I know I haven’t done any updates lately, trying to settle back to my boring life. My European adventure is over but I will still continue with this blog with any food and travel adventure along the way. Lately I have been into drawing Japanese male manga and have opened up a store on Etsy. I have been drawing on blank greeting cards. Check it out and let me know what you think! I’m up for any feedback, this would help me to improve.
So I went to Honest Burger for the first time with my workmate who I was assisted in the project. They brought me to this place at Brixton Village, it was quite early when we had our lunch, but I understand why we had to be early. Basically you won’t be able to find a table if you get to the place at 12:30pm, there is always a queue outside the restaurant. If you get to there before 12:30pm, the chance of getting a table is quite high. The one at Brixton Village is quite small, it was about 5 tables inside and 4 tables on the outside. It is quite hard if you have a large group of people, because you will need to wait for people to finish and clear the tables up and joining them together.
The food itself is quite nice. The burger is quite nice but it is a bit small in my opinion, comparing to other burger places which we have been to. The chips is absolutely delicious, it is done with rosemary. Although sometimes it can be quite salty, normally I asked for less salt. But the rosemary and the chips go well together. The homemade lemonade goes well with the burger. That is what I normally ordered. The speed of the staff is quite quick, despite everytime I went it is quite busy. The speed of the food is a bit slow, be prepare to spend some time in the restaurant. The price is quite pricey comparing the area in Brixton Village, but it is worth the value. The presentation of the food is quite nice. I do recommend the chips at Honest Burger, it is one of the best chips I ever had.
I was told by my workmate that there are a number of markets around Brixton. The good thing is that the markets are close to the station, literally it is about 1 minute walk from the station to get there. There are 3 indoor and 2 outdoor markets. I’ll try and summarise the markets, I do recommend coming there on a Friday or during weekend. It gets a lot lively and packed during those times and the stores are opened. If you go during the other times that aren’t mentioned, the markets are a bit quiet and slow.
There is a market just on the other side of the railway bridge. That market is a mixed market, from food stalls to pop-up food stores to random product selling. I quite like Jeff the chef, they are located at the end of the market if you are coming from Brixton high street side. Their speciality is Jamaican food, they used to make Jerk chicken and cook it in an oil barrel. Unfortunately there are people complained about the smell and smoke coming from the oil barrel, which they banned them from using it. It is not the same, it is quite cheap for its price and the portion is pretty decent. I do recommend trying their chicken soup as well. Also there is a food store which has Japanese ramen, I think they are quite nice. Of course it is not the same as having it in a restaurant. The price is alright but the portion is small. The other outdoor market is on the other side of the station, next to Iceland. They are mainly for produce market, there are a lot of them to choose from, which is why they are cheaper than supermarket price. They have butcher as well so that you can get your meat cut to your portion rather pre-packaged ones.
There are 3 indoor markets, I’ll talk about the 2 in this entry. Brixton village, I’ll do that separately. The 3 indoor markets are almost linked to each other but only separate by the roads. Electrical avenue market is a small narrow market, which I rarely go. I’ve only been there once, and basically they sell phone accessories and clothing stores in there. It does look dark and gloomy in that market. The other indoor market is called Market Row. It is smaller than Brixton Village, but they sell similar things, such as seafood stores, food market and grocery stores. It is quite fun to look in there when it rains. But they do have good pizza store and cupcake store in that market. I do recommend trying the pizza and cupcake stores when you are there.
Brixton village is an indoor market which is located behind Brixton station. Of course, the closest tube station is Brixton and it is about 3 minutes walk from the station. The closest entrance to Brixton village is near the rail bridge and there is an entrance to it. It is quite hidden. I didn’t know that there were quite a number of markets in Brixton until my workmate told me about it. We decided to explore the area even since I got a job around the area. Brixton village has a number of independent stores, you don’t find a Pret or Eat store around the area. I quite enjoy going there for lunch or weekend. During weekend, it can get quite packed, it is always advisable to get there before the normal meal period time. Same advice goes during weekday lunch time as well. My workmate told me that it can get busy during weeknights and weekend dinner time. I would love to see how busy it gets.
I quite like the café or food shop in the village. We have been to a few already, and all of them has its own specialities. It is quite fun to have a place with a lot of variety from burger to burritos to noodles. All the stores are quite unique. It is quite fun sitting on the outside without worrying that it is going to rain. The staff are quite nice and friendly to the customers. The service can be a bit slow especially during the busy time. The price range is reasonable, it is about £6-£10 depending on what you have. I have been to some of the café where the portion is massive, to a point which we couldn’t finish it. However there is a few where the portion is less, which we ended up getting dessert instead.
Edinburgh is one of the main city in Scotland. It is about 1 hr flight from London to get there or about 8 hrs by train and about 12-15 hrs by car. The main currency is British pounds and their main language is English and Scottish. It is on the same timezone as London, the weather is quite cold, as it is closer to the North. It is similar to London weather. The public transportation is similar to other English town, their train system is pretty good. But you need to buy train tickets to go on the train. They also have trams system as well. We didn’t go on the public transport much as most of the time we were walking around the city centre.
JK Rowling wrote the first book of Harry Potter at a café in Edinburgh. The café is called Elephant café, you will see a board which says JK Rowling wrote her first book at the café. The food overall isn’t spectacular and it is quite pricey. The service isn’t too good. But if you are a Harry Potter fan, it is a visit. I understand why she would sit in the café and wrote the book. You can see the view of the castle, quite nice. If it wasn’t too famous, the café would be a nice and quiet place for her to write.
We went to a toy museum near the old mile. We went there to avoid the rain. But it was well spent, it wasn’t too expensive to visit. But you get to see the toys which children were playing back in the days, from dolls to robots to trains. It was amazing to see what people played in different era in times. They have few levels to visit, it is quite an old museum. I do recommend to pop by for a visit while you are in Edinburgh
Scottish food and English food are quite similar, you can get English food in Scotland. When you are in Scotland, you have to try Haggis. Basically it is similar to black pudding, except Haggis is made from lamb stomach skin and stuff with offside in the inside. I didn’t like black pudding at first, but when I tried Haggis, I didn’t like the first taste. But after a few, I did enjoyed it. However it is quite filling, so if you are going to order one, make sure you go with an empty stomach. You can get Haggis in pubs or restaurant. The one which I tried is in a restaurant near the old mile. It is an underground restaurant, it was booked out on that night, and however we had an early dinner. So the staff allowed us to dine with a time limited, to us, it was a really good deal as we had something to do on that night after dinner.
We also have a pulled pork sandwich while we were in Scotland. What is so special about this pulled pork near Holyrood Palace is that they only use 1 pig per day. Basically you can see the pig in the front window, you can watch how they made the sandwich. They use their home grown pig to make the sandwich and also they are quite strict about the pig size and age before using it. I quite like this one, as the meat is quite tender and the filling of the sandwich is quite nice. The store is similar to a café and the staff were quite and helpful. It wasn’t too expensive for the sandwich and also the service is quite quick.
Looney Dook takes place on the 1st January on a lake side near the red bridge at Edinburgh, it is not at the main town centre. You will need to catch a bus or drive to get to the location. It starts at 9am in the morning, a great way to cure hangover. What Looney Dook is people jumping into a freezing temperature water to start their new year off. I’m not sure what the meaning is behind it, but it is pretty cold at the time. Yes, you will require to prebook your tickets if you want to participate in the event. But it is free to watch from the outside. Basically it is a small town, not many shops are opened. We ended up getting our breakfast from the kiosk.
We got there about 7:30am, there were already tour buses and people were lining up to get their stuff from the organiser. There were a lot of people who dressed up, some of them are quite creative. We lined up to get our registration, basically you get a museli bar, a number card, a t-shirt and an armband. The number card shows you where you lined up for the event. Of course the lower the number, it means you get to do the looney dook first. On the day when we went, it was quite cold, about 3 degrees, the boy was only wearing a t-shirt and he was standing in the cold for 1.5 hours before we started to make our way down the pebble beach. Of course, I didn’t do it, so I grabbed his things and took at one side. There were a lot of people who were watching the events. His experience was it was quite cold. He couldn’t feel his legs for 30 minutes. There were about 500 people who took part in the event. It can get confusing to find your friends and your stuff. I do recommend to bring a friend who isn’t taking part to mind your stuff and use that as a meeting point. His recommendation is to bring a pair of sandals if you don’t want your shoes to get wet or bare footed. Walking on the pebble beach do hurt.
Part of the Hogmanay was the party which is held on the main street of Edinburgh. It is quite easy to get tickets to the street party general entrance, but if you want to see a specific events inside the street party, you will need to book early. A lot of the exclusive events inside the street party is sold out heaps early in the year. You have to look out for it if you want to go. Unfortunately we missed out, as we decided to go to Hogmanay later in the year after all the exclusive tickets are sold out. You can still enjoy the party, as there are 4 stages with live music playing. They are all spread out through the city.
Street party starts at 5pm, that’s when everything is set up. There isn’t much to see that early, but if you go around 7pm, that is when people start attending. It gets crowdy and lively then. There are a lot of street food stall, such as hot dog and chips. That’s what we had for our last dinner of the year. You can hop stages to stages to listen to different type of music. It is quite fun and loud. I do recommend getting the Hogmanay souvenirs, I got the jumper and the boy got a t-shirt, it is for us to remember the fun we had. The music is quite good, we listened to Scottish music and Scottish bands. It is quite interesting. About 9pm, there is a small firework every hour to remind you the New Year firework is coming. The midnight firework is done on the Edinburgh castle, it is really beautiful and quite big. In my opinion, it is better than the London Firework and it is not as packed as the London one.
Hogmanay is a 3 day New Year festival for Edinburgh in Scotland, how we found out about this. The boy read it on a blog and as well as attending to a travel expo. You will be surprised to find out so many things and festival from a travel expo. The festival starts form 30th December and run onto 1st January. Anyway, the boy prebook the fire torch online. So when we arrived in Edinburgh, we went to the ticket office and print off all our tickets for Hogmanay. We do suggest to print it off before the festival starts, as it can get quite packed in the office. Also I do suggest to book online in advance, a lot of the events are sold out way before it starts. We overheard from the box office staff that some of the events are sold out.
About 2-3 hours before the fire torch starts, we were able to collect our torch from a location (it will specify on the ticket). The one where I went to, it starts off at a Town Hall and work our way down the main street and it ends on the top of the hill. After we collect our torch, we had a quick dinner and we started to queue up for the fire torch parade. We were in the queue for 1-1.5 hours, we want to be at the early pack of the parade which is why we lined up so early. Anyway, how they start the fire on the torch is basically place your torch over other people’s torch with fire, wait about 5 minutes and your torch is lit. Basically you hold your torch and walked down the main street. It is quite a pretty scene, seeing a wave of flame flowing down the street. It is something which we haven’t seen before. You have to be careful with your torch, you can accidentally lit people’s things on fire. Normally we try to space out ourselves to prevent that from happening. The torch will last until you get to the hill, but there are water tanks for you to lit out your fire on the torch.
When you get to the top of the hill, basically there is a large bonfire which we gather around. It ends with a spectacular fireworks at the end. The parade last about 5-6 hours, people are so nice and friendly. You can see people dressing up and putting on a street show during the parade. People gather around to see the fire torch parade.
One of the things we did in Edinburgh was to visit Edinburgh castle and Holyrood Palace. Edinburgh castle is one of the oldest building in Edinburgh, and it is located at the top of the hill overlooking the city. I do recommend to go there as you will have the best view of Edinburgh. To get there, we walked through the old mile to get to the castle. There is an entrance fee to go inside the castle. When we went, there was a queue to purchase the tickets, however we were lucky enough to join the guided tour. The guide explains the history of the castle and as well as what each building is inside the castle. Once the tour has finished, we wander around the castle. You can also watch the 1pm gun, basically the soldier fired a shot in the air to remind everyone is 1pm. However they used to do it on every hour, due to the gunpowder price increase, they only do it at 1pm, which means they only need to fire 1 shot. That was quite funny. I quite like the dining hall, because on the dining table, the tablecloth has a lot of trivial facts about the castle and history of people who were living in there at the time. We spent about half a day wandering around the castle.
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the Queen. It is located on the old mile but at the other end of Edinburgh castle. Of course to go inside the palace, there is an admission fee for it. I have been to a few British Monarchy residence, I don’t think this is as special as Windsor castle or Buckingham Palace. I think this is similar to Kensington Palace, but slightly bigger. It was interesting to see where the Queen lives while she is in Scotland. Also it is quite nice to stay indoor while the weather isn’t too good. We blitz through the palace, as it is similar to the other castles and palace we have been to. Of course, if you haven’t been to the British Monarchy residence, I do recommend in going to one.