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London's Last Legs

How Do You Say Goodbye to the Best Year of Your Life?

all seasons in one day 10 °C

DW - 30/04... As I ride the train to Theale for my final week of work for 2012, I am walking on air, this can't be real! How has this past year in London gone so fast? They say life goes faster every year and to this day I'd back that, but the past twelve (12) months has been insane, another level of speed!
Although immensely excited for the coming eight (8) months of travel, there's a certain level of anxiety, but also a (quite large) level of sadness in my mind, and I know Loz feels the same. Sad, empty, cold to leave this amazing city of London. How do you say goodbye to the best year of your life? The city that has given you so much and not taken anything from you (maybe a few quid here and there)? And the people... This week we'll be saying farewell to so many amazing people we've met, some for the last time; people we'll never cross paths with again in our lives. Loz and her workmates have already made a rule that they're not allowed to call her farewell party on Friday night a 'farewell'; it's just a party... If they call it a farewell they end up in tears. And the people I've grown so close to at work; Tim, Christian, big Al, Rich, Phil... Who's going to drag them to the pub every second day now? And in London; Peejay, Mitch, Soph; I feel Teddy's will run out of business once we leave.
So many questions, not one (1) of which I can answer... London, we're going to miss you like you don't understand. But maybe it's not goodbye forever, maybe it's just, see you in a while, who knows?

Enough sulking though, I'm going to smash through all the notes I've been taking over the past months, and recap, just one (1) more time, on some of the things we've been doing...

Food: unmistakably one (1) of the gluttony capitals of the world, London has so so much to offer on the food front. And we've given it a fair crack too as far as variety, seldom finding a bad feed.
I'll start with our most memorable meal and most likely the best and most enjoyable meal we'll experience in our lives; The Ledbury. Run by a Novacastrian (yep, a guy from home who used to work at Scratchley's) and opened less than ten (10) years ago, The Ledbury has managed to recruit not one (1), but two (2) Michelin Stars in that short time, leaving it amongst some of the absolute top restaurants in the world. Mitch had raved about it time after time as his favourite place to eat, and eventually convinced us (to be honest our arms didn't need much twisting) to make the eight (8) minute walk down the road to its' front door (after booking 6 weeks earlier mind you)! We started about 7:15pm and ended up leaving the restaurant at 1:30am, yep, that's over six (6) hours of eating and drinking. Mitch, who knows the chef, emailed him that day and told him we'd be coming. Much to our surprise, he then created a menu especially for us, consisting of twelve (12) courses, that wasn't a typo, it really was twelve (12)! And of course, with each serving we had to take a matching wine... We all agreed (Loz, Mitch, Soph, Christian and I) that it was a truly unique and amazing experience, one (1) we'll certainly never forget. And although it cost us an arm and a leg (and possibly a few other body parts), we'll look back on it as some of the best food, wine, and company of all time; truly bloody outstanding.
Only ten (10) days earlier than The Ledbury, we visited Dans le Noir (in the black), a restaurant where you eat in complete darkness, served by blind people. I've already written a full post on this experience, but again, one (1) to remember, and certainly somewhere we'd recommend when in London.
Apart from these two (2) really unique experiences, there's really nothing we haven't eaten in the past couple of months... Thai, American (Foxtrot Oscar, one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants in Chelsea, very nice), Chinese (several trips to Chinatown), Sunday Roasts, Indian (Brick Lane curries coming out the wazoo), Mexican, Japanese, Moroccan, Argentinian, and countless others, too many to list!

Catch-ups: so many visits to so many pubs, and an amazing amount of catching up with new and old friends!

In late January we scoffed some delicious Chinatown Chinese (funny that) with James Abbott, who was visiting from Canada. The Peking Duck was second only to actual Peking Duck, and we managed a few beers at a random Covent Garden pub shortly after. Really great to see James again, who we hadn't seen for many years.

A couple of weeks ago I got an out-of-the-blue message from Joel Pedlow, one (1) of my best mates from Primary School, saying he was going to be in London and wanted to catch up. It's funny, that we've touched base with so many people since being in London, it really makes us feel like we're in the centre of the world. So we had a few beers at the Prince Albert in Notting Hill, far too many actually, but it was really great seeing him (I hadn't seen him for 9 years) and talking tales for several hours. He'd just spent five (5) months in India and has given us a real taste for it, hopefully 2013... We managed to again catch up last weekend and he stayed with us for a night which was brilliant. We spent the day out and about in the sun, watching the London Marathon amongst the thousands of people out and about.


On a Sunday in March, Loz and I travelled up to Camden for the day to check out the markets, canals, pubs, and possibly a roast. Lobba had been recommending The Proud (a bar inside old stables) for several months so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. We sat outside in the sun for the afternoon and drank several beers, a really good setting with lots of people. Shortly after we met up with Robin and Dianna for an afternoon roast and more beer. Again, fantastic to catch up with old mates, Robin whom we hadn't seen since he left Oz in 2004.
A couple of weeks ago we got a message from Robin saying that Pete Davis (American mate from college) was in town and keen to reminisce. Our fondest memory of Pete was his witty dry humour, whereas his of mine was vomitting in the cellar at college after a bottle of Bundy (you win some, you lose some). We hit Brick Lane and spent about three (3) hours just eating, drinking and chatting, also with Robin and Dianna.

After first catching up just before Christmas, and meaning to again ever since, Thomo (Ben Thomas from school) and I again cheersed last week, this time at the Prince Albert in Notting Hill (last time was in Shepherds Bush). He and his girlfriend are also parting ways with London this week, and travelling for some time before returning to Oz. He's been away from home for about 30 months, mostly living in Canada, but also travelling through South America, and Europe. Travel just seems to bring people together, and because you have so much in common, there's just so much to talk about. It's great hearing stories of experiences in certain countries/cities, as at the end of the day, it really gives you a more personal perspective than any travel book could. Turns out, we were both reading the same book as well, Shantaram, about an Aussie who escaped jail and moved to India. The funny thing is it was recommended to me by Joel whom I'd only seen days before. Not really that funny I guess, one (1) of those moments when you kind of outward sniff as a bit of a courtesy laugh. But anyway, I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into the book. Mitch and Jeeva joined us after a couple of beers and the night got out of control pretty quickly. Mitch and I ended the schoolnight at 2:30, polishing off a bottle of wine in our apartment, ouch.

Loz has made some amazing friends at work in the past year, some she will really miss. I've met them all and they're lovely people, and they just lap Loz up big time (who wouldn't?!). We finally caught up with her mate Liz and her boyfriend Mark, last week in Chinatown. Again the duck was out of this world and I lost my shit (can't get enough of the stuff, thank god for the Chinese I reckon). We had a top night, finished by watching Chelsea knock Barcelona out of the Champion's League with only ten (10) men on the field. Watching a London team win in a London pub is pretty special, they go mad like you'd never believe for soccer over here; it's like rugby league supporters on steroids.

For my birthday at the end of February, Loz, the amazing human she is, invited all our London friends over for a surprise Mexican gathering at home. Nachos, Burritos, Tacos, Coronas, Mohitos, she had it all worked out and I had a great night with Loz, Mitch, Peejay, Jono, Tom, Chelcie and Dani. Needless to say work was a struggle the next day.


That next day, after much encouragement and nothing but positive anecdotes from the Hammersmith crew, we bought tickets to Rebel Underground Bingo which was in March. Now this is a tough one (1) to explain as it sounds quite lame really... When we bought the tickets we weren't told where the location of the bingo was going to be (deliberately, to keep it 'underground'). It wasn't until the week of the event that we were informed that it was in Shoreditch, in a warehouse, that got us pretty pumped. So we hit Brick Lane for a record time curry with Peejay and James, then legged it to Shoreditch for one (1) of the nights of our lives. Again,so difficult to explain, but it is actually bingo, but more a smut version... The 'bingoisms' (e.g. 88 two fat footballers) were proper filthy, words and phrases together that should never be said or repeated, but amazingly funny and relevant at the time of the event. This really set the tone, accompanied by pumping old-school tunes (The Next Episode by Dr Dre, remember that?) and drinks flowing. Everyone draws on each other, some in bingo pens, others in permanent ink, and it' just a bloody terrific night! Again, a great chance to see the Hammersmith crew again and share some Jaeger (I can never spell that word).


The next day we headed south to Peejay's house for a fry-up brekkie, delicious. We had a great day just hanging out, mostly in Battersea Park, before heading up to Camden for Luke's farewell to Chester. Although we didn't stay all that long, it was another cool bar inside the Stables, and it was Cuban themed. Amazing cocktails and a good vibe, lots of Caribbean music and heaps of people dancing (not me though).

Vin Diesel, that guy is a legend! Not the real VD, but Andrew Vincent... When he was visiting in 2011, he discovered that Mitch Fowler lived a mere 300m from our front door, and we share Teddy's as our local pub, halfway between our places. We've since caught up with Mitch countless times and he's become one of our best mates. To his absolute credit, he's made it his personal mission to make our time in London unforgettable, win.

Events: Only recently we got to meet Soph, Mitch's amazing girlfriend, and have since had some incredible times. Our fondest memory (aside from The Ledbury of course) was just last weekend, when we attended the Sunday Times Vintage Festival. Mitch and I, hungover as f#%k from our previous night's antics with Thomo, powered through. I got to the event quite early (it's a wine festival run by my work, bringing 5,000 people to the event over a weekend to try up to 262 different wines) and attended the business partner function. About nine (9) delicious champagnes later, Loz arrived and I finally got to introduce her to some of my workmates. Needless to say they loved her, as she did them. Mitch and Soph soon arrived and we went upstairs to the main event to get our drink on. We lost count pretty quickly, I think it was even before we started on the reds... So a few hours of wine and we were pretty flogged; we wandered up the road to the closest pub for another bottle, the place full of Laithwaites staff. Once the bottle was gone we hit up West End but were rejected from a couple of Mitch's favourite bars, Sketch and Aqua (despite Mitch's more than generous attempted bribes), so continued to Kensington where we were let into a cool piano bar. Amazing night finishing with brutal cocktails and singing Queen songs at the top of our lungs, ahh the memories. We're really going to miss hanging out with Mitch and Soph, they're so much fun.

Sometime in February (everything's starting to blend together now) we went and saw Gotye at Wilton's Music Hall, the world's oldest music hall. His single 'Somebody That I Used To Know' had just reached number one (1) on the UK charts so there was a lot of hype about him kicking around. We were incredibly lucky to see him in this intimate venue with just 300 other people, one (1) of the best concerts I've been to, he was about 5 metres from us, amazing.


I can't remember exactly when it was, but sometime in the past few months we went to the Royal Albert Hall to see Cirque de Soley (is that how you spell it?), which was our first experience at the Cirque. The show was called Totem and it was friggin' insane. There were so many different acts, all as outstanding as the other. It was kind of like the Chinese circus we attended in Beijing, but bigger and more professional. A great show at an amazing venue.

Many months ago, Loz (again, that woman is bloody amazing, still not sure how I got her) bought us tickets to The Emirates to see Arsenal v. Newcastle. The time finally came around in March, and after spending five (5) hours that work day scouring London for the tickets, Loz finally picked them up, and we were on our way.
The atmosphere was nothing short of electric, and a massive stadium. We sat in the second row amongst Arsenal supporters, just next to the Newcastle supporters (who are mad, by the way) and witnessed yet another hotly contested game. In the past year I've now managed to see Manchester United, Manchester City (twice), Chelsea, Arsenal, and Newcastle, all top teams. So it was another very close game and Arsenal won in the dying moments, going totally mental as they do.

In between all this, we've manged to visit Dublin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Iceland, Austria, Prague, Cheddar, and the Cotswalds. Not such a shabby few months I reckon...

London, you are amazing and won't ever be forgotten. It's not your Big Ben, Eye, or Tate Modern that make you special; it's your constant ability to amaze and entertain. Never close a pub, never move to Queensland, and most of all, never forget us, because we won't ever forget you.

Posted by Team W 06:08 Archived in England

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