Category Archives: London

Things we did during our time in London.

Bikram Yoga: Come to class with us!

My birthday’s coming soon 🙂  Whoot!  Another reminder of how old I’m getting 😉

To commemorate this special occasion the Bikram Yoga studio I go to is giving me a free class which I can use for myself or give to someone else.

Since we pay a monthly subscription, we get unlimited classes for the month so it’s better for us to give the free class away to someone who can benefit from it.  Tones got one for his birthday but we didn’t use it or give it away.

SO, thought I’d make an announcement here for it.  If you’ve been wanting to go and would like to give it a go then get in touch.

The free class can be given to you but you have to attend with yours truly.  I only have one pass for one class and I only want to give this to someone who actually will attend and use it ok?  It has to be used within the next 2 weeks.

We’ll attend a class with you at a studio in either London Bridge or Balham.  Just email – first come first served.

Joy & Tones

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Applebees (our 100th class reward)

So yesterday I showed you all the before and after pics of our improvements in health and well being by doing 100 classes of Bikram Yoga.

Today I show you what we did to celebrate our accomplishment!  We ate at Applebees!  Applebees is a fishmonger at Borough Markets (London Bridge) and was introduced to me by one of my previous bosses.  It’s where he buys his fish for cooking at home and I think he knows the owners.

When you’re not buying fish for home, you can actually eat there!  He chose this place to go to for one of his birthday lunches.  He then took his partner, me and Tony out for dinner there.  It was lovely!

It’s been a long time since then (years!) but Tony and I both remembered that the food was fantastic and it’s very close to where we went on our first date!

So, we practised our 100th class at Bikram Yoga London Bridge and headed here for dinner.  We figured it would be a healthy reward for a healthy accomplishment.  Lucky for us, we made it just as they were calling for last orders!

Here’s the menu.  We had to choose quickly but also knew that whatever we chose would be good!

Here’s what we got:

Softshell Crab and Mixed Appetizers

Mixed appetizers to share
Oyster shots, sashimi, olives with anchovies and blinis with caviar

The dips that came with the appetizers were great.  It was sweet chilli, some delicious thick sweet and salty soy type sauce which I’ve forgotten the name of (tasted so good on the sashimi) and the last was the vinegar and shallots (for the oyster shots).  Also they ran out of blinis so we got caviar on bread (rye?)

Soft shell crab tempura
Soft shell crab in a light tempura batter with a carrot salad

Mixed Grilled Fish Platter with Rocket Salad and Side of Spinach

 

Mixed grilled fish platter & Side of Sautéed spinach
Selection of finest fish and seafood served with a selection of dips,
hand cut chips or a rocket and cherry tomato salad

Just guessing but we figured we had:  prawn, cod, swordfish, salmon, tuna and plaice.  Tones and I were like “where’s the monkfish?!”  but you know what?  All were cooked to perfection and delicious!

We obviously chose the salad over the chips and the dips were salsa verde, mayo and sweet chilli.

Poached Pear Tart with Hazelnut Icecream

I checked their dessert menu online and this wasn’t on it so they must change their desserts regularly.  This was so yum!  They also have a specials menu which is written on a chalk board on the wall so there’s plenty to choose from.

If you like your fish and you like it fresh, then this is definitely a place you must visit!

Here’s a picture of our proud selves right after the yoga class  😛

Tones and Joy right after their 100th Bikram Yoga Class at Applebees

BT London Live 2012

For people who didn’t get tickets to the Olympics, there is an event at Hyde Park called BT London Live (also at Victoria Park).

We went to the Hyde Park one last weekend.  So we got to watch swimming.  If you were there this weekend you would have witnessed awesomeness – well done Team GB!

At BT London Live you will find lots of space to run around and many large screens to watch and cheer on your favourite Olympic athletes like these guys…

Our Podium Finish London 2012 Olympics 🙂

Tee Hee 😉

Things I didn’t like were that there were wood chips EVERYWHERE, there is no grass and wood chips are VERY uncomfortable to sit on even if you have a picnic mat, worse if you don’t (and many people didn’t). Story of the day….. see our mat?

Picnic on Woodchips

It’s very British! We bought it for Wimbledon and thought it would be good for a souvenir – memories of our days in London and cheering on Team GB (we went for the Aussies too but they haven’t performed very well this Olympics).  A couple of guys offered £20 to buy it off us as we were leaving because they didn’t have a picnic mat and wanted one.  Our conscience wouldn’t let us sell to drunk guys for that price, so we sold it to them for £10 🙂

My other gripes?  You’re not allowed to bring drinks (incl water) or food inside the premises but they will sell you burgers for £6.50, a kebab for £7.99 and a small hot chips for £3.00  from all the food stalls inside.

There are port-a-loos everywhere but they’re not that clean and they don’t have toilet paper so you’re screwed if you don’t have tissues (Tony says they’re actually pretty good compared to what you’d find at music festivals but obviously I’m just being a bit of a prissy princess – I just find port-a-loos disgusting in general).

Lastly, you are pretty much in the sun or in the rain or whatever the day brings but there is no shade or shelter (unless you count the Cadbury House or the BT House which are not enough for all the people that are there).

On the upside…. It’s great for a family day out.  We don’t have kids but I can see how the  kids would  have been occupied all day.

There’s “Have-a-go-sports” which allows big and little kids to have a go at whatever sport they’re playing on the day.  When we went it was basketball (you compete against “professional” London junior basketballers).

Cadbury House was a treat – we lined up for almost 2 hours (got free chocolate to say “thanks for waiting”) to get inside.

As an adult, there’s not much to do but for kids…  they would have been happily in Joyville forever.

There were games where you’d win chocolate, “silly” sports like getting timed to run through a ball pit and back, clicker championships (where kids clicked the clicker as fast as they could in 60 seconds and the person with the most clicks got a stamp on their forehead), find a Freddo Frog log…  and other things.

It’s called “Joyville” so for obvious reasons we had to go in.

The fun part for adults would be the free chocolate tasting and a chocolate medal 🙂

The main treat at BT London Live is the live music every day.  So if you get bored of watching the screens, you can go to the  main stage and see an interview with an Olympian.  We saw Torvill and Dean.

Or watch a live performance.  There are different performers each day.

We saw this guy, Newton Faulkner.

Newton Faulkner

This is the first I’ve seen or heard of him but huge thumbs up – here’s one of his songs that he got the crowd to sing along to.

One man and his guitar got the crowd engaged, singing and jumping – awesome 🙂  There’s just something about a happy, singing crowd that lifts ones spirits!

BT London Live is still on for as long as the Olympics are on so a few days to go and it’s free!

How do you like your Egg & Soldiers?

Have you ever heard of “Egg & Soldiers”?

I’d never heard of them or even had them until I came to the UK.  Very cute name for a soft boiled egg served with buttered bread cut into dipping sticks (soldiers).

I’d had soft boiled egg as a kid and I liked it… just no soldiers… I missed out on all the fun!!

Faberge Egg Hunt: Egg & Soldiers by Mulberry

Do you reckon it’s named after Humpty Dumpty…

Faberge Egg Hunt: Humpty Dumpty by The Prince’s Drawing School signed by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall

…and the King’s Men?

Faberge Egg Hunt: Busby by Rachel Waldron

I would have LOVED to pick up those soldiers and have them stamp around the insides of that egg… “Humpty Dumpty… I kill you!.. DIE while I swirl your insides like an Italian stomps on grapes! Oh no! My legs are getting soggy and that big giant’s going to eat me…Arrrgh!!”

YUMMY!!

Ahem….. a little too much insight into my psyche there…

Moving right along….!!

Today’s post is about our versatile and most beloved eggs because we made some really Fancy Egg & Soldiers for brunch (recipe at the bottom I promise…) and I said that I’d post about them a while back  AND I also wanted to share with you some of our favourite Faberge Eggs since it was our dear Faberge’s 166th birthday the other day (thank you Google for that insight)!

Over the Easter, there was a HUGE Easter Egg hunt called “The Faberge Big Egg Hunt” (the English have the most creative ways of naming things) where giant decorated eggs were planted all over London over a number of weeks for the public to go around and find them all.

Faberge Egg Hunt: Basileus by Vanessa Chilton for Robinson Pelham

There were 210 eggs to find all over the city, each uniquely crafted by artists, jewellers, designers and architects – the purpose was to raise funds for charity (apart from having a record breaking egg hunt across central London, the eggs were on sale!).

SO.. in pure Tony & Joy style, we waited until ALL the eggs were collected and brought to Covent Garden on display so we could see all 210 without having to travel throughout the entire city over a number of weeks looking for them!

Faberge Egg Hunt Covent Garden (btw Where’s Wally?!)

OK that’s not true… in pure Tony & Joy style we decided too late in the piece to start hunting and the weekend we chose to do it, they’d already collected it all and put it in Covent Garden and we were lucky to see them at all because it was the last day… !

Faberge Eggs Covent Garden

In saying that, we spent a good 3.5 hours in the rain looking for them all and had the latest lunch possible (4.30pm) AND we didn’t even find them all!!!!  Hopeless!!  They’re all in one place!   How hard could it have been?

Egg Hunters Covent Garden

By that stage I was too hungry to care… we found a total of 200 and we were happy with that!

We won’t bore you with all 200 that we found, just some (199) of our favourites.. here they are 🙂

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OK and since you endured our family holiday slideshow 😉  HERE’s the recipe for the FANCY EGG & SOLDIERS!  You earned it!

Eggs with Blue Cheese & Ricotta

Ingredients for 2:

25g creamy blue cheese

2 tbsp milk

1 tbsp chopped chives

115g Ricotta cheese

Salt & black pepper

2 eggs

Mash cheese with fork and then beat in all ingredients (except egg).  Lightly oil 2 ramekins and divide the cheese mixture between them.  Make hollows for the eggs and crack one egg into each ramekin, season with salt and pepper.

Place ramekins in a roasting tin containing hot water and bake at 190’C until whites have set but yolks still soft.

Here we have it served with tomatoes and buttered toast fingers (soldiers!) made with Free-from bread!!

Our fancy egg & soldiers

They tasted so good!  You have to watch this though… we baked our first lot for too long (left it in the oven with a timer) and the egg yolk had hardened – still tasted alright but couldn’t dip the soldiers 😦

So – enjoy!  You can have it for brunch this weekend and let us know how it comes out 😉

Have a great weekend!

Date Day: The Disappointing Steak House

The weekend that was brilliantly sunny weather had us pretty much indoors the whole time.  Can you believe it?!

While everyone was out in full force burning themselves in their underwear in the park at midday (a sight I’ve STILL not gotten used to after 7 years of being here) or loading themselves up with Pimms, Tones and I merrily sat in the shade or indoors with air conditioning or all the windows open (loving the light and loving the breeze).

As far as I’m concerned, I’ve had PLENTY of sun – the amount of wrinkles, freckles and sunspots I’ve got will prove it and I’m over the bright red lobster look!

We did go out on a “date day” to an Argentinian Steak House (we got a deal from Groupon).  We go on dates at least once a month – we figured while we don’t have children it would be good to get into the habit of going out on dates 🙂

Our opinion of this place?  I found it strange that the waiter and it seemed like the cook and owner too, were “Asian” (Indian background – they call people with Chinese background “Oriental” here) considering this was an “Argentinian Steak House”.

Where were the Argentinians?  Why are Indians serving me Argentinian food?  Where’s the authenticity?  I’ve had Chinese people serve me Mexican food – it was horrible!!  Stick with what you know people!!

Anyway, they serve their steak with either chips, jacket potato or rice…. rice?   I was going to choose rice to see how it would taste but couldn’t get my head around eating rice with steak blood all over it so I asked the waiter if it was any good.  He said that he wouldn’t eat it… because….   Asians don’t eat beef (cows are sacred in their culture).  How bizarre (not that cows are sacred but more that they’re serving something they are completely against…)

After the meal we were asked by the waiter, “Did you have any complaints?”  This was yet another thing to add to the strangeness – don’t you think it was a very strange way of asking if we enjoyed our meal…?

How do you answer that?  “Well, no we don’t have any complaints, but I’ll think up some for you if you want…”

So did we have any complaints?  Not that we wanted to tell them.. we politely ate everything, it was edible, it was just average and I guess we were disappointed because we had set such high expectations for the place.. being date day and all!

Here are the pictures:

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It doesn’t look too bad right?  So what were our gripes?

1.  The steamed veggies that the steak was served with, was minimal and consisted of cabbage and carrot, both of which looked old (ie cut and left out to dry and crack before boiling) plus one small slice of courgette (zucchini).

2.  The calamari for the starter was 7/8  batter 1/8 squid

3.  The prawns for some reason we both expected to be with less sauce (more like the gambas you get when you order tapas) and it turned out to be soupy.. in a tomato soup-based sauce (the description said white wine sauce, maybe there was white wine in the tomato based sauce, I don’t know) and the bread wasn’t very good (a bit stale).

4.  The steak – my sirloin was soft and juicy.  I did ask for it to be medium and it was very close to being well done but I was happy with this because it was soft.  I chose mushroom sauce and it was nice but after half way through, it started tasting like pork stroganoff.  I like pork stroganoff but I was there for Argentinian steak!

5.  Tones’ steak – the rib eye, he asked for medium rare and part of it was blue, the other part was medium LOL  I have no idea how they managed that.  3/4 of it was medium rare but closer to medium.  He chose peppercorn sauce and it was OK.

It was a Saturday afternoon so it wasn’t packed, there were a number of people there who all seemed to be enjoying their food and the waiter was prompt with service.

To me, it was more like a lunch time cafe that served steak.  Tones mentioned that a lot of it (apart from the steak) looked like it came from frozen packs or cans (eg, tomato sauce for the prawns, the chips, the calamari).

We figured it would probably cost us the same to go to the local butcher and buy some really high quality steaks and cook them at home.

Maybe we put higher expectations on the place than needed.  It cost approx 16.95 for the steak and they’ve got deals where you get 2 courses for 20.00 (starters were about 3.50-4.50) so I don’t get how that’s a deal, you save like 0.50??

The verdict:  Disappointed.  Nice to have tried it and although the service was good, we probably won’t be eating there again.

Bikram Yoga: Loving yoga in multicultural London

I realise the blog is a little sporadic with bits of this and bits of that.  Apparently a really successful blog with a strong following is one that only focusses on one thing.  I am defying all odds and going against all rules and am blogging about anything and everything my heart desires.

In saying that, it’s not really useful if you’re not interested so, I’m now going to dedicate Wednesdays as the Bikram Yoga blog day!  If you’re into it… check the blog on Wednesdays and if you’re not or are curious.. check out what we’re rambling about on another day.  Also, I’ll make sure to write “Bikram Yoga” in the title – just so you’re certain! 😉

SO with that said… WELCOME TO BIKRAM YOGA WEDNESDAY!

This week I have to tell you about how awesome it is to be doing Bikram Yoga in London because it is so multicultural.

I don’t think there is any other “multi-cultural” place on earth.  Sure sure, lots of countries have lots of different cultures, I used to think Australia was “multi-cultural” but it just isn’t the same as it is here in London.

What do I mean?  Well, in Oz, you have LOTS of cultures but they all stick to themselves and certain groups live in certain areas (I know I’m being a little generalist here but as an example, you get the Lebs in Bankstown, the Viets in Cabramatta, the Greeks in Earlwood… etc. right? and they all speak English albeit with accents but they don’t really integrate and intermingle).

But here in London, it’s all integrated and the diversity is evident even just walking down our street where people are speaking French, Polish, Spanish, Russian, Italian, English (in various accents), walk a little bit more and you get all the dialects of Africa.

I mention this because this diversity became extremely apparent after having gone to yoga last week!!  I never had the same teacher and none of them ever had the same accent!!  The thing is, Bikram Yoga is led through the dialogue so it was interesting to experience each class led with the same dialogue but with different accents + personalities!

Day 1 – The Talkative English Teacher

This woman is one of my favourite teachers, she keeps talking and talking and does not allow you to think AT ALL.  She has that amazing skill an Aborigine has when they’re blowing into a didgeridoo and breathing in at the same time (I never could understand how they could breathe out and in all at the same time to keep a constant flow of sound) but this is what she does with her talking… She’s not Aboriginal but she’s mastered their art – it’s like she never stops for a breath!

You just have to listen to her and follow her instructions and you’ll get through the entire 1.5 hr class without one single internal thought ever having the chance of popping out… She pushes you hard and she cracks jokes so you smile through class.  BRILLIANT!

Day 2 – The Terminator

I won’t tell you any more about this other than… see this blog I did about it 😉

Day 3 – The Aussie

You can tell the Aussie by the way they say there O’s.  Like “no” or “don’t”

To the foreign ear it apparently sounds like “oy”.   “Noy” and “Doyn’t”   I’m an Aussie… I doyn’t really get it until I hear it compared to an English or American “No”.  OH BUT WHEN YOU DO…. it feels like Hoyme!

The rest of her accent sounded pretty English but then you hear the twang “Doyn’t kick out unless your standing knee is locked” and it takes you right back to Sydney!  Ahh….

She was also stricter with the water intake and never opened the door for air…. yup, that’s how I remember it.

Day 4 – The Espanish Instrrrutor

Eef yorrr estandin leg is lak a concrrreeet block, no shakin. DEN you can estrech yorrr oderr leg out. Joo mus consentrayt en meditayt.

Mate… I’m not bagging it out… I LOVE the Spanish accent, hell I wish I was Espanish! – I’m always rrrrrepeating it everrrry time joo no like when Alonso does an interrrr view “It was a berry berry good rrrrrace”!  I couldn’t find a clip with an example but listen to this one where he says “bic to rrrrry” and “tyrrre Degrrredasion”  and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The Spanish are awesome people, very laid back, rrrelax and so this class definitely had me smiling and rrrrepeating instructions in my head for the entire class.

Day 5 – The American

“B!tch got attitoood” 😉

This woman holds a class…. with attitude.  Definitely a different feel in her classes, it almost feels competitive… and a bit fashion conscious….

I get you have to take yourself seriously sometimes and I do take my classes seriously and I get that it’s nice to look good, even if you are sweating like crazy but really, I prefer yoga to be my time out… not my time on.  ie… I like to be daggy, comfortable and relaxed and none of that works in this woman’s class!

She did however stick strictly with the dialogue and kept to time unlike other teachers and if I ignore the attitude and stick with the words, it’s pretty much just like every other class.

Day 6 – The Saffa

This saffa’s accent wasn’t too strong but I could tell when she said “don’t kick ahhht” instead of “don’t kick out”.

She was quite bubbly and gave much more demonstrations of various poses so it was very helpful AND she gave some affirmations while you were in savasana which was nice 🙂

Day 7 – The Male English Instructor

This was a funny class – he kept yawning throughout the entire initial breathing exercise and then he bent over to give a demonstration of a pose, and farted!

His reaction: “ummm… yes, that was my shorts… well it’s a good excuse anyway!”  LOL

Nice one Mr Bean!

Krav Maga: Our Second Lesson

If I didn’t mention it earlier, we have signed up for 10 classes.

This time around I felt more confident, way more aggressive and so was a little more effective with the techniques I learned.  Plus, I “sparred” with boys more than girls so I was allowed to be a bit rougher.

In saying that, I partnered up with a girl, she did not hold back and is about as tall as Tony… Thank god for the pad because she kicked hard!!  😛

Tony too got to sparring with a guy, did a fake punch and hit this guy’s hand.  The guy’s hand ricochetted off Tony’s punch and went into the guy’s eye…. Nice one Tones…  Guys can be so rough!

Anyway – a picture says a thousand words… so here’s the summary in post-class bruises…

As little as the bruises are, it’s unlike either of us to bruise after a work out (think of it this way…. I got punched in the jaw by a guy during a mugging, my face swelled up but not noticeably and although tender for a week, it had absolutely ZERO bruise).

So getting a bruise is a BIG DEAL ALRIGHT?!   😛

See you soon

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