A Very British Birthday – Weekend in London

 

maltby street market
Maltby Street Market and the Ropewalk. Photo via the Bookatable blog.

Connor always likes to suggest that his birthday be celebrated over the course of an entire week. For once his wish is coming true. Last Friday we kicked off the celebration at BrewDog Birmingham, the quickly expanding UK brewery that we also visited in London. (Craft beer: So rare that if you order something more complicated than a lager they ask you if you want to taste it first to be sure. We’re sure. Trust.) Early Saturday morning we popped down to London to roam, eat, see a show, and check out the Bermondsey Beer Mile. Next weekend we’re heading over the Irish Sea to the motherland. Quite the birthday week!

A quick Google search for “best craft beer in London” directed me to the Bermondsey Beer Mile and nearby Maltby Street Market. Six or so craft breweries have set up shop along a mile-long stretch in Bermondsey and thanks to the growing popularity of the market, the breweries open to visitors for a few hours on Saturday afternoons. We watched a bit of the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace to kill some time and then headed to Maltby Street for lunch. The market and breweries are housed along a stretch of beautiful old rail line (still in use) with huge brick arches. Each arch contains a tiny bakery, restaurant, cafe, distillery… purveyors of all things delicious. Pop-up shops and food vendors line the street outside and make up the “Ropewalk” portion of the market. See above picture.

LUNCH: I had an AMAZING goat cheese, honey, walnut, and rosemary grilled cheese from The Cheese Truck, owned by a couple dudes who claim to make “melted cheese heaven” out of British cheeses. Yes yes and more yes. I almost went back to try another option off the menu. Connor had equally delicious steak with homemade chips (fries) from The Beefsteaks. This vendor specializes in “sustainably sourced, charcoal grilled, naturally reared British beef served with sauces inspired by the London steak clubs of the 17th and 18th centuries.” (I guess that’s a thing?) I’m typically in the anti-steak sauce camp; beautiful steak does not need to be contaminated with condiments (don’t yuck my yum!), but this was a totally different story and I can’t call the juicy, delicate, herby stuff a condiment.

We were having such a blast sampling all the goodies (mead, chocolate, cheese…) that I didn’t take a single picture. Those of you who follow me on SnapChat caught a glimpse, but I forgot to save the images. Rookie mistake. Follow me there @erinksd.

After lunch we met some friends at brewery #1: Anspach & Hobday. The 6 of us had a blast hopping from one brewery to the next despite the cold and lack of toilet situation. Definite need for improvement here. The whole experience was very warehouse-esque and rough around the edges, since this is where all the beer is actually brewed. Super cool.

anspach&hobday
Anspach & Hobday. Photo via thecitylane.com
Inside Anspach and Hobday
Inside Anspach & Hobday

We also visited Brew By Numbers and UBREW, but didn’t make it to all 6 stops for obvious reasons.

We eventually headed north to the West End and checked into our Hell Hole Hostel from Airbnb. You guys. OMG it was so so SO bad. (Mom you would die.) I’m not going into detail because the weekend was incredibly fun and this HHH is not about to ruin it for me. Never again will I try to find someplace to stay just because it’s within walking distance of our activity. There is nothing wrong with taking the Tube. Also, I don’t recommend staying in SOHO/West End unless you splurge on a nice hotel. Total carnage party central = loud and sticky streets.

We quickly left HHH, had dinner, and went to see Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. If anyone wants to come visit and see Phantom of the Opera with me 10 more times I’m totally down!!! Andrew Lloyd Weber’s production opened at this theatre in 1986 and eventually spread to theatres all over the world. It was incredible to see this show in it’s original location with the original set.

Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre London
Stage before the show
Chandelier for Phantom of the Opera
The Chandelier!

We bought the cheaper restricted view seats and didn’t miss a thing. The music was so beautiful and moving… I definitely cried and people were sobbing all around us. Two girls got up and left because they couldn’t lock it up. Pretty funny in hindsight, but the music was just incredible. Not even the HHH could ruin our mood. Seriously, if we had done anything other than see an incredible, cloud-9 show before returning to that dump, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

Side note: ethically speaking, what do I do about the review for HHH? On the one hand, it was a hell hole!!!! On the other, I kind of knew it would be. The Airbnb listing clearly showed it as a budget/hostel type place. The reviews were all good, but I kind of knew they were from students and people with no standards (sorry).

After basically zero sleep we left HHH around 10am and walked around Westminster, enjoyed the gardens and massive government buildings, had a fabulous burger lunch at Byrons Hamburgers in Covent Garden, and caught a late afternoon train back to Birmingham.

National Liberal Club in Whitehall
The National Liberal Club

PS: This building was really beautiful. It’s an old gentleman’s club around the corner from 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s residence. Notable members included Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, G.K. Chesterton, and George Bernard Shaw. The club IS open to women.

Lessons from the weekend:

  • Eat all the market food, especially if there are long lines. You will be sick later. It is worth it.
  • HHH: some standards exist for a reason. Embrace them.
  • Buy restricted view theatre seats and use the money saved on classier lodgings.
  • Or, see a matinee and take a train back to Birmingham to sleep.
  • Do not eat Chinese food at midnight.
  • London is very expensive.
  • I want to see Phantom of the Opera 10 more times.
A Very British Birthday – Weekend in London

I’m Loving British Vocab

mind-the-gap
Famous warning to passengers riding the Tube, London’s rail system.

We’re 6 months in to this 2 year adventure. Can you believe it? 25% finished. Time has really flown by! I’m fascinated by how different our lives are in Britain vs. the Midwest, and how quickly we’ve adapted to this new lifestyle. Everything from driving on the other side of the road and tackling roundabouts like old pros to cooking with different spices and living simply. No TV, shopping sprees, or fancy kitchen gadgets. Bare walls, boring Ikea furniture, and TONS of tea. I left my bulky acrylic paints and canvases back in the States in favor of more travel-friendly watercolors. Some of our new routines and traditions will surely come home with us (TEA!), and I hope to God we can continue using British vocab Stateside.

Below is a roundup of some of my favorites (American translation in parentheses). And the video above is a funny clip of British vs. American slang on the Ellen Show.

Ta (thanks)
Sorted (figured out/squared away/solved)
Bits n bobs (various things)
Y’alright? (general greeting) No one says, “Hi, how are you?”
Mate (friend) Hey Mate, blah blah blah… or I’m meeting my mates at blah blah blah
Tosh (nonsense)
Bin (garbage can)
Tenner/Fiver (ten or five pound note)
Lorry (truck)
Trolley (shopping cart)
Nappy (diaper)
Brolly (umbrella)
Gherkin (pickle)
Bloody Hell (damn it)
Tosser (idiot)
Nutter (crazy person)
Chav (white trash)
Dodgy (suspicious)
Knackered (tired, exhausted)
Punter (customer)
Ice lolly (popsicle)
Do (party)
Stag Do/Hen Do (bachelor/bachelorette party) Often listed as prohibited in Airbnb listings.
Fancy (like/enjoy) I didn’t fancy that wine.
Kip (nap) I fancy a kip.
Fussed (bothered) “I’m not fussed” is a typical response when asked for your preference
Queue (line) This word is used constantly.
Ts & Cs (terms & conditions)

Posh – I am on a quest to figure out what this word means. I’ve gathered it has multiple uses and generally means wealthy/fancy, but some use it derisively and others boastfully. London neighborhoods are often described to me as “very posh,” but a friend recently assured me that her holiday in the Algarve region of Portugal was not posh. If you are British, or a transplant, or know the answer, enlighten me!!!

I am decidedly not posh, since my daily uniform consists of holey jeans and an over-sized men’s sweater from Scotland. And, in case you need even more of a visual, my skin tone is so pasty from lack of sun that it’s almost the same shade as the sweater, and coincidentally, the walls in our house. So if you have the pleasure of FaceTimeing with me in the near future, you may need to look carefully to pick out my brown eyeballs from the camouflage that is my life.

I’m Loving British Vocab