Shopping is always more chaotic than you think it'll be. Even with a fixed list, you get sidetracked buying jeans you didn't know you needed and held up while shop assistants lazily look for the trainers you really do. No matter the weather, the basement changing rooms are hot and humid, dripping with sweat. Two hours later, two hundred pounds down, and in possession of two damp armpits, you're ready to quit.
Thank God for lunchtime deals and thank God for Twitter for altering me to them. House of Ho, a Soho restaurant that comes highly recommended, are selling dishes for £5 between twelve o'clock and four. Do my eyes deceive me?
No. No they don't. And no queue either. I waltz through the door and glide effortlessly to a table for two at the window. Or rather, I drag seven heavy bags across the threshold, pant unintelligible words towards a scared looking barman, and throw myself down next to the open window, with the tramps, dead bicycles, and sex shops of Soho beyond. It's not a nice view.
Fortunately, inside, this is a pleasant restaurant with incredibly good food. Chilli squid - fast becoming a favourite of mine - is tender with a hot hit of chilli and a dip to match. The lobster - that's right, lobster, for £5! - is served in perfect small bites on top of a bed of glue-like noodles. I can forgive the noodles. It's £5 lobster! A sweet and salty duck 'salad' comes overflowing with nuts, chilli, and noodles - delicious. The real surprise was a plate of 'heavenly flowers'. I've no idea what this is. It looked like a pile of tiny flower heads, devoid of petals, with a small garnish of fried shallots sat on top. It tasted incredible.
It's so good, we ordered more. A side of edamame and a bowl of noodles, with green leaves and slices of seared beef. A second helping is testament to the quality of the food, rather than any gaping hole in my stomach.
I'll be back to House of Ho. Definitely. Although it may just be back for lunch, this time armed with an even larger roll of five pound notes, in place of those seven bags of shopping.