PEr FYI

August 12, 2018

The Eagle, Cambridge…a lead hangout

It’s about 400 years old,  full of charm and a Cambridge student feel and it’s where Watson and Crick supposedly discovered the structure of DNA.

Proper food here as well as bar snacks, all the usual pub classics and it’s pretty meat-heavy. Lots of burgers – the Buttermilk fried chicken burger – Ayrshire-dry cured bacon, guacamole & chilli mayo is a winner – and sausages and chicken. Fish & chips – battered cod, crushed peas, tartare sauce, triple-cooked chips was perfectly golden, crisp, firm but flaky and succulent.

For a pub The Eagle does a decent selection of standard cocktails. Everyone cares about their pints. There are plenty of the usual lagers and bitters on offer

It seems to have already cemented itself as a lead hangout in Cambridge. Time to get glugging. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 22, 2018

Bicester Village, London…Who needs the sale when you can shop here year round?

First, get the pronunciation right. It’s like “blister” without the “l”.

This rural England shopping centre – more than 160 stores and precisely 46 minutes by train from London’s Marylebone station – is almost as popular among Chinese tourists as Buckingham Palace.

This is the place to find deep discounts on designer and name brands. You will find everything you need from head to toe and from kitchen to living room. It is chockful of popular brands and perennial favorites, so anyone who is a loyal fan of any particular brands will want to check ahead to scope out their choices.

You will have saved so much. Even if you go in the poorhouse, you’ve spent your money wisely. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 8, 2018

Aladdin, London…bland Disney magic

Colourful designs and lively song and dance routines. The songs themselves are a mixed bag: the big romantic number A Whole New World is completely upstaged by the magic carpet that floats through the air with no strings attached. Not visibly, anyway. The Genie’s big show-stopper Friend Like Me – a jazzy riot of infectious trick-mustering showmanship that conjures the spirit of Las Vegas and hits the jack-pot in terms of hummability.

There’s so little of Lion King’s fecundity of imagination here that the ideal target audience would seem to be much younger, and more easily impressed. There’s been a cull of the animals – Abu  and Iago – that featured in the 1992 cartoon. It barely rises above the generic.

My honest advice, save your pound sterling. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 13, 2018

Cambridge Chauffeur Punts, Cambridge…enjoyed the views but not the narration

Punting is the most elegant and romantic way to navigate Cambridge’s River Cam. Who could visit Cambridge trying getting a punting experience.

A punt is a traditional square-ended, flat-bottomed boat, usually propelled using a long pole. What’s punting like?  It’s a calm, soothing boat ride on a river, something like riding in a gondola in Venice, except that gondolas are propelled by oars instead of poles.

The boats are kitted out with blankets for the colder months and especially after the sun goes down. The chauffeured punting took us on a 45 minute tour through the College Backs – a great way to see the river and experience the history of Cambridge. Though the guide was informative, telling us about the beautiful university buildings that line the river, he didn’t speak loud enough for us to hear him clearly.

This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful stretches of river in England. The views are unmatched! his is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 28, 2018

Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant, London…the most overrated restaurant in London.

It just makes my day when I spend a ton of money on something that I didn’t even enjoy eating. (insert sarcasm here) Okay, I’m totally kidding. I actually hate that feeling and that’s why I am writing this. It’s the worst feeling in the world when you spend a ton of money on food that isn’t even that great.

The food looked good from a distance but on closer inspection turned out to be rather unappetizing. The duck in the three combination barbecued meat was the only acceptable bit. The grilled eel in honey sauce was revolting and the house special “pei-pa” beancurd was not as good as the off-the-shelf beancurd equivalents in Sainsbury’s.

Seriously though, it really is awful. I’m struggling to think of a reason why anyone would actually want to eat here. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 30, 2018

Warner Bros Studio The Making of Harry Potter, London…an absolute must-see for Potter fans

A movie fanatic would always enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at how the films were made. Unlike the theme parks at Universal, this is the actual studio where they filmed the movies, and actual props. And there’s no doubting that Potter aficionados will love what they see here, because it is the real deal. Potterheads rejoice!!

You’ll see things like the Great Hall (yes it was as dramatic as it appears in the movies!), #4 Privet Drive, The Hogwarts Express, the Knight Bus and the forbidden forest. If you’re really big on details, get the audio guide, note there is a cost but you can book it advance with your ticket. This is 100% worth the price. The highlight – which drew gasps from me – is the model of Hogwarts. Built to 1:24 scale, it was used in the exterior shots for the first six films. The attention to detail is incredible. Even if you are just a mild fan of Harry Potter like me, you will love this place. It’s incredible! Definitely allow a lot of time for this excursion but it’s truly worth the trip. I binge-watched all 8 episodes after visiting this studio.

If you want to book a tour, you should be looking to schedule a time slot about two months out, otherwise there is a good chance it will be sold out. There is also a large shop at the end where you can buy all kinds of Harry Potter and Hogwarts swag. Definitely don’t forget to get some butterbeer or butterbeer ice cream.

The tour is a must-see for Potter fans. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 10, 2018

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London…100% worth a visit

If you are already planning your year end holidays, here’s how you can make your Christmas extra special and magical.

If you fancy some festive atmosphere, Winter Wonderland is an annual event in London’s Hyde park with fairground rides, Christmas stalls, markets and entertainment for all ages. Entry is free. This is truly a wonderful wonderland thanks to the sheer volume of what’s on offer. There are pre-bookable attractions that you can book online.

Wrap up warm for The Magical Ice Kingdom as it’s -8C in there! Last year the Magical Ice Kingdom presents an ‘Deep Sea Adventure’ – an immersive walk through experience filled with ice, snow sculptures and a bubble wall. Bar Ice is next to the Magical Ice Kingdom and this time it’s about -10C. Here, you’ll be given a winter cloak and gloves. That’s because the seats, tables, walls and even your glass are made of ice.

As it gets really dark the whole place seems to shimmer with light and it does indeed feel very festive. The food on offer looked tempting – including the usual bratwurst and German beer, to fish and chips, hog roast, minced pies and mulled wine.

They’ve got every kind of ride imaginable… Christmas coasters, carousels, waltzers and dodgems. They’ve got a Fun House which is four storeys tall! The Haunted Mansion is actually a mansion. Of all the thrill rides, highlight for me was Air Maxx. G’s all the way. My inner adrenalin junkie was truly satiated.

The Grinch would have a real challenge stealing all the Christmas from Hyde Park. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 19, 2018

Oink, Edinburgh…Insanely cheap and lip-smackingly delicious

If pork is not your meal of choice, then Oink is not for you. If you are a “gourmet”, go for these hog roasts. And if you simply like good food, run to Oink and buy a couple of pulled pork roast rolls! Oink, as its name suggests serves only one thing and that’s pork.

There is only two choices on the menu – a roll stuffed with slow roast pork with / without crackling ! These tasty treats come in three sizes : Piglet (80 gms of meat), Oink (160 gms of meat) and Grunter (250 gms of meat). Oink size was just right for me. The pig is salted and tray-roasted, to retain its juices, and then shredded and served on bread rolls and customers can add a selection of toppings including sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce and chilli relish. The bread rolls are cheap, flimsy things, but you get a generous mound of quite majestic meat.

Simplicity itself, this. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 10, 2018

Whiski Bar & Restaurant, Edinburgh…as Scottish as ye can get

Situated close to Edinburgh Castle, on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, Whiski Bar has a warm, relaxed atmosphere, with shabby chic décor and mood lighting creating the perfect environment to sample a ‘wee dram’.

The excellent food offering concentrates on the Scottish classics. Arguably, Scotland’s national food is haggis, neeps and tatties, which consists of sheep’s or calf’s offal with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning. Whiski Bar’s haggis stack with delicious whiski sauce is the best to try it for the first time. The Scottish Atlantic salmon, mash potato & lemon cream sauce is amazing and if you liked salmon you will love this.

A whisky bar for the true devotee. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 3, 2018

Wagamama, London…Just not worth it.

While Wagamama is a semi-intriguing name, the interest can stop there. This is clearly Japanese food tailored to a Western palate. Everyone love Japanese food, but the Japanese food here is really mediocre as far as I’m concerned.

And the Shirodashi ramen?  (slow cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles on a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso. Topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg) Well, that left much to be desired.

What to avoid: The poorly made Wagamama ramen (grilled chicken, seasoned pork, chikuwa, shell-on prawns and mussels on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso. Topped with half a tea-stained egg, menma, spring onions, wakame and pea shoots) was objectively terrible. It was barely Japanese at all. And for a Japanese restaurant, what an achievement!

Why settle for middle of the road when there are other options? Just sayin’. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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