Archive for March, 2005

Best duck in London

“New Fortune Cookie”, located right next to the Queensway tube station, has the best roast duck that I have tasted in my three and a half years in London.

Now, I’m a big fan of roast duck, and eight times out of ten that I’m in Chinatown, I eat some form of roast duck – roast duck with rice, roast duck with soy chicken and rice, roast duck noodle soup, roast duck with fried noodle. Unfortunately, most places in Chinatown serve duck which is excessively fatty, and tastes slightly waxy.

But the roast duck at “New Fortune Cookie” was perfection itself. The meat was firm yet tender (as tender as roast duck can get), the skin was delicious, and even the fat of the fattiest part of the duck was succulent and sweet-tasting, instead of stomach-turning as I have often learnt, to my detriment.

The other dishes we had that night were equally delicious.

Now, even though I’m ethnically Chinese, I have to say that I cannot order Chinese food to save my life. But this much I know: Chinese food is not Sweet-and-sour Everything (chicken, pork, fish, vegetables). So if you want a taste of some real chinese food (as ordered by my housemate), these are the dishes we had that night:
– roast duck
– deep fried squid with salt and chillis
– mixed yong tao foo
– pork ribs with bitter gourd
– stir-fry snow pea shoots (aka. dou miao or dau miu) with garlic

So I would strongly recommend trying out the restaurant if you’re in the area, or even making a special trip down, if you’re food-mad.

That they actually give out fortune cookies is merely icing on the cake. (Fortune cookies aren’t at all common here the way they are in the States.)

Of course the fact that my fortune that night read “A new romance is in the future” has nothing to do with my recommendation of the restaurant.


The difference between adult commuters and their junior counterparts.

  • Monthly Zones 1 -5 Travel Card   £139.40
  • Latest paperback to get lost in   £11.39
  • iPod to block out the noise   £249.00
  • Takeaway skinny latte   £1.70
  • Having fun on the bendy bit of the DLR … priceless.


An Open Letter To First Great Western

An Open Letter To First Great Western published at the London Metroblog website:

Dear First Great Western

I use your Link train service each weekday between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington, paying my fare by way of a monthly Zones 1–5 OysterCard.  Having last commuted by train back in the days of the grey and blue British Rail trains, I recently returned to rail commuting after tiring of using the Piccadilly Line to get to my office near Heathrow.  On the whole, I am pleasantly surprised by the changes I have found – trains mostly on time, fairly clean with minimal litter and good post-Ladbroke Grove emergency equipment and signage.  Where FGW seems to need to focus next is on the platform staff.  For all their co-ordinateduniforms, badges and mobile phones, those I have encountered recently have little idea of how to treat a paying customer.  Leaving aside the gentlemen who repeated blew his whistle and shouted at me at Hayes & Harlington, I would like to raise your awareness as to the levels of customer service at London Paddington.


click to enlarge

Take those pictured in the (admittedly poor) photo above.  This morning, as with most mornings these day, I approached Platform 12 from the concourse to find not only four or five ‘revenue control officers’ (or whatever you are calling ticket inspectors these days) but three ‘security officer’ in black MA-1 style jackets sporting ‘Security’ logos.  These chaps so conformed to the ‘bouncer’ stereotype that, under different circumstances, I would laugh.  Each sported a very short ‘Mitchell Brothers’ haircut, stood in that classic hands-clasped doorman’s pose and sported a mobile telephone earpiece, seemingly in the vague hope of being mistaken for a member of the US Secret Service.  However, it is the attitude, behaviour and demeanour of these security and revenue personnel rather than their sartorial presentation that concerns me.  This being the case, I would like to ask the following questions in the hope that the answers may address and allay those concerns.

  1. Why is it that five revenue control officers only ever have one or two digital card readers between them despite the obvious daily volume of passengers through the station?
  2. Do First Great Western feel it is acceptable for these officers to physically restrain someone clearly proferring a pass or card for inspection because the said inspector doesn’t have the equipment to do so when it is presented?
  3. Can you confirm that it is the policy of First Great Western to presume a passenger is actively engaged in fare avoidance until proven otherwise, as is clearly demonstrated in the behaviour and attitude of the staff?
  4. Would these staff not be better deployed actually on the trains where the fare-paying majority are not inconvenienced or manhandled and the fare-dodging minority can be contained and dealt with?
  5. Assuming platform ticket inspection is crucial for revenue retention*, why not employ the same methodology as the London Underground by moving to the use of multi-format card readers, supported by inspection staff?

Yours faithfully


Submitted to First Great Western Link with an automated response of “Your comments have been received successfully, thank you.” No hint of any intention to reply, I note.

* Operating profits up 8% at £84m as of Sept 04 – First Group’s Interim Results for the 6 months to 30 September 2004

John Virtue

John Virtue.jpg

Today I’m going to visit the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square (web cam) , particularly to see the exhibition of London paintings by resident artist John Virtue.

I happened across these paintings by accident a few weeks ago, just before closing time and determined to return for a less hurried view. The size and audacity of the work is breathtakingly impressive, and the fact that these views of the River Thames, are both extraordinary and very familiar adds to the interest. As well as the great monochromatic canvasses themselves, there is a video in which the artist explains himself and the process, plus I believe the original drawings from which the paintings are made may be on show at Somerset House.”

Upon further investigation the drawings are indeed exhibited at the Courtault Gallery, which is within Somerset House itelf.


Abduction Precautions for Women

What with the Hammer attacker in South West London, and just the state of play in general these days, I think this notice my dad sent me is worth a read. Im a silly girl, and I sometimes think I am invincible; despite the fact Im only 5ft 6 and I not terribly heavy, I risk walking around places I shouldnt. Simply because its quicker…. I think this comes from America, but I suggest all us chickys should take it to heart… Violent crime in London is rising, and personally I dont want to be a stat.

“We can now add to the list of victims the retired 77 yr. old TCU professor from Ft Worth whose body was found last week in Oklahoma–and the 11 yr.old in Sarasota, FL. Because of these recent abductions in daylight hours, refresh yourself of these things to do in an emergency situation…This is for you, and for you to share with your wife, your children, and everyone you know.

After reading this, forward it to someone you care about. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide in New Orleans. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you …. chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON’T DO THIS!) The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
A.) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat.

B..) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

C.) Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.

IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP. It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

9. Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her “Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.”

The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, “We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.” He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby’s cry recorded, and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear a baby crying outside their doors, when they’re home alone at night.

Please pass this on and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby. This e-mail should probably be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on America’s Most Wanted this past Saturday when they profiled the serial killer in Louisiana.

I’d like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life.”

New Look, Oxford Street

Never a big shopper, and having been swamped by work, I hadn’t been to Oxford Street for a couple of months before last weekend. So I hadn’t noticed the the new look of New Look’s flagship store until last Sunday.

The neon green front and wide metallic staircase were what caught my eye and lit up my imagination. Normally a disinterested shopper at best, I practically bounded up the stairs to the first floor.

I loved the store! The interior design, decor, and displays – the exposed ceiling giving a slight warehouse feel to the store, the big angular snaking light “pipes”, the clothes displayed on winding silver “vines” and chains that hung from the ceiling, the shoes displayed on bright neon green holders around a column, the distinctive cash tills lined in a row, the surprising gypsy-esque “stall” manned by a member of staff behind a pillar. Every step brought a new discovery that astonished and delighted.

My favorite part of the store is their little trolleys with their little handles, conical container (in shimmering green or silver) for bulky items such as bags and shoes, and an elliptical stem arching over the body of the trolley for clothes to be hung. The trolleys were a masterpiece! Useful, ingenious, modern-looking, aesthetically-pleasing, and fun. I grabbed one of them and whizzed it around the place like a kid with a new toy.

New Look’s flagship store on the corner of Oxford Street created a whole new shopping experience for me.

So the question is, did the snazzy layout and fun-factor succeed in hooking the customer, did I buy anything?

The answer is: No, I’m still not a fan of New Look clothes. But it succeeded in luring me in, inducing me to walk all around the store, and look at every display, so that a purchase becomes a tangible prospect.

I’m totally a fan of modern concept stores and it seems like I have Apple to thank for bringing that to London. It’s finally actually fun to shop! It’s no longer just about displaying the goods, but about bringing an added dimension to the shopping experience. Like that first revolutionary jewel-coloured iMac, it’s not just about the specifications.


No more winter mornings


The clocks went forward yesterday, and British Sumertime has begun, so no more dark winter mornings for me, crossing London Bridge as the sun rises.

(Click photo for full sized hi-res version.)

Regent Street

Regent Street is so posh that the building site scaffolding covers have to blend in with the architecture.

Long time coming

I was going to muse at length about seeing my childhood home for the first time in almost 30 years, but then remembered thats best kept to myself for now. What I want share with you all is my other pet love along with cycling and that is the world of New Media.

Though over two months away I can’t stress enough how good the festival OneDotZero is. Coming to London in late May this will be the ninth festival that along with Resfest brings this amazing digital world to the common folk such as you and I. For me one of gems that has come out of the festival have been Tokyoplastic, which you have to be warned has a website that needs the bass setting on your sound system set to way past 11. The one short piece of film that literally took my breath away was ‘JoJo in the Stars‘. If this animated film does not move you then you surely must be made of stone.

There was also some amazing work shown from by animators in Japan, especially those working on the segments that link levels in games on PS2, XBox & the GameCube.

Hmmmm, the box. How it winks at me at me each evening, taunting me with the knowledge that I’l never get over that bridge, or past that guard.

Well back on the bike tomorrow after watching SuperSizeMe. :-) Take care and have a great Easter Monday.


no thank you

I just wanted to register my veiw on the thing that is the congestion charge. Its been a around for ages, but for the last 6 months or so, its come to my attention that they want to annoy me with it to.
I dont drive. I dont ever really go into the congestion zone area, so it doesnt really effect me, except when my Dad and my Brother get into a argument about the best way to avoid it. And I guess thats the point. what is the point of it if everyone is going to avoid it?? oh yeah, so they can extend it of course.
Now that gets on my wick a little. Mr Ken Livingstone and his mates want to pull my area into the C zone. I never classed Kensington and chelsea as a congestion area, I dont see any congestions when Im skipping around, and it sure as hell isnt Central London. But… we are up for the next punishments for living in a half decent area, with suspected money to throw at this silly charge.
As I said, I dont drive. I couldnt possibly afford to at this rate. Tax, insurance, MOT, parking permit, petrol, and Congestion too? your having a laugh. I guess this is half there point, but it still sucks.

Also, I am quite lucky. My daddy and my lil bro both have cars. I have a illness that requires me to get lifts on occasion. The proposed congestion zone, leaves me in there and my dads house out. He lives less than 5 minutes away. UH OH.. Im gonna have to quit going round there .Ny uncle had a stroke a few years ago, and my dad is his emergency help… guess what… he will be in the congestion zone too. looks like me and Uncle R will be on our tods eh? And I have checked.. there is no concession for this. none whatsover.

‘The Council is particularly fearful of the social consequences of the Mayor’s policy. Our most disadvantaged residents live to the north of the Westway, where public transport is poor. They will find themselves cut off from their shops, schools and GP surgeries if the Mayor pushes ahead with his plans. To the West, 20,000 residents will find themselves penned between the West London line and the congestion charge zone.’- council report

But this is besides the point. Kensington and Chelsea is not a bad congestion area at all… we just get the fallout from people avoiding the first zone. Also the propsed Uxbridge Road tram isnt going to help…. (for a good laugh go look at that one). I used to like ol red ken.. but I guess the times are changing..

RBKC Council believes it is vital that residents’ groups and residents write to the TfL Board urgently to:

voice their concerns about the proposed extension
demand that the Council and local groups are allowed a real opportunity to give evidence to the TfL Board.

Please send your comments to the Company Secretariat, TfL, Windsor House, 42-50 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0TL
Please also copy your representations to:

your GLA representative Angie Bray
RBKC council

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