Category Archives: United Kingdom

London Food Guide

Monmouth Coffee Company

Apparently the best coffee in Borough Market. There’s a long queue to get your coffee and seats are limited.

If you can’t wait, there are many other small coffee kiosks around the market.


One of them is Flat Cap Borough.

I find Monmouth okay but loads of people like it judging from their queue. I find their latte a bit milky. Perhaps I should have ordered a piccolo or a machiato.

They have an interesting long table concept with bread and other condiments freely available for patrons.

Monmouth Coffee Company
2 Park Street
London SE1 9AB

Shoryu Ramen
Long, long queue to get in. Tables are small and it’s quite difficult to sit a large crowd. Notwithstanding that, their ramen and hirata bun (char siu with bun) are awesome. Met Sow here for dinner.

Shoryu Ramen
9 Regent St,
London SW1Y 4LR,

Nearest tube station: Picaddily Circus

Burger and Lobster

Only 3 things in the menu, burger, lobster or roe! We ordered burger and roe. Roe, in a form of a sandwich, is exceptionally good. Burger was tender and juicy but I should have ordered the lobster ūüôĀ

There’s also a long queue to get in. We were there at 530pm and there was no queue. But the waiter and waitresses gave us dirty looks for sitting there too long.

Burger and Lobster
36 Dean street,
Soho
London W1D 4PS

The Elgin

My favourite cafe so far in London. Strategically located – just few doors from my apartment. Friendly service and great coffee (they serve piccolo here!). There’s no queue nor it is crowded.

Food is great. Pancakes and mushrooms on toasts are highly recommended.

The Elgin
225 Elgin Avenue
London W9 N1J
Nearest tube station: Maida Vale

Hampstead, London 2013

My wife used to work in Hampstead when she was a student. I must say that it looks very different from other parts of London. It looks more posh than the rest.


Walked into a book shop with a small section for kids and Asians.

We took a stroll from the Hampstead Heath tube to the Hampstead High Street. Our main destination is the La Cr√™perie de Hampstead, a small stall well known for its crepes. It’s located outside a pub.

La Crêperie de Hampstead seems to be in a dispute with the operators of the pub. The former posted messages saying that they will be evicted and had asked for support by signing a petition. My wife and I put our names on it.

However, at the back of the stall, the pub operators also posted a very small notice explaining the situation. They explain that they are not evicting La Crêperie de Hampstead but were asking the Creperie to move their equipment out. More details here.

Notwithstanding the fight, I must say that our Belgian chocolate and banana crepe was really nice. It was worth the wait. The only complain that I have is that one of the cooks rudely asked us not to take pictures of her.

Blackpool, England 2013

We made a day trip to Blackpool on our second day in Liverpool. It’s about 2 hours away by train. I’ve always read about Blackpool in Beano and Dandy comics when I was a kid. It’s well known for its amusement parks.

Our train stopped by a small town by the name Ormskirk.

It reminded me of the small towns of the game Transport Tycoon. I used to spent hours playing this game when I was a kid. The game is almost 20 years old and to my surprise, there are some enthusiasts who kept the game alive by putting it on the Internet, in particular on the website OpenTTD. I picked up the game again last December when business was slow. Like many of the 90s games, it will soon be relaunched on Android.

My wife and her sister wanted to go to Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park but I hate theme parks (in particular, the wait). Hence, I embarked on a journey – to find good coffee at Blackpool. TripAdvisor recommended barista coffee located at Birley Street. With a name like that, coffee should be good.


“Build me a castle Daddy!”


A disabled friendly beach


Lady in a wheel chair with a toy doll. Eh?

I walked along the Promenade Beach under the hot sun. I had sunburn on my shoulder due to that.

The place is also disable friendly. I saw one man in a wheelchair on the beach. My wife said a man carried his wife into a roller coaster ride.

There were plenty of birds too. I had to be careful of the mid air bombardment by these birds. A hit on the face with bird poo would be a great calamity.

Fortunately, the view was great. It was great seeing Blackpool on foot. It’s a lively place with all sorts of amusement parks. Hotels were everywhere. One can assume that Blackpool lives on tourist dollars.

After an hour under the hot sun, I arrived at barista cafe. It’s a small cafe but with plenty of seats. The barista was pleasant and I ordered my double shot machiato.

Being able to find the place was a great satisfaction. It felt like I’ve gone through a long and hard pilgrimage.

As soon as my lips landed on the cup, I felt a hot sensation on my tongue. The barista burnt the milk. It was too hot to drink! It was disappointing! 

I took a taxi back to Blackpool Pleasure Beach meet my wife and her family. I walked so far that it costs me 6 quid to get back. We ate the obligatory meal of Blackpool namely fish and chips. It was not bad.

Overall, Blackpool was a nice experience but I doubt I will go back there again.

Liverpool Food Guide

Moose Cafe @ Dale Road

Recommend by TripAdvisor, apparently one of the best cafes around Liverpool city.

We ordered the New York Moose and New Hampshire Moose – both are eggs benedict on toasted bagel but with either salmon or parma ham topped with hollandaise sauce. Both are equally good!

Coffee however is so-so. Latte was a little bit milky for me. Macchiato was okay.

Address:
6, Dale Street
Website: http://moosecoffee.co.uk/

Bold Street Cafe @ Bold Street

Recommended by my sister in law, this place serves good food and coffee. Toasted seeded boomer with creamy mushroom is to die for!

Address:
89 Bold Street
Website: https://www.facebook.com/boldstcoffee

Duke Street Espresso Bar @ Duke Street

A little small cafe manned by one barista but with great coffee. They use the same beans as Bold cafe.

Address:
27 Duke St
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Duke-Street-Espresso-Bar/367018186643341

Jamie’s Italian

On our last night at Liverpool, we had dinner at Jamie’s Italian – one of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s many restaurants. The man had built an empire of restaurants using his celebrity status.

Jamie’s Italian was packed most of the time hence we had to make reservations a day before.

True to his business acumen, there were loads of Jamie Oliver cookbooks on sale in the restaurant. However, food is pricey and just so-so. It’s overrated.

Website: http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/liverpool

Williamson Tunnels, Liverpool

I first found out about Williamson Tunnel when I saw a short film about it on BBC News. I followed their Facebook page and I became very intrigued about it.

According to Wikipedia:-

The Williamson Tunnels consist of a labyrinth of tunnels in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool, England, which were built under the direction of the eccentric businessman Joseph Williamson between the early 19th century and 1840. They remained derelict, filled with rubble and refuse, until archaeological investigations were carried out in 1995. Since then excavations have been carried out and part of the labyrinth of tunnels has been opened to the public as a heritage centre.

While waiting for my sister in law’s graduation ceremony to end, my wife, CY and I visited the tunnels. We walked there and found that the place is located in the middle of some residential buildings.

There is a small exhibition hall at the entrance to the tunnel.

There are loads of artifacts dating to the 1800s such as China, bottles, jars and even an abandoned toy car were found. They are put on display. Some of these jars have engraved labels describing the products such as cream and marmite and trade marks of old traders such as W.P.Hartley (jam makers – still in existence today!), Patey & Co (purveyors of perfumes & cold Creams) and JW Lloyd Dentist.

The reason why Mr Williamson built the tunnel is unknown. But it is said that he wanted to give jobs to local men especially men who had just returned from the Napoleon War. The construction of the tunnels stopped upon the death of Mr. Williamson.

We took a tour of the tunnels. We had to wear helmets for our safety. The tunnels were damp and cold but nevertheless interesting. The excavation is currently done by volunteers in the weekends.


This connects to a cellar of a house above.


According to our tour guide, this pillar was a result of an attempt to build a foundation for a hostel located above ground. They did not know that there is a tunnel below hence they filled it up with cement.

We were told that the excavations are still on going as many parts of the tunnels remain undiscovered. If we come back in 4 to 5 more years, there will be more to explore! 

Unfortunately, the tour is rather short (about 40 minutes) but our tour guide was very informative. I was hoping that we get to see the deeper parts of the tunnel. Nevertheless, I got to see the tunnels after admiring it from the Internet!

Liverpool, England 2013

The last time I was in Liverpool was in 2001 with fellow members of the Sheffield University Clubbing Society (yes, there was a Clubbing Society!). We clubbed at the now Cream @ Nation. It was so long ago that I hardly remember how the club looked like but I do remember that we took a van to Liverpool and security at Nation was tight.

We came here for my sister-in-law’s graduation ceremony. The place doesn’t look familiar to me at all. Probably because the last time I came was 10 years ago and it was at night!

Unlike London, Liverpool wasn’t crowded. Taxi was cheap and I managed to find good coffee places!

We spent a lot of our time wandering around Liverpool city. Getting around is cheap and easy. One can call a private cab (eg Delta cabs) and they will quickly despatch one within 5 minutes. They will even text you the cab number and model!

We stayed at Travelodge, located opposite of Albert Dock. It’s quite strategic as everything was nearby. The room is however mediocre. I wandered around Albert Dock to take some sunset pictures.


A building called Streaky Bacon – cause it looks like bacon. Sounds legit.

I didn’t manage to see much of Liverpool. I spent most of the time wandering around the city’s shopping streets while waiting for my wife to finish her shopping. I even spent couple of hours in Oxfam but I found one late 1800 book going out for 10 pounds. I also visit Standford, a store that sells mainly maps and travel books. They have been in business for more than 160 years.

As for my sister in law’s graduation ceremony, it was lively outside the graduation hall. Proud parents were brimming with smiles and thousand of photographs were taken just on that moment. I still have my graduation photo taken with my dad on my table.

A few of us didn’t get to enter the convocation hall as we did not have passes. Instead of waiting for the others to finish the ceremony, we walked to Williamson Tunnels, a labyrinth dug by men hired by an eccentric philanthropist in the 1800s. I first found out about this place from BBC News. I’ll write more of this later.

Dalston, London

Kat brought us to Dalston (Daston Kingsland Station) for brunch at L’Atelier. It’s an interesting part of the city with a mixture of locals and immigrants. But some parts of the town stink of urine.

L’Atelier is recommended for their food. We tried toast with salmon and scrambled eggs, and salmon and avocado. I think the food is just okay but the industrial deco made the place look hip. I guess its a hipster hangout.

We went back to Dalton for brunch again on our own but we had it at Dalton Superstore. I find the food here okay. Nothing to shout about. Anyway, this place is few doors away from L’Atelier.

The interesting bit of Dalston to me is the Dalston House. It’s actually a large mirror with a mock facade of a Victorian house on the floor. You can stand, sit or lie on the floor and the reflection of the mirror made it look as if you’re hanging on the Victorian House! There is no admission fee but the queue to have your pictures taken is pretty long!

Unfortunately, Dalston House is just a short term exhibition. It was closed after 4 August 2013!

London, United Kingdom 2013

Since graduating from university in 2003, I’ve not paid a visit to the United Kingdom. But after leaving the place for almost 10 years, I went back to the United Kingdom to visit Liverpool and London.

I didn’t like London as much as I did the last time I came to London. I guess I didn’t like the long walks as I don’t walk a lot in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, I had blisters on my feet for few days!

In our first week, we stayed at Croydon,¬† a small town located at Zone 5. It’s so far away that it costs me 100 pounds of taxi fare just to get there from Heathrow Airport!¬†

Fortunately, we moved to a friend’s apartment at Maida Vale at Zone 2. She just moved out from her apartment and we had the whole apartment for ourselves! Her place is strategically located few minutes away from the tube. There’s also a great coffee place by the name Elgin. I went there so many times until the baristas recognise me.

Places
I visited places that I have been before and never been before. I find that every part of London is very different. One place could be extremely posh whereas the other looks like a dumpster. 

We visited a few markets such as Borough Market, Portobello Market, Convent Garden Market and Camden Market. I was hoping to find some antiques but I couldn’t find anything interesting.

St Christopher’s Place @ Oxford Street. This place has an interesting entrance. It’s unassuming but once you step through the narrow alley, you’ll find yourself in pedestrianised streets with boutiques and restaurants.

We also made a trip to British Museum again. I find that most of the stuff is still the same. But this time round, I got to see stuff I missed last time.

Lindow Man , a well preserved human body found in a peat-bog at Lindow Moss, near Manchester. He was killed sometime around 2BC – 119A. Poor chap looks like dried cuttlefish.


Contract for a sale of land craved on a rock – 1033BC!


Roman coins

We came at the time when Catherine Middleton gave birth to Prince George Alexander Louis. Since the Royal couple did not announce whether they are having a boy and a girl, most Royal baby commemorative items were unisex. I also didn’t see any commemorative items bearing the Prince’s name. However, the Daily Mail reported that cybersquatters registered nearly 200 domain names connected to the royal baby!

We were in Austria when the royal baby was born. The Buckingham Palace was filled with well wishers when the royal baby was born. When we came back, my wife and I visited the palace hoping to witness the celebration but it was already over. It was back to its tourisy self.

We also signed up for the London Haunted Tour to check out the haunted scenes of London. However, I find this walk more of an historical walk than a haunted tour. The so-called haunted stories were so old that they are not scary anymore. However, I enjoyed the walk to all the historical places and obscure places.


This is where the original London Bridge started


One of the oldest parts of London. Narrow streets and once infested with the plague. Was told that night soil was normally through from the top floor!


One of the many obscure old pubs hidden in the lanes of London city


Leadenhall Market, one of the oldest markets in London dating back to the 14th Century. This place was featured in the movie Harry Potter.


Mice fight over cheese on a ledge in Philpot Lane. One of the smallest sculptures in London.


We visited the site where the first coffee house stood.


Statue of George Peabody – touch his shoes for good luck, I think.

Before we left London for home, we managed to catch Wicked, a musical based on the classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Apollo Victoria Theater, where the play was shown, is huge hall but with a small foyer. Although it was hot and stuffy in the hall, I enjoyed the musical very much. We sat quite far from the stage. My wife rented a binocular for a pound.

Mobile Working

Since I practice some sort of mobile office system, I have a few words about this.

Mobile working is affordable in the UK. The place in we stayed in Maida Vale doesn’t have broadband. Also, it’s not easy to find free WiFi in London.

Hence, I got a Three Mobile Simcard for 1 pound topped it with 10 pounds worth of credit. I then use an iPhone to tether the Internet connection so that I can go online with my Samsung Ultrabook.

But Three Mobile’s connection is pretty crap. It’s slow and unreliable.

It’s amazing what one can do with a mobile office. When I was in Austria, I filed a trade mark application for a client online!

Law firms

As usual, I met some lawyers from a UK law firm that I work with. I’ve worked with some of them for many years whereas some just recently. It’s interesting to note that these lawyers are of many nationalities such as Spanish, Polish, Indian and American!

This firm also has a very strong data protection department. Due to their capabilities, they expanded their practice to Europe and recently in California. Surprising, one of them knows a Chinese lawyer that I met in Chiang Mai few years ago. What a small world! 

I saw one law firm in Liverpool with a retail outlet as their office. They offer very low fixed fee legal services and these services are generally for individuals. Such modal makes legal access cheaper to the public. Unfortunately, such modal is not acceptable in Malaysia.

Friends
We met up with Sow in London for dinner and drinks.


Sow in 2005

Sow was my barf bag holder for few years before leaving to UK for good.

Although its been 5 years since we hung out together, we had a great time catching up and drinking. We had dinner and a few pints at a pub called Hornimen @ Hays, London Bridge. After than Sow brought us one of those obscure hipster cocktail bars. You wont find a fancy entrance but a small door with a small sign. The one we went to had an oriental theme at the 4th floor of a restaurant. Their drinks were divided into types of alcohol eg champagne, vermont, vodka and whisky.

After drinks, we followed Sow to Chinatown for supper. Never felt so fat in my life before.

I also met up with Liz, one of my Multilaw friends whom I met in Chiangmai, Thailand. We had lunch in Tower Hill. She even brought me to the law firm where she works. The reception looks pretty modern and their open plan office is behind the reception. The firm recently had a merger and a few lawyers got laid off. It’s not the first time I hear lawyers being laid off and it is common in the UK and the US. However, I’ve not heard of lawyers being laid off in Kuala Lumpur!

Closing

After 2 weeks, we finally left the United Kingdom for home. I came to the realization that metropolitan life is not for me. I still like my semi hermit lifestyle and driving around whenever I want to. I guess I don’t like spending British Pounds when I’m earning in Ringgit Malaysia.

Nevertheless, I’ll come back to London again – when Ringgit Malaysia foreign exchange rate improves!