Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cracker Tsunami Part 2: Pounding the pavement of London and crossing off TONS of new sites...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. Not a whole lot to report on the work front, but may I present to everyone: NEW HAIRCUT JENNY!!!!! That's right, thanks to a 21 pound "groupon," Muffin Puffin saved 50 quid on her cut (only her third cut in 18 months - look at my perfect pumpkin saving us money!). How hot is my baby pie?

So two points of info for everyone:

1. I went to the doctor today, and he basically pressed so hard into my armpits that I thought he was trying to reach my molars. The good news is that I'm fine and nothing to worry about. That was money VERY well spent (even if it was only 3 minutes of time with the guy).

2. En route to the doctor, I had a CELEBRITY SIGHTING!!!! That's right, whilst walking down the street, I ran into...wait for it...wait for it.....WEE-Man!!!!!!!!!!!! Now this is the part where my parents (and Jenny's for that matter) ask themselves "Who the @#$# is Wee-man?" Fret not - it's not your kind of television (meaning you're NEVER gonna see this cat on Dancing with the Stars).

Wee man is one of the stunt guys in the Jackass series, and he's done some HILARIOUS stuff in his time. And I am happy to confirm that his grin was the same one you see in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE AND MOVIE. Good times in the Smoke...

Okay, so when I last left you, we were taking an interlude between the Cracker Tsunami tour of London. And before we roll into the second half, it occurs to me that some of you might be wondering WHY ON EARTH I keep saying Cracker Tsunami. Well, back in 2003 when Tait and I were traveling around Oz and New Zealand together, we spent some time thinking about where all the Granville 6 would be when they turned 35 (basically 10 years from the time of writing - Tait and I both expected to be single, for the record) - jobs, families, location, etc. Tait and I had both figured we'd never survive corporate America (insert GC and Hairless saying "Um, AMEN to that" here), and so we discussed starting a travel company where you called in, gave us where you wanted to go, what you wanted to do, and exactly how much you had to spend. We then would go and craft your itinerary, no matter HOW REDONKULOUS it might be (i.e. - you'll need to sneak into Brazil since you can't afford the visa - jump in at Iguazu falls and swim the 200 yards to the other side, but don't forget the peanut butter you bought in Uruguay and carried through Argentina to save $2!!!). The name of this company was to be "Cracker Tsunami," with a view of sending lots of crazy jokers who had NEVER traveled to ALL corners of the globe on shoestring budgets with only mine and Tait's advice on how to proceed. I mean, let's face it - it would have done wonders for US public relations.

And so, with that backstory in mind, I present to you Part 2 of the Cracker Tsunami tour of London...

Saturday: There's nowhere left to walk - why don't we just go to Scotland?

So we popped up at 8 AM this morning (a RECORD for Team Taylor on a day when we weren't traveling) and were out the door by 8:15. All 3 of us then proceeded to take a run through Regent's Park, and it was AWESOME. The weather was perfect, the leaves were gorgeous, and it was a perfect start to the weekend. Tait and I logged about 5.5 (although he could have done about 8 in that time - thanks for not killing me, T-bone), and Muffin logged about 3.75.

We then got cleaned up, at which point Tait and I went to Leicester Square to pick up theater tickets whilst Puffin went back to Regent's Park to get some photos. Fall is UBER short here, so you gotta take photos when you can!

Muffin met us at Charing Cross, but before she arrived Tait and I saw something that we simply HAD to investigate. In front of us, looking like a rocket laid horizontal, was a vehicle (if you can really call it that) with a sign above it that read: "The world's fastest car - 1000 mph." NO JOKE! Apparently the British Engineering Society is about to test this puppy out for the first tim in South Africa next month. Um, would YOU want to be the first cat inside that thing? Heeellloooooo Johnny Knoxville! I think I see an opening for Jackass Part 4.

After joining up with muffin, we rolled over to London Bridge for an adventure 2 months overdue and DEFINITELY well deserved after the mornings exertions - BOROUGH MARKET, BABY!!! Oh man, this was, simply put - STUFF OF LEGENDS.

So I began with my standard Bratwurst (now up to 4 quid, for the record), followed almost immediatly by helping Muffin Puffin with her Raclette (which was SO GUUUUUUUUUUUUUD - peppy cheekies). We then considered the ubriaco (drunk wine), but I remembered KJ picking up some DELISH parmesan cheese across the way at another stall, and so we rolled in that direction. Getting here this early (before 12) was GREAT, as there were NO LINES! Who knew? :-)

As I picked up some cheese, T-bone started off with a custard pot, followed by a meat pie (steak and kidney). No sooner had he jumped into this puppy, however, before we'd ALSO purchased our Double Chorizo Sandwiches (NO LINE, BABY!!!!! - Previous wait times had been up to 37 minutes!). And whilst it was a daunting challenge to consume that kind of food, it didn't slow us down at ALL.

We then wandered into the cheese hall, where we picked up 200 grams more of cheese (now walking around with 3 different cheeses in our pockets) - oh, and did I mention the cheesecake brownie? Yeah, we killed one of those, too - but that wasn't dessert...

We then walked over to the "Flour Power Bakery," where Tait bought a peach tart (which was guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud). But we hadn't taken 10 steps when Tait said, "I think I need another one of those." Consequently, we went back and EACH GOT a cranberry tart, which we devoured. Tait THEN proceeded to buy a croissant, stuff it with Crozier bleu cheese, and CONSUME IT. I mean, can someone say hollow leg? Needless to say, this is how we all felt when we left there, ONE HOUR OF SOLID EATING LATER.

Before departing th area, however, we realized that we had NEVER before wandered inside of Southwark Cathedral. This church, dating back to 1206 and being among the oldest in England, was BEAUTIFUL inside. And best of all, a choir from Bergen was there, and they offered a performance Chamber style, doing a capella Scandinavian Halloween songs. It was EXTRA AWESOME, and the music was just SPECTACULAR. We would have stayed longer, but we had a schedule to keep, and so we began the march to the Tube for the next activity in the day: WICKED!!!!!

That's right, folks, for the 3rd time on English soil, Team Taylor went to see this AMAZING musical. Honestly, we had GREAT seats, and this performance was THE BEST of the 3 that I've seen. Glinda was simply AMAZING, and Elphaba was, as always DEFYING GRAVITY (Mitchiner - that was for you, and it was SO TRUE yet again). Seriously, I got chills and almost teared up twice, as it was just MIND-BLOWINGLY good. This show absolutely takes its place as one of the finest crafted Musicals EVER.

After the show, still so full that I was convinced I wouldn't have to eat for another month, we made the 1 hour walk to the Porterhouse, where we proceeded to fill ourselves up a bit more on - what else - Porterhouse Red, baby!!!! It was definitely a fresh cask, and it was so guuuuuuuuuuuuud....we even hit the Kiwi store across the street beforehand, where T-bone picked up about 40 pounds woth of Kiwi candy (Wild Wallaby - you would have been so proud).

After that, I realized that, for a change, we might actually have a shot at FINALLY getting into "The Cheese." Consequently, we rolled down to Fleet Street, and sure enough - IT WAS OPEN!!! We managed to find a seat in the cellar (KJ - same spot we sat with Sarah and Steve when you guys were over), and we then tucked in to some Taddy Porter.

It was HILARIOUS down there, as there were these two HAMMERED Scottish dudes who were clearly speaking English, but not in a discernible way that I could translate. And when you add in their ATROCIOUS singing and the fact that they spilled beer TWICE onto the heads of the folks sitting beside them, you have a recipe for a brawl However, rather than get angry, the folks at the table actually INVITED THEM TO SIT WITH THEM AND STARTED SINGING AS WELL. I mean, it was just beautiful. You could feel the love...and the inebbriation.

After that we made the walk back down Fleet Street, determined to get in one final bar - The Southerner. This is (or should I say was) a Kiwi Bar, but it is now SHUUUUUUUT DOWN. And so, once again, you can no longer get Speight's outside NZD. Oh well, so it goes. That just meant we needed food instead! I know, I know...

We hit Manoram, Too (the OTHER Thai joint to where we were last week with the girls), where we proceeded to KILL some food. After that, it was a nice walk home and then PASSING OUT around 11 or so, proud of the effort (and already determined NOT to run AND to sleep in a bit on Sunday).

Sunday: Are you SURE the Economist HQ is around here?

So we slept in until 9:15 this day and made some time for coffee before commencing with the day's festivities. Tait had a list of items to cross off, which I could already tell translated to some SERIOUS walking. However, I am happy to report that Team Taylor ended the day with ADDITIONAL new places crossed off the "must see" list - some of which we'd never even heard of!

So first off was Camden market, a spot we hadn't visited in over a year! We walked through Regent's Park, admiring the leaves and enjoying the continued great weather. There were some sprinkles, but on the whole everything was holding nicely. We took a new route to the markets, strolling this time along the canal. It made for a great entry through the locks, at which point we spent about an hour observing EVERY POSSIBLE PIERCING AND TATTOO KNOWN TO MAN. And in case anyone's curious, we bought another forty billion pounds of candy (39.9 of that belonging to Tait).

The markets were bustling but not insane, and it was a GREAT day to see them. They've finally repaired all of the fire damage from earlier in the decade, and a lot of very cool shops have opened up. And whilst we didn't do a lot of spending, the people watching was WAY better than expected.

From there we hopped the Northern Line and rolled all the way to London Bridge to cross off the first of T-bone's final "to-do's." Tait had wanted to walk across the Millennium Bridge, and so we took the walk from London Bridge to the Tate Modern (we didn't stop in to see Wee Wu Wu, for the record) before crossing the "wibbly wobbly walkway." It was actually a really good day for it, as the lighting was nice around St. Paul's, making for some good photos along the bridge (as well as up close).
After that, I was BLOODY STARVING, and so we did what Team Taylor does best - found a pub for some proper British food! Tait said that he wanted fish and chips, and so after trying 3 pubs (NONE OF WHICH WERE OPEN - I mean, COME ON!!!!), we finally settled on a new one for us - The George. This spot, right across from the Royal Courts of Justice, turned out to be a gem, as they had PROPER Heineken and some GREAT hand pulled ales (could I be sliding back into real ales with the weather turning and the sun going down at 4:35 in the evening? Stay tuned...).

Well, Tait and I got fish and chips, whilst Muffin Puffin got a leek, mushroom, and stilton pie. At first I was convinced that I was FINALLY gonna pull off the upset and give Jenny "food envy," but OOOOOOOH NO - once again it was not to be. Our fish and chips, while okay, was pretty soggy and rather tiny (and NO - that is NOT what she said), whereas Jenny's pie was HUGE and OFF THE CHAIN TASTY. Consequently, Sammy did the only thing he knew to do - ORDER ANOTHER ENTREE. That's right, after all that damn walking, I was determined to eat EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED. And so, after cleaning up the fish and chips, I tucked into my own pie, and it was SOOOOOOOOO GUUUUUUUUUUUUD. Dinger - playin' weight - that's all I'm sayin'...

Next up was another T-bone request: Thames House. This place, the HQ of Mi-5 (their FBI) was apparently located at Millibank and Horseferry Road. When Tait said that, Jenny and I looked at each other puzzled, because, well, THAT WAS OUR ADDRESS WHEN WE LIVED HERE IN 2006 AND 2007. And sure enough, OUR APARTMENT SHARED A BLOCK WITH THE FBI!!!! How do we not know these things? Amazing. But Wild Wallaby and Pool Shark - you'll be happy to know that Tait not only found the location - he also found a locked door and tried to force his way in. I mean, it wasn't exactly Watergate bad, but we looked like some bumbling burglars.

A more serious issue outside of Thames House was the ATROCIOUS pink BMW that we saw on our walk. I mean, I'm sure this was a custom paint job, but unless you are a) Prince, b) RuPaul, c) the CEO of Pepto Bismol, or d) the ACTUAL Pink Panther, there is just no reason to drive this AWFUL vehicle around.

The other concern? Tait and I both needed to pee, but the toilet we'd wanted to use was closed. There was another one for 50p (that's right - 75 cents - Chuck, does this ring any bells? Hellllooooo Tijuana...), but I flat refused to pay it. However, running out of options, Tait and I did what any civilized gentlemen would do - find an alley and pee in the corner. Granted, it happend to be our old building, but hey - a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. The more embarassing thing was the FREE PUBLIC TOILET we found literally 30 seconds later...details.

After that, we wandered back toward home, swinging by Buckingham (lit up at night - a first for us) and then through Green Park before taking a detour to see the final item on Tait's list - the tailor shops of Savile Row. And whilst we found Savile Row (which was actually REALLY cool and EXACTLY what you would expect, by the way), we did NOT find the Economist Headquarters on New Bond Street. That's right, T-bone - I'm calling you a liar! This magazine does not exist! Juuuuuuuuuuuuuust kidding - it's now on the list for us to find this weekend. But hey, at least we found the Allies Memorial - that's worth something!

After that, it was a final pint at the Mason's arms (Deuchar's for me) and some American football at Wembley (Broncos vs. 49ers - what a JOKE) before heading back to the flat to exchange pics, give Tait time to pack, watch Alien (that's right - ALIEN), and relax a bit before calling it a night and saying farewell. Suffice it to say that Monday morning my legs felt like BRICKS, but I wouldn't have traded a second of it.

T-bone - it was an absolute BLAST, brother! It had been WAAAAAAAY too long, and I'm already counting the months until PK, baby!!!!

And there you have it, folks - the whirlwind trip from our last visitors before we shuffle off the British Isles.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

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