Two weeks ago, I went to London for work.
It was an incredibly short trip – I had a total of 52 hours in London (and that included time for sleeping!).
I set out on my journey alone.
I arrived in London late Wednesday afternoon and went straight to my hotel to check in.
And instead of exploring, I spent the first few hours on my computer, working, chatting with Jill and e-mailing Petah my polish elf.
Petah is no stranger to London – he has friends there and his sister lives there with her husband and adorable baby. In fact, when he heard about my trip, he considered flying in from New York so we could hang out. But because my trip was confirmed so close to my departure date, he decided against it. Instead, he acted as my virtual London tour guide, sending me tips through e-mail. When I arrived in London, I shot him an e-mail asking if my hotel was near any Harry Potter experience. He replied quickly.
Pammy, you’re 4 stops away, take the Piccadilly line to St. Pancras station. That’s where 9 3/4 is.
P.S. I’ll be in London on Friday.
My reply was just as quick.
what???????? why on friday?! i’m leaving on friday
But since Petah was arriving in the morning and my flight wasn’t until 8 p.m., we figured we had time to hang out for a bit before I had to leave for the airport.
I devoted Thursday morning to exploring London and going around the shops. Then I spent the afternoon and evening working.
The next morning, I started packing my stuff (I told you it was a quick trip!) and I headed down for breakfast and hit Oxford Street again for a little more shopping before returning to the hotel to check out.
I was about to check out when Petah arrived, with his luggage in tow. It was so good to see him. He started handing me package after package – our friends Ver and Joel (you remember their wedding?) had sent chocolates for me and Jill and Petah also had goodies for me and Jill. It was incredibly touching, I was amazed he was able to bring anything considering that his trip was so last minute. He also handed me his birthday gift ten days early. He hand-carried it from New York to London, all wrapped and pretty.
We were both hungry so we headed out for lunch. A day with Petah wouldn’t be complete without good food. I knew he’d know exactly where to go so I just followed him as he navigated the streets of London’s Chinatown.
We walked into a Hong Kong-style restaurant and ordered a BBQ combination plate that included crispy pork belly, soya chicken and roast duck.
The duck was so good. It was so good my mouth still waters just thinking about it.
But even better than the food was the company.
It was wonderful to spend an afternoon with Petah, especially since we won’t be spending Halloween in New York with him as we’ve done the past couple of years. We’ve pushed our New York trip to early next year and while I’m heartbroken (I love New York in the fall!), the pain was eased by my lovely London adventure with him.
Petah said, “I can’t believe we met halfway around the world.”
It was crazy. And awesome.
After our meal, I dragged Petah back to Oxford Street because of a pair of shoes I needed to buy (more on that later) and then he took me to Liberty, which was beautiful.
Petah also brought me to Illamasqua, which was as awesome as I imagined.
Then we headed to Westfield Stratford City, the mall which was near the Olympic Park, so I could see the park and we could meet Petah’s sister and adorable nephew.
Meet Xander. Isn’t he the cutest?
He is crazy cute.
We enjoyed an appetizer fest at All Star Lanes which was actually a bowling alley.
We had the All Star chicken wings, onion rings, salt and pepper popcorn squid and sweet potato fries. They were all good.
Time passed too quickly. Soon, we were back on the tube, heading back to the hotel so I could leave for the airport. I had to leave by 5 p.m., we were running late and I still had to finish packing my bags and my carry-on.
My luggage was already crazy heavy and was almost full. I knew I was going to end up hand-carrying a lot of stuff. I looked at his birthday gift and asked, “Petah, can I bring this on the plane?”
“Yes, it should be fine,” he said.
“Are you sure? Because I don’t want them to take it away from me,” I said.
“Do you want me to tell you what it is now?”
Petah ended up packing it in my luggage instead.
Petah’s birthday gift for me survived the flights to Manila unscathed. For ten days, I was able to resist the urge to open it. “I’ll save it for my birthday,” I kept saying.
I was with friends enjoying a vodka + tequila + Wii sleepover when the clock struck midnight last Sunday. They surprised me with this killer ice cream cake.
We ate our slices and had a few shots of tequila.
Then, it was time to open Petah’s gift. Gifts, actually.
I started with the card, which was crazy adorable.
I opened the bigger gift first.
It felt like a book, it weighed like a book, I knew it was a book, I just didn’t know what book it was.
And when I finally saw it, my jaw dropped.
“Nailed: The History of Nail Culture and Dzine.”
I was stunned.
I opened the book.
And started flipping through the pages.
Here’s the crazy thing: I’ve been looking for books about nail art, nail polish, nail culture, the history of nails, anything about nails. And, apart from Ji’s Rescue Your Nails which I love and which I have multiple copies of, I haven’t found any. Every single time I go to book stores (and given my love for books, that’s a lot of times), I search and search and search for nail books but I never find any. I feel like there’s such a void because there are a ton of beauty books available but hardly any nail-related books. But I’ve kept quiet about my search. I’ve never told anyone about it so it was such a surprise that Petah somehow knew that I was dying to get my hands on a book about nails and that he actually found one. I was really amazed.
I wanted to devour the book immediately and lose myself in its pages but no, I couldn’t. Because I had one more gift from Petah to open.
The Walk on the Wild Side gift set from NARS Andy Warhol Collection.
Crazy. Crazy crazy crazy. This just proves how magical Petah really is.
Let me explain. Petah gave me these gifts ten days before my birthday. Four days before my birthday, I went to Rustan’s NARS Andy Warhol Collection launch here in Manila. I left that launch with the five new nail polish shades from the collection (swatches soon, I promise!) and I already have plans of picking up the Edie and Photo Booth Gift Sets when they hit counters here. And then, I opened Petah’s gift and discovered that somehow, from all the NARS Andy Warhol products available in New York, Petah managed to choose the gift set that I wouldn’t be able to purchase here. How amazing is that? Are you psychic, Petah?
The set includes NARS Illuminator in Silver Factory, Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Orgasm and NARS nail polish in It.
I love them all.
I love too that the box included a little booklet about the collection and instructions on achieving Debbie Harry’s look.
I love It, it’s such a pretty polish. NARS describes it as “ultra-violet” and yes, I agree.
I liked it so much I decided it was going to be my birthday mani. Actually, I liked the whole set so much that I wore them all on my birthday – illuminator, gloss and polish.
I also brought out Deborah Lippmann’s Happy Birthday. Using it for my birthday mani since the awesome Miss Bun gave it to me a couple of years ago has become my tradition. (Check out my birthday mani in 2010 and 2011.)
I painted my nails with It (I used two coats) and added Happy Birthday to three accent nails.
I really like It.
I like that it’s a true violet and that it doesn’t look black even indoors.
I’m still wearing my birthday mani now.
And I love that from now on, every time I wear It, I will be reminded of my whirlwind London adventure with Petah and how wonderful it is to blessed with a friend as sweet and as thoughtful as him.