Posts Tagged ‘LONDON’

5
Jan

Bittersweet

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Monday, 4 January 2015

Labels at The Harp

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Nineteen

A bittersweet veil covered our last day in London. It’s time to go home, but it’s never going to be time to leave. We awoke in our little hotel in Southwark and had breakfast in the below-street-level bistro of the hotel, which is beautifully decorated in Persian style to match the personalities of the wonderfully kind family who owns and operates the place.  We couldn’t dally long, though, because we needed to get on the road to drive across town.  We carefully timed our journey from northeast to southwest to fall after rush hour traffic and yet well-before our noon deadline to turn in the hired car, and therefore coincide with the new hotel check-in time.

Kyle dropped off “the Babes” and we settled into our rooms while he did the round trip to the airport and returned the car.  When he got back, we all boarded the bus to the airport tube station, and rode the Piccadilly line from zone 6 all the way to zone 1 and Leicester Square. We had a banking errand and then a post office stop, and then we were free to do as we pleased. Unfortunately, we missed the start of the walking tour the girls had scoped out. So, we were all disappointed about that. And, we verified that the merchant we were seeking at Covent Garden was indeed not there on a Monday. Two strikes.

That’s when we decided we needed to find a pub.  And Kyle had spotted one he really wanted to check out—a huge and beautiful place owned by a Dublin Brewery—The Porterhouse. We had snacks, including our last real Fish and Chips meal, and some good beer.  And, as we defined our hopes for the day, we realized that our best plan was to split the group in half and pursue our own goals—and turn this final day into more of what we all wanted it to be.  Roxy and Mandi went off in search of souvenirs and Persian food.  MaritaBeth and Kyle headed back to enjoy the antique market and the pub culture of Central London. One of those pubs we visited was The Harp, a favorite from previous trips, with the distinction of having great swaths of wall space covered in the beautiful tap labels that are common all over the U.K. I cannot go in there without taking pictures.

At six o’clock, we all converged again at The White Swan where we were meeting a friend from days gone by at renfaire. Faith had moved to London for her man nearly seven years ago and we rarely get to see her when she comes to the states because her family is in the Houston area. She had been watching our travels via Facebook and reached out to us to try to get together so we could catch up a little and meet the husband.  They live in Kent and work in London, so they each caught the tube and came to a place we knew.  We are so grateful for them taking the time to do that and so glad we got this fun evening with them. We talked everything from sports to Iris and Rose, and took turns buying rounds. They send their love to friends in Texas, especially The Blazing Sun gang. And we all look forward to our next visit, where I suspect we’ll take them up on their offer of a place to stay and tickets to an Arsenal game!

We did have to finally part company with an eye on an early morning flight. We said our goodbyes, and headed for the station, but soon realized we were hungry. So, we went into one more pub, and had a marvelous little fish sampler platter and a pint and still made it all the way back to the hotel before midnight.

Finished the packing … planned the travel day wardrobe … and … zzzzzzz…

~MB

 

 

 

 

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3
Jan

Back in London

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Ordering Beer

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Eighteen.

We left our little four-room inn in Wetherby by noon, and drove south toward London.  We’d conferred during breakfast and booked rooms in an unknown little hotel, sight unseen–always a bit dicey, but especially so in a giant city. So, we were hoping to arrive before dark, but heavy holiday-weekend-ending-traffic prevented that. The worst part of the drive was of course, after we hit London—some crazy zig zagging happened! But we finally made it to The Bridge Hotel. As it turns out, we’re in a nice part of town, and the rooms are adequate and clean, and the staff here is very nice.

After we settled in a little bit, we headed to the nearest tube station–Elephant and Castle, and took the Bakerloo line in to Picadilly Station. There, we switched to the Picadilly line and got off at Covent Garden. We’ve gotten to where we’re almost good at the whole underground thing. And, it’s fun!

At the beginning of the trip, we had tried to get to the market stalls there, and had arrived just as everything was closing.  Kyle has a very specific purchase he wishes to make from a vendor/craftsperson we’ve bought from before, so we had a mission. Today was our second chance.  But, between the rain and the traffic today, and earlier closing time on Sundays (that isn’t a part of the information we could find online), we missed her again, today. Sometimes, it seems the plans one makes are just not meant to be.  Mondays at the market are completely different–the venue becomes an antique market one day a week–and while I’d be thrilled to check it out, our crafter we want to see will almost surely not be there.

We popped into Punch and Judy’s for a snack and yet another beer we hadn’t had before, and then went in search of a little Tapas restaurant Mandi had located online.  It was a unique and mostly delicious meal of meats and cheeses and breads. We found two more sweet little pubs before finally entering the Leicester Square Station and heading back to the Bridge Hotel.

As of right now, we can get everything into the suitcases we brought. (But, I confess, we shipped a box of stuff from Edinburgh.) I simply don’t seem to be able to not bring at least one too many sweaters and probably more than I really need of just about everything else. That means any new aquisitions need to find a way home.  The last trip, we actually bought an extra suitcase! But, this time, we’re on British Airways and the extra baggage charge is crazy, so shipping seemed the better answer.

Someday, I’ll pack lighter and allow for the extra stuff that we accumulate … I obviously need more practice!  Time to plan the next U.K. holiday!

~MB

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18
Dec

From British Museum to Giant Mistletoe

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Friday, 18 December 2015 Kyle and the Babes Kyle and the Babes 2015.

Day Two They’re here! Way back in 1997, Kyle and I and two dear girlfriends made the trip to the U.K. for the Yule holiday.  Kyle’s parents were living in England at the time, and Ginger and Lisa were up for an adventure, so away we went!  Among other things, we experienced sunrise in a stone circle on Yule, enjoyed a marvelous Christmas visit with the folks, were honored with seats at the head table at a castle feast, visited one of our favorite castle ruins, froze our butts off at the White Horse of Uffington and even managed to take in a show in the West End. The Kyle and the Babes Trip was a huge success and Ginger and Lisa were forever accepted into the Clan MacRalph.

This trip is not an attempt to recreate that amazing time.  It is an exciting, all new adventure with two different dear girlfriends, Roxy and Mandalyn.  But, the label “Kyle and the Babes” deserved reviving!

Knowing the girls were arriving today, Kyle and I planned a meeting time and place with them, and filled the first part of our day with the journey into the city, time in a couple of lovely little pubs (the Princess Louise is one of the most beautiful pubs I’ve ever been in), and a visit to the British Museum.  Why we’d never before visited this amazing museum remains a mystery and the place deserves much more of our attention on a future visit.  But, today was all about a specific exhibit I was determined to see entitled, “Celts: Art and Identity.”  The exhibit set out to expose its patrons to the depth and variety of what we have come to understand as “celtic” and “celtic art.”  It presents hundreds of objects from all over the European continent–knives, brooches, torcs, helmets and shields, chariot fittings, flagons, sculptures, bowls, books and more. The star of the show, at least for me, is what is known as The Gundestrup Cauldron–an ornate, silver, ceremonial cauldron dating from c. 150 B.C.E. The entire exhibit is beautifully presented, and except for the bizarrely high temperature within the exhibit hall, it was a wonderful experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

By the time we finished there, and popped into the pub on the corner (it would have been rude not to!), it was time to head to the Covent Garden area to meet Roxy and Mandi.  We found them, exactly as planned, at the busy but charming Nag’s Head Pub, where we had a pint to fortify us for shopping.  The next planned stop was my Bravissimo store!  Roxy joined me, and Mandi opted to accompany Kyle to the next pub to wait for us.  Bravissimo is known for catering to the well-endowed woman, so Roxy and I are their perfect type of customer.  We set up fittings, shopped for a few moments, then were each given a dressing room and a fitting expert.  One beautiful bra after another was brought to me, based on the preferences I’d established–I’m sure Roxy would say the same thing–and finally both Roxy and I left with lighter wallets, but much improved wardrobes!

By this time, it was well past time for food, and the nearest restaurant won the lottery.  Sophie’s Steakhouse was the place, and although the breaded haddock was better than the steak, it was an excellent dinner in a very classy and popular spot.  The one bummer of the day: by the time we finished our meal and got back to Covent Garden, the marketplace was closed!  So, perhaps we’ll do that shopping on the tail end of this trip if there’s time.  But, for tonight (after taking some fun photos like the one above) we finished our night in town with a pint at the Punch and Judy, and then made our way back to the Covent Garden underground station, where I don’t advise taking the stairs down to the rails! Kyle and I did that while the girls rode the lift down–we walked down the equivalent of fifteen flights of stairs! The tube ride was interesting as we were on a train which was pulled from service only partway home … so that was fun. But, a short wait and we were on our way again.  We topped off the evening with a nightcap in the hotel lounge just before last call, and now, it’s time for some more sleep so we can have more fun tomorrow.

~MB

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17
Dec

Good Times in London

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Kyle at The Globe pub - Day One

Kyle and the Babes 2015.  Day One.

Day One is done! In what seems like the longest day ever (but was actually two days), we left Texas, came to the United Kingdom and spent a wonderful evening walking around the Marylebone area of London.

The time change and a long layover can really mess with your sense of time.  It seriously feels like we just left home this morning and it’s been a really long day, but the calendar is doing its best to dissuade me of that idea. On Wednesday morning we boarded an airplane at DFW, and took the short hop to Houston International where we had a multiple-hour layover in one of the most boring airports I’ve ever experienced.  Seriously, we had only one restaurant to choose from (a mediocre burger joint) and only two bars.  I believe there was a Starbucks for the non-alcohol-drinking set, and I specifically noticed a Hershey “store” that seemed to have bags of Reece’s Piecs as it’s only offering. The most elegant beer available to us anywhere was Goose Island IPA. We had to hunt pretty hard for electrical outlets and Flight Notification boards.  The facility felt new and modern, and there were signs indicating other things are coming, but right now it sure needs a lot of work.

We flew British Airways from Houston to London–an eight-hour exercise in discomfort.  I know, I know!  We’re spoiled by our years of flight benefits with American Airlines and our good fortune to fly first class so often.  After this trip I understand better why people who can, spend the big bucks to do that.  But, all the leg cramping and neck stiffening in the world cannot squelch our excitement about this trip!

We landed at Heathrow right around noon, and had a very simple customs and baggage claim experience.  From there, we caught a bus to our hotel nearby, settled in a little bit, and took the crucial nap that cures the jet lag.  About two hours later, even before the alarm we’d set went off, we were awake with enthusiasm and prepared for our London date night.  We caught a free city bus the short distance back to the airport where we bought Oyster passes for the Underground and boarded the tube on the Picadilly Line. And, I’m pretty sure it was the party-bound train, judging by the number of Santa hats and ugly sweaters that boarded it!  About forty-five minutes, one line change, and two stops later, we were walking up Baker Street toward our destination.  We had hoped for some pub grub for dinner, but it being Christmas Party week, every pub we encountered was full to overflowing, many with private parties. So, we opted for a healthy meal at a Pret a Manger instead.  The weather is beautiful — cool but not cold; a little bit misty — and there are of course, holiday lights everywhere. We even happened on a game store and gave it a pretty good looking over!  Our wonderful walk led us at last to the spot where we had a reservation at half past eight o’clock.  We were a tad early, so we grabbed a pint in the pub just across the street until it was time for us to take our booked table at Purl London.  This amazing little cocktail bar is a place we’d been wanting to visit since our last trip, I think!  On their wonderful menu it says: “The aim of the bar was to bring classic cocktails back to the forefront of London’s drinking scene, whilst adding new flare and creativity to forgotten libations from the prohibition era.”  Does that sound like our kind of place, or what?! Kyle had tried to contact them about reservations to no avail, and just the day before we left home, Terrill (who has also been there and loved it) heard us talking about it, got online, and made the booking on the spot for us! We are grateful for his magic, for we watched other folks with no prior booking be turned away. It’s a hot little spot!

We drank drink with names like Mr. Hyde, Il Ferroviario, Loggerhead N2, and Rock ‘N’ Cream (which, incidentally, was a concoction involving a white tequila infused with clay, Suze & Amaro Averna and their in-house-made tonic water, and was served with my own small vial of juniper scented handcream!) Another drink we saw served came with a ginger-filled balloon which was popped by flame at the time of serving to add flair.  Each and every beautiful cocktail came with a story– a theatrical presentation, if you will–and everything we tasted was unique and delightful.

Two on the Tube

 

One more pub stop on the way back to the Baker Street station, a ride on a much more empty train that it had been earlier in the festive evening, and a short bus ride and we were once again at our hotel.  As I sit here writing my first Daily Krumb post in way too long, I am practically vibrating with excitement about the coming days, despite the extreme lack of sleep.  It’s gonna be epic!

~MB

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26
Dec

Pretty Blue Lights

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

26 December 2008
We decadently slept in this morning as we had nothing specific planned for the day. After we did emerge from slumber, we took a stroll down to the Pheasant – a local pub that I’d been in on a previous trip – where we had wonderful jacket potatoes (mine with salmon & cream cheese, Marita Beth’s with avocado and prawns) and I had a Greenman IPA which I heartily endorse as a fine CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) beer. On our way out the door, we checked with the publican who confirmed that to get to Piccadilly/Trafalgar/Leicester we needed to take the local bus to the tube station and hop the tube to Charing Cross station. Off we set to do just that. I should point out here, that the city in which we live has NO public transportation system, and neither MB nor I are walkers. We’re not in bad shape, we just don’t walk nearly enough. The Pheasant is an 8 minute walk from the Radisson and the bus stop is an 8 minute walk from the Pheasant. We will most certainly get our walking in on this trip.
We got to Hatton Cross, purchased our travel cards and loaded up. 40 minutes later, we emerged at Piccadilly Circus – which for lack of a better description seems to be London’s equivalent of Times Square. We walked and walked and walked. Up and down Regent Street, St. James’ Street, Pall Mall and more.
Sparkly Blue Lights
This photo was taken on Regent Street. I love it. It shows the delightful Christmas decorations still in full bloom here, and it plainly shows the childlike wonder on my wife’s face. Ask her sometime about “pretty blue lights” and you’ll discover another reason that this photo appeals to me.
Eventually I got hungry enough that I said, “we’re crossing here, I need to eat.” We crossed the heavy traffic on Regency and entered a walking area called Carnaby. I stood agog. I’d been in one pub so far on the trip (I don’t count the Polo Lounge in the hotel) and here I was facing another pub, The Clachan, that I’d been in on a different trip. What are the odds? My goal suddenly shifted: I needed to find a pub in which I had not already had a pint. We did enter the Clachan where I had two beers that I’d never previously had (Pudding Top & Cheswick) while MB had some mulled wine (did I mention it’s 30 degrees here?). We also ordered some Fish & Chips that had been battered in Fuller’s London Pride ale and were damned fine. After eating, we grudgingly began the trek back to a tube station to head to the hotel, but not before finding a pub I’d never been in. We did, eventually, find a delightful pub just off Charing Cross north of the Strand. The pub, The Welsh Harp (or just The Harp), was small, cozy and filled with locals – just what the Kyle needed. However, we did realize at this time that it was post 2100 and the tube does not run all night, especially on Boxing Day. We threw back our ales (another one I’d never had called Blacksheep) and near trotted to the Charing Cross station. After a brief heartache as we saw the iron gate barriers lowered, we found our way in, presented our Travel Cards and boarded the tube bound for Hatton Cross. Easy Peasy. Now, I’m sitting in the Polo Lounge with my wife watching Cricket on the telly, uploading the many photos I took to Flickr, savoring a Guinness and munching on a Ham and Mustard sandwich. Happy Boxing Day to me!
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 27 December 2008 )

Watching:
Cricket (Australia vs South Africa)

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26
Dec

Woman on a Red Couch

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

25 December 2008
Merry Christmas, if Christmas is your thing. My Christmas present to my wife and to myself this year is this trip we are on. And, the first official post of the trip from me is not of a pub nor a pub sign. Not of a beer or a beer logo. Not of a building or some architectural detail. No, there will be plenty of all the above in the days to come. My first photo of this journey is a photo of my wife on a Red Velvet couch in the dimly lit Polo Lounge.
Woman on a Red Velvet Couch
The Polo Lounge is the bar of the Radisson Edwardian Hotel (one of two in London – this one is near the airport). Our first trip to the lounge was pleasant and was a wonderful welcome to London for us. The next trip was decidedly less enjoyable as apparently there is no age limit in here. We were absolutely overrun by families and their extraordinarily unruly – and very loud – children. We tried, we really did, but still a little jet-lagged, we were mostly interested in winding down before heading to bed. Instead we were simply wound up by the poor manners of the many children and the complete lack of caring by the inattentive parents.
Marita Beth is drinking a Magners Cider while I am having a Guinness. When the pubs open tomorrow, the drink menu will be different.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 26 December 2008 )

Watching:
Setanta Sports game recap in the Polo Lounge of the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in London

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.5 sec (1/2)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 320
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

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29
Oct

Early Morning at Heathrow, London

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

21 October 2007
The day I’d been looking forward to and dreading simultaneously was here. Terrill, an excellent, travel companion, rang me up to make sure I was awake at about 0445. I’m hoping he went back to sleep. I was so tired, I can’t actually recall how I got to LHR, but I think it was by taxiservice. I checked in with the ticket agent, and asked her to make sure I was on the upgrade list, dropped my single bag of luggage and stumbled on. Got into the quick-moving, but very long security queue. Interestingly, I didn’t have to mostly undress; I didn’t even have to take off my shoes. After getting through that line, it was time for the (oh my gosh!) long walk to the gate. Finally, I arrived there, stopping once along the way to divest myself of the remaining coins in my pocket by purchasing a cup of Americano Coffee. Now, for the secondary queue. Finally, I got to the gate agent who verified my passport and ticket matched. She motioned me through into the waiting area, but before I left, I asked her what my upgrade options looked like. Apparently, the ticket agent had not entered me on the upgrade list, but this kind agent did so for me now. I wasn’t in the waiting area for more than 2 minutes, before my name was called and I was issued a new seat assignment. Seat 1J was now mine, and I was suddenly very thankful and very tired. Minutes later we boarded and I took my seat in a newly-configured, beautiful 777. What a wonderful bird she was. Outside, the day was dawing pink & pretty, but I wasn’t long for the world. I had two pictures left in the life of my battery, I took them and sat back to relax.
Early Morning at Heathrow
I’m not sure we were in the air three minutes ere I was asleep. With about two hours to arrival in ORD, I woke. The wonderful flight attendant brought me a delicious (radish-topped) lunch and I watched a movie. A decent end to a trip, if only it were the end. One of the worst things about flying for work is the class of ticket available. Yes, I do get lucky sometimes and get first class, bt more often than not, there are no employee class tickets available so, I have to fly standby. That happened in ORD. I rolled across three flights, but Chicago being what it is, it’s a little easier. I bought a beer and walked to my gate. When my gate changed, I moved to another gate and, if need be, bought another beer along the way. Finally, I did board and was landing in DFW before 1700 on Sunday evening. A long day, but made better when I went and picked up my pups. The only downside was that MB wouldn’t be home until the next day. Ah, yes, the joy of the working class couple and their travel schedules.
Cheers.

~KR (21 October 2007)

Listening to:
Calling Dr. Love by Kiss
on Alive II(Disc One)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 8.6 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

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29
Oct

Dieu et mon Droit

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

18 October 2007
Goodness. Is it possible for Indian food to hurt more the day after? Unequivocally I can tell you, yes! Oh, my. Never again, I say.
This was a much longer day at the office. We finally had a little bit of speed to the network. Our constant complaining had finally gotten some food into the hamsters that drive the wheels that run the network. They were running a little faster today, thank goodness. We trained some more people, and this time we were actually able to transmit data successfully and look at the results on the website. Hooray!
We worked later into the evening and never really managed a lunch break either, due to the sheer amount of work left in comparison to the amount we hadn’t been able to get done. We finally met with the trainer and trained him for an hour and a half. Not long enough, but it’ll have to do for now. We also trained a batch of other folk that seemed eager to be trained – how refreshing. Finally, closing in on 7:30 p.m., we departed. We drove only slightly out of the way and had dinner at a quaint place called The King’s Arms. Nice enough, but unremarkable, really.
Dieu Et Mon Droit
Off to the hotel for an early night. I was knackered and still in a bit of distress from that Indian food. Never again. Really.

~KR (18 October 2007)

Listening to:
Snow Falls in November by Julie Doiron
on Okkervil River

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.1 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

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