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Dr John Hawkins

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Day Out in London with Simon and Vanessa

Posted on 2009/08/30 09:23:07 (August 2009).

[Saturday 29th August]
Our friends Simon and Vanessa were in London today, having arrived the previous evening.

We packed quite a lot in today - started the day off with an early (well early for a weekend) breakfast at the Regency Cafe, which I enjoyed immensely as always - I do hope our guests weren't disappointed given how much I'd hyped the place up beforehand!

After breakfast we went on a tour of the Houses of Parliament - this was a real highlight for me, and I'm really glad Simon and Vanessa had suggested this, as otherwise it's one of those things I could imagine me and Chie never really getting round to. Unfortunately we couldn't take any pictures on the tour, so you'll just have to take my word for it that the whole thing was quite fascinating, the interiors of the Palace of Westminster really are a visual feast, and as a result both Simon and I left having decided we wanted to pursue a career in politics.

At the gift shop I couldn't resist buying a bottle of House of Lords Whisky. This isn't the blend I'd heard about elsewhere, it's a 10 year old "highland" single malt. Intriguingly, although they say it is produced by Chivas brothers, they don't say which distillery it is from. Chivas (now part of Pernod Ricard) own quite a few Speyside distilleries - including Glenlivet and Strathisla, and apparently also Scapa - but surely if this came from one of the Speyside distilleries they'd call it a Speyside malt, not a highland malt? I suppose highland could be used to describe Speysides - the term would be more meaningful to more people...? I'd read elsewhere that a single malt at one time sold as House of Lords was in fact an Edradour, but given that that distiller is not part of the Chivas portfolio that seems a bit unlikely. So, a bit of a mystery, and the web didn't seem to have any definite answers.

The other big item on Simon and Vanessa's agenda for today was Vinopolis - it occurrred to me as we were in Westminster in the morning, and would need to be in Borough in the afternoon, that a very nice way to get between the two would be to take the handy Tate-to-Tate boat service. We were also treated to some nice weather today - a bit of sunshine and a very picturesque blue sky with little inoffensive patches of cloud. So that made for a very pleasant 20 minutes or so - especially as it gave us another chance to see the Houses of Parliament from a different angle.

Once in Borough we took the obligatory tour of the market, had a coffee from the Monmouth Coffee Company (which was rather nice) and bought some apples - apparently the first British russets of the season.

We followed our stroll around the market with a quick lunch at the marvellous George Inn (marvellous here refers to the building - a spectacular galleried coaching inn dating back to 1676).

We'd thought about going on a tour of the Globe, but alas they were doing a rehearsal or something so by the time we'd got there it was already too late. Never mind. After leaving the Globe we had a bit of an adventure with Vanessa's flip flops - the strap on one broke, making it very difficult for Vanessa to walk - and going bare foot didn't seem a very appealing option in that part of London - so we had to gather our wits to find somewhere in the closest possible radius to buy some more.

Once the footwear situation was satisfactorily resolved, Simon and Vanessa went off to do their tour of Vinopolis. Chie and I decided to skip this, having been once before, but did take the opportunity for a good browse around The Whisky Exchange's excellent shop in the same building. I bought myself a bottle of Kilkerran - the new Campbeltown distillery - it's a very delicate and elegant Campbelton malt, with nutty and peppery notes.

Chie and I decided to head back to the flat after that, and met up with Simon and Vanessa a little later on for dinner at the our trusty local tapas place, before then taking Simon and Vanessa to the station to get their train back home.



Comment 1

Well nice weather there right? Mmmmm British russets... Nice. As for VINOPOLIS, what is it exactly? Some Wine show?

Posted by Lox at 2009/08/30 10:33:37.

Comment 2

Yes we were lucky to have nice weather yesterday, although it felt more like a warm day in spring than a hot day in summer.

Yes Vinopolis is a sort of wine museum where you can go round and do tastings and learn about wine. I went a few years ago and to be honest I'm not sure I enjoyed it a huge amount, so was quite happy to skip it this time round. :)

Posted by John at 2009/08/30 11:25:16.

Comment 3

Are comments working again now then?

Posted by John at 2009/09/05 00:42:24.

Comment 4

Well that's promising... they seem to be almost working...

Posted by John at 2009/09/05 00:44:10.

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