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Dr John Hawkins

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Posted on 2005/04/03 13:01:36 (April 2005).

[Saturday 2nd April]
Chie and I went for a day out in London for a thoroughly deserved day off. We didn't have any particular plan - Chie vaguely wanted to get her hair cut and I wanted to go to the whisky society (obviously). On arrival we headed over to Holborn, to pop in to Gendai (our favourite travel agency) to sort out our flights to Japan. Then just round the corner we found a branch of "My Old Dutch" - a pancake house. This provided us with lunch - I had a halloumi and tomato pancake, and Chie had something sweet. After that we decided totally at random to go to Greenwich, mainly because Chie wanted to go on the DLR. We didn't really stay long in Greenwich, just long enough to have a quick look at the Cutty Sark, and a quick whizz round the Royal Observatory. The merdian line thing wasn't as good as I remembered it (I'd been as a kid with my Dad and my brother). After that we headed back into the centre of London, Chie went off in the direction of Baker Street for a haircut, and I went over towards Faringdon for a couple of drinks at the Whisky Society. I had a Yamazaki (unfortunately not the one that recently one the award in Whisky Magazine) and an unusual Talisker. I left there around 7 and headed over to Green Park, where I'd arranged to meet up with Chie again. We went to a little pub I'd found out about on the web - the Red Lion on Crown Passage. This was very good, and as well as the usual points for being down an alley, it also scored very highly on its selection of single malts. The interior and atmosphere were good too. After this we vaguely planned to go and have dinner somewhere, so walked over to Picadilly Circus and Soho. In the end though we gave up on eating out, and just bought a few odds and ends in Arigato instead. We got a train back at 9 something and got back home not long after 10. See some pictures of my day out.

Comment 1

Hi John. I was in WH Smiths Saturday and noticed the Iain Banks book "Raw Spirit". I guess you know all about it, but you crossed my mind as I perused the back cover. He's a fan too! (And on-site as it were).

It's absolutely years since I've been to Soho / China Town. A friend who had a fast car would take a couple of us after work. We lived in Lincoln then, but it's an easy-ish A1 road-dash. We'd arrive, park up, then mosey on in. I remember one brilliant Jewish Hot Beef Sandwich shop. We were being heckled by "Professional Ladies" as we ignored them to queue for the food! Other times we found either a Chinese restaurant, or a Pie Shop.

It's probably changed out of all recognition these days. The borough boundaries stay the same, but the trendy / non-trendy areas reshape and grow or shrink, don't they?

Posted by Nigel at 2005/04/03 20:53:07.

Comment 2

Yes Nigel; it probably has changed, but not out of all recognition. I went to London as a kid a few times, but I didn't really start going on a semi-regular basis until I went off to university about 9 or 10 years ago - Reading being pretty convenient for the big smoke, and everything.

In that space of time some things have changed and some have remained reassuringly similar. I'm not sure China Town is that much different at all to be honest. As for the rest of Soho and the surrounding area, well, shops and restaurants obviously come and go, but the overall "vibe" (what a hateful word) has remained pretty similar to me. Still the odd mixture of the seedy and the sophisticated - those "girls of negiotable morals" will still heckle you if you get within shouting distance of their grotty doorways, whilst at the same time there are some pretty upmarket places to eat.

The big difference I've noticed is the amount of Japanese food around... perhaps partly I wasn't so interested when I first went so didn't notice it so much, but still, Japanese food was a comparative rarity ten years ago. Nowadays you could probably eat in a different Japanese restaurant every night for a month, at least.

Posted by John at 2005/04/04 24:12:34.

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