British Holiday Chapter 14: Nice Lunch and a plane trip

Best Meal ever
It was our last day in town. It was a late plane, so we had the morning. I spent some time in the back garden at the flat. Nice light that day.
Back Garden
I used up the last of the waitrose food. Actually, I think that might be the fish pie.
Breakfast
Double checked the cheese before packing it up. I should have reviewed the cheese yesterday, even though we didn't eat it until we got home. Here's the review: Fantastic!
Cheese Boat Cheese
We took a walk looking for a nice pub for our last meal. Last meal in town I should say, but it felt like it was going to be the last meal ever.
Cute car.
We saw a cute car, which Shed has since identified and then I forgot what it was again. And then we made our way to the Swimmer at the Grafton Arms (we were sat at the table pictured in that timeout article). That's where I got that sunday roast that I led off with. I normally don't eat mammals but it was a special occasion.

It was rost lamb with potatoes, cabbage, yorkshire pudding, green beans and carrots. Gravy and mint sauce. I absolutely loved the mint sauce. It was just colmans mint sauce mixed with some malt vinegar, the waitress mixed it up just before servering and with the open kitchen I could see what she did, but it was the best and I want it all the time.

The place itself was pretty nice. Sparsely populated for Sunday lunch, but that's fine by me. The barman was a wanna be russell brand. Or maybe it was russell brand. Maybe r. brand was keeping it real by spending his sunday pulling pints Holloway. I dunno.

Terminal 5
And then depression set in. We got a mini cab to paddington, and took the heathrow connect train to terminal 5. I'm never doing that again, btw. The heathrow connect and the heathrow express are run by the same company, and the connect just exists to upsell you to the express. You have to get off and transfer at terminal 1. What a pain in the ass. Still we got to the terminal at least a half an hour before we were allowed to check in.

With the waiting and the flying, it was about 13, 14 hours before we got this view of Mt. Rainier.
Mt. Rainier
That's taken from the light rail terminal at SeaTac. Rakka and I hate the Kitsap Airporter so much we go through Seattle and come back on the ferry, unless the flight gets in very late at night. It's about the same amount of time anyway.

And so that's it. We're done with the last trip, finally. It's just a little over a month until the next one. After that, I'm going to have to start going other places. It's not that I'm tired of London, that'll never happen. But I've already decided 1,000 times that I will live there eventually, somehow. So I might as well see some other stuff.

British Holiday Chapter 13: Canals, Cheese, and Ottolenghi

Cheese Boat! (that's the guardian's hq in the background)
We were well rested after a lovely night in the Islington flat, so we headed out to buy some cheese. I learned a lot about London on the way.

We started off through the rather nice back streets in Islington.
A road in Islington
The Cheese Boat was going to be moored across from the new Guardian offices in York Way.

On the way we got coffee at the weirdest little cafe. The patrons were all old men, sitting in pairs like spies having clandestine meetings. Or maybe they were just couples. It was hard to say, even though we had what seemed like several years to study them all while we waited for our coffee, which we took with us because we were excited about the Cheese Boat.

We got there early... too early. No really. They were there, but they had not opened yet. We had a couple hours to kill and few backup plans. There was a canal museum near by, but we weren't planning on going so we didn't have any of the details.

It was on the A to Z though, so we were able to track it down. It was right there, across the water. I think we ended up walking a mile to cover 50 feet, but I wasn't in the mood for a swim. We were pretty lucky here, because we arrived only 10 minutes before opening. We really do start our days too early. All those let's-get-on-the-road-at-four-to-beat-the-traffic road trips growing up are hard to shake off.

Leff (that's me) listening to an old canal man speak out of an ice cream spoon
Anyway, I had only learned of the existence of London's canal system a few days before, when we went to Camden Town. And here I was, dragging Rakka to a museum about them. It was kinda cool though. Especially since we got there before everybody so we had it to ourselves.

Canal People live under the stairs
They had a bunch of boats outside, which we sat next to and ate some tesco sandwiches. (that's the guardian in the background again. see what i mean, it's right there)
Bantam IV
There was a little display thing to demonstrate how locks work. We sent Rakka's little deer through.
video 
A little nicer on vimeo

There was a nice little movie playing (which they don't have on their youtube unfortunately) full of old footage of real working canal boats. And this map. That's a lot of canal.
London's Waterways
The time was sufficiently killed, so it was back to the Cheese Boat!
Cheese Boat
The cheese boat is run by a nice old Welsh couple. A thing I've learned since is that there's a long association of Welsh people selling dairy in London. Milk-maids were primarily Welsh at least into the nineteenth century (London: The Biography - Ackroyd).

The Merry Milkmaid by  engraving by John Savage after Marcellus Laroon.
We got some Black Bomber, Pickle Power and Green Thunder. Which we brought all the way home to Seattle; I was nervous in customs, they didn't care.
Cheese samples at the cheese boat
Next it was back to kings cross for the tub up towards Ottolenghi in Belgravia.
Kings Cross from Goods Way
This was on of those tube trips where a little walk would have saved us a ton of time. We took a route that required a transfer, and the first leg went about 3 feet before we transfered (we could still see kings cross), but it took like a half hour.
Platforms 1 and 2 at Edgware Road
We got there eventually though. You probably know this, but Belgravia is fancy town. Which makes it pretty perfect for this fancy little foodery.
Ottolenghi
It's a tiny little building, so it's pretty easy to overwhelm it with foodstuffs. Which they do. The path from the kitchen to the display table shares 100% of it's floorboards with the customer area. It becomes claustrophobic really rather quickly. I felt that I was in the way from the moment I walked in.
Ottolenghi knows how to show it off
As a result, I didn't actually pick food. I just pointed at things that I could identify so that I could get out. So I ended up with chicken and broccoli.
Ottolenghi chicken and broccoli
Rakka did a little better. She got a savory pastry thing.
Ottolenghi savory pastry thing
The next stop was Rococo Chocolates across the street. As I remember, the weird thing there was that their computers were down so they couldn't sell things they had to weigh, which included everything. They almost refused to sell us chocolates. It seems that even in fancy ass Belgravia nothing ever quite runs at 100%. It's part of London's charm.

Anyway, we took our loot up to Hyde park, as you do. It was a beautiful day, but we still managed to find a bench. I love that.
A day in Hyde Park
And we got the tube to head back to Islington. We didn't know it was a game day. It was a game day. We didn't know that they close our tube stop on game day. They do close our tube stop on game days. It probably would have been better to get off at the stop before. As it was, we over shot our station, and wound up on the wrong side of the block, which was about a hundred miles long in every direction. I exaggerate but honestly we had to walk a mile farther in the wrong direction before we could cross over and get back to the flat. We were back to being exhausted again.

Next up, our last day and my best meal ever.

British Holiday Chapter 12: Welcome to Islington

A nice like flat in Islington
The day after Brighton we left the awful student flat and moved to another airbnb in Islington. It was much nicer. The place was nicer, the host was wonderful, and it was very near a waitrose.

It was also very near the arsenal stadium, but that didn't affect us until the next day.
How do people not make the "'Arsenal Football Club' contains 'arse'" joke more often?
Moving around from place to place has advantages. That nasty student flat only affected us for a couple days. But it also is exhausting. By this point in the trip we were getting pretty stinking tired. I think all we managed to do this day was a sit in the park back in Bloomsbury, the move, a walk down Holloway Road, and a trip to waitrose.

On our walk we stopped in a pub, I think it was The Bailey. It mostly for Arsenal fans, and as there wasn't a game on it was pretty empty. For some reason, London pubs were all about providing Thai food at the time (not sure if this is still the case). We got some. It was pure salty goodness. The Sharps Doom Bar cask ale was pretty good too.
Pub Thai
The best part, though, was the talk we had with the publican. He'd been stationed in washington state when he was in the military. Seemed a pretty nice guy. Seemed to know just how much chatting to do without being annoying. (this is a skill that I don't encounter very often in seattle. I miss it)

We stopped at waitrose on the way back. Got some more booze and some premade dinners. Of course, I picked fish pie, which I was then afraid to make because our host specifically asks all her guests to not stink the place up like fish.
St Peter's Organic Best Bitter
I asked about it and I got the whole story. One of her first airbnb visitors had pan fried some fish very 'hard' and the whole place stank for a week. My fish pie did not ruin our relationship. Which was nice. But stories like that reaffirm my commitment to not renting out a room on airbnb (also the cats would hate it).

And that was it. The whole day. Not very exciting, but we were still in London and that's what matters.

British Holiday Chapter 11: Brighton

Ice cream and flake and flake. Do the Ice cream and flake, do the Ice cream and flake.
I know, I know. These are getting farther and farther apart. It's dumb and I'm a slacker. I have to pick up the pace a bit though, or this trip will overlap with the next one, which is scheduled for mid october.

So this is Brighton. It's got a pebble beach, ice cream and cockles.
cockles
Cockles are fishy and gritty. I'm glad I got the small cup. Couldn't have really handled more.
deco
There are some nice old deco buildings. And of course the famous pleasure pier, which is apparently run by gangsters.
Brighton Pier
The Brighton Eye has since been copied exactly in Seattle. Of course, in Seattle they did it on a pier instead of solid ground. Other than that I think they're exactly the same.
I wonder why they didn't build this on some sticks in the water?
The nice thing about Brighton Pier is it's less commercial than I expected. I figured you'd be expected to pay to do stuff like stick your face through a hole, but no. Totally free.
Mermaid
That doesn't stop people from fucking with the signs. And why would you not want some Brighton Pie anyway?
Brighton Pie
It's a nice little place, really, is the Brighton waterfront. We were in the shoulder season I guess. Most of the stuff was closed.
Horatios Bar
In fact, they were doing some work. Of course, the construction guys mugged for the camera.
Working
Rakka and I laughed at the PP BM signs on the toilets. Because that's what you do in there. Groc didn't get it though. I suppose we just have different pet names for bodily functions over here.
P.P. B.M.
After the beach, we started heading up to the Royal Pavilion, which as you probably know, is George IVs crazy fancy beach house. This fountain isn't that.
Fountain
This is that.
Royal Pavilion 
This is also it. It's a tad over the top.
Royal Pavilion
You can't take pictures inside the Pavilion, so you have to just go yourself.

Now, this is important. You can't make a fancy beach house without a statue of yourself. Keep this in mind, and do it properly.
George IV
Then go down the pub. Actually, up the pub. This one is over by the lanes, where we didn't go shopping.
Pub
We had Pims to drink, and that's important too.
Pims Cup
It was a good day, but by the end I felt kinda like this guy.
Standing Kip
And on the train back to London, I finally got a good picture of two of battersea power station. We talked to some fancy people on their way to a gala about how sad the state of it is. Of course, now it's got funding and is going to be fixed up. I'm glad for that.
Battersea