Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eats and more around London

Part of my "resolutions" for 2013 were to get out to try new eats and places around London. Besides wanting to try them, I had this fear of people coming to visit and my only suggestion being Pizza Express (which is still delicious!).

So, over the last few weeks, we have tried to get out and about on the town to eat.

The places we've tried include:

1. Taqueria (Notting Hill) - as I mentioned before, we're on a quest to find the best Mexican food in London. I fell in love with the Choriqueso tacos here. Plus they serve black beans with the crumbly white cheese on top, mmmmmm.

2. The Booking Office (Kings Cross/St Pancras) - this is a bar, but I'm sure they serve food, that's located in St. Pancras Station. The best part about this is the atmosphere - high, arched, brick ceilings and the old wood work give it a great ambiance. Added bonus - it's right above the Eurorail entrance, so perfect to grab a quick drink before popping over to Paris!

3. The Windsor Castle (Notting Hill) - not the REAL castle, you must preface this with pub when putting it into Google maps. This is an old pub in Notting Hill, dating back to around the 1860's. Beware - if you go on a weekend for dinner, be prepared to wait and you'll need to be the shark waiting by the bar for someone to hop up. The wait was worth it though. It feels like a true British pub, tiny doors and all (see below picture borrowed online), and the food is pretty good to boot.

4. Byron's (All over) -  this burger place does happen to be a chain, but no wonder its popular. The burgers were delicious, as were the courgette fries (or zucchini fries for us Americans). Apparently the milkshakes are delicious as well, but self control prevailed on this trip!

5. The Pelican (Notting Hill) - this is another local pub that I walk by often with the dog or on the way to Portabello road. We finally popped in last week and it was pretty good. I had the baked stinson cheese (some kind of British blue cheese) and shepherd's pie which was good as well.  Plus, we all know I love British pubs where I can get cider on tap.

Anyone have any London must-try restaurants?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 Resolutions

I hate to call them resolutions. They are more of goals, or things that would be nice, but no need to really hold myself to it.

I don't have any pretenses that I will complete all of these, therefore it can't be a resolution right?

In 2013, I'm working on a few different things, some self-improvement, some experiences, some just fun.

1. Health - I want to improve my eating and workout habits. First stop is a competition through my work where we try to lower our body age (for example, my body age is older than my actual age). I'll track my eating and cardio through a site and the competition ends in April. I'm hoping to keep up my good habits for a long time following that though!

2. Getting around London - we have been a bit of homebodies since moving to London, which has been nice to settle in, relax, feel at home here. But now I'm read and rearing to go try out new restaurants and places. One a week is doable, right? We're starting in our hood and then expanding out.

3. Getting out of London - last year our goal was to travel to 10 new places, which we just eeked by with 11 new places. This year I'm hoping for the same. Our first trip on the books is for March, but perhaps we'll get a surprise trip in between now and then.

I'll take suggestions on 2 & 3 (1 too for that matter)!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Years in London

Last year, we celebrated New Years in Gallipoli with my sister, seeing the memorials from the ANZAC battles and the ruins of Troy. This year we found ourselves at our new home in London.

What a difference a year can make.

On New Years day, I had one item on my agenda - visit the London New Year's Day Parade. I'm not sure what attracted me so much to the parade, but I was determined. Despite a late start to the day, we bundled up and caught the tube to Westminster in hopes of getting a good spot to view the festivities.

Good morning Benny boy
We joined the parade a bit late, since it was a 3 hour affair. The parade was full of bands, cheerleaders, floats of sorts and people dressed in costumes which didn't really relate to London or the New Years, but the kids got a kick out of it.

American Cheerleaders in London - they came from Cali
and Austin, TX (SFA)

Paul's favorite costumes of the day
My favorite floats of the day - balloons!
I can't decide if the flying eagle or
telephone booth were better.

The best part of it all though was having the streets shut down around Parliament and Big Ben. We got to wander the streets around the historic area and catch some great shots.

We're looking forward to a great year in 2013 full of many new adventures!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Arsenal v. Newcastle United

Despite all the football craziness, I never made it to a football match in Istanbul. In fact, I am about 99.99% sure I have never made it to a professional football match in my life (do they even have footyball in Texas)?

We were supposed to go to the Arsenal match on Paul's birthday as a celebration. Then comes the tube strike and the game is postponed. I chalked it down as a loss and figured I probably would never get to go t a match while I was here.

Then, as Paul was browsing ESPN or some other such sport night, we realised there was a game on a weekend, this past weekend in fact.  Arsenal versus Newcastle United - we were going to be there

The stadium is very easy to get to - it's almost in the city center, just take the Picadilly line up to Zone 2. From there, we just followed the crowds to the stadium. I feel so bad for people who live on that walk up. Even though we got there 5 minutes before the start, there were still hundreds of people making their way to the stadium, not the best for entering/exiting your place of residence!

One of the many pop-up stores on the road to the stadium. The
scarves are very Harry Potter-esque to me
The fact that this was my first professional match tells you a bit about my level of soccer knowledge - basic. I couldn't tell you the exact rules for off-sides, or hand ball, so I spent a lot of the first half of the game asking Paul questions like "what was that flag for?" or "can you empty the net like in hockey?". The fact that it was a slow first half probably didn't help. It was in a tie - at 1 to 1.

The stadium - too bad they couldn't bring a little bit of the Middle East
heat from the UAE to the stadium. While it is roofed, it isn't closed,
and therefore not heated. Brrrrr
The second half though is where it got interesting. There were back and forth goals to tie up the game at 3-3. Then with about 20 minutes left, Arsenal exploded. They scored 3 goals within 5 minutes and ended up winning the game 7 to 3. It was an experience like nothing else. Throughout the whole game, people were chanting along to songs, cheering them on. Perhaps a bit like college (american) football, but more organised. For next time, I'll have to learn a few chants so I can sing along!