but I'm sure it was there the night before. It's a sturdy piece of woven raw silk, about 3-1/2" square, rust-colored. Not particularly edible... but you wouldn't think a long piece of rubber hairband would be, either.

Since I can't find either item, I keep hoping (and it's ridiculous, I know) that I'll find both squirreled away together somewhere. We know that Harris likes to drag socks around; maybe he has carried both of these items off to a secret lair.

But if it exists, his lair is pretty darn secret. I've been hunting high and low — mostly low. I vacuumed yesterday and used the crevice tool to get under the bookcases, radiators, fridge, and the wood stacked in the fireplaces. Then I checked all those areas with a flashlight. I went through the vacuum cleaner bag. (Ugh. There's always a disgusting wad that seems to be nothing but coarse, gray, dusty wool, and since we have no coarse, gray cats and no gray yarn at all in our carpets, I have no idea where it comes from. Another mystery.)

I moved almost everything that's stored under the bed. I checked closets, under the edges of carpets, between sofa cushions, and in wastebaskets and recycling bags.

If you've got any suggestions for more places I can look, please let me know. This is a small apartment. I'm out of ideas. I'm now reducing to praying to St. Anthony.

Speaking of mysteries, I'd love to know who was behind this, although I have narrowed down the suspects:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Postcards from London 3: Shopping

Since we already have lots of good English things —Barbours, Hunter boots, a Simplex kettle, a stockpile of Yardley soap — we didn't buy very much in London besides books. We bought illustrated books about three of the house museums we visited: Dennis Severs, Linley Sambourne, and Leighton... and, somehow, lots of other books came along for the ride, adding up to an overweight baggage charge for my husband's previously half-empty suitcase. (I transferred a few from him bag to mine, and all was well.) 

We made a pilgrimage to Liberty, mainly to admire the store, which has an Arts and Crafts heritage that's still alive and kicking today. Since I already have a Liberty-print shirt and dress (J. Crew), I contented myself with a William Morris tray, although we coveted a Moorcroft vase and an antique Armenian rug.

Charming, inside and out.

Flowers greet you at the door.

The store is sprawling and full of pricey designer fashion, but this atrium area still has a wonderful, old-fashioned atmosphere.

We went to Harrod's on our last day, mainly because it was close to our hotel and we wanted to see the Egyptian escalator. But Harrod's is astounding in scale and scope; there's nothing like it here. There are about 25 different places to eat, for example, tucked here and there on every elegantly appointed and lavishly stocked floor.

Then there's the Food Hall — actually a series of huge, elegant rooms offering everything under the sun from chocolate to sushi. We wanted everything but we only bought tea.

Meat pies of every variety...

And a few dates....

Cherries and berries, including translucent currants.

The top floor of Harrod's has children's and pet departments. Guess where we made a beeline? We were disappointed to see that most of the fun was for dogs, but we did find fancy-looking cat food:

There were also two or three large displays of cat toys. We brought home a wind-up guinea pig, a German catnip hedghog, and a really silly giraffe pole toy, which the kittens love:

I'm kicking myself for not buying the flying squirrel and the charming catnip shrimp (prawn?). And what's that blue thing? A jellyfish? 

It seems Londoners have a taste for American junk food; I don't think this is a shop for tourists or ex-pats:

As usual in European cities, I noticed that most of the women's shops carry designs that look elegant and wearable for grownups, rather than sexy styles for babes going clubbing, as we have all over Newbury Street. Clothes in America seem to be designed to look good on store mannequins and very few female bodies. Clothes in Europe seem designed to flatter women in a wide range of ages and body types. I look in shop windows and constantly see outfits that look pretty and perfectly wearable, as I seldom do over here.

This white linen skirt and top with a trapunto jacket caught my eye several times as we walked from the Underground to our hotel at night:

Then there were these paisley slippers with little spikes across the toes... perfect for dealing with rush-hour crowds on the T or at Haymarket: