Fri 4 Oct - London, England

One of us went to Savoy Hotel today and one of us went to Brixton. Guess who went to which place...

Di had plans today to catch up with one of her best friends from Sydney, Debbie, and "boys were not welcome" as Debbie and Di had not seen eachother for more than 9 months. Hans also expected it would be an ears bleeding talkfest! He was probably right...

In keeping with a girly day, Di made arrangements with the local beautician for a half leg wax and eyelash tint at 10.30am. Of course she was very early and went to the fantastic Italian deli coffee shop opposite the beautician first. Very nice cappuccino sitting outside watching the world go by.

Di had a marvelous 40 minutes getting pampered (not that ripping hair out with hot wax is luxurious) and came home to clean up and change for the rest of the day.

Post waxed legs looking good. Sorry no "pre wax" photos (a bit too scary...). Hans note: no, not really.

At 12pm Di went to Leicester Square to explore a little and have some much-missed Chinese dim sum (yum cha) for lunch before meeting Debbie at 2pm.
Di thought that she found the perfect place - ducks hanging down in the window, ground floor full of Asian people eating so she went into Young Cheng. Good choice, turned out to be of great quality... yum cha trolleys but a big menu cooked to order and all pretty cheap, nothing really over £3. And of course Chinese tea.
Being a single diner is a bit of a draw back for yum cha but that did not phase Di - she ordered 2 baskets to start - crystal prawn dumplings (aka gow gee) and rice noodle rolls with roast pork. Both were delicious. Great to use chopsticks again too.
Still a bit hungry Di also had fried sesame rice paper prawn rolls. Perhaps the best she's ever had anywhere with some small amounts of coriander and water chestnuts mixed in. Soooooo good. Total for her meal was £10 - Di could be back here when she returns to London.
Then at 2pm Di went to meet Debbie at The Savoy.

Meanwhile, Hans took the tube to Brixton as he wanted to check out this once troubled area, but now apparently a lot better and partly gentrified. Of course, David Bowie's childhood home is here too.

Brixton's tube station looked very new...

An overview of central Brixton...

Brixton Road with the tube station to the right. Busy even on a Friday midmorning.

There was a bombing in this corner, Brixton Road and Electric Avenue (yap, that's what it's called), back in 1999. Nobody died, but lots of people got seriously injured.

Unlawful food...?? What's going on?

If you walk up Electric Avenue, you see lots and lots of stalls and shops, mostly with either Arab, Indian/Pakistani or Black/Caribbian faces. Few Caucasians and few Orientals here. The shoppers tended to be mostly black and Arab looking as well. Hans probably stood out a bit in this crowd.

A sample shop...

Lots of fish was on display, often like here very tastefully, and the prices looked dirt cheap. We need proper markets like these and Camden's in Sydney. We have too much touristy / craft / not real markets back home.

After a general wander around the center of Brixton, Hans took a break at a local Starbucks next to the tube station with a cup of Pike Place and free wifi.

Hans had done a bit of research beforehand and he found out that David Bowie's childhood home is on Stansfield Road and this is how you get to it from the tube station.

Only one problem here... David Bowie lived in 40 Stansfield Road, not in number 42. Hans stuffed it up when identifying the terrace house and taking the photo. Oh well, at least you can see a little bit of number 40 to the left in the picture.

Location shot of Stansfield Road. Should we assume that the young David Jones ran up and down the street, playing football perhaps, or was it music and theatre from a very early age... Looked pleasant enough these days.

Stansfield Road ends at the wider throughfare of Stockwell Road and across the street was this enormous concreted combined cycling / skateboarding ramp. Only one single biker used it when Hans was there.

Time was now perhaps 12.30pm and time to explore food options. What better place to do that than within the Brixton Village and Market?

This Columbian hole in the wall place was very popular..., including with Spanish speaking people Hans noted. Good karma.

This was how they described their white board specials... Very charming.

Hans got himself a small table outside in the passageway. Soon afterwards, a queue of punters unable to get a table either inside or outside started to form, so good timing there.

Location shot inwards from Hans table while he is waiting for his lunch to arrive.

And this is what to got for £7 here. You could probably decipher the whiteboard to come to this conclusion, but Hans couldn't . He thought that the listed meals were options. No, a soup for entree, a main and a drink for £7.

Hans probably don't have to mention that it all was very very tasty. The soup is fish soup, the fish is "scallopes"??? and the drink is coconut water. All very good. Hans was seriously full once finished.

Hans then decided that it was time to move on, and onto British Library next to St Pancrias station, so another tube ride from Brixton on the Victoria line.

Somehow Hans had the notion that the British Library is a very old building, but nothing could be further from the truth. Here is the main entrance.

The main foyer as you step in.

The British Library had put old books on shelves over several floors in the centre of the building, all glassed in and dimly lit. It looked pretty effectual, in particular when also looking down on all the students using all kind of new age technical gizmos for their learning.

There were, of course, several coffee shops and restaurants within the British Library complex. Hans later had a cup of tea at one of the tables below.

Also scattered over all the floors are reading rooms. One problem, these reading rooms are not available to the public and one needs to some kind of a library card to get access to them as well as show some reason for getting access.

That meant "no-go" areas for Hans. He could, however, see that the reading rooms had real books accessible on the shelves.

Art a la British Library. Chained to the book...

Around 4pm, Hans decided to call it quits so he took the tube back to Gloucester Road before the rush hour started, although it was quite busy there on the Piccadilly line already.

Back to the room for some downtime. Hans felt so lazy that he stayed in for the rest of the day. Nice....

Meanwhile, at 2pm Di was outside The Savoy Hotel and had a tearful reunion with Debbie, her very good friend from Sydney. Di also met Patrick, Debbie's fiancé, who stayed for the first 15 minutes before he was sent away (something about boys not welcome) but it was handy to have Pat around to take lots of photos of Di and Debbie. Thanks Pat, now bye...

Di and Debbie went inside with lots of oohs and aahs, and they were directed to the American Bar for drinks . The bar was a lovely retro room with windows overlooking the Thames and comfy chairs. It also had a huge cocktail list which looked too hard to work through so the girls asked for recommendations and had each a special creation of a Savoy bartender. Both cocktails were delicious (we swapped half way...)

The Savoy staff and environment were gorgeous, the chairs comfortable and the snack olives delicious so Di and Debbie then ordered a bottle of wine to share and stayed...and talked, and talked, and talked...

Debbie and Pat have also been traveling the world for the last 3 months, but done it quite differently from us - basically cruising from Sydney to Venice (44 days) with several additional cruises around the Mediterranean. They also spent some time in France and Italy before coming here. Debbie and Pat will now go to Ireland for a wedding in Pat's family before returning home to Sydney. Sounded amazing and so there was a lot to talk about...

At 6pm, Di and Debbie were still going but had nearly finished the wine and wanted then to try another bar within the Savoy which was of course "no problem". The staff moved them and their drinks and bar tab down to a glamourous, dark piano bar.

Patrick was in the area and joined them later. A photo of the lovely couple below.

At the end of the night Debbie and Di had a decent bar tab to pay but it was worth it - The Savoy was fabulous!

Di, Debbie and Pat caught the tube together home as they were staying one stop down the road and with tears Di and Debbie said goodbye at Gloucester Road station. Awwwwww.......

Di came home to Hans just before 9pm all full of news and excited about her day then talked his "ears off" until 10.30pm before collapsing in bed. Hans that is. Good night.


Observant readers may recall that Hans met up with Mark and Peta Moxon in London on the 6th of August. Mark is the guy who walked LEJOG, Lands End to John O'Groats, wrote a book about it and has a very active website around it.

Extract from our blog from 6th of August:

Now, the Moxons has set up a Facebook page to cover their Central and South American trip starting very soon, and guess what photo they chose...

Hans felt honored...


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