Thursday, 7 September 2017

ms-havachat eats locally at Eliane

There's a new cafe/restaurant in the area and everyone's taking about it, so I went with a friend a few weeks ago for a coffee. Eliane is really different. There's a Sydney-kinda feel to it which I loved.

The decor is gorgeous! Open plan. Food displayed simply in front of you (some with food covers, some with out. It's the Aussie in me, sorry. Food should be covered tho it's not always here). Orders are taken on funky iPads and sent straight thru to the kitchen. They've spared no expense on the set up. Just look at the photo's to see how creative the decor is.

There's newspapers to read while waiting for take away coffees or food; and an open plan dining area well lit by huge windows that overlook the main road. Bright, fun artwork on the walls, and to die-for light fittings!

This cute little secret nook is up behind the serving area, near the kitchen and the door that leads to the back yard .............. it's perfect for a quiet meeting or a rendezvous.

Next to the nook, there's a small retail area with 100% healthy pantry items. The day we were there the fresh fruit section was low on produce (we were there rather early in the morning)

I simply LOVED the atmosphere created outside in the little terrace. The painted fence in bright colours, the cute tables and chairs, thoughtful umbrella's on a summers day (we needed it the day we went). There's no table service at all - so you order at the counter when you first arrive, receive a wooden spoon with a number on it, tell them where you're sitting and food'n'drinks are brought to you.

The service is warm and friendly. The lady who served us was very knowledgeable on dairy alternatives for my friend who is weaning herself off milk.

It's very much a breakfast, then lunch, then dinner place. There's a period of about an hour in-between 'menu' service where a cake or muffin with a drink is all that's able to be ordered while the next 'meal' is being prepared to be displayed on the counter. This is a little bit annoying when you want an early lunch around 11am and you can't order anything other than a muffin or piece of cake. But, hey-ho, live and learn. Just need to time our visits better.

I've not had lunch or dinner here yet but friends rave about it! A couple have ordered over the phone and picked up take away for the family dinner which is a great service.

I wish the management and staff of Eliane all the best for a successful business.

The area definitely will benefit from their being part of the community.

Have you eaten here?
What did you think?

Friday, 18 August 2017

ms-havachat ponders the Annual Clean Up of Facebook Friends

Do you collect Facebook friends or do you stick to only adding people you know in real-life?

How long do you know someone before you add them, or accept their friend request?

Is it ridiculous that even thinking about 'adding a friend' is even part of our thought process?

What do you tell your kids (age relevant) about adding only people they know in real-life to their various social media?

Why do I always feel compelled to write similar chats at this time of year?????????????? I do hope, that as our expat life and experiences have evolved, so have the chats!

As an expat, I think the propensity to collect online friends is much higher that local friends, simple because we have to start over in a new place every few years. The joy of living in the one place for
y-e-a-r-s escapes us, even tho as a child I lived in the same area (two different addresses) ti I moved out of home! Teen hasn't lived in the same city, let alone the same address for more than 3 years!

People are constantly arriving (and leaving) so the friendship circle expands and contracts constantly. The biggest movement happens over summer in the northern hemisphere, as school tends to dictate moves, and again a smaller migration over December for the start of school in January.

This movement of families is like Ground Hogs Day for long time veterans of expat life. There's the orientation day/s at school, where returning parents greet each other with hugs and kisses, and newbies often look like rabbits caught in headlights. I love seeing my friends after holidays but know that it's more important to fix eyes on a newbie and walk over and introduce myself, ask the 20 Questions we've talked about before in previous chats, and see where it goes ............

This is the tricky part - when do you send the Facebook friend request, or indeed, if they send you one right away, do you accept? Are you indeed friends at this point? Do you extend/accept simply to be polite?

It's Girl Dating all over again - is it too soon? Should you wait, and if so, how long? What if someone gets there before you?

It's at this time of year when I feel the urge to do a bit of a clean up, to remove the fair-weather friends ...... do you? Is it rude?

Do you go thru and remove 'friends'?  What motivates you to do this? What thought process do you go thru in deciding who to keep? We don't ditch 'real' friends so easily. How come online friends take up so much time?????????????

Seriously! This subject has been in my head for a few weeks now, so I thought a quick chat with you might help clarify things.

Let's consider things like how you met, how long you've known each other, do you socialise in each others homes or just out'n'about? What do YOU mean by the word Friend? Maybe that's it - maybe it's simply do to with your definition and nothing more.

The good friends I've made over the past decade somehow felt right from the beginning. Sometimes, it's just meant to be.

I guess I'm chatting about the acquaintances, the peripheral friends. There are so many words to describe friendship, just check out the Thesaurus.

Keeping all those words in mind, think about these situations .................

Expat Network:
Friends you've made in places you've lived. You've both moved on, some repatriate, others keep roaming ...... will you ever see them again? If they wrote and said they were coming to town, would you go meet them for coffee? They do come in handy if someone you know is moving to where they've been or are ........ you were friends, hung out together but moved away simply because you're expats.

Common Interests:
Nothing other than a sports club affiliation, or kids dance class, your neighbours who share the taxiing of kids to/from stuff, you're in the same club, or kids in the same class at school, or you're on a committee together. Guess hanging out in a WhatsApp group talking about the specific's of any of the above 'groups' makes sense, but Facebook? Where you share so much of yourself .... do they need to know?????????????

Instant Friend:
You meet at a school function or end up together at lunch, have an enjoyable time and next thing BAM! there's a friend request on Facebook from them. Again, Facebook? Where you share so much of yourself .... do they need to know?????????????

Politically Correct:
You're on the same committee, they are a well respected long-term member of the community, they reached out to you (not the other way round).

Those friends who never comment, never post anything. You wonder why they bother having a Facebook account.

Obligatory Friend:
The one you feel you HAVE to keep; they might be a long-lost cousin or friend from school, might even be an in-law, or someone who's just handy to have for those 'just incase' situations that arise from time to time.

The list goes on ....... just google 'cleaning up Friends on Facebook' and see how many blogs there are on the subject.  There's numerous tips and suggestions. There's even video tutorials showing you how to do it. Clearly a lot of people have the same issues.

Now open your Facebook page BUT COME BACK! - go to your friends list and slowly go thru it - recall when you first met, what you have in common, the last time you hung out together or Skyped, the tone of their posts/comments, the genuineness of the relationship  - if you start to smile, keep them! If not, think twice then consider deleting them (maybe). It's a tough call, right?

Or not!

What about keeping them and building a huge following of '000 like younger people do (gosh, am I old or what?)

Facebook has an option where you group your posts to family, friends, acquaintances etc, but to be honest who could be bothered? We tend to SHOUT OUT all sorts of things to anyone who'll listen, and hope someone will at the very least hit LIKE.

'Unfollow' is a great option as it allows you to remain friends, but you don't see their posts (this comes in handy when political comments take over your feed).

The Annual Clean Up of Facebook Friends tends to happen every summer in my circle. From time to time, I do see people posting that they are going to clean up their friends list and not to take offence if you're ditched. Have you ever done that? How did it go??????????????

Summer comes. People move onto new adventures or repatriate. You know you'll never see them again and that's ok. You genuinely wish them well, but 'outta sight outta mind' is fine too. However, sometimes it's a good idea to keep them handy, cos you never know when you or someone you know will be pondering a move to where they are/have lived and their suggestions might be useful.

Navigating friendships in the real world can sometimes be difficult, and adding online-friendships makes life way more complicated than it needs to be. There's only a handful of people I'm friendly with on Facebook who I've not met - they are other bloggers who I have followed for years and somehow one of us reached out to the other and voila! we're Facebook buddies.

Friends to keep are the ones, who in the real world are there for you; who you spend time with, who make an effort to stay in touch despite the geographical distance

And it's no longer just Facebook - there's Instagram, and Snapchat too among other social media. Navigating these as a business or personality is fraught with danger and so very time consuming, how on earth is the average person supposed to cope? No wonder we're all exhausted before we leave the house in the morning.

My question is not so much do you drop Facebook friends, but WHEN and WHY do you do it?

If you're an expat, how long a time between the farewells and removing or the arrivals and adding them do you wait?

You're suggestions are most welcomed,

Once I work it out, I'll pop back and let you know

With friendship

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

ms-havachat and the whole Mover, Greeter thing

There are expats the world over lamenting the loss of friend/s who have moved over summer, which means, there are expat's the world over getting ready to either BE the newbie or GREET the newbie.

This year, we are again GREETERS of newbies, and sad to see friends leave.

Summer is the big corporate domino moving game, especially when school aged kids are involved. (Northern hemisphere-wise as the new school year starts in August/September). You often hear 'here we go again' or 'it's that time of year' or 'it seems more/less people are moving than last year' or 'did you hear (insert name) is leaving!'

The MOVERS are in their in their serviced accommodation while scouting the available properties looking for their new home OR they have their new home and are waiting for shipments to arrive before moving in. Some who left early in the summer and moved short distances (UK to Europe for example) are already in their new homes with their shipment unpacked ready to explore their new locale. Kids are getting ready for their new school/new school year; the lead parent (read this on Two Fat Expats Facebook page in a conversation and quite liked the term) is doing research on school supplies, local shops, hairdressers, GP's etc all the while on the look out for a new friend.

There's been lots of photo's on Facebook of packing boxes and Ikea deliveries.

Some things never change in the life of a global nomad.

Then there are all the new friends we've not met yet doing the same thing as they ARRIVE, aka NEWBIES! Maybe one of them will move into a familiar house recently vacated by a friend or buy their car from the local used car dealer who specialises in working with the expat community.

They too are surrounded by packing boxes and Ikea deliveries.

School has started the 2017/18 year in some parts of the world, and for those families it's been new routines, maybe a uniform (or not), new schedules, new friends .... I smile when I think of how we send our kids to a new school on the first day with the 'go have fun and make friends' conversations and simply expect them do just that.

Our school starts back end of August and we've already met a few new families at informal social events that school has held primarily for the new families but with returning parents/kids participation. It's a great chance to meet'n'greet the new families/kids before the rush of first day school.

Friendships in expat life are made quickly - there's not much time to muck around as one of you will probably leave sooner rather than later. Of course some don't work out, but on the whole you manage to make good judgement calls.

This year several friends have moved to new cities where we have  friends already living there! It's not even six degrees of separation! I am their main link to a possible friendship.

If Friend A and I are friends; and Friend B and I were friends when we were living in the same city and remain friends despite one/both of us moving on, then surely Friend A and Friend B will have something in common, other than me, to make a friendship from! SURELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(And if not, as has been known to happen, then at the very least there's a voice on the end of a phone call, or email support in the early days.)

it goes something like this, in an email or FB messenger:

Hi Everyone, 
(general hi's and how are you's)

(Friend A), I'd love for you to meet (Friend B) who has recently moved from (country) to your part of the world. We met at (insert) and have really enjoyed our time together. (Friend B) meet (Friend A), we met (insert where you met and how long ago) and I'm hoping you'll be a source of support and information for her. 

I've been able to hook up friends in KL, Singapore and UK! The UK friends are living literally within walking distance to each other (small world, right?)

Alternatively, I was contacted by a friend from Dublin who has a friend moving to London who reached out to me. Sadly, I don't live in London and can't help her, but I did put her in touch with a few groups I know of and was able to answer a few questions.

I love how open to the possibility of a new friend, introduced by another people are.

Some people think it's hard to make friends as we grow older and maybe it is if you stay put. You've got your circle of friends and your social life is fulfilling. People don't come and go ... they stay close. But in expat life, you DO have to make friends as you grow older, as some people don't tend to stay around for long, or you're the one who has a time limit on your being around.

My days are made so much better for the diverse friendships I have. Every day can be different simply because of who I'm sharing it with and I love that!

I love that I have a friendship group that will accept an email, asking them to look out for a friend, and that a global riendship network is well supported.

Seeing photo's of friends together makes my heart soar, and sometimes I shed a tear as I yearn to be there with them, sharing the moment.

Daily doses of friendship come in many forms - a Skype chat, an email, a quick Facebook messenger chat or a WhatsApp update as so many live overseas. There's also walks in park, coffee or lunch dates, shopping expeditions and day trips into London.

My life is sweet and overflows with drops of honey, how about yours?

What's your friendship network like?
What experiences have you had playing friendship matchmaker?
How do you go about making new friends?
Do you prefer to be the GREETER or MOVER/Newbie? Why?

To all the MOVERS, happy safe landings.

To all the GREETERS, remember you were a Mover once, be open and kind and generous with your time and support, you never know, there might just be a few new friend waiting to find you

With friendship

Monday, 12 June 2017

ms-havachat's blogging is back - HELLLOOOOOOOOO!

Hello Dear Friend,

Hope you are well! It's been ages since we chatted. How's things?

WOW, time flies right?

I would like to apologise for the long and unexplained absence these past few months. Nothings wrong. The words just didn't flow. ms-havacaht on Facebook has filled the void as it's been somehow easier to type out a '30 second sound bite' than write an essay.

Do you follow me on Facebook, or just here at the blog?

Why not do both? Love your company. Here's the link. Look forward to seeing you there.

So, what have you been up to these past couple of months (I know, MONTHS!) Our last chat was back in early April! But as we're friends, you know that we'll simply pick up where we left off and it'll be like yesterday when we sat and chatted.

Are you curious about what I've been doing that's stopped the flow of words from my head thru my fingers onto the laptop? Hope so, cos here it comes, in no apparent order:

  • Nominated interim president of the expat women's club
    • Steep and fast learning curve about the club, the policies and procedures in order to run board meetings, host general meetings, prepare for AGM, answer questions, and be available to 14 board members.
    • Honoured to be voted in as President for the new year, and the learning curve got even steeper if that's possible. 
    • Been on a few lovely guided walks in London boroughs (not called suburbs), enjoyed a couple of delicious lunches. 
  • Tween has had a few tween issues with friends. Boy did that take a lot of hugs and chats. So proud of tween in how she's handled things. Hopefully it's all behind them now.
  • Hubby's been away for business a lot! But we're ok with it. Monday - Friday are full, afternoons are busy and sometimes cheese on toast for dinner and a glass of wine, followed by binge watching TV is all a girl needs.
    • Talking of bing watching
      • Big Little Lies! WOW! Have you seen it? What did you think? If you haven't you absolutely must!
      • Tween and I started to watch Gilmore Girls from the very beginning. At times Laurali and Rory and the parents are so frustrating, but it's great tween/mum time on a rainy afternoon.
      • 13 Reasons Why. It's not really something you'd rush to watch, but it is worth watching. From a parents perspective is frightening! It's a great piece for opening conversations with mid-late teens. Social media, and how we treat people is so easily abused by younger generations. Some kids know exactly what they are doing while others innocently do what other's are doing; they don't think about consequences. MrsJ watched it and I was shocked (Based on nothing more than what i'd heard about it) She suggested I watch it - how relatable it was on so many levels, how easy it is for things to get out of hand, be misunderstood, for someone to be hurting and keep it quiet. 
      • There's been Formula 1 racing with Hubby on weekends to watch.
      • And the news! OMG. The news. As you know, I'm a news junkie but I find myself pulling away, not wanting to know anymore (you the same?)
  • We've been in a sort of expat Limboland these past few months waiting on the announcement for the tender Hubby's involved with - we figured in our minds, if they lost, we'd be gone (along with others); if they won then there's a better chance of staying one more year pending re-negotiations of contract which expire in November. FUN and GAMES.
    • That got me started thinking about 'the move' even tho there wasn't one confirmed.
    • Started purging; researched boot sales (they don't do garage or yard sales in the UK, at least not here); 
    • popped a few things online for sale (a few went, most didn't)
    • Started making The List of Things To Do pre-move (for a move that is not happening)
  • Took full advantage of lovely mornings and went for walks with friends. Did one on my own - same route, seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r without company. Podcast kept dropping out as the wifi kept dropping.
  • Read a few books.
  • Started using our English Heritage membership on a Sunday and went for long drives to walk around grand mansions or fabulous ruins followed by a pub lunch. Highly recommend it. Gets everyone off their electronic devices!
  • Invested time in researching online photo album sites to no avail. I love and miss  more than I can bare - so much so, I'm years behind which is making the search even more frustrating. 
  • Love my mornings at home with a cup of coffee, Skyping for hours with a friend. It can so easily reach lunchtime and all I've done is chat and sip. I highly recommend it! Makes friends feel not so far away - you'd be chatting and sipping in a cafe or at home anyways, so doing it online is (nearly) the same. We so often solve world problems and help each other too, as well as catch up with family life and 'stuff'.
  • Bought a walking machine from a friend. It's in the garage. I use if when it's yucky weather and can't walk outside. I really bought it for Hubby so he can get 15 mins of movement in a day - he's walked on it once. Not sure I'll keep it much longer. 
  • Have had lots of home-alone days which in the beginning were frustrating but I have to admit, I've grown to enjoy them. There's something naughty and indulgent about being home. When the house is clean, the washings done, ironings away etc it's very lovely to relax amongst it all. 
  • There are times over the past few months when I've felt maybe the Monster from Winchester was returning, teasing me when it felt it could get a swipe in. I'm taking care of myself and feel confident I know the signs. 
  • OH! I also finished on the school parents board. The person replacing me is going to be terrific! 
So all that's been stopping me blogging is me :) 

If I said 'writers block' would that sound more official, more acceptable? Maybe I should delete all of the above and simply say 'writers block'.

The next hurdle is 'this time of year' aka farewell season as friends get ready to leave for new adventures or repatriation. Maybe it's the annual routine. Maybe it's the fact we know what it's like to be the ones' leaving AND staying, and sometimes leaving is so much more fun as in it's exciting to be heading off on a new adventure vs one-more-year.

Staying means a long summer, kind-of; it means saying hello to a lot of newbies, getting to know them, making a couple of new friends, thinking you've a friend when you don't, missing hanging out with friends who have moved on and are settling in so communication isn't as frequent; waiting out the year til it's your turn to be the one leaving.

There's much to be said about living in the family home for 20+ years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

While writing this I realise that maybe there's more to my writers block ......... 10 years an expat and you come to accept so much is repetitive while so much is unknown. Maybe I'm ready to just settle? Maybe I'm over moving and starting over. Maybe there's not much more to be said and if I just blog about personal stuff it's more like a diary and I'm sharing way too much and the reason for the blog in the first place is lost in self indulgence.

I could simply go back thru the archives and rehash, maybe update the 'pre summer' blog themes, cos really they don't change - people moving on, people arriving, making friends, sharing summer holiday ideas and tips, maybe even a few photos of what we get up to. The first day of school chats, orientation, suggestions on getting involved, making friends, girl-dating etc.

Groundhogs day for expats.

How's your summer shaping up?
What plans do you have?
If it's winter where you are, how are you coping?

Promise to chat with you here more often, and I hope you'll join us over on Facebook.

With friendship

Saturday, 1 April 2017

ms-havachat discovers Pizza East in Shoreditch, London and street art

Another opportunity to stroll an area of London and learn about it's history and place in modern London. There's seriously so much to see and do and learn in this city.

We started with a fascinating history about the area, saw famous street art (even a Banksy  behind glass), the original Stik People and then had a yummy lunch. So what started out as a quick review about Pizza East (which I love), the chat morphed into a bit of a review about the whole day.

Shoreditch has to be one of the most interesting, eclectic areas of London I've explored so far. Sadly the weather was awful - it was cold and wet, which meant looking UP at artwork on buildings wasn't easy with umbrellas, so another visit on a dry day will be organised.

It's probably easier if you simply click here for a brief history as you know me, I love it when I hear it, would love to remember IT ALL to share it with you but ......... apparently I'm not the only one (thank goodness) as several friends on the tour said the same thing. They go back to do their photos on Facebook and think what was that? where were we? what did our guide say?

Walking from the station, we passed Boxpark but didnt' go in. In fact, with this guide, we tend not to go in anywhere! When there's 15+ ladies, it would be a nightmare getting everyone out and keeping on schedule. So we see the exterior of places and make mental notes to return.

The architecture was very mixed, with really interesting history of different nationalities moving in and out of the area of the decades, and with them the food, music and art of their homeland. Some areas were very poor indeed, and as Shoreditch was 'just' outside the walls of London in days gone by, artists and musicians, and the poorer groups of society lived happily here, doing their own thing, away from the rules of within London City. While it's now very much as suburb of London you can feel there's still a bit of that mischief in the air.

With close proximity to London CBD, the area is transforming again into quite a trendy area, expensive housing, fashion, restaurants, galleries and more. If we were empty nesters, and hubby was based in London I think it would be somewhere we'd consider living (if we could afford it)

ROA's work is amazing! This is from Google images, and
when we saw it last week, another artist had
added nomadic native hunters in and around the legs of the animal,
creating a hide'n'seek scenario about hunting and gathering. 
Romeo and Juliet ..... the pub has been left standing in the middle of
an excavation site, ready for redevelopment. The history of the pub,
and the symbolism of this street art ensured it's preservation.
The first performance of Rome and Juliet took place at a theatre close by
(there's two theatres, and each claim this event as their own)

Add caption

One of the areas' most famous artists, and works STIK.
It was wonderful to see this work up close.


This This entire area is amazing! You really should make the time to visit - a whole day infact. 

You must remember to LOOK all around you, in every direction as sometimes what you need to see isn't always apparent (there's several brightly coloured mushrooms on top of buildings for example, and some street signs have been reworked into art)

You can always do a guided street art tour. 

It's yet another place I'd enjoy going back to as we only scratched the surface and the weather wasn't great.

For Pizza East go to

The walking tour we did was with a private guide, however, if you simply Google Search for "Shoreditch Street Art Tours' you'll find several to choose from.

With friendship

Sunday, 19 March 2017

ms-havachat eating out in Oxford - Vault Garden Cafe

Gorgeous Entrance
Whenever I go to Oxford, I take the train via Reading. Parking can be a nightmare in/around Oxford, even at the park'n'ride. I don't mind catching trains. I enjoy watching the changing countryside and people watching, or I listen to a podcast on my phone. Oxfords a 'walking city' tho a lot of locals cycle between colleges, and of course there are LOTS of tourists to dodge.

Once away from the hustle and bustle of the High Street, as you walk between colleges, along cobblestone streets and laneways, you are walking in a by-gone era. It's fabulous!

This visit, I was meeting a friend for lunch at the Vault Cafe. We'd not caught up for ages and all we really wanted to do was drink coffee, enjoy lunch and chat. My last visit I did the same, tho at the MacDonald Hotel (and it was also a lovely day)

The Vault Garden Cafe is a delightful alternative to any High Street Cafe simply because of it's unique location, set in Oxford University's Old Congregation House, dating back to 1320.

Did you see that date?

Imagine the bazillions of people that have walked on the same cobble stones as me in this area!

MIND BOGGLING and somehow rather calming.

It helps you realise that no matter what, the world keeps turning ....... life goes on. It might be different, but it goes on.

Between the train station and the Vault Cafe, I stopped to notice the doors ...... so many charming, old doors. I'm still collecting photos for my DOORS AND WINDOWS OF EUROPE coffee table album, and while I've numerous similar ones, these grabbed my attention.

I arrived at the cafe a wee bit earlier than my friend, so I walked around the square. The sun was shining.  The sky was blue. It was a tad chilly out of the sunshine, but it was a glorious day and I fell in love with Oxford just a little bit more.

We sipped (a rather good coffee) in the garden of the Vault Cafe, looking at the blue sky and watching people going in and out of the Sheldonian Theatre.

Check out that blue English sky!

The Sheldonian Theatre was built over five years, from 1664 and is one of the universities main buildings. Today it's a ceremonial hall, where students are admitted to the University, receive their degrees as well as being used as the Universities Parliament. It's open to the public when not being used for official business (which it was while we were there, so another reason to go back)

The grounds of the Church where the Vault Garden Cafe is, is very pleasant. The spring flowers were in bloom, the tables and chairs were a hotchpotch of styles.

Once inside, the vaulted ceiling takes your breath away. Again, the age of this place is incredible and yet, here you can sit sipping coffee and eating delicious food while goodness knows what generations have done before.

Besides the history and atmosphere of the place, it's location is perfect. The food being served looked and smelled delicious, for a number of reasons I didn't eat, but my friend did and she said it was one of the most delicious lunches she's had in ages.

As I love Oxford and there's still so much to discover, I know I'll be back to the Vault.

For more information:

With friendship

Sunday, 5 March 2017

ms-havachat eats out in Ascot - AYA Court in Ascot

If you've been following ms-havacaht for a while, you'll know a few things about my little family.

We enjoy eating out and we LOVE Asian food.

We've driven past Aya Court on the way to/from Ascot for the past 18 months and today was the first time we ate there, but it won't be the last.

Looks can be deceiving - the restaurant is light and airy and big!

To the left of the entrance, there's an intimate dining area with a bench seat, and today there were 3 tables set up and if I recall, you could sit 6 people, maybe 7 along the bench and the same opposite; plus two smaller tables for two.

To the right of the entrance, is the larger dining area, with lots of natural light and a door leading onto the outdoor yard (bottom right photo) area with a fountain (it was empty, but I'm guessing that's cos it's winter, and in spring/summer it would be very nice to enjoy a pre-dinner drink out here.

Past the bar, there's another smaller dining area (the centre left photo) remember this was once a house, so the flow of smaller rooms makes sense. The smaller dining areas are intimate but you don't feel separate (maybe the one in the front).

There's two more surprises left!

One is an outdoor dining area (centre right photo), and the other is a second floor of tables! Perfect for a private function (photo below). Today it was set up for 45, but you could probably fit a few more in. There's a small bar there too, so it really would be a fun party.

On arrival, we were given delicious Chinese donuts, cut in half and for some odd reason, small pieces of flat bread.  The rest for the spoon and chopsticks was contemporary in design and a nice touch for people who rely on cutlery. The jasmine tea was served in a traditional tea pot and the wait staff were very attentive in pouring it for us and replacing the entire tea pot, not merely topping it up with hot water as some restaurants do.

Today, it was just the 3 of us, and we ate very good dim sum. We got a wee shock when the bill came £98 but we ate well (no alcohol)

It's after 6pm, we're still pleasantly full.

We feel like we're settling in well to the area .... found our local Japanese (Misugo) and now, Chinese.

For more information, please click here for Aya Court website.

Tell them ms-havachat recommended you (not that they know me, but they might after this)

With friendship