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Don’t You (Forget About Breakfast)

3 Feb

As I said a while ago before I got sidetracked by those pesky French Alps, this post will be mostly to do with my breakfast. In the spirit of honesty, here is a website representation of how relevant this post will probably be for you, the reader.

But I guess if you happen to live in London, or will be visiting any time soon, this may be of some use to you if you enjoy a breakfast that is SO GOOD it makes you think “well, it’s all down hill for the rest of the day.” And I do. I’m not going to tell you the name of the place straight away, rather, what does this make you think of?

No, the place is not called ‘Simple Minds’ or even ‘Ill-fitting suit’ (though if you want to call your restaurant ‘Ill-fitting suit’ you’re welcome to it). It’s called ‘The Breakfast Club’, and when you get to the front of the queue to get in, it makes you go like this:bfcfs

That’s right, you have to queue to get breakfast! You’re probably thinking “screw that, I’m going to maccas for a double sausage mcmuffin, you stupid hipster”. And no one would blame you. But if you can force your modern, “on-demand” mind to spend a short while braving a cold London morning, I guarantee you’ll change your tune faster than a teenager with an iPod (this is a serious gripe of mine, let the song finish for god’s sake! Can I get a HELL YEAH?)

Once you actually make it inside the building and do your Judd Nelson fist pump, the decor is striking. It’s hard to explain but I guess its a classier version of the “found this crap out the back and made it into a light fitting” style I mentioned to describe ruin bars in Budapest. It’s not unpleasant though, and frankly I don’t go out to breakfast for the decor. While I’m at it, I feel I should can mention that I’m not more likely to choose a place to eat because they serve their food on chopping boards, skateboards, wobble boards, or anything else that is a kitschy substitute for a plate. Plates work. Here’s some photographic evidence:

I can't even pass this off as an 'arty' photo.

I can’t even pass this off as an ‘arty’ photo.

It may be difficult to make out, but this is a spectacular creation called the ‘Huevos Al Benny’, a very Spanish twist on regular eggs Benedict. Accompanying the usual poached eggs, English muffins and Hollandaise sauce are generous amounts of chorizo, peppers and guacamole. I’ve since been back to The Breakfast Club and had a more traditional cooked breakfast (plus a side of pancakes), but I can not go past Huevos for muchos el flavour.

If these sorts of things don’t take your fancy, the menu is extensive. Both times I’ve been I have found at least five things on the menu I’m torn between, and I haven’t been disappointed with my choices. Importantly, the coffee is good quality and well made, and the smoothies/juices provide a welcome hangover aid.

Even though it runs the risk of increasing the queue, and hence my waiting time, I should probably tell you where they are located. I must say that having visited two of their five locations (Spitalfields and Soho), they don’t feel like a chain. They still maintain personality and excellent quality in what they serve, and you can find them here.

Until next time, have a great morning.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

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Missing The Point (In A Good Way): The British Museum

4 Nov

There’s a saying you may have heard of that goes along the lines of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Wise words, to be sure. But today it has me wondering about a slight change that may become the modus operandi of this blog (I think modus operandi is Latin for “poached eggs please”, but it sounds good). BBS – “If you don’t have anything to say, start writing and see what happens.”

And so I shall, sort of. Because I have some things to say today, but not much. If, like me, you are skeptical about the upcoming content of this post, here is a link to another use of your time.

Firstly, I think it’s nice to live in a city where there are places you can go when you don’t really want to do anything, they’re just nice places to be. For me, one of these places to go is The British Museum. If you’re ever looking for it, it looks like this:

I sha’n’t (shall not) be going over my approach to photography again.

Personally though, I prefer to find it by going to the vintage Citroen hot dog van and turning right.

See earlier comments re: photography.

As I was  saying, The British Museum is one of those places I just like to be. Among it’s like, totally way-old stuff are the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, an original pressing of Toto’s ‘Africa’, and thousands of artifacts that span our rich and compelling human history. Truth be told though, I just like the building.

As you reach for you complaint-writing pen, just bare with me a moment. The historical stuff is fascinating, wonderful and free of charge, and I recommend anyone to see it when they come to London. But even now that I’ve seen and marveled at all that, what draws me back when I don’t feel like doing much else is the main entrance hall.

This view probably takes in less than a quarter of the whole hall. It is difficult to describe why I like it so much, probably because it feels as close to being outside as you can get at the moment without your eyes turning to ice cubes.

In any case, when you’re in London and want some free tourism AND cool architecture, The British Museum is the place to go.

I guess the other stuff I should mention now is that I have some travel plans in the very near future (for those who are keeping track of my movements on a large wall-mounted world map). On roughly Thursday I will be making a whirlwind tour of my homeland. This will last roughly a week and a half before returning from all that stifling heat to the soothing cold of the UK.

Not long after however, I am booked in for a weekend in Budapest. Not to put too much pressure on Hungary and its capital, but I’m yet to find a person with a bad thing to say about Budapest. So I’m pretty much expecting it to be the greatest place on earth. Even if it’s not, I’ll settle for a nice goulash.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

Sausage Rolls, Beer in Roadkill, and Attention-Grabbing Headlines

28 Oct

Here I am again! Rushing in at the last minute as the teacher calls my name, yelling “PRESENT!” I’ve realised my promise to try and post each week was about to expire and join a fast-filling basket of broken promises, missed deadlines and piked-out-on RSVPs. If you add the numerous tedious events I’ve pulled a smoke bomb from I start to look like quite the unreliable individual.

Today I’ve come to talk to you about a couple of things. The first is a wonderful, growing family of beer bars run by Scottish brewer Brewdog. You may remember I mentioned Brewdog back in my post about Glasgow. Well it seems that they have started to invade the south with bars popping up all over the place.

This one is in Camden, a very friendly 3-minute walk from Camden Town tube station. We were there because of something you may have heard of called a Groupon. If you’ve not heard of them, basically it’s a reward for knowing how to navigate the internet that allows you to get stuff cheaper than it usually is. This is even more helpful when, like in this case, it’s something you actually want.

This Groupon allowed the holders (us) to attend a two-hour beer tasting of Brewdog offerings. We were led to a secret room called the “Hop Bunker” (secret means it was behind a chain and down some stairs), where we were greeted by our host and the first tasting:

Yes, it does seem pretty pretentious but to that I say an unpretentious “up yours”.

This first beer is called ‘Punk IPA’ and without going in to tedious detail about beer, its really nice. As we were reminded a number of times by our host, Brewdog’s main aim is to let people know that there is a far superior alternative to drinking the mass-produced lagers like Fosters, Stella or Carlsberg.

As our next beers for tasting were prepared, we were also treated to a lovely surprise, since their was no mention of it on the Groupon:

This was almost as welcome as the beer.

A guy across the table and I eyed this for a long time, wondering which of us would be the first to crack. I forget which of us was first, but the edgily taken first piece of Brie gave way to a free-for-all that almost ended in lost fingers. The platter was a nice touch though, and probably necessary as the beers kept coming.

The beers also got stronger. The ‘Punk IPA’ above was around 5%, however this was followed by an amber ale, porter, double IPA…and then it starts to get a little hazy. The details I give now can’t be verified by my memory, but I’m fairly sure the tasting ended with an 11.1% alcohol beer, followed by a beer cocktail with gin. Then there’s this photo:

His name is Steven.

The story behind this is long. But the short version is that it’s a 55% alcohol beer that is bottled then put inside taxidermied roadkill. We didn’t get to try it because it’s hideously expensive, but if you want to order it, ask for ‘End of History’. I’m not sure how often these classes run, but Brewdog should definitely be running more of them. And if you can pick it up on a Groupon for £12 each, then let the good times roll.

Today I will also be fulfilling another promise, that which concerns the world’s greatest sausage roll. If you are ever in London (and I hope that you are), the first thing you should do is definitely get a Mars Milk. Once that is done however, you need to find yourself a Ginger Pig.

These butchers use their expertise in all things meat to concoct what I don’t mind saying is the WORLD’s BEST sausage roll. My pick for the best place to get one is the Borough Market near London Bridge, as you can wander around and taste all kinds of other foods as well. If not, they also have shops in Hackney, Shepherds Bush, Marylebone and Waterloo.

I recently discovered that they make different varieties, this one is a pork and stilton (cheese):

This was fantastic as well, however I can’t go past the first time I bit in to the original pork. The meat is spiced in a way I never thought possible and is sweet, savoury and juicy. This is complimented by the golden pastry which somehow melts and crumbles at the same time.

You’re probably wondering how I can talk like this about a humble sausage roll, but that just means you need to get over here and try it for yourself. It’s well worth the flight ticket from wherever you are.

And there’s other stuff to do as well.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

I Was Always Here, But I’m Making A Comeback!

20 Oct

BRACE YOURSELVES….this is one of those times that will henceforth be preceded by the words “I remember where I was when…”

For this is my triumphant return, my glorious explosion back on to the prestigious and lofty stage that is web-logging. After a long and unexpected absence of (insert amount of time its been), I’m back and less relevant than ever. Yaaaaaaaaaaay!

I can almost hear the collective cheers of obscure internet readers everywhere, but that may be because finally there’s a website to reliably inform people about whether or not it’s Tuesday.

But what to write about on this most auspicious occasion? I could explain my absence, but I was never that good at forging my Mum’s signature. All you really need to know is that I was unable to use my computer for a while. What’s that? There are other ways to access the internet? Why am I still asking questions to an imagined reader? I don’t know, I’d like to know why this reader is being so pushy.

Anyway, I am aware that there are other ways to access computers and the internet. However I find local libraries are frequented by all manner of undesirables. Therefore I only allow myself a maximum of half an hour per calendar month to visit, read the latest edition of Sheep! magazine, and leave without hearing anyone sheepishly (not intended) ask to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey.

Since all that leaves no time to produce a decent blog post (and you know how I’m shamelessly committed to quality), it has been difficult to keep you updated.

Fear not though, for I’m fairly sure that if you weren’t bored or scared off by the preceding months of irrelevant words and pictures, then the last month or so of silence would probably seem like a relaxing holiday for your eyes and mind.

So what can you expect from the next few weeks? Well even though I’m back on the air I may be operating at a decreased capacity. I will endeavour to post each week though. And lucky you, I will be posting about topics including, but not limited to:

  • Some of the awesome London markets
  • The BEST sausage roll in the world…ever
  • More whining about the weather
  • The guy that just walked in to Starbucks and abused someone for no reason then told him not to make a scene
  • Possible upcoming trips to Dublin or Budapest
  • An in-depth analysis of the 295 bus route towards Clapham Junction
  • Why button-up sweater vests are back (seriously they are!)

Can’t you just not wait?

Safe travels, thanks for waiting. J

Why Is It “Great” Britain? They Made A List

14 Sep

I know to the outside world it seems that this blog is a professionally run and eddited internet publication. No doubt whenever you think of how and where all the journalistic gold is produced, you inevitably conjure up images like this:

Or maybe this:

The reality is in fact quite different, and the only thing that changes in my writing environment is the billboard outside my local coffee conglomerate getting swapped. It was a welcome sight to behold when George Michael was replaced with David Guetta, let me tell you.

The true nature of BBS actually entails teetering on the brink of various catastrophic problems. Of the two most common dangers, one is toppling into complete irrelevance despite having relevant travel things to report on. Curiously, the other is running out of travel things to report on.

Luckily when things seemed their most dire, I remembered a loyal reader had sent me a newspaper list titled ‘What Makes Britain So Brilliant?’

I thought it would be an interesting idea to peruse this list and pick apart some of the reasons why Brits incessantly refer to their homeland as “Great” Britain. Seems awfully presumptuous to me. First things first, I thought it deserved a better title. So here is a selection of the top reasons why “Great” Britain should be renamed “Better than the hat with plunger” Britain:

By the way, that’s not an insult to Britain. How cool is that!?

(Editor’s note: all the reasons in quotation marks are taken from the article verbatim, it should not be misrepresented that I am British)

  1. “The Earl of Sandwich’s groundbreaking concept of putting a savoury filling between two pieces of bread.” Hard to argue with this one. Though I did do some research a three second browse of Wikipedia to discover that the rough idea of a bread-like substance surrounding different types of filling had been around for some time (thousands of years in fact). However it must be said that if The 4th Earl of Sandwich wasn’t such an enthusiastic gambler that he didn’t have time to leave the poker table for a proper meal, the humble sandwich may not be the staple it is today.
  2. “Our politeness – no matter how irritated we get, we are always too British to say anything.” This doesn’t however, mean they won’t whinge about the weather, the government, immigrants, the government letting in the immigrants, and immigrants controlling the weather.
  3. No matter where you are in Britain, you’re never far from a pub.” This one is true and a credit to British society. One of the few things I will gladly declare that Britain does better than Australia.
  4. “Cream teas. In case you’re wondering, Cornish is jam first, Devon is cream first.” I’ve actually no idea what that sentence means at all. If anyone knows and it takes less than two sentences to explain, drop me a line.
  5. “Our international language. Travelling abroad is a doddle.” This one I understand perfectly. Basically if the person at Starbucks (who doesn’t get paid enough to care if you get your caramel macchiato or just the contents of a wrung out washcloth) doesn’t understand you the first time, you should speak louder and slower before getting frustrated that everyone don’t talk like us the way they should. Or you could go to Australia or the United States.
  6. “Some of the very best museums and galleries on the planet. Free.” I actually agree with this one too. If you like looking at things (and I do!), this is the place to be.

OK that’s my pick of the reasons why I now live in “Better than the hat with plunger” Britain, and maybe you should too. Or at least visit us over here. Despite all my “wry humour” (as my writings have been referred to in the social media) it is an absolutely fantastic place to be. And if you don’t like it, I promise there’s other places nearby.

It also occurs to me that posts may become less frequent as I’ve sadly resumed the drollery that is regular work. I will endeavour to keep updating you on all things “travel-y” and otherwise.

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J

What Do You Expect? M&Ms “World”

4 Sep

Recently I became an unwitting witness to the new epidemic of graffiti that I’m going to call “gratiffiti”. Rather than the usual tags and genitalia added to front fences and rail carriages, this new scourge gives unsolicited polite greetings:

These aimless hoodlums have since stepped up their work to include helpful advice. Take a look at this I saw appended to a brick wall on my way home from the station:

And this on my afternoon run by the Thames:

Nice of them to use stencils too.

Anyway, apart from going around looking at polite street art, this week I also thought I’d come good on a promise I made a few months ago but which you’ve no doubt forgotten about or didn’t read in the first place. That’s right, I went to M & Ms World! Needless to say I was pretty excited when I reached Leicester square and this came in to view.

 

In actual fact I wasn’t that excited, I was more intrigued to know how a store based on one type of chocolate confection could constitute a “world”. Upon first setting foot inside, the answer to my wondering was “with irrelevant souvenir crap”. 

No I didn’t put him in this position, I swear.

There were plenty of nauseating British cliches to go around, including this one which wasn’t even historically accurate:

First one to guess what’s wrong with this picture (other than that they’re M & Ms and it is ridiculous) wins a signed picture of me.

I must say though, there was one very impressive part of the store. Strangely enough it was the part with actual M & Ms in it. This allowed you to mix and match all types of colours and flavours from huge glass tubes. It makes for a vibrant sight:

I would be equally as impressed with M & Ms “World” if it consisted only of this room, which would then only require one level rather than the three that house the other irrelevant crap. But to be fair, people vote with their feet as they say, and this place was packed with people who couldn’t get enough.

To be honest I thought a self proclaimed “world” would have yielded a longer blog post, but rather than pad it out with more irrelevant stuff I’m just going to leave it there for now.

‘Til next time, keep it relevant.

 

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J

 

Hooray! There Is No Pun For “Jubilee Celebration”

3 Jun

Aren’t you lucky?! Just when I thought I had run out of material for this blog and was about to copy and paste the lyrics of Nik Kershaw’s Wouldn’t it be Good” in lieu of an actual post, I discovered it was in fact “The Queen’s diamond jubilee weekend spectacular and maritime transport fanatics conference”. I personally think they could have settled on a snappier title.

In honour of our monarch’s 60th consecutive year of being uncontroversial, I took it upon my self to be your exclusive link to all news events occurring within gumboot-throwing distance of my house. Luckily we live quite close to the river and Sunday’s celebration took the form of a one thousand-vessel flotilla.

BREAKING NEWS: SWANS UNIMPRESSED BY ROYAL FLOTILLA, CONTINUE PREENING

Not caring much for the swans’ take on things, I ventured further down river. After standing for quite a long time with no bird life to gauge thoughts, this happened:

That’s either a member of the royal family or the cast of The Only Way Is Essex.

That was followed by the restart of the Oxford/Cambridge pompous canoeing race:

The four-knot speed limit meant everybody wins!

Luckily, from what I could tell the swans were the only ones unmoved by the event. Everyone else was in exceptionally high spirits, especially when we realised that the Queen’s royal barge was to depart from further down the river where we would not see her. Fear not, for I typed “royal barge” in to an image search so you wouldn’t have to miss out like I did:

I’ll just pause while you sing “God Save the Queen”, wiping away a tear.

While it was all very exciting, I did lose interest after a little while and made my way back to watch it on TV. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Queen has done a bang up job for a long time. But unless you’re a boat enthusiast and in to brass funnels, gypsy sails and the merits of the various ways of dealing with Somali piracy (as some nearby me obviously were), it was a bit much to stand out in the rain waiting to see boats 800-1000.

On my way back however, I came across a party in a cemetery.

Believe me, they’re hard to see but the gravestones are there.

Nothing says “fun day out to celebrate” like resting your Pimms cup on the memorial of Kenneth R. Bracegirdle (1834-91) while you go and get your photo taken as a novelty Beefeater. It’s what he would’ve wanted I’m sure. You should’ve seen what they were getting up to in the Mausoleum.

In any case, the vast majority of people I saw were having a fantastic time, whether they were celebrating on a burial ground or otherwise. It’s fantastic to see the people of Britain united in their pride for their monarch. It’s equally unfortunate to think what will happen when Charles finally takes over.

In other news, tomorrow I head for Copenhagen to take time out from my busy part-time work and coffee drinking schedule. However I will be taking notes and reporting on all things Dansk, in the hope that I may be able to write the trip off on tax. Stay tuned.

 

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J