Tag Archives: student

Mission University: Complete

It’s official. Exams are done, marks are in, and I passed. I have a degree, I am now fully qualified to tell you all about…well, worms. Worms and monkeys. If you ever have a monkey with worms, I’m you’re girl. 

I’m done, the relief is intense. 

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That kind of says it all really. 

I leave London in about 2 months, but not for good – and the blog will be coming with me on my trip. In the mean time, I plan to squish plenty of adventures in. Tomorrow I will be heading to a lovely restaurant in Chelsea named Bumpkin through squaremeal – an independent London restaurant and bar guide, so look out for a post on that in the next few days – I know you’ll all be waiting with bated breath. In the mean time, I plan to celebrate by sleeping for a week!

Jimmy’s World Grill

This is not a well kept London secret. Some unexplored nook or darkened cranny. This is a UK chain of world food buffet restaurants; however, I deemed it worthy of a hallowed blog post thanks to a) the cheap prices, b) the good location, c) the good food and d) the chocolate fountain that I’ve been harping on about.

At £7.99 for an all you can eat week day lunch, the price is definitely right. I ordered a glass of pineapple juice – drinks come extra – but given it was practically fish bowl sized, it seemed worth the price.

So Jimmy’s consists of a series of ‘live stations’ – including a noodle stand where a chef made your noodles from order and a naan stand where – you guessed it – a chef made your naan to order. There was a Tex Mex station that was closed, but given the other choice on offer this was not too great a loss.

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Strewn between the live chefs flinging food together with expert ease, there were vats of curry, rice, trays of fried chicken, vegetable dim sum and spring rolls, and a salad bar. There was also a pizza and pasta station – and I haven’t even started on the dessert yet.

I ate my way round the world – from Thai green curry to chicken korma to cous cous to pizza to olives to prawn crackers – I had a little bit of it all, and was surprised by how good it was. None of it was cold or looked suspiciously congealed which is always a plus, and honestly I almost wished I had a bigger stomach. I didn’t end up trying out a live station as I was so full from the help-yourself bit, but they seemed to know what they were doing and the food I saw them turning out looked good.

However, I do have the separate dessert stomach and that was ready and waiting to try out the dessert buffet – included in the £7.99 price. All the offerings were cut into little bitesize pieces to allow for people trying everything:

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Cheese cake, red velvet cake, more cheese cake, a cocounut…thing, carrot cake – ALL THE CAKE

And finally the chocolate fountain had marshmallows and chunks of fruit ready to be skewered. I very nearly went full Vicar of Dibley on that thing – and for those of you who’ve never watched Dawn French’s Vicar of Dibley series, it starts off like this:

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(Image from UKTV Gold.)

And ends up like this:

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(Image from Somersoft)

Yup.

Any way, I would recommend Jimmy’s if you’re ever in Wimbledon, looking for a cheap and filling meal and feel like avoiding the hefty gastropub and restaurant fees of the area. Whilst its not exactly culinary genius, its a buffet – that’s not really the point. Easy, accessible, filling and…well, now I’m hungry.

The Devil Wears Primark

I’ve discovered something about myself since moving to London.

Nothing spiritual. No beautiful enlightenment, no sudden epiphany, no shining star existing in the centre of my being.

I’ve merely discovered my inner bitch.

I know I’ve touched on the subject of London transport with you before, but lately I’ve been spending much more time on buses and tubes after my laptop broke and I know find myself commuting into university daily in order to use their computers. I found myself mentally quoting and wishing I had the same panache and power as the delightful Miranda Priestley (a fictional draconian magazine editor, for those who perhaps don’t recognise the name, who appears in The Devil Wears Prada) in response to those that insist on taking up the entire pavement/road/tube station/world with their slooooooooow pace.

“By all means, move at a glacial pace, you know how that thrills me.” were the exact words I believe, and my goodness, they are apt.

Except with me, I don’t wear Prada. Please. I’m a student. So, this brings me to my title. The Devil Wears Primark.

That’s right, transport brings out the demon in us all, but particularly me. I find myself glaring balefully at all those in my way, slithering my way inhumanly through gaps that a cat would struggle with, overtaking with little consideration for any I leave in my wake and grumbling if this is made impossible.

Short post today, in a brief dissertation break as I desperately rewrite all the data I lost in the aforementioned laptop episode. I’m not even sure if it really makes sense, after hours of staring blindly at a statistical programme my ability to string together a coherent sentence seems to abandon me.

I wish I could go back to the chocolate fountain restaurant: the subject of my next post.

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Living La Vida London Takes La Vida On The Road

In a few blog posts I’ve hinted at some exciting developments, some news, if you will. And whilst I have plenty of London fun times to share with you lovely folk – from a restaurant with a chocolate fountain to early morning wholesale markets – I felt it was time to just tell you guys exactly what’s been going on.

Recently I’ve worked a huge amount of overtime, and with uni that’s meant I have neglected this blog and most other aspects of my life to some extent, hence the lack of posts; but it seems like its going to pay off. You see, I bought myself a wodge of flight tickets, and come August I’m off jaunting for about 4 months. I have a rough route planned:

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(Excuse the exceedingly wonky, horribly drawn map. I haven’t used Microsoft paint in years.)

There will be lots of wandering – especially in Japan, where I’ll be staying on an island off the mainland for a while. So whilst I will, sadly, have to leave London temporarily, I will be jaunting about the place and still posting about my adventures on here – if you guys still happen to be interested!

Any way, that’s what’s going on with me after I graduate university and before I start applying for full time jobs and postgraduate courses and various other things. Off on a jolly holiday, and I will naturally be taking you guys with me.

Although not literally. That would be expensive, I imagine.

Cafe Joy, Roehampton

If there’s one thing I love to do in London, its visit the coffee shops. The independent roasteries, the little off-the-beaten track nooks, anywhere that isn’t Starbucks, Costa or Caffe Nero, basically. Somewhere a bit different. 

Now, I wouldn’t say Cafe Joy was necessarily worth heading all the way out to Roehampton for especially, but if you’re ever around Wimbledon Common, or Richmond Park, its pretty close by and easy enough to pop into on the way to Barnes station or Hammersmith. I just happen to pop in after my lecture for a sandwich and a coffee, and my, what an artistically layered coffee it was.

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Look at it! LOOK. 

I ordered a ham and cheese panini thing; the sandwich was hot and on ciabatta bread, if a little plain, but at £2.99 the price already undercut any of the big chains. There’s table service, which is unusual in most cafes but its nice not to lurk around awkwardly for 5 minutes whilst the stressed barista gets increasingly stressed by you being forced to hang over them. 

There are big old bags of coffee on display and the man is pretty friendly. Essentially, a nice place to stop off for a snack or a light lunch, or indeed just a hot drink if you’re being sophisticado or just feeling a bit chilly. Even the drinks themselves are quite cheap, with my latte clocking in at only £1.99. 

Now I’m off for a midnight snack, in the hope that eating will make me sleepy. Venturing into central tomorrow night; a rare occurrence for me. Some would say an adventure. Most wouldn’t. 

SPACED 2014 by Theatre Delicatessen

Lately, I’ve discovered an idea referred to as a ‘Theatre Souk’ – a series of bitesize pieces of immersive theatre that the audience members must barter, beg and steal from the performers. Being a bit of a drama llama I had to go and see this for myself, and luckily the wonderful Theatre Delicatessen was staging a week long theatre festival in the old BBC Radio building in Marylebone. Hard to imagine a better venue, with the basement and the bottom floor dedicated to the artists, performers and theatre groups whims and wants. And there was a bar.

Everything is better with a bar. Except perhaps Lamaze classes. 

I didn’t know what to expect, and honestly I’m not sure where else I would find a woman dressed as a black hole pouncing on people, a man disco dancing and throwing glitter at passers by, a boxing ring in which a dragon, a bear and a fairy in his underpants stropped, swore, kissed and punched in a fight dictated by the spectators bids or a scientist in a lab coat handing out computer chips as tickets to the end of the world. Phew, that was a long sentence.

The performers had gone out of their way creatively, each little performance space was so different from the others and the performances themselves were so wild and random – yet all stemming from one initial question: ‘Is it worth it?’

What was particularly wonderful, however, was the opportunity this festival afforded the artists; they were given seed money and guidance in putting together their pieces. Given the immersive theatre aspect, they were all skilled in improvisation and there were times when you weren’t sure where the character ended and the person began.

Hmm, I’m sounding a tad pretentious now. 

Any way, sadly, due to a safety issue the building had to be evacuated and I didn’t get to experience everything, which was a crying shame. Despite this, what I saw was inspiring, fascinating, and very, very different – as well as fun, which is a rare mix these days. The SPACED 2014 festival is done for now, but I would look out for further Theatre Delicatessen offerings in the future…for now they’re running Heist, also in Marylebone, offering the opportunity for you to take part in your own – you guessed it – Heist. 

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Image from http://www.theatredelicatessen.com/spaced2014/

 

Pie And Mash: The Epitome of British Cuisine

It came to my attention recently, that despite living in London for over 2 years now, I had never ventured through those hallowed doors into a pie and mash shop. Pie and Mash being the standard London meal, I felt this would not do, and five minutes of investigation showed I had such an establishment down the road from me in Tooting.

Boom.

So off I trotted after a morning of hard work not listening to my lecturer, and arrived to the little, slightly run down looking caff called Harrington’s. The windows were steamed up and the doors closed tight against the pouring rain; at first I thought it was closed so I was relieved when I made my way in to find it reasonably busy. 

The woman who served me was brusque but friendly, throwing together my pie, mash and parsley ‘licker’ quickly. The pies had been cooked that day and were still hot from the oven, and the parsley sauce loosened up the mash beautifully.

I wasn’t ready to face the jellied eel, although I came close enough given the parsley sauce is made with the water the eels are stewed in! But sitting at that bench with the women behind the counter chatting amiably way, salt and vinegar on the tables and the tiled walls, it was easy to feel I’d slipped back in time. From old men who’ve been visiting the same place for 50 years for their fix of pie and mash to young families who pop in for the warm, cosy and traditional feel of the place – its universally loved. And cheap with my meal clocking in at roughly 3 quid. 

It was warming and homey and everything you could ask for from pie and mash.

I will be returning, and hopefully pie shop hopping around London. This new area needs to be explored to the fullest. I want to eat all the pies I can. ALL THE PIES. 

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Oh, there’s a picture of the pie. Wasn’t exactly the most beautifully presented plate, but that wasn’t really the point any how. Trust me when I say it tasted better than it looked. 

Don’t look at me like that. It did. 

(Hopefully good) Vibe Bar

A few days ago I made my reasonably regular pilgrimage to Beigel Bake. I won’t bore you with that bit, having waxed lyrical about the (delicious) beigels you can get there already, I shall move on.

Although they are amazing. 

Wandering down Brick Lane, a sprained ankle resulted in a decision to head to the first bar we found – for both a sit down and some medicinal drinking. This actually turned up a doozy, surprisingly enough, with ‘Vibe bar’.

Having walked past several times on my moochings around East London, I had always assumed it was just part and parcel of Brick Lane’s Sunday market – having never been there any other day. There’s a large courtyard with stalls, so a safe assumption I guess. However, once the market had packed up and we noticed people were still drinking merrily, we felt that warranted some investigation. 

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9Proof of the misleadingly placed stalls. One sold sausages, one did Mexican food I think, and the other shisha. An odd combo but it worked.)

A bottle of wine was quickly ordered and decanted into a plastic…well, decanter. The wine glasses were also plastic. At first we wondered if the bartender had simply assumed we were particularly klutz-y, before quickly realising this was probably to avoid smashed glass all over their yard. Fair enough really. So safety first – a pretty solid basis for a good bar.

Despite being reasonably spacious inside we decided to sit outside, given the reasonably temperate night and the lit up trees (cue another photo):

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Look how pretty and atmospheric!

The courtyard was set aside from the street, so it didn’t have the slightly claustrophobic feel of tables simply plonked on the pavement in the way of passers by and right next to cars. Several tables meant there was ample seating, and it was easy enough to people watch. I think a bloke cycling past with a rocking horse on the front of his bike that he was shouting at has made my Hall of Random (Like a hall of fame but for random stuff instead…) 

Having noseyed at the bar website, they apparently do food too. Unfortunately I was more preoccupied with the wine side of things and did not sample the culinary delights to be had, although I am sure they are indeed delightful. The kitchen closes at 6pm however, so if you want to go for the grub you need to get there afternoon time rather than for dinner. Although the stalls meant food was readily available. I don’t know if they were with the bar or late set ups from the market after all, but they were there…

Bottle of house red wine was £15.50 – pretty cheap for a central London bar. They run a whole load of events from gigs to DJ sets to comedy shows…

Basically a nice way to round off a day around Brick Lane, or possibly to start off a night in Shoreditch. Or get lunch, but at this point, that is mere speculation on my part. I’d just say pop along for the lovely atmosphere, the good location, the decent prices and happy hour cocktails – and perhaps have a burger or 5. So…a slightly premature Bon Appetit, and enjoy the wine. I did. 
Square Meal

I Found My Mojo

I’m afraid that title is a shameless pun, because not only did I find my mojo, I was lucky enough to see a play: funnily enough, called Mojo. 

With a sparkling cast list including Rupert Grint (yes, Ron Weasley for the Potter fans out there), Colin Morgan and Brendan Coyle from the universally loved Downton Abbey – to be honest, the play could have been dreadful and I’d probably still just have basked in their amazing…ness? Aura? 

I don’t know. But I’d have been basking.

Luckily, the play wasn’t awful. It won the Olivier aware for best new comedy, admittedly back when it was new – but the comedy was no less fresh than I imagine it was back then. Dark, hilarious and poignant – often all simultaneously – it was hard to tear your eyes away; but easily the best performance came from Ben Whishaw as Baby. 

A deeply disturbed, abused, scary and unpleasant character, he played the role with a certain amount of vulnerability that left the audience both loathing and pitying him. The play, despite its comical ambition, could also be seen as a study of his psyche as well as – as Billington wrote in his review in The Guardian – ‘a critique of a patriarchal world in which men talk big in order to disguise their loneliness, panic and fear of emotional contact.’

Sometimes the lack of set movement can become slightly claustrophobic admittedly, however one can’t help but think that that’s probably the point – given that this group of men has more or less become trapped inside the club they work in after the owner’s brutal murder (he’s found in two bins.)

Given the language and the sometimes coarse humour, it’s perhaps not a play for the faint hearted – but without this, the dialogue would be liking the sharp fizz and crack it so effortlessly conjures. 

Overall, whilst funny, this play had a much deeper message to it, backed up with loud 50s rock ‘n’ roll music and a certain amount of dancing. The run ends on the 6th February; if you can, I would suggest you run to grab a seat…its definitely worth a watch. Even if just to watch Ron Weasley spout very rude words and play at being a gangster. That’s entertainment in itself. 

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Essays And Other Boring Things

I’ve been very boring. Writing about three thousand (well, three, but y’know…) essays, working ridiculous hours at work and trying to head to university have meant most of my London exploits have been from inside a bus. I could write a very long and detailed account of the noise the doors make when they open, the lack of timetable rigidity, and indeed the varied grumpiness of bus drivers. But nothing much about London.

I did venture out to the Siberia of our city (i.e. Purley) this weekend, in order to play pool and ogle the ten pin bowling whilst resenting how expensive it was. But that wasn’t particularly exciting, or worth mentioning, or London-y. There was a wild tram ride and a death defying trip through the McDonalds drive through – without a car – but that’s about it. 

This week, I have fewer deadlines, which is good news. I have friends coming to visit for a belated birthday celebration (I’m now 22. Not even 21. Is there such thing as a quarter life crisis? Because I think I’m having one.) So mission Camden will be go. 

I even have a swanky new book about London. That’s right.

I do have some exciting news though. But I’m saving that up…so get your tenterhooks out and hang on them, whilst I go and make a cup of tea and…well, leave you guys hanging.