Archive for the ‘London’ Tag

London Travel Ideas (current as of 2014-08-25)   2 comments

An old acquaintance has secured Kate Bush tickets (first of 22 shows — which all sold out in 15 minutes — is tomorrow), one of the more heavily hyped items of late with several pages of bits in yesterday’s Observer and a documentary on BBC4 last Friday.  Since she and partner are travelling from Los Angeles, I feel compelled to give some wholly unsolicited tourism options for any down time they have on the trip.  Most of these are from the blog, so almost all of them require no extravagant expense (depending on what and how much you decide to eat and drink along the way).  Not at all comprehensive, please add your own suggestions for my next trip down the Big Smoke.

london pubs thru 2014-08-25

Pubs: The map above is my London pub tally through 24 August 2014 and if you click on the picture it should take you to the UK-wide map from which this was gleaned.  The pushpins are more accurately located than Google has them but some of the pubs are now gone.  If you see one you are likely to want to visit, I have an entry for it on this site now linked to the pushpin on the map but haven’t bothered to include links on the map (so you would have to come back here to search for them).  Some of my favourites are:

The Bree Louise: great selection of beer and cider near Euston Station

The Lyric is pleasant enough and you can peer out at the former Red Lion where the Communist Manifesto was mostly written.

I owe the Lord Nelson another visit after their hospitality during the London Marathon. Likewise the Rose of Denmark. The night before the race, we were also thoroughly entertained at the Flowers of the Forest.

Ladbroke Grove is the part of West Kensington where the Clash were holed up in the early years and you’ll find the Kensington Park a fabulous watering hole in the neighbourhood. Another pub with a bit of a punk history to it (and great Thai food on the menu) is the World’s End in Camden.

One of the most beautiful pubs I’ve seen in town is the Blackfriar. If you want to go to just one for atmosphere, this is it.

blackfriar london exterior 4

 

The East End has a few worthy boozers, too. I really like the White Hart with it’s Jack the Ripper connections and proximity to the London Hospital where John Merrick (the Elephant Man) lived out his days. Just up the road you’ll also find the Blind Beggar where Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell (Kray Brothers, Piranha Brothers, and Kemp Brothers fans should make time for a beverage here). Dinsdale.

 

highgate east me and marx SDC11340

Cemeteries: These are a particular favourite of mine and Jackie’s and we’ve done the Highgate tour several times.  London has a bunch of good ones sprinkled around, and you could do worse than to stumble upon the Bunhill Fields (wiki here) and leave a penny at Blake’s site for the ferryman.  Highgate East is free and very good, but Highgate West requires a tour guide although the hassle is well worth the cheap fee and the advanced planning.  Closer into town, Kensal Green is also truly awesome and a good way to kill a few hours.

Farther afield but still in the London confines, the Necropolis Station is worth trying to find.  Near the Waterloo Rail Station, this was a dedicated rail stop that shipped 10’s of thousands of small pox corpses out to the suburban cemeteries.  Also, if you find yourself at Chelsea Bridge (see the music entry, below), there is another Victorian cemetery nearby we haven’t visited yet but have shortlisted.

highgate west SDC11386

Food: Okay, you can probably find more palatable things to eat, but nothing will be more quintessentially London than a bowl of jellied eels soaked in as much chilli vinegar as you can stand…and it comes with a little plate on which to spit the wee bones.  Trust me on this one.  Go to the Borough Market because if you chicken out there is a ridiculous spread of other food to go for, as fresh as you might ever hope for and reasonably priced (considering the floor show that goes with it).

English food is generally dreadful although I am really fond of blood pudding and fish and chips.  If you are from the southeastern U.S., as the catalyst for this note is, you might find yourself more at home dining in the Brixton Market where people know what pimento cheese is and the greens and black-eyed peas are cooked in artery clogging levels of salt pork.  Just pick a street stand and start eating; don’t worry, the contact high you get from the pot smoke everywhere will keep you munchy enough to try everything (wear loose clothing for the trip).

Music sites: More than any music site in London I am ashamed of NOT going to is the house where Joe Meek had his weird studio and eventually killed his landlady before committing suicide.

Look out, kid, there are sites I have been to that are pretty good such as Savoy Street in front of the Savoy Chapel where Dylan dropped cards while Subterranean Homesick Blues played in the background.  You might also want to pop by number 3 Savile Road, the Apple offices where the last Beatles performance occurred, but under no circumstances should you do the Abbey Road walk of shame (better to just leave some graffiti on the walls outside the studios where, keeping with the Kate Bush theme, Man With the Child in His Eyes was recorded).  Also, here’s a Werewolves of London location near the Kensal Green cemetery and not far from Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten’s squat.

At my peak weight...for the ladies!

Not London, just my Christmas card pic a couple of years ago, but musical

Clapham is an easy tube stop and the Clapham Common is a great and very large park to kill an afternoon around.  Squeeze fans might go to the Clapham Junction station and get Up the Junction stuck in their heads.  It’s not a long hike from there to Chelsea Bridge where you can look out over the Thames toward Battersea Power Station (The Pink Floyd’s Animals should come to mind) and settle into a brilliant Waterloo Sunset.  Classical music fans can find Jimi Hendrix’s place (which had previously been Handel’s place) at 23 Brook Street while you can find the scene of one of the more annoying brain worms, Come On Eileen, at Brook Drive on the opposite side of the Thames.

Here are two websites that give pretty good music tour ideas.  First, Music Like Dirt has a map if you just want to find something near you.  The Shady Old Lady has a much more comprehensive site and a lot of other categories to choose from but you are on your own for mapping.

Dr. Who just started again, and I do try to hit Who sites out here in the provinces.  Below, you’ll find a screen shot of the Google Earth map of Dr. Who scene sites in central London taken from http://www.doctorwholocations.net/  (download the file DrWhoLocations.kml to load into G-Earth and maybe a more useful map overlay — I’m using OpenStreetMap for mine).

DrWhoLondon

For movie sites in London, try the map at https://moviemaps.org/cities/4 which, though far from comprehensive it does give you some touristy ideas, and a map.

 

Other recreation:  I do not recommend Boris Bikes except maybe in the Square Mile on the weekends (the City is abandoned by 6pm Friday).  They are cheap, sturdy, and fun but you can get yourself killed on them as well.

Depending on your interests overlapping a bit, I would highly recommend hashing in the city.  London hashers are a friendly lot, take you to the most interesting pubs around, and if you aren’t careful you might even get a little exercise while trotting around the back alleys and through tunnels and up and down streets you might never otherwise venture.  They have a centralised calendar of events here but sometimes it is irregularly updated; I have never been disappointed by a London based hash…here are some of the individual kennels’ pages:

London HHH

 City HHH

West London HHH

South London HHH (SLASH) … say, ‘hi,’ to Testiculator if you go here or, for that matter, any of the others as he seems to hash a lot.

The Rob Roy, Paddington, London   Leave a comment

rob roy paddington sign

I still had an hour to kill before my train so I hopped off the Tube at Edgeware Road and worked my way the few blocks to Paddington in search of one last pub. There on Star Road emerged the Rob Roy which looked suitable for purpose. Inside, the Arab barkeep acted unimpressed with the World which, from the looks of the empty (but, as I had suspected, awesome) bar, is just as unimpressed in return. I took my beverage to a stool near one of the lead-and-solder lined windows and settled into catching up on these pub reports and my trip details for work.

My beer was a Belhaven Best and it was only after the first citrus-and-brake-fluid sip that I realised I had this before at the Blackbird in the Blackbird Leys just after the Oxford Half Marathon. At the time I thought it was “off” or anyways strange at a minimum…but it was still just as odd here, like cleaning fluid from the tap lines. What do Scots know about ale? Very foul. But, I finished…as my mom always used to say, “there are alcoholics in the middle east that don’t have even shitty beer.”

rob roy paddington

Posted 2013/11/09 by Drunken Bunny in beer reviews, pubs

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The Prince Arthur, Euston, London   1 comment

prince arthur euston google map

Badly in need of food but still making good progress on the trip home, I stopped in the Prince Arthur after the detour for Cock so I could get some proper meat. An odd house, I ordered a burger against my better judgement (with regard to what atrocities the British are capable of inflicting on burgers), then dumped off my burden of baggage near a speaker playing a wonderful Indie-folk-psychedelic CD and headed for the loo.

prince arthur euston london sleazy loo

The pisser is sleazy here, and looks for all the world like a porn theatre lavvie (note, I speak of this as a former projectionist in one of the sleazier porn cinemas in 1980’s Atlanta…I lived in the unused half of the projection booth that was meant to service a second screening room which had an, ahem, accidental fire a few weeks before I showed up with a union card, a mostly clean police record, and a debt to pay the owner’s kid’s gang — I would turn the fire spigot onto the toilets for a while before setting foot into what was essentially my shower for six months).

The burger was likewise obscene, but in the best possible way. I don’t even expect my butcher to provide me beef of this high quality and it was cooked just past raw and without any rusk or other filler (granted, the North African barmaid might be a clue that the cook isn’t British, either). I’m sure I made the orgasm face more than once although I monitored it closely on the mirror across from my seat.

prince arthur euston london awaiting burger

Oh, right, I promised in the previous post that I would have something here for those who don’t like Cock. Here you go: I forgot to take the outside photos at the Prince Arthur and when I realised the fact I decided not to retrace my steps as it was raining and since I had this other fabulous business right next to where I stood:

trannie shop

The Cock Tavern, Euston, London   1 comment

cock tavern euston london sign

When you go to London alone, can you be blamed for seeking Cock? I think not and the Cock Tavern is a real gem. It is struggling, too, judging from the fundraising efforts posted around the lounge. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit it when next you find yourself at Euston or it may be gone forever.

cock tavern euston london bar

The house was full of Irishmen on my stop and everyone seemed to know one another. It is an estate pub but a 1930’s one I would guess and even though the buurt reminds me of the Techwood Homes estate back home (America’s first public housing) the council flats nearby all appear to be post-1960’s build.

cock tavern euston london fire

I couldn’t linger as I was very hungry, The next post has some ideas for those of you who think you don’t really like your Cock all that much.

cock tavern euston london

Posted 2013/11/09 by Drunken Bunny in pubs

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Bree Louise, Euston Square, London   2 comments

bree louise london sign

 

On my way to Hemel Hempstead I had to transfer from Paddington to Euston, which always puts me in the mind of “Home For a Rest.” I emerged from the Euston Square tube stop with a list of potential targets but none so compelling as the Bree Louise.

She lived up to her reputation, too, with a choice of 17 ales and 11 ciders, all with living cultures still in them and all with a 50p discount for CAMRA members (and, of course, I had my card with me, nearly 5 years in the Campaign now).

bree louise london lounge

The atmosphere was much more like that of a village pub and the house was packed at half noon on a Monday with several other people eagerly heading toward it from the station. They could do a lot worse than settling into a batch of the Whitesides cider, dry and 7.5% abv but with a sneaky character that grows on you after an initial varnish removing first couple of sips.

bree louise london bar

I had a great moment, for me, in there. Sitting at a line of tables another middle-aged dude shows up with two halves and, after a cursory glance my way and a lot of burden removal, sat down. We admired each other’s drinking stock in silence then, as he finished the darker of his two he raised an eyebrow and in one motion lifted his pack to his shoulders and caught the handle of his suitcase as it fell towards Earth then sept out the door. It was like the scene in “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Ninja” where The RZA passes Forrest Whitaker on the street and everything slows down, if they were two alcoholic and very dorky white guys.

bree louise london

Posted 2013/11/06 by Drunken Bunny in pubs

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The Dickens Tavern, Paddington, London   2 comments

dickens tavern london

We ate at Bizarro, our favourite little Italian place easy to get to near the station, but still had a while before our train and went in search of a time-killing watering hole; we found success in the form of the Dickens.

The pub is famed, it claims, as the longest pub in London and it was a small hike to the back where we found some plushly stuffed leather chairs to relax in whilst watching some Spanish football. My beverage was a Bitter and Twisted ale, a blond with American northwest hops of some variety. “How appropriate,” J remarked as is her right, duty, and habit.

She claims the women’s loo was filthy, small, and nondescript (yes, the loo, not me). I found the gents’ clean and welcoming (before my visit) and covered with framed historical prints of the neighbourhood. I don’t know if there’s anything else, really, to say.

dickens tavern london paddington station sketch

Posted 2013/11/04 by Drunken Bunny in pubs

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The Cock and Lion, London   Leave a comment

cock and lion london
Jackie needed a black polo shirt for a Christmas retail gig and it is a hard find, here. After the last talks at Socialism 2013, we engaged the capitalist beast at its most foul — Oxford Street, London — and finally scored her prisoner’s outfit at a cost of some pounds sterling and several years off our lives. We needed a drink and our side-street escape route plopped us dead centre of the Cock and Lion.

Jacks said she’d buy the round for me being so good and not causing a fight amidst the cattle but once we ordered she handed me a fiver, all she had on her…what a laugh. I took it and added a ten from which I salvaged a few coins and we took the highly overpriced swill to a snug at the end of the bar.

It IS a fantastic house and DOES have decent wine prices. I wouldn’t venture too far out of my way for it, though; and, bring a decent line of credit.

cock and lion london bar

Posted 2013/11/04 by Drunken Bunny in pubs

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