The Punch Tavern on Fleet Street in London

For the first time ever, we decided not to stay in a hotel, but a rental apartment while in London. We chose a good location on Fleet Street to make it walking distance to LSE for our travel purpose.

The frame above the door features the character Punch. Too bad I had just seen one like it, but with a white mask! There he was in broad daylight in a car near Fleet Street… He reminded me of one of the murder cases in the detective show Elementary which we like to watch.

Punch Tavern ceiling

The Punch Tavern features 70 different types of Gin. I tried the London Dry, Beefeater, and Bombay Sapphire. I’ve done my share. It took me two nights to down three of them.

London Dry

This was their vegetarian version of the Caesar Salad. My husband enjoyed his Shepherd’s Pie.

I opted for the Punch Baby breakfast, which was enough. At least, I got the beans and sausage with it.

Punch Baby Breakfast

The rental place above the Punch Tavern is in a good location. It was clean and comfortable. There are four windows in the apartment, but they only point to grey walls of more holes in the wall. But we weren’t there for the view anyway. I would stay there again.

While there, we also realized why we had to leave a GBP 500 safety deposit. Now we know, but this will be our secret. ūüôā The deposit was returned to us in full right away. We had been good.

Review for Inn on Frederick in St. Andrews, Canada

We spent two nights at the Inn on Frederick in St. Andrews. It has the perfect location sitting in the center of town, but yet one block away from Main Street, so it is fairly quiet. It is also in walking distance  Рjust cross Main Street Рto Passamaquoddy Bay.

St. Andrews pier

We had booked the vacation home as the price for two double rooms at the same inn was almost equal to the price of the house, and yes, this was the better choice for us.

The innkeeper, Mr. Jay Chung, is a very accommodating fellow. Don’t be fooled by his college-age looks – he’s got a 16-year daughter, who helped serve breakfast in the morning.

I mostly enjoyed the privacy of the porch.

Inn on Frederick patio

We made very little use of the livingroom and kitchen downstairs, but mostly ate out.

Inn on Frederick livingroom

The bedrooms and bathrooms are on the second floor.

Inn on Frederick

The inn’s breakfast, we all agreed on, was phenomenal. The first morning, we had an omelet wrapped in crepe, with fresh fruit and yoghurt on the side.

breakfast

The second morning’s breakfast was just as inviting to our eyes.

breakfast 2

And yes, we slept well in this air conditioned house during this very hot weekend of 33 C. Our son used the jacuzzi a couple of times, we had our rooms cleaned and refurbished each day, and we had a very pleasant time there.

I highly recommend it, if you come here as a family.

48 Hours in London

As I had mentioned in my previous London post, the streets of London (namely Gracechurch in the financial district) are deserted in the early morning hours.

Gracechurch on a Saturday morning

Gracechurch on a Saturday morning

We were able to find a breakfast place which served this for £ 4.95 including coffee. I had forgotten how good baked beans on toast tasted.

English breakfast

English breakfast

Our next stop was the University of London (UCL), where we took a look at the various university buildings around the area. Being a nature lover, I liked the park most.

Park at UCL

Park at UCL

The British Museum is just around the corner from UCL.

British Museum

British Museum

Next, I found this mannequin to be absolutely ghastly. I was in such a shock I forgot to note down the shop’s name. Are they trying to sell anorexic fashions?

Sick mannequin in a London shop

Sick mannequin in a London shop

On a happier note – I liked the ad on this bus.

Tweet until you're trending

In the evening, I dropped off my husband and daughter at the Globe Theatre to watch The Tempest in a close to three-hour performance.

Globe Theatre

Globe Theatre

I took a nice stroll across the Millennium Bridge and I had barely made it across the bridge, when it started to rain.

Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge

This is mid-May, but looking at the above photo, I would think this was taken somewhere in Russia in early winter.

Streets of Oberursel

Yesterday afternoon, our son was approached by a stranger asking for directions around the Roseng√§rtchen. This is often the case as the numbering system around here is chaotic and without German logic, if there ever was any ( More about that from the NY Times‘ article Delusions of German Logic).

Nevertheless, a few words were exchanged in English and our son was amused to learn that this stranger from Australia knew my blog. Based on one of my posts about Accommodations in and around Oberursel, he had taken my recommendation and booked himself into the Beethoven Bed & Breakfast.

Well, this has been said a million times, I know. But it is a small world, especially with the help of the internet.

Oberursel forest directions

To the Australian visitor: Enjoy your visit to Oberursel!

Breakfast for a Homeless Japanese

Yesterday’s mail delivered two reminders about the old stigma that there is no poverty in Japan. One was the article¬† Japan tries to face up to growing poverty problem in the International Herald Tribune, the other came by e-mail from a friend in California who also mentioned my fondness for bums. Yes, that’s right. Bums, not buns.

While living in Kitakyushu/Japan, I found a new friend in the bum who used to live in the tunnel between Kokura station and the former Kitakyushu International Association (KIA).

Every Wednesday, on my way from the station to my volunteer job at KIA, I would first stop at the bakery to get some breakfast to go. Not for me, but for my friend who had been living in the tunnel for I-don’t-know how many years. I am pretty sure it must have been years as Japan offered almost no assistance, neither granted by the state nor its society, in support for sore sights such as the homeless.

Granted, many people rather turn a blind eye, but I found the Japanese to be even willfully blinder than the rest of us. In the early 90s, seeing a bum did not sit  well in their self-projected image of an affluent society.

My friend, whose name I will never know, must have been in his late 80s. I only saw him squatting down, a bony torso, lower limbs missing, and head always posed in shame.

I always greeted him and said a few words in Japanese, while putting down his breakfast. For the longest time, he never looked up, but he audibly came to know me as the strange person, speaking accented Japanese, who would bring breakfast on Wednesdays. Once, towards the end of our relationship, he looked up and I noticed his blank stare. Of all the things in the world, he was blind, too.

One Wednesday in late winter, he went missing. I took his breakfast with me to KIA and mentioned to my Californian friend  that the bum had not been there this morning. Strangely enough, she thought I had referred to my husband, which took a couple of minutes to clear up this misunderstanding.

I never saw him again and was unable to find out what happened. I can only guess that his lights had gone out. That same year, when he went to his creator, another little boy found his way into and under my heart. Our son Thomas was born the following winter.

Why do I like bums, you might ask. Whether they are homeless by choice or free will, they are people like you and me. And I would like to think that if any one of my children ever ended up living on the road, as a parent I would be happy to know that someone would be kind enough to share some food. Wouldn’t you?

The city of Frankfurt is home to 1800 homeless.