Sunday, 5 December 2010

Our revels now are ended...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT WEEKEND in the Mother Country. Well, as much as I simply CANNOT BELIEVE I am typing this, it’s time to give you the recap of something that I thought would never come: our last weekend in the UK.


So Friday was a good one from start to finish. The highlight of the work day (other than all of the wholistic yet detailed clear-and-crisp laser-like 1 pagers I worked on, of course) was, without a doubt – THE FAREWELL VISIT TO NANDO’S, BABY!!!! And why, pray tell, was this a religious experience – all I can say is CHECK THE LOYALTY CARD – we got the free whole chicken!!!!!

So seriously – back story on this – there is a “Nando’s loyalty card” whereby after 9 visits you get a free whole chicken. And whilst this is a good deal, by the time you’ve made 9 visits to this place, you’ve basically put in enough cash to open your own franchise. I mean seriously, even when you get something “free” at the halfway point, you still have to spend 6 quid to get it to count. I mean who’s doing this accounting, Madoff?

All the same, the chicken was, well – RELIGIOUS, and it kicked off a weekend of eating that was epic even by Transition expense account standards. CHUUUUUUBBY BUUUUUUUNNY!!!!!

After work, Team Taylor made what was, in all likelihood, the farewell trip to the Cat. It was almost as if the pub knew it was the end of an era, as despite it being RAMMED, a table opened up almost as soon as we rolled in. When you add in the fact that they had Jack Frost on draft (which is RARE), it made for a wonderful sendoff. The evening was not done, however, as Team Taylor made the walk across the frozen tundra of Canary Wharf to catch the DLR and make another curtain call – this time at La Figa!!!!

Again, it was just perfect – great food, 40 pounds of ravioli, good wine, and our usual wait staff shaking their heads at us. The only thing that didn’t go to plan was Sammy trying to go Bear Grylls style and “walk on water” in the frozen fountain, as about 2 seconds after the photo you see below, I promptly slipped and CRASHED into the ice and the side of the fountain. Guess I’m not as holy as originally believed…

We came home that night and PASSED OUT, sleeping a solid 12 hours to try and catch up from a busy week and some Jordanian jetlag.

Saturday: The pub crawl that wasn’t…

So Team Taylor rallied and got out of the house around 12:30 on Saturday, giving us a whopping THREE HOURS of daylight to wander around. The first stop was Borough Market, where being the soul mates we are we both shared the same thought – GET A DOUBLE CHORIZO SANDWICH ASAP. And let me tell you, it was soooooooooo guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud (peppy cheekies). In truth, we were very well behaved in this final installment at the food market, only sucking down 100 grams of Stichelton cheese, 1 cheese cake brownie (the “curly whirly”), and a few random nibbles here and there. T-bone – I tried to secure 3 cranberry pastries, but they were already out – heartbreaking…

After Borough, we walked across London Bridge on a mission – find the Jerusalem Tavern. This spot, recommended by Brother Morgan, was one of the few remaining pubs on the list for us to try, as they serve exclusively St. Peter’s Ale, which is some good stuff.

Team Taylor wandered ALL OVER the Bank and Smithfield Market area, getting lost about 47 times. It wasn't all bad, however, as we FINALLY found Mansion House (home to the Lord Mayor of London), the Royal Exchange (the old stock market), and the official Bank of England. We even stopped by to say thanks to the cats that made it all possible. :-) FINALLY, however, we succeeded in locating Britton Street. 10 seconds later, I saw the sign for the pub, my heart skipping a beat for joy. Then and only then, however, did I notice the sign out front: PRIVATE PARTY. WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?! SERENITY NOW!!!!!!!!! And so, the front windows (single paned so that you could hear the laughter, merriment, and fellowship inside) were as close as we got to a proper pint of St. Peter’s Mild in the Jerusalem Tavern. However, not to be thwarted, we turned to head for Ye Olde Mitre, another pub high on the list and supposedly serving Dark Island.

Well, as fate would have it, Ely Place – the street where this pub resides – happens to be THE ONE STREET IN HOLBORN THAT’S NOT MARKED ON OUR MAP. Consequently, despite a good 30 minutes of wandering, we had NO LUCK in finding it. But spirits were still high, and we thought – “Let’s walk the mile plus back to the Ship near Bank – they’ll have Dark Island!” Two things:

They didn’t have Dark Island.

Determined to drink (and seriously dehydrated at this point), Team Taylor walked the 1.2 miles BACK to the OTHER Ship – this one near Holborn. There we found seats and SA Brains Festive Cheer Ales to warm us. Dinner that night was a delicious treat – Ping Pong Dim Sum! We basically ate Southeast Asia out of pork,as we just KEPT killing pot after pot. That stuff was GUUUUUUUUUUUUUD…It was then home for another 12 hour sleep, but not before I caught a little of the SEC championship – Waaaaaaaaar Eagle!

Sunday: I just want to hear some Irish music!

Team Taylor was out the door before noon this day, but only because we had a deadline – the noon cutoff for English Breakfast orders at the Prince Regent! However, since I’m sure the suspense is more than you can bear, I’ll go ahead and confirm that, not only did we make the cutoff, we DECIMATED those plates of food and even made way for a second cup of coffee.

We then made a final wander through Regent’s Park, taking a final stroll past the Open Air Theater and even the Rose Garden, where some of those tough buggers were still clinging to life, despite the deep freeze plaguing the city. It was then down to Embankment, where we wandered down by the river, including swinging over to the Southbank for a Christmas Market – full marks to Muffin Puffin for this find!!!

After doing a bit of shopping, team Taylor wandered along the river, taking some GREAT shots of the sunset (at 3:45, for the record) before heading to the last item on the check list – The Porterhouse.

So the only thing I had on my to-do list this day was “go to Porterhouse, have a Red, and listen to the Irish Seisiun.” We’ve been there on Sundays many times before, and I always LOVE to hear the Irish band that james just above the bar. This time we showed up right at 4 PM, ready to watch them JAM – only to find out that they were starting at 5 PM that day (due to the weather). CLASSIC. But hey – we had 3 guuuuuuud pints and had a blast, so no complaints!

Dinner that night was – where else – FAREWELL TO THE DOOT, BABY!!!!! And BOY did they give me a proper sendoff. I asked for Madras, but when it came out, Jenny said, “There’s a potato in yours.” Translation – POTATOES ARE ONLY USED FOR VINDALOO. Seriously – I was BREATHING FIRE – BRAVEHEART STYLE. I actually think the guy was using ghost chilis back there and that they were testing weaponized chili on me. Ugh…

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


Sam and Jenny

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