Friday, June 30, 2017

Another trip to London

Two of the members of my tour group in India, Nan and Jiang, live in London and before the trip ended we informally arranged to meet in London in June.

So Marianne and I took the train to London Paddington for 12 pound each return. You have to book well in advance for the cheap fares. The train was running late because of signally problems but we got there eventually. The underground took us to Piccadilly Circus.

Back in the late 80's I organized a couple of tours to London for people at the college who had never been to England. When we arrived in the Russell Square area hotels, I would make sure everybody had a Go As You Please card for unlimited travel on bus and underground and then lead them from Russell Square to Piccadilly by underground train. I would then lose them so that they had to find their own way back. They didn't need me to hold their hand after that.

London streets are just so busy, both visually and with people and traffic.

It was a short walk to China Town in Soho.

We met Jiang outside the Little Four Seasons restaurant just before noon. Jiang grew up in Beijing and as part of her job was transferred to London where she stayed. She reckoned this restaurant served the best roast duck in London

There was a line to get in when the restaurant opened at noon so we got a good table. We let Jiang order and the first dish were these prawns in a sweet and sour and somewhat spicy sauce. They were wonderful and I think I will try my hand at cooking something like this when we get home.

The roast duck, cut into chunks and it was the best Chinese roast duck I had ever eaten. You can see the menu here.

The best duck I have ever eaten was a lightly grilled duck breast in a small hotel in rural France. The Michelin guide of 1980 gave the restaurant a small r symbol indicative of good inexpensive food. We were fortunate that the restaurant was empty at the time because I moaned as I ate the duck. It was that delicious and I hope one day to eat something as good.

A tofu dish that was somewhat different from tofu we have had in the past. I thought the tofu had been shredded before being reformed into small sausages and it had an interesting texture.

Nan could not come since she was involved with a work meeting but it was great for Marianne and Jiang to meet and to talk about past and future trips.  

After lunch, Marianne and I went to a nearby kitchen supply shop so that Marianne could buy a metal teapot. She wants one for when we travel that won't get damaged and apparently quality metal teapots are hard to find. Nisbets had a good selection so we purchased one.

The nearby Palace Theatre where a stage version of Harry Potter was playing. 

The ultimate symbol of London.

Marianne requested that we visit a small museum in the afternoon so we went to Hyde Park to the Serpentine Gallery. We entered the park near the Italian Water Gardens.

An unusual ice-cream van. I presume it was a hearse at one time.

As you walk further into the park the level of traffic noise drops and you get a sense of being back in the countryside.

Peter Pan statue.

The bright parrots that we saw in Amsterdam have come to London as well. If you click on the photo and look above the girl you can see one flying. It had just taken off after perching on the mans head to the amusement of all.

It was overcast but pleasant walking.

This is the exhibit we had come to see. More about Grayson Perry here. I have no idea if I am related in any way.

Below are some of the works at the exhibition.

I rather liked the speedometer.

He is famous for his pottery but it did not do a lot for me.

I was intrigued by the ceiling.

This was quite large.

I must admit I was not overly impressed by the exhibition but Marianne enjoyed it, particularly the pottery.

A film crew was outside preparing for something. You can see why filming is so expensive since there appeared to be a whole bunch of people standing around doing nothing. They were doing nothing when we arrived and nothing when we left.

A line of older school children appeared. there had to be close to a hundred of them.

Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial.

Dogs at play.

More about the statue here.

You can actually rent Buckhill Lodge along with several other dwellings and live in the park. This article from 2011 shows more about renting.

We started to stroll back to Paddington Station and walked past Radnor Mews.

Sussex Gardens. When I first came to London in 1974 a group of us stayed in one of the numerous small hotels that line this street. I seem to remember that some of the houses were still private back then but now it appears that all of them are now hotels.

At the end of my first full day in London in 1974, I returned to the hotel and met a young lady who was part of our group. Her English boyfriend had turned up along with a bottle of German Riesling which we demolished. We then adjourned to this nearby hotel where the boyfriend introduced me to quite a few different English beers with predictable results. It was years before I enjoyed going into an English pub again.

Oddly enough, I saw my first video game here. Remember Pong? They had a machine and we tried it out. I didn't do very well at it.

We returned to Paddington Station and took the train home to hear that Michael Bond, the inventor of Paddington Bear had died. We should have looked at the statue.

I love going to London.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Three Kings Pub

At lunch time, Marianne and I returned to the little village of Hanley Castle to check out the Three Kings pub that was supposed to be quirky.

This time it was open  and the lady behind the bar served us a pint of excellent Beowulf stout and a half pint of Bridgehouse Blonde. And what a vision behind the bar and no doubt they knew where everything was. It's worth clicking on the picture to enlarge it and see the detail.

You get the feeling that nothing has changed much since Adam was a boy and that change would not be an improvement.

It is a very tiny place but they have live music events every week and you can see some photos on Facebook.

The bar lady asked us we would like sandwiches so since it was lunchtime we ordered cheese and pickle as well as ham and tomato. They were good and the whole bill came to a bit over seven pounds. That might almost buy you a pint of ale in London.

As we left a couple of locals arrived and I suspect that the locals treasure this old pub. Quirky indeed.