Tag Archives: london

The London Housing Problems

Recently the Mayor of London responded to a survey that Shelter had run, to try to solve the many housing problems in London, like astronomical rents, unaffordable mortgages and rogue landlords. One of the responses was posted on TalkLondon and reading it made me so cross I wrote a very long comment on the site. I then thought I’d post the comment here as well, as I think it’s relevant for everyone to read, not just the people at the council.

I couldn’t disagree more with the statement that buy-to-let landlords are central to dealing with the supply of new homes in London. They are the main cause of the current problems:

A) They force house purchase prices to artificially high levels, by buying up houses for personal gain and profit, but renting them to those who now can’t afford to buy.
B) This causes more people to be unable to save for mortgages, being forced to pay too high rent.
C) They keep rents artificially high, as well as the house purchase prices, to ensure profit of their “business”.

More about the London housing problems →

Holborn Whippet

Finally made it to the Holborn Whippet that opened a couple of months ago, and this is what I had:


Oldersham – Heavenly Blonde. This amazingly fresh and hoppy beer made the rain outside seem like a distant memory. 5/5.

La Gelatiera, The Bree Louise and El Parador.

Yesterday after work, I met up with my lovely Katie at our favourite ice cream place: La Gelatiera in Soho. After some amazing basil and chili, strawberry yoghurt and our favourite the chocolate sorbet, we got a bus home. Or at least that was the idea at the time. But at Euston Station we decided to get off and find The Bree Louise; a pub we had heard so much good about. And we were not disappointed! Just west of Euston Station lay the pretty little pub. Even though it was very busy with loads of people thronging outside, it was still very friendly and service was fast. The beer selection resembled more that of a beer festival than just a pub, outperforming even the nearby Euston Tap on real ales.

The first beer I tried was the “safe bet” of a Tring – Side Pocket For A Toad. It was in a very good condition and tasted as fresh as when we got it straight from the brewery. I would even say that it was better than it’s been when we’ve come across it at some beer festivals.


A very well presented version of the lovely Tring beer – Side Pocket For A Toad. 5/5

With such a wide selection of ales, I wanted to try something new. I went for the Third Switch from ABC Brewery. It was a good choice and just what I was looking for.


A very dark beer with almost treacly coffee without being sickly. 5/5.

Katie had a very refreshing sweet cider from Hecks. We considered staying for tea, but felt adventurous, so we went for a walk down a road we’d rarely gone. We ended up on Eversholt Street where we found El Parador (the hostel) that despite its name was an interesting looking tapas restaurant.

We ordered five dishes, and while that was quite a lot of food, I wouldn’t have wanted to have gone without any of them.


The pork belly was one of best examples of the dish I’ve had. It was extremely tender and masterfully spiced with just the right herbs.


This octopus’ arm was amazing. It was soft and fresh. Not chewy like you might expect, but very tender and cooked to perfection.

We also had chicken livers that were like they should be, but how I would have no idea how to cook them; they were soft and creamy inside, without seeming too raw.


Here’s a picture of the whole table, though the bacalao (salt cod) hadn’t arrived yet.

All in all this was simply some of the best food I’ve ever had in this friendly and popular little restaurant.

Food 2012

The title says it all. This post is dedicated to food. Like the beer one, it’s going to be mostly photos and maybe a little bit of description with each one.


First photo is of the lasagne I had today in the SCE canteen. Very well done by The Good Eating Company.


More Italian with the amazing pizza I had for dinner tonight. It's from La Forchetta by Islington Green Gardens. A great find where we will most likely be back!

2012-02-09 Upcoming beer festivals

It’s time for a beer festival update. It’s now late February and a few of the previous lists have past but more importantly we’ve moved to London. This might move the main focus slightly south from Cambridge, though I’m sure anything that can be easily reached from here isn’t too far away from Cambridge either and vice versa. The Battersea Beer Festival is on as I’m writing and I’m planning a quick trip there tomorrow before going to Denmark for the weekend. I’ve been a bit cheeky and added the big Cambridge Beer Festival, even though it’s not on until May, but it’s always a great one, though this will be the first one for me where I don’t live in Cambridge, which will inevitably make it a bit less convenient. On the other hand is the Camden one, just by Kings Cross, going to be really easy with about 15 minutes walk home.

Date Location Festival
 8-10 Feb London 22nd Battersea Beer Festival
16-18 Feb Luton 29th Luton Beer & Cider Festival
15-18 Feb Derby 11th Derby Winter Beer Festival
17-18 Feb Ely 3rd Elysian Beer Festival
24-25 Feb Chappel 3rd Chappel Winter Beer Festival
 7- 9 Mar Camden 28th London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival
 9-10 Mar Hitchin Hitchin Beer & Cider Festival
15-17 Mar St Neots The 37th ‘Booze on the Ouse’ Beer & Cider Festival
12-14 Apr Sidcup, London 7th Bexley Beer Festival
25-28 Apr Bury St Edmunds East Anglia Beer Festival
 2- 6 May Reading 18th Reading Beer & Cider Festival
21-26 May Cambridge 39th Cambridge Beer Festival

Emmy The Great concert, London


We enjoyed a very beautiful and intimate concert with Emmy The Great in the unusual venue of Cecil Sharp House in Camden. The set was a great mix of songs from the new and old albums plus some extra treats. Now we’re looking forward to the concert in Cambridge in October.

Everyone in front of the stage were sitting down and we sat in the front row of people. It was very Emmy. The support act were called It Hugs Back and though they seemed very shy their music was very good. It was only very hard to make out any of the lyrics, but hard to know whether it was due to their shyness or just their style.

Upcoming Local Beer Festivals

Date Location Festival
28-30 Jul Bishops Stortford 3rd Bishops Stortford Beer Festival
 2- 6 Aug Earls Court, London Great British Beer Festival
18-21 Aug Ipswich Ipswich Beer Festival
23-27 Aug Peterborough 34th Peterborough Beer Festival
 6-10 Sep Chappel 25th Chappel Beer Festival
 9-10 Sep St Ives, Cambs St Ives Booze on the Ouse Beer Festival
15-17 Sep York York Beer and Cider Festival
16-17 Sep Melton Mawbray 9th Melton Mowbray Beer Festival
22-24 Sep Letchworth 20th Letchworth Garden City Beer & Cider Festival
28- 1 Oct St Albans St Albans Beer Festival
 5- 8 Oct Bedford 34th Bedford Beer & Cider Festival
12-15 Oct Milton Keynes 18th Concrete Pint Beer Festival
13-15 Oct Wallington 18th Croydon & Sutton Real Ale & Cider Festival
27-29 Oct Twickenham 11th Twickenham Beer & Cider Festival
27-29 Oct Birmingham Birmingham Beer Festival

Emmy The Great

I felt like writing something about Emmy The Great. I’m not sure what exactly it will be yet, but I’m listening to her right now, and felt inspired 🙂

I first came across her when one of my friends posted a link to her Black Cab Session where she performed the amazing “Two Steps Forward” together with Tom Hobden from “Noah and the Whale”. The song was not included in their first album “First Love”, but was later included in a bonus CD sold with the album. There was something in that song that made me able listen to it over and over and just never seem to get tired of it. It even seemed to be getting better every time.

I then discovered that Emmy was playing a charity gig against violence towards women at The Shop in Cambridge, so I went to see her. Again she hadn’t brought her usual band, but showed up alone. It was a very small gig (it’s a small place), and there was no mic, speakers or stage and the closest people were sitting on pillows in front of the people sitting on chairs. It was a very intimate concert, and seemed much more personal than usual music gigs.

Another quite special gig was an “in store” performance at Pure Groove in London. Katie and I managed to get there straight after work, and even though it was a very short performance that was ok, as it was free and we like going to London. It was also very cosy and Emmy was sitting on the counter.

The first real gig I saw was at the O2 in Oxford. Katie and I went there together and spent the weekend exploring our “brother city” (I guess Oxford is “the brother of art” while Cambridge is “the brother of science”). The gig was great, while of a more “normal” sort and to my great excitement she reluctantly played “Two Steps Forward” after lots of shouting from the crowd, even though she said it was a very personal song. This was before it was put on the bonus CD for First Love (the album was originally sold with a different bonus CD). Maybe she got lots of requests for the song at all the live gigs and decided it was too popular to keep private 🙂

Last year I noticed a link on their website (emmythegreat.com) to Pledge Music where they were selling “pledges” to finance the production of their second album. I really liked the idea of them being able to produce the album this way with no producers interfering or “owning them”. I was happy to support them by buying a couple of signed albums (one for a present for my sister) and a ticket to a special “pledgers’ gig”. This turned out to be yet another very special experience with a small gig in a beautiful little church in St Pancras, London. The warm-up act was provided by some apparently quite green stand-up comedians, which added an extra unusual edge to it, and the church’s acoustics were perfect for Emmy’s voice 🙂

Now their second album is out, and I think it’s even better than the first one, and can’t wait to see her live again in September in London and then in Cambridge in October. You can get the album (from Amazon or Rough Trade) and see the tour calendar on emmythegreat.com. If you do get it (or already have it), please let me know what you think on here.

If you’d like to listen to some of the music it’s available on SoundCloud.