PEr FYI

October 14, 2018

Monarch Coin Laundry, Cambridge…the shabbiest laundrette I’ve been in

It hits me as soon as I step into Monarch Coin Laundry, it’s absolutely filthy. Looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in years, really. There are nearly no self serve laundromats in the area so this place doesn’t even have to try.

There are plenty of different sized washers and dryers for small to large loads. Not much else good to say. Other than being dirty, there are no change machine on site (nip over to the Tesco express next door) and no folding tables or anywhere to fold.

It’s a beaten up laundromat. Don’t go in with high expectations and you’ll leave decently satisfied. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 22, 2018

The Book of Mormon, London…vulgar, offensive but extremely lovable musical

‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert ‘Avenue Q’ Lopez are the folks behind this Broadway-munching musical, so brace yourself for a shock.

For me this winner of 9 Tony Awards including Best Musical is the best West End musical in recent times. It’s good-natured poking of fun at all things sacred. Very funny, breathing three-dimensional, all-singing, all-dancing life into the absurdities of literal Mormon dogma without ever being particularly mean. A series of great-to-sublime songs; the lyrics are deliciously witty, and the superb score is packed with catchy melodies.

Be warned: “Mormon” is irreverent, racist, raunchy and profane, and insults just about everyone. You may be ashamed of how much you enjoyed it, but that’s forgivable.

I can give an “Amen” to that. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 26, 2018

Eat., London…budget-saving food

London is not a cheap city, but it does boast a thriving foodie scene with plenty of reasonably priced dining options. Eat. is one of them, serving delicately done British fare in friendly surroundings.

Their very simplest dishes, like the pies, mash & gravy with crispy onions, really are decent. Brie & Truffle mac & Cheese with cranberry sauce and crispy onions is the ultimate comfort food. I must warn you, you might not be able to fit into your pants after eating this, your heart may have some trouble beating from all the cream and cheese, but I promise, it will be worth it. Pigs in blanket hot roll with wholegrain mustard mayo & onion & ale chutney was traditionally made with buttery rolls and warm toasty, savory hot dogs bundled inside.

Eat. is a reasonable and Instagram-worthy “cheap eat” which will give you change for a tenner. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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