Archive for May, 2009

London iPod Playlist

So there are hundreds, thousands even, songs about London and places in London, but have you ever actually been to all or any of the spots mentioned?  Well, here is a short guide to get your groove on in those classic music references.  Lyrics that are bold are the places you should go…and extra points for visiting while listening to the songs.  I may even get fancy one day and highlight the songs just about the london underground…that could be epic.  Anyways, here you go to get you started on your musical tour:

Song:  Werewolves of London, by Warren Zevon

“I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand

Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain

He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook’s”

So everyone knows about Soho–go to Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square tube station and follow the crowd of people.  However, very few people know about the chinese restaurant in Chinatown mentioned in the song.  Le Ho Fook’s did exist and I still hear the rumor that there is a picture of Warren Zevon on the wall–please someone confirm this!  Lee Ho Fook’s is now called Golden Harvest and located on 15-16 Gerrard Street, Mayfair, London, W1D 6JE.

Song:  Waterloo Sunset, The Kinks

“Terry meets Julie

Waterloo Station”

Fairly obvious but Waterloo Station, Waterloo Underground and to watch the sunset go to Waterloo Bridge.  It is paradise!

Song:  London Still,  The Waifs

“I took the tube over to  Camden

Take the Northern Line to Camden Town then wander about through the markets.  Also, see our post, Camden Insider.

Song:  Cemeteries of London, Coldplay

*There is no specific place referred to in this song but London does have its fair share of really cool cemeteries.  Our picks:  Highgate Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, Postman’s Park, Hyde Park Dog’s Cemetery and Bunhill Fields Cemetery.  For more cemeteries click here or here.

Song:  Chelsea Walk, Ocean Colour Scene

“I went down to Chelsea Walk…”

The Chelsea Walk is 1.6 miles starting in the King’s Road and along the river.  For a map of the walk, go here.

Song:  For Tomorrow, Blur

“then Susan comes into the room, she’s a naughty girl with a lovely smile, says, “Let’s take a drive to Primrose Hill, it’s windy there and the view is so nice.”

Take the Norther line to Chalk Farm, walk cross the bridge and follow Regent’s Park Road to the park, then climb the hill to get those great views of central London.  On nice days like today though, it will be very crowded.  It is also a great spot to people watch and laugh at the kids rolling down the massive hill with dogs running about.  Oh and the be sure to check out the Blur video because Primrose Hill is featured about half way in and the video starts on a routemaster and Trafalgar Square.

 

View from Primrose HIll

View from Primrose HIll

 

 

Song:  London, The Smiths

“Train

Heave on-to Euston”

Here is another underground/train themed song:  Euston Station is on the Northern, Victoria and Overground lines. Euston Square Station is on the Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan line.  I would highly discourage any of the later routes because they never seem to be working when you want them to be.

Song:  London Bridge, Fergie

“How come everything you come around

My london bridge wanna go down”

Yeah so not so much about London or the bridges but anyways I just had to point out the obvious when Fergie dances by Tower Bridge but sings about London Bridge.  See differences below:

 

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

 

London Bridge

London Bridge

Song:  London School of Economics, Acid House Kings

“Don’t forget that summer dress

You know, the one you work

When you returned from 

London School of Economics

Yep, this is just a pure shout out to C and I’s post grad uni in Holborn.  You can find the campus enclosed from Lincoln Inn Fields to the north, the Kingsway to the West, Fleet street to the  South and the Royal Courts of Justice to the East.  

 

LSE

LSE

 

 

Song:  Mayfair, Nick Drake

Mayfair strange in the morning light

Mayfair strange in the summer night

Mayfair strangest in the afternoon

Mayfair stretching far above

full of fame but lacking love

Could it be we see the Mayfair moon?”

Mayfair is the very posh and privileged bit of London enclosed by Hyde Park to the West, Piccadilly to the South, Oxford Street to the North and Soho to the East.  Wander through it sometime and you’ll find amazing flats, tucked away cafes, boutique hotels and shops and even a bentley car dealership.  Also, it is the most expensive property on the British Monopoly board.

Song:  Portobello Road

“Portobello Road, Portobello Road

Street where the riches of ages are stowed”

Everyone remembers this classic disney song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks with David Tomlinson as the ever magical and musical Professor Emelius Browne.  Classic market road in Notting Hill with the iconic colorful townhouses and find anything antiques.  Be sure to check out Hummingbird cupcakes and find the blue (now black ) door to Hugh Grant’s flat from the movie Notting Hill.

portobello road

Portobello Road Houses

BedknobsBroomsticks200h

Song:  Warwick Avenue, Duffy

“When I get to Warwick Avenue

Meet me by the entrance of the tube”

Warwick Avenue is in Maida Vale by Little Venice and the canals on the Bakerloo Line.  Great for a Sunday stroll.  For our post about Little Venice, read here.

 

Well, that’s a good start to your first installment of the London Ipod Playlist.  For the next round, I might add in iconic music locations and maybe a few more about the London underground.  

Even though this is just a taste of the many songs about London, did I miss any of your favourites that I should include next time?  Let me know.

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A Challenge to Ourselves

Following our last post about how much we’ve been slacking in the blog department, I pose a challenge to C and myself.  We will post one blog entry a day for the next two weeks–that’s right 14 new posts starting from tomorrow 31 May to 13 June.  In an ideal world/my fantasy world of having abundant amount of time I would like to post everyday, let’s be realistic shall we, that isn’t going to happen and I know I will be on holiday starting 10 June for 2 and 1/2 weeks so I doubt I will update much during that time too.  But Challenge On!  Hopefully this will make up for the lack of posts in May (I know the last actually one was on 3 May).  Bad sunshine…bad.  Post 1 of Challenge–see you tomorrow!

Best,

A & C

We’re still here!

So I think all this sunshine and great weather we have been having lately in London has made C and I a bit distracted from blogging about London and rather actually doing things outside in London again. Sorry about that but who can blame us–we were here last year for the crap summer we had so we know a good thing when it comes our way. We actually have quite a lot to post about and we promise we will get a few new posts up about all the crazy and amazing things we have been doing lately and that you should check out as well. Thanks for sticking with us and enjoy the sun! I know I’ll be at a park tomorrow… probably on my laptop typing!

Go go go: Little Venice festival

Tomorrow is the last day of the Canalway Cavalcade at the best part of Regent’s Canal – in North London in the section of it known as Little Venice because, you guessed it, it’s an adorable canal area with picturesque bridges, colorful canal boats, and grand flats lining the canal. Take the tube to Warwick Avenue and follow the signs – this festival is a yearly gathering of a large number of the host of eccentric canal boats (and canal boat owners…) that roam London’s waterways year round. Come see them decorated in their finery and enjoy this little-known yet tightly-knit subculture.

We went last year and it was amazing, a real treat: canal1

canal2

canal3

canal4

canal5

canal6

Even if you can’t make it tomorrow, Little Venice is always recommended as a place to visit – it’s one of those wonderful parts of London that feels like a magical other place entirely, when you emerge from the tube and have been transported to an entire other place than from whence you came. If it’s a sunny day and you’re looking to get outside of central London, have a stroll, and maybe a nice cup of tea overlooking some water, Little Venice is the place for you.

Camden Insider

We love the Camden markets and high street, and have been going there off and on for some time, but we met up with our Venezuelan friend yesterday who showed us two really great spots near the lock market that definitely deserve a blog entry.

Camden high street and its series of markets is an overwhelming and unforgettable experience, and you can go again and again and experience something new each time. The biggest thing you absolutely must be prepared for is crowds – lots and lots of people, but to be honest, if you let go and flow with it, the sheer volume of people and noise really adds to the experience. Though much more sanitised than it used to be two decades ago as it emerged as the centre of the punk scene in London, Camden has retained a grittyness and a weirdness and has refused to be shifted upmarket, like Spitalfields or Borough (not that I’m complaining about these two as they currently are!) May be a future post about navigating through it all, but in the meantime, go check out:

There are several main areas serving food in the Camden market area, and our new favorite food stall, located in the food stall area nearest the canal lock,  is Arepa, serving up the best Venezuelan food (and what yummy food it is!) in town, as verified by our personal friend and bonified Venezuelan native. An arepa is a type of cornmeal-based pita pocket tortilla bread thing that is TASTY. You order and they take a ball of the arepa dough, pat it into a circle about the size of your hand, and then grill it. Then, they slice a pocket into it and fill it with whatever combination you fancy – you chose from black beans, shredded beef, chicken avocado, grilled vegetables, grated cheese, and grilled plantains. There were four of us that went and between us we sampled combinations of all of the above and oh my lord it was all incredible – MAKE SURE you get the plantains though, whatever you do. Filling and fun, each arepa thing only sets you back 4 pounds. Warning: it will leave you craving that cornmeal base something awful! I’m going to have to go back asap…

So, there is lots of food to choose from in Camden, some of it good, and some of it well dodgy. Be a smart market visitor and avoid the gross food they sell in the permanent little booths that line the most crowded part of the market – whether it’s chewy pizza, scary Indian, or msg-ed Chinese – and find one of the two more temporary looking clusters of freshly made food, where in one of which you’ll find Arepa. To get there, go to Camden tube. Exit the station and turn right. Go straight down the high street weaving your way through the crowds until you get to the bridge over the canal and the lock market starts. Cross the street and turn left before the bridge (the big one, which cars can take) at the Starbucks. Go past the Starbucks to the footbridge over the canal ( you can’t miss it) – take that bridge and you’ll be overlooking the food area with the Arepa stall.

Then, for a perfect complement, check out what is officially our new favorite tea place in London (and damn, that is a hard place in our hearts to win!): Yumchaa. Yumchaa have been selling their amazing tea blends at various markets for awhile, and have recently opened up this place in Camden and it’s rumored on in Soho too? We’ll have to get back on that. At any rate, this tea place is perfection and I wish so much I was a student so I could go chill there during week days when Camden is much less crowded. It’s in the same place as the Arepa stall, just on the upper level. The best way to get there is again to cross the footbridge over the canal river and you’ll be on the second level. Go past the Lockhead pub (I think it’s called) and past the vintage store and then you can’t miss yumchaa. Beautifully decorated, there is an amazing and unique amount of special tea blends on offer, broadly sorted by black, green, red, and white teas. You get a full pot for 2 pounds! I had a blend called Courtesan, which was rooibos (red) tea flavored with raisins, spices and a bunch of other good stuff, while A had berry berry nice, a roobios flavored with you guessed it, a mix of berries, which we highly recommend, and our Venezuelan friend had a really cool rooibos blend called chili chili bang bang which had fruit, peppercorns, and chilis in it! The atmosphere is wonderful, the cakes are moist and tasty, and you get a great view overlooking busy Camden market below with its constant stream of people.

Enjoy – maybe we’ll see you there soon – cuz we’ll certainly be there a lot 🙂

Update: St Paul’s Cathedral

The bad news: I went to St. Paul’s last week and was severely disappointed to realise that the very top viewing gallery, the Golden Gallery, is currently under construction.

The good news: Apparently they are almost done and will have replaced the terrifying open grate staircase. New opening date is sometime in June. Will update when find out more. The whole cathedral and the first two viewing galleries are still open, but if you can hold off until after June to go, do so!


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