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Ten happy things – September 2023

City of Matera in Basilicata

Each month I like to look back and choose ten things that made me happy and brought me joy. September was full of friends and food! And a fabulous trip to Basilicata and Puglia. Here’s my ‘ten happy things’ for September.

Drinks with Neha

At the beginning of September I finished one of my long-term contracts and on my last day in the office I met up with my friend Neha who works around the corner. We were going to go for lunch but we weren’t that hungry so we opted for a fancy drink instead at The Gothic bar, which is in the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. I was really excited because I’ve never been to this famous hotel!

Enjoying cocktails on a terrace

The weather was fabulous so we enjoyed our drinks outside on their terrace. It was a fab ‘lunch’ and lovely to catch up with Neha.

Belated birthday dinner with Deana

My friend Deana had a milestone birthday in June but unfortunately we were away when she had her party. Finally we managed to get a date in to celebrate – in September! We went to Berenjak in Borough Market, which is an Iranian restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious!

Skewered lamb and chicken with vegetables and salad

After dinner we had a lovely walk all along the river to Embankment. We even came across an outdoor Salsa session! It was a fab night.

Lunch with Fee in Richmond

September was definitely the month of belated birthdays! One Saturday I met my friend Fee in Richmond for lunch at Gaucho to celebrate her belated birthday. It was such a lovely day that we got to sit outside. They have a fabulous outdoor dining area that overlooks the river.

Steak with vegetables and a tomato salad

After lunch we had a little walk and also popped in to an Italian restaurant for a cheeky Aperol Spritz.

Holiday in Italy

My husband and I spent a fabulous (almost) week in Italy. We had two nights in the absolutely jaw-dropping city of Matera and then a few nights in Bari.

I can’t tell you how utterly amazing Matera is. I fell in love with it! Absolutely cannot wait to return.

View of Matera

Bari was also wonderful – especially Bari Vecchio, which is the old town and where you’ll find the ladies selling hand made orecchiette outside their homes. They even call it orecchiette street! They also sell other homemade pastas, biscuits and sundried tomatoes.

Table outside a home in Bari selling handmade pasta

Discovered bread meatballs

When we were in Bari we did a day trip to Polignano a Mare, which is a gorgeous seaside town just 30 minutes away by train. We had lunch at a lovely restaurant and ordered the polpette di pane, which are bread and cheese meatballs. OH MY GOODNESS, they were insanely delicious! They took quite a long time to arrive but were absolutely worth the wait. We want to make them at home now!

Polpette di pane

Volunteering at The Felix Project

I’ve started volunteering one day a week for a brilliant charity called The Felix Project. They take surplus food – from restaurants, supermarkets, suppliers etc – and then redistribute it across London to those who need it. In their Poplar depot, they have Felix’s Kitchen where they cook up to 5,000 meals a day for schools, local community groups etc.

On my first day I visited the Poplar depot and got to see first-hand the work that they do. I also got to have a delicious lunch!

Chicken Kiev with vegetables and rice with vegetable curry

Lunch at Carmel

We popped back to one of our locals, Carmel, for lunch one Saturday. Their flatbreads are so delicious, I could eat them all day, every day! For our main we ordered the fire-roasted chicken, which was so juicy and tasty. We’re so lucky to live close to such a great restaurant!

Spinach and ricotta flatbread with a lemon wedge

Catch-up with Mitzie

Towards the end of the month I met up with my friend Mitzie near her office in the city. We had lunch at The Sandeman Quarter, with a table by the sliding windows. We ordered a bunch of dishes to share, washed down with a fabulous Sardinian white wine. All the food was great but the grilled hispi cabbage with mashed cannellini beans was the star of the show – absolutely delicious!

Grilled hispi cabbage with cannellini beans and a bowl of chips

It’s always a delight to have lunch with Mitzie – she knows all the best restaurants and always chooses fabulous wine! It was great to catch-up on her work, holidays and life in general.

Won some Toblerone chocolates

I met up with my friend Rasha for lunch near Piccadilly. We went to Tom Cenci’s new restaurant, Nessa. We had a lovely lunch with fabulous non-alcoholic cocktails and afterwards we walked to the Toblerone pop-up to try our luck at winning some chocolate. I had no idea the pop-up was there but Rasha has her pulse on all the cool things happening in London!

You get seven tries to crack the code and we managed to get it in three! We then picked the locker that had two boxes of Toblerone truffles so we got one each. Was really fun!

Box of Toblerone Truffles

Tried a new Italian restaurant

We tried a new Italian restaurant in Old Street called Noci and it was fab! Lovely decor, good service and the food was great. We’ll definitely be back!

Octopus salad from Noci

After lunch we walked to Shoreditch and had some yummy Dutch pancakes with Nutella. Then we headed to Eataly where I spent some of the gift card I won from an Aperol Spritz competition. It was a great Saturday!

So that’s my ‘ten happy things’ for September. How did your month go? What brought you joy and happiness? Let me know in the comments.

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.

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