Wednesday, January 20, 2010

this week I have been mostly eating taramasalata

If you had your wits about you during the last book review you'll have noticed that I alluded to a train journey between Bristol and London on Friday evening. Hazel had been in London attending various photography courses/seminars/etc. during the week, so I popped over for a night out in London.

If, like me, you're a simple country boy who doesn't get over to the big smoke all that often, then you probably want a few words of wisdom to set you on the straight and narrow lest your head be turned by the bright city lights, unscrupulous types lure you into their dens of crime and wickedness, and you end up giving handjobs for cash round the back of Hampstead tube station. So listen up.

We'd arranged to meet up with my old friends Mark and Lorna, and I'd asked Mark to recommend a pub somewhere between where I'd be coming from (i.e. Paddington), where we'd be staying the night (Tottenham Hale), and where they live (Stratford). A complex task of triangulation and pub selection, but Mark came up trumps with the selection of Ye Old Mitre in Holborn, which not only serves excellent Adnam's Broadside, but also sells pork pies behind the bar! With mustard on the side!

Having chugged back four pints of premium ale in no time at all, it was probably just as well that we then moved on to get some food - we ended up at the charmingly rustic Kolossi Grill Greek Cypriot restaurant a mile or so to the north up towards Islington, where they not only have splendid rustic Greek Cypriot food, but also charming rustic metal litre jugs of Greek Cypriot wine, and charming rustic Greek Cypriot tutting and abuse if you don't eat the two pounds of taramasalata that's put in front of you. All in all it was quite literally Kolossal, and all pretty cheap as well. It was about halfway through that I started to regret having had the pork pie, though.

So much for the food and drink recommendations - the other thing the occasional London visitor might need to know is that there has been a fairly radical rearrangement of the Circle Line of late (December 13th 2009 to be precise). Radical in that it's no longer a circle, more of a spiral really as trains run from Edgware Road to Hammersmith and back again. What this means to the unsuspecting traveller arriving at Paddington and wanting to travel east (to Farringdon in my case) is that you can't just head for the main tube station entrance and jump on the first available Circle Line train, as you'll have to change at Edgware Road. Best option is probably to head over to the Hammersmith and City Line platforms at the other end of the station and get a train from there.

All these changes mean that the Circle Line now serves 35 stations instead of the original 27, which is going to make the Circle Line Pub Crawl even more demanding than before. Allowing for the extra drink for "doubling up" at one of the stations (wherever you started previously, Edgware Road now) and assuming you stick to halves to avoid dying in the attempt (assuming that you're not Peter Dowdeswell of course) then this means that you will now have to drink 18 pints instead of 14. Not something to be undertaken lightly, and I suspect you will need a pork pie or two en route.

Finally, tube maps - I'll re-direct you to the educational and hilarious Silly Tube Maps page as linked here, and also this page giving an interesting tour of tube maps through the ages. Here's Transport for London's official map page as well.

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