Tenuous Travel Puns: Giving Long Haul A Royal Brunei

14 Nov

Don’t you hate it when something that’s clearly run its course teases you with ever-lengthening absences, only to make an unwelcome return just when you thought it was finally over?

I’m not referring to anything in particular, I just find that really annoying. On an entirely unrelated matter, here’s another post!

Now THAT is high-brow humour, don’t be ashamed if you didn’t get it.

Today is an extra special edition of BBS. The reasons for this special-ness range from my clearly diminishing vocabulary (see: special-ness), to the fact that I’ve found time in my busy catch-up schedule to write this down.

In any case, these words are “slicker than your average” (as Craig David would say) because they come to you all the way from my homeland. My homeland being what delusional New Zealanders refer to as the West Island. Though I say this is special, it seems less so when I consider that the majority of my global readership (7) is already in Australia.

“Why are you back in Australia” I hear you not asking? Well, since you didn’t ask, I won’t tell you that  I’m on a worldwide campaign to eradicate the use of the word ‘amazeballs’. And if this explanation has got too convoluted to bother to keep reading, then here.

In actual fact I’m back for a very special wedding, in which I will be participating. No, I’m not the groom. But I did have a hand in choosing the suits.

Matrimonial

Back to business. My whirlwind tour began with me freaking out at Heathrow Airport because I couldn’t find my flight on the check-in board. I then realised my flight was a half-hour later than I thought, seasoned traveler that I am.

I was booked in to fly with Royal Brunei Airlines, and as I had found no one in the five months since I’d booked who had ever flown with them, I was expecting it to be anything from this:

to this:

Somewhat predictably, the reality fell somewhere in the middle. The planes are not exactly brand new but the service includes all the usual comforts like personal entertainment systems, complimentary food and drinks, and the requisite child of Satan ruining everyone else’s flight.

The main omission from the service that I feel I must mention is that it is a “dry airline”. No that doesn’t mean it won’t operate in the rain, but rather that there is no alcohol served on board. This was not a huge issue for me, as all I need for a good time is to fall asleep watching Snow White and the Huntsman. But if you need a few G & Ts to wash down your valium, this may not be the airline for you.

After short stops in Dubai and Brunei I arrived less tired than I’d predicted, thanks in no small part to Kristen Stewart’s monotonous work. Since then I’ve been maintaining a heavy schedule of bucks activities, friendly catch ups, and suit fittings.

I feel I should at least make short mention of my hometown. I realise the lameness of writing a travel blog about your hometown, but since London is my place of residence at the moment, it’s kind of a holiday.

I once referred to my hometown of Geelong as a place close enough to Melbourne that its just easier to say Melbourne when someone asks you where you’re from. This is something I still do, but I’m still very fond of Geelong. It’s a very pleasant city situated on Corio bay in the Southeast of Australia. I went to take an idyllic picture of the city’s prized waterfront, but we all know my approach to photography falls somewhere between “crap” and “total indifference to quality”. Therefore, here is picture taken by someone with access to either a helicopter, or the world’s tallest cherry picker.

 

At the end of the long pier is an establishment that includes a cafe, restaurant, very comfortable lounge/bar, and a function centre. However this is a far cry from its heyday as an all-you-can-eat-restaurant with an animatronic underwater show about a seal. I’m still smarting about that.

While my attempt to take my own photo of our iconic waterfront was unsuccessful, I did manage to capture two of the things I miss most about home while I’m in London:

If you haven’t already guessed, those two things are weather you can sit outside in, and reasonably priced sushi. Enough said, I think. I’ve got things to do, like attend a wedding. And making sure people who use the word ‘amazeballs’ are promptly tarred and feathered.

 

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

Putting Your Mind At Ease: BBS Is Still On The Air…Web…Whatever

30 Sep

I have six minutes left on the internet at my local library so I will use it to disspell some slanderous rumour that have plagued this blog in the past few weeks:

  1. BBS has not been disbanded due to lack of ideas. If that was the case it would have been disbanded after about five posts.
  2. I have not been picked up by MI5 and extradited on suspicion of espionage.
  3. BBS WILL be returning, as soon as I have access to my computer again. Please be patient and more ‘travel’ writing will wind its way to you very soon!

Safe travels. 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