The English Summer Part 2: the South
The £4 ($7.50!) London Underground ride to go two stops.
The temperature on the London Underground. You’d think that by fleecing us foreigners for £4 a ride they could afford air conditioning.
The £2.10 pub Coke.
The number of American tourists in London is dropping. I wonder why.
The number of my friends talking about the credit crunch.
The number of cranes filling the London skyline that suggests otherwise.
The highly impressive Pinot Blanc from Chapel Down of Kent.
The equally promising Pinot Noir from same.
The introduction (for me) to a new part of London: Warwick Avenue
The discovery (for me) of the Regents Canal footpath and the fun to be had walking and running it to Primrose Hill and beyond
The runners in Regents Park on a Saturday morning: reminds me of Central Park in New York
The outdoor gym in Regent’s Park: reminds me of Clovelly in Sydney
The view of north London from Primrose Hill: something I never experienced during 20 years of living in south London.
The sculpture on the grassy run up front: we all love art in the park
The chi-chi crowds brunching on Regent’s Park Road
The hoi-polloi crowds thronging Camden Lock Market
The vociferous hawkers on the foreign food stalls at the Camden Lock Market
The comparatively tranquil calm at all-organic Inspira Lounge
The Street Art covering the exterior walls of the Tate Modern
The Monets, Picassos, Lichtensteins and Warhols inside
The crowds that fill the Tate Modern
The public that takes full advantage of free art
The critics still can’t stand – or simply don’t get – Tracy Emin
Seth Lakeman’s Walking Tunes in the Observer Review.
The dry wit of your classic southern Brit, especially over a pint and an Indian meal
The persistent sales pitch of your classic Indian waiter. How many papadums?
The fact I couldn’t get through a single Cobra at an Indian restaurant (this after only a pint and a half of draft bitter in the pub beforehand)
The fact that one of my friends got through enough Cobras to lead us the wrong way back to Oxford Circus
The Indian meal that repeats on me through the night
The run along the Regent’s Canal in the morning that finally gets rid of it
The lunch with Chris C
The coffee with Jaffo
The £5.50 travel card – only a bargain once you’ve paid for the £4 single ride
The hop, skip and a jump from Central London to Warwick Avenue: certainly beats a tube to Brixton and THEN a bus home
The first ever trip back to London on which I don’t catch a bus?
The first ever trip back to London on which I don’t hail a cab?
The police tape at Waterloo Station and the police officers wearily guarding it
The Friday night is upon us
The Marston’s at the Wellington in Waterloo
The way that so many Brits drink gaseous foreign lager when they could have home-grown bitter such as the rest of the world envies
The good company of the iJamming! Pubbers
The brave but foolish attempt to take printable photographs at 11pm
The range and quality of flapjacks in the UK. You want a national dish? This is it.
The range and quality of chips. I mean crisps. Sorry. Actually, I think I mean both.
The conquest of yet another “new” part of London for me: Brondesbury Park
The car ride up to Wembley catching up with my sole cousin
The rather sad clearing out of our deceased aunt and uncle’s decrepit flat in Wembley
The rather happier acquisition of my uncle’s fabulous jazz LP collection: I hope he is happily turning in his grave at the thought that I might have liked this music after all. (PS: Alexander, I’m afraid still left behind the Andrews Sisters.)
The media’s vicarious obsession with black teenage gang culture
The shock of driving through Harlesden and Neasden and seeing how low these ‘hoods have truly fallen
The wonders of technology 1: my cousin takes a picture of a painting hanging on our uncle and aunt’s wall using his cell-phone, e-mails it to his dad in the Shetland Islands, and seconds later, using the same cell-phone, calls his father, who is instantly able to confirm whether or not this painting is something he desires.
The wonders of technology 2: in Queens Park, as we hang out over an espresso and a blackjack while his kids play tennis (how civilized London parks are these days), my cousin uses his same cell-phone to figure out where I live on the (New York) map. Somehow his phone finds our private road that yahoo and google maps can’t. (Alright, I admit it: my cousin has an iPhone and I WANT ONE TOO!)
The quiet of London’s back streets, even during the day
The noise on the South Bank’s Galleria on a summer Saturday night
The extraordinarily long and arduous process of trying to find two different friends at London Bridge and then collectively find the Bermondsey Kitchen
The food at the Bermondsey Kitchen makes it all worthwhile. The décor is light and welcoming, the hummus fantastic, the squash and sage risotto quite delicious, the bread delightful, the wine passable, the prices quite fair. Even the service is about as good as you can expect in London. (And yes, that is a back-handed compliment.) All this on Bermondsey Street. Next you know, I’ll be speaking positively of M***wall.
The dream start in the Premiership for Hull City
The dour start in the Championship for Crystal Palace
The opening Sunday of the Premier League season sees me going to watch (ahem, cough cough) Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
The ticket is free.
The 7-year old wearing full Chelsea kit on his way to the match, right down to socks and football boots.
The dad wearing regular street clothes: probably can’t afford anything else after kitting out his kid
The cockney accents in the Shed: you mean people still talk like this outside of television dramas?
The atmosphere in the Shed: nothing beats actually being at a football match, even if you can’t stand the team those around you are shouting for.
The thought of any sportsman – let alone Frank Lampard – being worth £175,000 a week
The number of Olympic athletes who scrimp and save and beg and borrow for the opportunity to pl(a)y their sport – and to break world records in the process. Footballers and their club agents, club owners and Rupert Murdoch alike should all be ashamed of their collective greed. (But of course, we keep shelling out for them.)
The utter inability of Portsmouth’s new singing (and England forward) Peter Crouch to play first touch football
The staggering chasm of quality between Chelsea and Portsmouth based on the opening day’s 4-0 drubbing
The Bolt of lightning in the 100 meters
The pluckiness (don’t you love that word?) of Team GB’s medal winners
The cynics who said that Beijing’s OTT opening ceremony (later revealed to have been full of lip-synching and computer generating) would raise the bar higher than London could possibly match in four years’ time
The optimists who can’t wait for the Olympics to be held again in a sports-mad European democracy. I promise you they will be a triumph – especially their long-term impact on the nation’s health in general, East London’s in particular
The statistic that the 7% of Brits who attend “independent” (i.e., non State) schools accounted for 58% of Britain’s Olympic medals in 2004
The statistic that there are only 100 Yngling crews in the whole world – and it somehow qualifies as an Olympic Sport. (One in which “Team GB” wins the gold. Those Jamaican sprinters just got a lot faster.)
The abundant hoppiness of Harvey’s Sussex Bitter. Now there’s a British pint!
The Maiden Bexhill micro-brew. Not up to par with Harvey’s but kudos to anyone who cares to craft their own beer for a (kind of) living
The cheerful Italian waiter at the tratorria we visit in Bexhill
The gulpable quality of Bardolino wine he recommends us
The Bexhill Rowing Club has its annual rowing regatta canceled by bad weather
This is the 6th of 15 south coast rowing regattas to be canceled due to bad weather this summer
The rowers at the Bexhill Rowing Club still celebrating Team GB’s rowing gold medal from 24 hours earlier
The handful of them who have decided to enter the first ever Indian Ocean Rowing Race next year: 3100 miles from Australia to Mauritius, rowing and sleeping in alternating 2-hour shifts for 40-50 days straight. And I thought I was hardcore to run the Escarpment Trail for four and a half hours in a thunderstorm.
The wind in Bexhill. Just as well the town means “windy hill” in some form of ancient Anglo-Saxon.
The determined sunbathers on the beach despite the wind.
The renovated art deco De La Warr Pavilion with excellent café, art shows and local wine: Bexhill’s diamond-in-the-rough. (Yes, I’ve written about the De La Warr before. Yes, it deserves repeated praise and publicity.)
The line-up at the De La Warr Pavilion for August Bank Holiday weekend: at this rate they’ll soon start calling the town Bexhip. (Bloody hell, they’ve just announced a show by Tricky!)
The multi-media art exhibition by Nathan Coley at the De La Warr: we especially liked his video-taped interviews with Bexhill real estate agents.
The Pavilion “security” guard who finally got round to telling me I couldn’t take pictures of Coley’s art when he knew perfectly well I’d photographed almost every last piece in the place
The lack of drinkable wine at Kelly’s Wine Bar in Bexhill: reminds me of South London wine bars circa 1982
The Threshers’ approach to British binge drinking: buy two bottles of wine, get a third one free
The late night DJ session with two of my best friends in Bexhill
The 3-minute cover of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by Skrewdriver before they (be)came (out as?) fascists. Who knew?
The beans on toast in the morning
The downpour at Bexhill Station: So heavy I have to change clothes on the Heathrow Shuttle
The staying power of teenage friendships
The Great British Summer – whatever the weather