Recently in general Category

The last time I had a Sunday roast was awhile ago. The Sunday roast lunch is a British tradition and consists of a meal of meat with roast vegetables and gravy. I decided to try  a new local venue down the road in Eastcote, northwest London. Aren's Bar & Grill is the name of that venue, located at a pub with the name of "The Woodsman."


The pub is next to a lot of green land and in the subburbs of London.



The interior of the restaurant is more like a hotel or nice restaurant instead of the traditional pub decor. The seating and tables are black with silver walls, chandeliers, and an abundance of large mirrors.



The meal started with a glass of Prosecco.


Next up with the roasts. I had roast chicken, and the bloke had roast beef. This was accompanied with roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, califlower cheese, and Yorkshire pudding. The chicken also came with sausage wrapped in bacon and onion and sage stuffing. The meal tasted very nice.



For desserts, I had a sticky toffee pudding, which tasted delicious. The bloke had vanilla ice cream.


Arens Bar & Grill are located on Joel Street, Eastcote, HA5 2PR. They also serve afternoon tea on Saturdays and are open for lunch and dinner as well as a special Sunday lunch.

At some point in the mid-1990s, I went to the annual Coshocton County Fair in Coshocton, Ohio, USA and I took my SLR camera. (I did often carry a camera around with me when I went places, and I was studing new settings with the camera and wanted to experiment with the long exposure settings.) The Coshocton County Fair is one of the last county fairs in the state of Ohio for the season, and it's always held around the beginning of October each year. I would visit the neighbouring Muskingum County Fair and the Coshocton County Fair every year. I would enjoy visiting the exhibition halls and the animal barns, riding on the different rides, and eating as much of my favourite fair food as I could.


The fair is a place to see collections of items, artwork, photographs, and awards for best cakes/pies/jams/quilts and best fruit and vegetable. The neighbouring fair at Muskingum County is on earlier in the summer (normally in early August), and the end of the season brings about the more harvest-oriented awards that are in season at that time. Large pumpkins and squash are always on show at Coshocton's fair. However, the barns and halls with these items are often a bit dark inside and a bit less interesting (noting that the 1990s was before the ability to take unlimited photographs), so I don't have any photographs of those.


I wish I could read the signs and prices a little clearer.


Funnel cakes and elephant ears are amongst the highlights of fair food. Funnel cakes are a batter (similar to waffle batter), which is drizzled on top of a vat of grease that is deep frying. The drizzle is kept around a circular pattern to form a shape, which is then golden-brown and then removed and sprinkled with powdered sugar and served up on a paper plate. Elephant ears taste a bit like a doughnut; they are flat and large like an elephant ear shape (obviously, they also fit on a paper plate, so they are not too large). They are drenched in cinnamon-sugar. 



Other favourite fair foods include onion rings (made with slices of onion) and shaken lemonade. I was never really fond of cotton candy (candy floss), and I find candy and toffee apples to be too messy and mushy inside.


The food stands are located throughout the fair grounds, and other stands contain various fair games. I never played any of these as my parents always said they were rigged and are a waste of money.


Hot dogs and corn dogs and roasted corn on the cob are also fair food items. Corn dogs are hot dogs covered with a shell made of batter and ground up corn. They are eaten on a stick. 



Those are my memories of the fair, and I have not been to the Coshocton County Fair for over 15 years now. In fact, these photographs may have been my last visit. I would love to visit again, but when I do tend to visit, it has been for the holidays or in the late summer months. I would love to go back next autumn.

East London has been under development extensively for the past several years, but the past three have been especially significant. I have seen the changes coming more rapidly with recent visits to east London markets and areas becoming almost unrecognisable with the introduction of small cafes and specialist shops with trendy names and interiors. This leads me to a post on reflection of east London's street art scene (specifically around Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Hackney Road, Hoxton, and Bethnal Green).


Hackney Road contained a few street art walls. Some of these disappeared with the introduction of a hotel and flats four years ago. Until sometime in the last three months, we still had a popular bit on the corner near Hoxton station where there was an empty space for cars to park, some older buildings and walls, and a garage. The whole block of this area of Hackney Road was covered with beautiful pieces of street art that (at one point) changed quite often. 

I also met the organisers of the street art on these walls here, a nice chap who was really into street art and friendly with some of the artists. A friend outside London who I was introducing London's street art to and I had a long chat with him.

Now, these walls are gone. The wonderful pieces by Stik, Dreph, Zabou and countless others that were gracing these walls three months ago are now gone. London has lost another street art area. Hackney Road street art scene is virtually no more, save for a tiny blip by Ion Square and Clare Street. 

In their place, a single piece of grafitti remains. It is a rough illustration of a yellow submarine with the words "We all live in a broken cash machine" underneath, a take on the Beatles' song and lyrics in "Yellow Submarine".

Many walls have disappeared to gentrification with the casulatities of some of my favourite street art haunts gone: Blackall Street, Great Eastern Street, parts of Brick Lane, Star Yard, Old Street, and many more.

An Afternoon @ Amersham Heritage Day

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Earlier this month, I took a vintage steam train ride from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Amersham. Amersham is a small town in Buckinghamshire, and it is not far from the Chilterns. On the same day that I took the vintage steam train, the annual Amersham Heritage Day was also taking place. According to Amersham's town website, many events were on offer. This included a classic car show, funfair, displays of flowers/produce/jams/baked goods, music and dances, steam shows, tea, and craft and community stalls. I decided to pop over to the old town of Amersham in order to take a look.


Vintage buses were available from the Amersham train station to old Amersham. These were quite regular, and the trip took a little under ten minutes.


Upon arrival, I saw many classic vehicles lining the main street through the town, and I took so many photographs.






















Next to the market hall was an area filled with items being judged. There were a selection of fruits and vegetables of all sorts, jams/chutneys, pies, baked goods, and flowers.


One of the other attractions was a moving mechanical orchestra. This used paper printed music, similar to the mechanical pianos that were used in older times.


Amersham won the gold award for "Britain in Bloom" the past three years, and they have created gardens for this year. The flowers were beautiful, and my favourite was the "Amersham Fair" centrepiece. Amersham Fair and weekly markets were happening before 1200, and the fair was a traveling fair with merchants who came with unique goods from different parts of the country and abroad so that people could buy items that were not readily available to them. Entertainers came with the fair to gather crowds, and the poorer people could watch the free entertainment, which consisted of jugglers, stilt-walkers, magicians, musicians, and dancing bears. The fair was always held in the middle of September. (Along with the fair, the entertainment would have switched to rides such as ferris wheels, carousels, and helter skelters).






Amersham Heritage Day was a fun day and was quite busy. I wish that I could have stayed longer to enjoy my time. Have any of my readers been to Amersham Heritage Day?

A section of the Metropolitan Line was the first subway line to operate in the world in order to encourage people to live outside the city, and they used steam trains. The rail line was operated by Metropolitan Railways. To re-connect with the steam rail past, a few steam trains were put onto the Metropolitan Line between Harrow-on-the-Hill, Ruislip, and Amersham earlier this month on the Saturday and the Sunday. I had the chance to take a ride on one of the trains in the morning from Harrow-in-the-Hill to Amersham. On the Sunday, the Amersham Heritage Day event took place, and I will cover this in another post.


The steam locomotive (No. 9466) and two class 20 diesel locomotives were a part of the service, and the rail coaches dated from the 1950s. Older carriages from the 1930s were hoping to be put onto the line, but they were unable to do so this year.


The journey started at Harrow-on-the-Hill. This was the first journey of the day, calling at Amersham. Then, the train would take in different routes throughout the day before finishing at Ruislip.



As the train rolled along, I looked outside the window and at the passing stations that we went through, which were filled with people on other journeys and people hoping to see the steam trains. 



Sometimes the diesel engines were used. Other times, the steam engine was used. This made a lot of smoke. The air smelled like steam/coal as it went along. We were told that the stretch of rail on the way to Amersham was the highest point in the track on the London Underground network.


When the train arrived in the station, I took a few photographs. They had to do some maintenance work on the steam train; I believe that the steam/water needed to be taken away and the engine cooled down. I don't know a lot about how it works.






Afternoon tea was also offered at Amersham station with old wooden tables and Union Jack bunting. I wish that I had booked it in advance, but I was slightly worried that it would not amount to much. I thought that I could have booked it on arrival after seeing what it was like, but apparently, it was booked full although there were only a couple of tables occupied when I was hanging around and only a couple of tables were occupied when I returned later in the day in order to go home.


One of the volunteers on the train mentioned that they were going to try to do a new steam journey next year on the District and Circle lines around Kensington. I do hope that they do another journey next year as I did enjoy the day out, and I would like to ride in one of the older carriages.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to try Big Moe's Diner. It is located across the road from where I am working not far from Aldgate East station on Whitechapel Road. There are a few other American diner food restaurants in and around London, and most of these are chains. I have never tried Big Moe's (which also has a branch in Barking, Essex). Big Moe's claims to be an authentic American dining experience using good ingredients, large portions, and living by the American dining experience. 


The inside of the diner has the shell of a Cadillac car with seats inside it, black and white checkered floor, red seats, and plenty of 1950s nostalgia. There is also an ice cream bar at the front.



I had the chicken burger, which came with chips. I also ordered a side of the cajun-spiced onion rings. The chicken burger was tasty, but I didn't care much for the cajun spice put onto the onion rings, and they were a bit too dry. I've had better battered onion rings in London. The chips tasted like frozen store-bought ones, so I was not a fan. Overall, I did feel the food was a bit too greasy.


Ice cream, on the other hand, was very nice. I had a sundae with chocolate sauce and nuts, which I chose because it is a staple to have chocolate syrup and nuts with ice cream. (I had this a lot of the time when I was growing up in the states.) There were plenty of other toppings and flavours of ice cream on offer.


Moe's Diner is located 96 Whitechapel Street, London, E1 7RA. It is open from 11:00 in the morning to 11:00 in the evening every day. 

Note that I visited the restaurant on my own, and my thoughts are my own. This is not sponsored by the restaurant.

Last week, I took a late lunch and was looking for something a bit different. The weather was not very nice, so I did not want to wander too far. I ended up in Gunpowder, a small restaurant located just off Commercial Road (on White's Row) and not far from Spitalfields Market. Gunpowder is a restaurant that serves Indian food in small tapas-style portions, which is perfect for sharing and trying different dishes. Read below to see my review.


I visited on my own, so I decided to order a glass of white wine and two of the dishes. I was glad I did because the portions are quite small, and two was enough to make me feel satisfied. I ordered the aromatic rice in banana leaf and the organic baby chicken cooked in tandoori spices. A fragrant sauce was provided with the chicken, which went well with the meat and on the rice. The rice was also cooked perfectly with enough 'bite' to it and delicate flavours. I also loved the flavour of the chicken with the mix of the blackened skin. I could not fault the food at all.


Gunpowder restaurant is located at 11 White's Row, Spitalfields, E1 7NF, London. The restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday, 12:00 noon until 15:00 and then for dinner from 17:30 to 22:30. This makes it the perfect place to visit for a work lunch, after-work meet-up with friends or colleagues, or for a visit with friends after spending a Saturday at Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane hunting for bargains. 

Note that I visited the restaurant on my own, and my thoughts are my own. This is not sponsored by the restaurant.

Exhibition: Star Wars Identities

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I received tickets to visit "Star Wars Identities", which is an exhibition behind held at the O2 in Greenwich, London. The exhibition has been set up for awhile but finishes next weekend, so I decided to make use of my tickets. Those who know me in real life know that one of my favourite films is the original first "Star Wars" film. Last year, I went to "Star Wars" Celebration, which was held in London. A couple of years ago, I went to the special Secret Cinema screening of "The Empire Strikes Back" and the Cantina.


This exhibition was a showcase of some of the props used in the original and three prequel "Star Wars" films. In addition to showing the different props, the overlying journey was the "identity" aspect, following the characters Luke Skywalker and Annakin Skywalker and identifying key moments. During the understanding, each visitor was encouraged to create their own identity in the "Star Wars" universe by answering from ten questions throughout the exhibit.


The first question was to pick the species that you wanted to be. I selected human. The second question was gender, skin colour, and force identity for me.


While I went around the exhibit, I could read about the different costumes and props and see the artwork created to help design the films, settings, and characters. In some places, I could listen to video about specific characters and how they were designed or brought to life and the brainstorming behind them.



Luke Skywalker was originally considered to be a female character. This is a fact that I already knew before.




One of my favourite exhibits was the spaceships. They had virtually every ship from the original trilogy here: Star Destroyer, X-wing, B-wing, A-wing, Slave I, TIE fighter, TIE Interceptor, snowspeeder, Lambda-class shuttle, and more.





Additional questions provided included which character quote that you identify the most with, a small personality test, your parents' discipline style, which planet and job on that planet your parents had, which activity means the most to you, the job you identify most with, and a 'chance' question to answer. My chance question was that I won a planet in a game and asked if I'd like to become the successful and just ruler, hire someone else to do the job, or just take all the money/resources. I chose the first one. Out of the "jobs" they had (Jedi, fighter pilot, senator, musician, merchant, senator, bounty hunter), I choose Senator. The final question asked if you wanted to join the Emperor (Dark Side). I am on the side of the Rebel Alliance, so I said "no", of course.  


My result in full is located here:

A Tour of Broadway 55

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At the weekend, I took a tour of 55 Broadway above St. James's Park tube station. 55 Broadway is a Grade I listed building, which means that the building must be taken care of and is of historical significance. It was constructed from 1927 to 1929 on the design by Charles Holden and was the headquarters of London's transport company. It was the tallest office block in London for awhile and built with a steel frame to mimic what had been developed in America. The building was meant to be vacated in 2015 and then converted into flats, but its future is not yet decided.



The building is made from Portland Stone, and there are four reliefs, painted in situ on each side of the building; they are known as "the four winds". On each side of the building are another two sculptures, Day and Night. They caused controversy when the building was constructed and not everyone enjoyed the artwork.


Commuters could walk through the ground floor of the building in the past, and there is a chart to check the running of the trains for each line and in each direction in the lobby area. This does not work now, but in the past, people could tell if trains were running well or not. 


The lobby was actually added later, but many of the original "art deco" features are retained, giving it a 1920s feel.






We went up to the 3rd, 10th, and other upper floors. To mimic the US office post system, a series of pipes were fitted throughout the building where letters could be dropped. These would end up in the mail room at the bottom.


The 10th floor is where the luxury happens. In those days, people were segregated based on social standing and class (as well as gender). The officer's area had dark wood panels, and large offices. In the upper floors, chimneys were needed because the heating system would not have been able to generate as much heat for the upper floors. There were also different eating areas for different classes of employee. 



The CEO's (Lord Ashford) meeting room was the largest and had 180 degree views.


We went up to the upper floor stop-point (and then continued to the very top of the building to admire the view).













The day was perfect with perfect visibility to admire London's skyline.


On the way back down, we took the steps. We took note of the green tiling and the pale green (they look white from a distance) tiles, which were picked as they were very reflective. Also, we saw some old transport signs on our descent. 


Have you been to 55 Broadway? I do recommend it as a history of London transport and to see what an old office block is like. Also, the views are well worth the visit.

Dinner @ Bread Street Kitchen

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In today's post, I will review my visit to Bread Street Kitchen. Actually, I must confess that I visited at the beginning of September last year. I was so busy that I completely forgot about my photographs and only realised that I have not written about my experience. Bread Street Kitchen is a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and is located at One New Change, next to St. Paul's Cathedral. 


I only had a limited time in order to get dinner before walking across to the south bank in order to see the Fire Garden memorialising 350 years since London's great fire. I ordered the poussin (young chicken) and vegetables.






I tried a couple of different cocktails, and both were nice but a little strong.


The bloke had strawberry and elderflower trifle.


I had the chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream, but I remember preferring the trifle.


One New Change is the new building complex across the street from St. Paul's Cathedral.



During our visit last year, a couple of girls sat down two tables away, and they were recognised by other guests. They were Olympic gold medalists. They even had their gold medals there to get photographs with.


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