I tried counting the number of times I’ve been to London, but I can’t quite recall. I’ve rounded it to ten, for the sake of neatness.

I was first here in 2002, having just spent a year on exchange in Finland. I remember being overwhelmed at the myriad of accents, all speaking English but with different inflections. After a year of not hearing it spoken in the streets, it took time to adjust my ears to what was going on around me.

And in London, there’s just so much going on.

London has become a bit of a tradition for Emmet and me. We seem to make the trip across the pond whenever we’re back, and one of the essential stops is a place called Yumchaa in Camden Lock.

I don’t know how we came upon it in the first place, but it stuck in our minds, and appears to have become part of the routine.

They still serve the same lemon drizzle cake we bought on our first visit.

Direct from the airport (London City, I love you), we made a beeline to Camden, given we had the time before meeting our host for the weekend. After the stress of the bus journey to Dublin airport (navigating roadworks – loads of it – and the most boring of conversations between our fellow passengers), those balcony seats overlooking the market’s food vendors were most welcome.

Sky view of London in black and white

Lemon drizzle cake at YumChaa, Camden Lock, London

Lemon drizzle cake at YumChaa, Camden Lock, LondonEmmet at YumChaa, Camden Lock, London

When English and Irish people talk about having a fry there’s some serious frying going on. Heart stopping kind of frying!

Back home, I try to use minimal oil when I fry – instead capitalising on the melted fat of the bacon to both lubricate the pan and flavour everything else. Not here, though. If there isn’t an inch of oil in the pan, it ain’t a fry!

Saturday morning brought said fry. And I have to say, it was good. Really good.

I’d post a picture, but it didn’t last long enough. Suffice to say, it was a fiesta of brown – bacon, sausage, black pudding (not for me), mushrooms, eggs and toast.

The purpose of the fry was what would follow. You see, one should thoroughly prepare before heading out on a pub crawl. This crawl was a pretty fancy pants affair, with us trapping around the Bermondsey mile sampling the craft beers of small brewers that have taken up residence in the sheds beneath the train line.

Not a beer drinker myself, I took but a few sips here and there, noting the flavours and aromas. One beer tasted and smelled like a chicken dinner due to the use of lemon and thyme as flavouring agents.

I also stumbled upon a market set up in a squeeze of a laneway. It was an odd space, but the scents wafting through were all embracing. Crowded too – but I can only imagine with outsiders. The locale didn’t strike me as the kind housing folks who might drop several quid on a gourmet scotch egg when you can get a two pack from Tesco for basically nothing.

A sunny day in London meant we were met with quite a crow at some of the breweries. That, and because we set out a little late and did the crawl in reverse recommended order. No mind. Those that we did make it to benefitted from our squids and a most pleasant afternoon was had.

Emmet and Collette on The Bermondsey Mile.

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One day, three posts…

Thus, onwards through Spitalfields and onto Shoreditch, via the Ten Bells pub and the Hawksmoor designed Christ Church. Many a vintage store dropped into. A number of boots tried on, but un-purchased. Then, to the pub that claims to stock thousands of comics on its shelves, the Far Rockaway.

I have to admit, when Matt broached the idea of the comics pub that served pizza, I was a little skeptical. I knew it would be Emmet’s cup of tea, but I was worried it might not be mine. Given I get to come back to London next month, though, I obliged. Turns out, this is the awesomest place! The whole place oozes a rose coloured 1990s, from the pop art skateboards under the bar and along the roof, the Pearl Jam (and others) posters on the walls, the odd sculptures in the corners, the aforementioned wall of comics, and the music pumping through the speakers. The food’s not bad too, although tonight there was no pizza.

If you have any affection for the 90s, go here. Or, just go here anyway.

Walking around London

 Walking around LondonWalking around LondonWalking around LondonLondon Graffiti.London Graffiti.London Graffiti.London Graffiti.London Graffiti.London Graffiti.London Graffiti.London Graffiti.Will nothing change your mind - garbage.London streets.London streets.London streets.London graffiti.London graffiti.London graffiti.London graffiti.The crazy but awesome Far Rockaway in London.BoomboxesLine of bottles at the Far RockawayBust made from figurines at the Far Rockaway, London.At the Far Rockaway, London.Discussions at the Far Rockaway, London.Massive heads.On the wall.Great space.On the door.Dog and comics.

Following on from last post…

An onward wander featured discussions about Iron Man 3 and Captain America 2 and their respective use of the superhero genre as mechanisms for telling humanist stories. The former, being a film about PTSD, the latter about a man out of time who just wants to die. That’s my take on those films anyway. The importance of storytelling and how the storyteller doesn’t always have control over the interpretation of their narrative, also featured.

We’ve been getting good at walking this holiday, so walk we did. First, along South Bank, passed Shakespeare’s Globe, the OXO tower and its design stores, the National Theatre, the BFI to find ourselves perched on the balcony of the Southbank Centre for another drink and a view out over the Themes. We’ve been lucky to have some glorious blue skies, and although the breeze had a bite to it, sitting outside and watching the world go by is what Friday afternoons in London are made for.

More chats, more creative discussions, and reminiscing of the trip from Budapest to Dublin during the no-fly period of the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption.

But one can only cope with so many Heinekens in a town full of fancy pants beers.

Okay, too many pics…more in the next post!

A walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South BankA walk along London's South Bank

Some days are just great days. Today (now last Friday) was one of those days.

First, I briefly explored the most awesome collection of 1980s pop music magazine paraphernalia owned by my cousin-in-law. She has stuff that’s almost as old as I am, which is mad. I have to admit I have a few old magazines of my own at home, mostly with U2 covers or features. She has loads. It’s an indiscriminate love of the 80s. Georges Michael and Boy feature heavily. But Madonna is the star, and has her own pile of nostalgic goodies. All are pending eBay listings, with 1984 next to be uploaded, if anyone’s interested.

Lunchtime saw a trip to Borough Market, which I’m trying to place in my past visits to London. It’s right behind places I’ve frequented on South Bank, near where I had my wedding dress made, but I cannot say for certain that I’ve been there. I’m pretty sure I have though.

Doctor Matt was our afternoon company. After a wander around the Market, which, as with most markets is stocked with much photographer candy, and, of course, delectable goodies. The smells in this place, as well as the visuals, an absolute delight. The cheese in particular. Oh, how I could have worked my way through all that cheese! And the chocolate. And the bread. And the paella. And the burgers. Oh, my.

We retired briefly to an adjacent pub for a pint and a chat. Perched on the sill of the windowed frontage, we watched the lunchtime crowd in for their suits and ties, flow in for a cheeky pint and some fragrant concoction cooked up on an outdoor hotplate. The topic of discussion ranged from Matt’s potential future travels and work, Emmet’s comic work, and my own cranky pants tweeting.

*Because I took twelvety-bajillion photos, Friday will continue in the next post.

Emmet watching the Star Wars trailer on his phone

Emmet watching the Star Wars trailer on his phone

Traders and buyers at London's Borough Market

Traders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough Market

Traders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough Market

Traders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketTraders and buyers at London's Borough MarketLondon's Borough Market

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