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Devon to London
By Justin Barnwell
29 July 2010

A typical English breakfast tea overlooking the bay was how I started the day then wandered downstairs to be greeted by our host Carol who was reading a book in front of her large lounge room windows facing the sea. We chatted about the town and the influx of people that come here to enjoy the sea over the summer months, a group of local surfers still braving the elements during the winter months needing very thick wetsuits with hoods, gloves and boots to match and her profession as a French teacher at the local school. The electric restaurant was our choice for breakfast with a full traditional English breakfast a must. Bacon, sausage, blood pudding, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, fried eggs and toast all on the same plate. It was a fried feast but as institutional in the English way of life as the Queen herself.

We opted out of a third surf in the North Devon coast due to the onshore winds and colder conditions. The old surfer story of you should have been here yesterday was in full effect. Our first stop and only one before reaching London was a walk around the historic village of Morthoe just up the road from Ilfracombe.

With a walk around the eery St Mary’s Church that dates back to the Norman times of Viking ancestry. Opposite the church as with most corners in England was the local pub, The Chichester Arms with a charming beer garden. Being still what many would perceive as morning we opted out for a pint of lager and continued on our way en-route to London. The trip back to London was relatively smooth apart from the usual congestion when entering greater London and the snail crawl pace of driving through the city centre. Four roundabouts, two Thames crossing and a bunch of swear words later, we were parked out the front of Gary’s Shoreditch apartment block.

After a heavy shower of London's brown water and a dash of soap we tore down the tube to Camden town. Home of the infamous Camden markets - a must see in London and the alternative culture hangout out of punks, rockers, tattoos and mascara covered eyes.

We were heading to the Koko, a former theatre with large copper dome and luscious red interior. Unfortunately you need a press pass to take photographs inside and my twisted made-up story was not enough to convince the staff. Devandra Banhart was on the bill for the evening, a singer songwriter and visual artist born in Houston, Texas. We didn't have tickets so our only options were the dirty ticket touts soliciting their business in an importune manner. Paying nearly double the price at a sold out gig we eventually made our way in and were presently surprised by Banhart’s electrifying performance breaking free from his melodic folk and into some banging drums with ambitious stage presence. It was a relief to get outside after rubbing bodily fluids crammed into a sell-out crowd mesmerized by the bands performance and walk the streets of Camden.

Amy Winehouse sums up Camden pretty well. A muse for fashion designers, a drug and alcohol on-going problem and a self destructive punk like behavior. It seems natural that a place like Camden is where she hangs out, and in particular a little pub known as the Hawley Arms. This place is a melting pot of famous people wanting to escape the ritz and glamour of the media ridden fashionable city bars for a quite drink with friends in what many would call a run-down drinking hole. I liked the vibe a lot, a magnet for musicians, alternative fashionistas and groups of young people having fun. After my first pint of Hoegaarden i liked it even more. The pub is littered with small rooms including a small beer garden, an airy roof terrace, juke box and log fires for what I can only imagine those bitterly cold London nights. Thankfully tonight was far from that with the sun setting late in the evening and a warm breeze that floated through the streets, making the journey back to Shoreditch a comfortable ride.

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Keywords: Din, Hot, Love, Warm, London

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Trish Smith
I'm so glad we can put comments on posts now, because I've wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your stories and especially your beautiful photographs! It looks like you've been having a great time. I have never been to England but hope to go soon. I might even try blood sausage, it looks good in that picture!
I always spent my half an hour to read this blog's articles everyday along with a mug of coffee.
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