London – The Victoria & Albert museum

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Three of London’t biggest and most popular museums are based in Knightsbridge.  They are the Natural History museum (see here), behind the Natural History museum, no more than 5 minutes walk away, is the Science museum, and across the road, towards the left side of the Natural History museum is the V&A, again, about a 5 minutes walk.

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The V&A is the world’s largest Art & Design museum.  Inside is a treasure trove of art collection and houses some fantastic pieces of art work from all over the world.  This is one place you don’t want to miss if you are in the area.  You can easily spend a day in any of the three museums or for variety and a change of scenery, you can divide your time and spend a few hours at each.  And best of all, they’re all free!

Below is one piece of art work most people would probably walk past and won’t even notice it because is is surrounded by many other dazzling jewelries which attracts the eye.  Luckily my friend spotted this ingenious creation and pointed it out.  Can you guess what it is and what it is made off?

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At first glance this looks like a large bunch of flowers made of steel.  Yes, it is made of steel but these flowers are crafted by careful and strategic arrangement of cutleries.    There are roses, tulips, chrysanthemums and others.  It is amazing that someone has the mind to turn such ordinary, everyday object into this steel bouquet.  There are many other delightful objects to be seen in the museum.  Below is a short video of this museum to give you an idea what treasures are within.

And here is the video of the Natural History museum.

Nearest tube station to get to these museums is South Kensington in zone 1 of the District, Circle, and Piccadilly line.   Entrance fee is free.

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London – Yum Cha @China Town

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3 dim sum baskets stacking on top of each other

London is the only place in Europe to have a fully fledged China Town, and as such we can enjoy Yum Cha (lit. drink tea), the southern Chinese/Cantonese style of afternoon tea.  When Chinese people say let’s go to Yum Cha it means having dim sum dishes.   These are little dishes of food, normally hot and savoury, bite size pieces which you can pick up easily with chopsticks; traditionally the food are usually steamed in bamboo baskets, nowadays there are selections of fried and cold dishes too.  Hong Kong is really the ultimate dim sum heaven where having dim sum is a daily affair, the food is cheap, fresh and variety endless.

In my opinion to enjoy dim sum to its fullest, you really need to know how to use the chopstick.  Dim sum is made for eating with chopsticks.  The second is that dim sum has to be eaten while it is still hot, or at least warm.  Once the steamed food turned cold, it is horrible, and it is best to have at least 3 people because each dish contains three or four pieces so with at least 3 people you can share and order more of different dishes.

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The above is a typical example of a dim sum meal I had.  I have put names to each dish to give you an idea.  There are more dishes to come but these were some of the first ones to arrive.  We had 6 people that day and we might have ordered a bit too much.  However, we did manage to eat it all.

As I mentioned earlier, dim sum have to be eaten while it is still hot.  In a traditional dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong, these food baskets would be placed inside a steamed cart.  The waitresses push these steamed carts around the restaurant and customers pick out what they want from these carts as they come round so the food is literally pipping hot and no food is wasted as you choose what you want throughout the meal.   There used to be one such proper cart dim sum restaurant in London’s china town for a very long time.  Unfortunately, it closed down last year (2017) :(.    All the other dim sum restaurant I know off, you basically order what you want and eat each dish as and when it comes, while it is hot.   Once a dish is emptied, it is cleared to make way for  another.  You don’t wait for everything to arrive as in western meal because the food will be cold especially that the weather is already much colder here than it is in Asia.

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Don’t be surprise if you see dishes such as chicken feet, intestine or tripe or other parts of the animal.  This is the Chinese idea of waste not want not.  The Chinese will make use of and eat as much of the animal as possible (probably the same in many other parts of the world too).  It is amazing that, chicken feet, which is practically all bones can be turned into such delicacy.   Take it from me,  it is delicious.  I order one such dish every time.

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It could be hard for anyone not familiar with dim sum to try order some but there are a few restaurants that provide a pictured menu to make it a bit easier.  Below is one such menu.

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Page 1 – dim sum menu – Goody2shoos
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Page 2 – dim sum menu – Goody2shoos

Note these pictured menu doesn’t tell you the price of the dishes.  This is because in the last few years prices constantly changing.  You need to ask for the accompanying paper menu which has the prices and check it from there.  In this particular restaurant you can just point to the dishes you want using the pictured menu.  In other restaurants you get a piece of paper with the list of all the dim sum dishes so you indicate which dish you want by putting a tick against each.

Until about 2-3 years ago, it’d cost me approximately £10-12 for a dim sum meal.  But now, the same meal would be around £16-18, a jump of about 50%.  This is due to the fact everything is more expensive, and also previously, Chinese restaurants in China town don’t have a service charge.  Now, a service charge seems to a standard way to increase costs even though I don’t feel service has changed at all.

Here’s a short video of a dim sum meal and a walkabout in London’s China town and Leicester Square.

London – an Afternoon Tea @The Colonnade Hotel

Colonnade_40This is my 5th post on ‘an Afternoon tea’ series.  To see the others, go to the ‘MORE POSTS’ section on the side bar.  Click on the drop down list and choose ‘Afternoon Tea’ from the drop down menu.

This afternoon tea at the Colonnade Hotel was in fact, my very first introduction to afternoon tea using  Groupon vouchers. There were four of us this time and one friend had come over from France especially to try the ‘English afternoon tea’ experience so we indulged her by forming a group of four to partake in this.  We picked this venue because she was staying at a place very south London, whereas this venue is the very opposite in North West London so she had to travel all the way across town, from one end to the other, to see the difference faces of London :). Another reason is that the hotel is very near to the Little Venice section of the canal which we wanted to walk around afterward.

Continue reading “London – an Afternoon Tea @The Colonnade Hotel”

London – an Afternoon Tea @Yum Sa Restaurant

Yum Sa is a Chinese/Cantonese word literally meaning ‘drink tea’ and to the Chinese this means having Dim Sum (literally mean touching the heart).  Dim Sum are tiny dishes of mostly steam food usually in a bamboo basket (I’ll be doing a post on this at some point so wait for it).  But this Yum Sa place advertises itself as a Thai restaurant so it looks like this is some sort of an Asian fusion food type of place.  I love Dim Sum and with a big discount on the Groupon voucher – can’t miss it so off I went, brought and booked a table for two at the restaurant to try it out. Continue reading “London – an Afternoon Tea @Yum Sa Restaurant”

London – Sushi, Sashimi – @Nippon Izakaya

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Open Garden Squares 2018 – Goody2shoostravels

Hello,  I’m still here munching my way through the various Groupon voucher deals I feel is worth testing out.   This time I’m having sushi and sashimi at a very Japanese sounding establishment – Nippon Izakaya in Woodside Park, North London.

It was one of the best summer’s day of 2018.  It was 10 June 2018 to be precise and London was having an ‘Open Garden Squares weekend’ day.  Don’t know if you’re aware but every year for one weekend in either May or June all the private and public gardens in London opened up for the weekend, and everyone is invited to come and enjoy these beautiful oasis all over London.  Unlike the Open House weekend which takes place in September and is free, you have to paid for this one.  The price was £15 in 2018 for the weekend (Saturday & Sunday). Continue reading “London – Sushi, Sashimi – @Nippon Izakaya”

London – The Natural History museum

London has some of the best, largest, and most extensive museums anywhere in the world.  And the best thing about them is they’re all free!  So come with me and my friend on this cold, wet, windy day as we explore The Natural History museum, where it is warm and cosy inside with so much to do and see.

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The Natural History museum is a huge place, just the look of the building itself is impressive.  Inside it houses a vast collection of the natural world. You can easily spend a whole day in there but we’ll only be there for about 2.5hrs.  We’ll spend time in the main hall where the main exhibit is the skeleton of a female blue whale (below).  Previously the centre piece was Dippy the dinosaur but Dippy got taken away to be replaced by the blue whale last year.

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Unlike Dippy which was a plaster cast replica.  This is a real blue whale skeleton.  The whale itself beached in a beach in Ireland on 26 March 1891.  The museum brought the whale bones but it wasn’t until last year that the skeleton finally came out of the closet and got put on show where it is now.  We also  visited the Minerals vault where all kinds of stones, minerals, gems, and other precious and rare stones are housed.  Lastly we went to see the dinosaurs at Dinosaurs house.  That was all we had time for as we wanted to go over to the nearby V&A museum for a complete change of scene.

Below is the video of our walk in the museum.  Enjoy.

Nearest tube station to the museum is South Kensington in zone 1.of the District, Circle, and Piccadilly line.   Entrance fee is free.

London – Fish & Chips @The Blue Eyed Maid

Fish & Chips is so classically British; in the same league as afternoon tea if not more so. However, whereas you could find countless Groupon vouchers for afternoon tea deals, there was next to nothing when it comes to Fish & Chips. The Blue Eyed Maid was the only place I could find that offers a Groupon deal for Fish & Chips and the deal fits in exactly with my motto of ‘cheap & cheerfulness’ because for £9 you get Fish & Chips for 2 with a glass of Prosecco, wine, or beer thrown in. I don’t think you could even get Fish & Chips takeaway for one at that price let alone at a restaurant with wine thrown in for two people. It was too good to be true; I had to find out so I brought the Groupon and booked our table for a few weeks later.  On the appointed date, made my way to London Bridge station. Met my eating companion at the station and walked a short distance to the restaurant – so the location is very central. Continue reading “London – Fish & Chips @The Blue Eyed Maid”

London – Kibele – a Turkish brunch

This is one meal that exceeded expectation.  I’ve never been to a Turkish restaurant before and have no idea what Turkish food is about.  To be honest I don’t think this meal is truly Turkish but I’m not fussed.  As long as the ingredient is fresh, food is done well, tastes good, you enjoy the food and have a good experience, that’s all that matters.

The restaurant is located at Great Portland Street, one of the many streets branching out from Oxford Street.  We turned up on a Sunday afternoon with our Groupon voucher to find the restaurant surprisingly larger than expected and busy.  We got seated in a corner sofa seat, large, comfortable and next to the window so had good view of the street outside.   A good thing about the Groupon voucher is that most of the time it is a set menu or you have a limited set of choices so it doesn’t take too long to figure out what to have.  Beware that you’ll need to pay extra if you order anything outside of the set menu.  Also, as the voucher had already been paid for  in advance, thus no need to worry about the bill either. Continue reading “London – Kibele – a Turkish brunch”

London – Rucoletta – an Italian meal

I didn’t have any expectation for this meal.  I was just browsing through the email that Groupon sent me with all the meal deals available and this one caught my eye because it was cheap enough for me to afford :).

Save for a weekend trip to Venice, Italy years and years ago where I had some Italian food, I’ve never had any since except for pizza and pasta, but I don’t think these count as proper Italian food.   I was actually hesitant getting the voucher because the restaurant doesn’t open at the weekend when I usually go for my meal deals.  It only opens during weekdays because it is located in the City, just off St. Paul’s Cathedral, and it caters for City workers who don’t work weekends.  After some discussion with my sister who agreed to come and share in this meal deal with me (minimum is for 2 people) we decided we could do it one evening after work; thus I brought the meal deal and booked our table. Continue reading “London – Rucoletta – an Italian meal”

London – an Afternoon tea @The Wellcome Trust

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Welcome to my 4th post in an Afternoon Tea series (check out the others at the  side bar for ‘recent posts’).  This time I’m having my tea party at The Wellcome Trust just off Euston Train station.  The Wellcome Trust is located inside an imposing building right on Euston Road almost opposite the train station of the same name.  According to Wikipedia “The Wellcome Trust is a biomedical research charity based in London, United Kingdom.  It was established in 1936 with legacies from the pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome to fund research to improve human and animal health”. Continue reading “London – an Afternoon tea @The Wellcome Trust”