Tag Archives: free lunch

another free lunch from ecover rubbish cafe

4 May

london 3.13pm 19.7C (21.6C high) friday 2018 sunny

i took my friend from bournemouth to the ecover pop up rubbish cafe. arrived at about 12pm to find a long queue, which was unexpected because i went at about the same time yesterday and there was no queue. as we got nearer the head of the queue, i found out why. they are not letting people go forward , they are controlling the flow. so that even though the two girls at the desk were free, no one is beckoned forward. that means the inside of the cafe has lots of empty seating, with not many people eating. this makes a big long queue outside and  gives the effect that it is very popular and many people are wanting to join in. it creates a buzz out in the street. they are learning from yesterday, when there was no queue, and it looks like no one is going into the shop.

i suppose it also means the workers in there dont have to work so hard , making coffee, making the salads, clearing the cups and dishes etc. and the girls in the front desk can take their time explaining about the plastic , which ones can be recycled , and so on.

when we did finally got our food, it was really very pleasant, lovely cappuccino, and a different salad for me, i noticed they dont give that pickled hard boiled egg anymore; and getting more of their free dishwashing liquid. though no chocolate like yesterday…

they are really keen on giving people those bottles of dishwashing liquid. even dishing it out to those waiting outside in the queue… and there is even a refillable box for u to fill up your container. and one lady was doing just that, not only one large milk plastic container, but two and assorted other smaller plastics. she is real keen. haha. so far i have not yet used it to wash dishes. so cannot say if it is any better than the usual . 


life in london

10 Oct

london 1.43pm 16.1C overcast but dry tuesday 2017

today i went to the free lunch offer given by pret, to celebrate the opening of their third veggie only store in exmouth market, near mount pleasant.

when i got there at 11.45pm,(they open at 12pm for today, the official open is tomorrow) i could see allready a long queue even before i got off the bus 38. the place is only accessible by bus, and only one direction is opened , the buses do not run in the other direction because of some road works;  and yet so early allready there was a queue, about 75people according to the lady who came after me, with her group of friends. they were all young people, and i wondered if they are working how are they able to get to come… but now i have a chance to think of it, sitting in the marylebone library after all that , i think they are students. there must be loads of students in london, and they should be able to get a meal  because the offer is for 500 free meals to be given out today. 

the offer is for a cold drink, or a hot one, (long queue for the hot coffee as it has to be freshly prepared) , whilst the sandwiches were all pre done and you just pick them off the shelf. you can get either a cold  or a  hot sandwich. i picked a hot one, a wrapped burrito -like offering. no idea what it contained haha and a dessert, i picked a cup of pieces of fresh fruit.

whilst waiting for the coffee, someone came up and told us we can come back later, as there is a leaflet for a free coffee inside the bag they gave us. i did not want to wait, so i took the soft drink instead and went off. i found out that burrito i got was  filled with red peppers in a chilli tomato sauce. quite nice. did not find out how much they cost originally.

there was a street market of food stalls outside the pret, and when i was sitting in one of thebenches , a chap who bought food from one of them came to sit and he told me he bought potatoes and cheese served hot in a plastic container. i wonder if their business will be affected by this new branch of pret that has opened right on the same street as them.

after i finished the food, and walked to the bus stop, i could see the queue was the same length , and it was about 1pm.

it seems the young are into vegetarian. but one of the young guys there when asked if he was vegetarian said no, so it is possible not to make too much of it. after all free food is free food, haha. i am not vegetarian and yet, here i am, waiting in line like them. haha. well we meat eaters are not going to stop eating vegetables… in that we are different from people who call themselves vegetarians. perhaps we should call ourselves omnivours, rather than meat eaters haha. and perhaps vegetarians should call themselves herbivores. haha.

but it is notable there are not many older people queueing up.i could not see my old couple who had been there for most of the freebies so far. pity that because i was hoping to find out from them any more freebies that she can find out via twitter. and to ask them if they know of one that i found out… a pop up involving nuns in shoreditch. you have to write to them to be invited so an invitation is not guaranteed.

it is a curious thing that pret is doing a veggie only store. they have others with meat sandwiches as well as veggie, so to open a purely veggie one seems rather restrictive. but this store is the third of  their 3 veggie stores in london (the first one opened only as recent as 2016 according to the logo on the usable bag they gave us to put the food in.) this one  is a totally new location that is not a previous pret store. and it is in a rather hidden area of london.

i am of the old school, i think meat is  better value for money than veg. haha. in that if u want me to buy it, i would buy a meat sandwich. though even then, it would take some persuading to buy it in the first place, rather than just to cook it myself, or make it myself. these sandwiches dont need a lot of expertise to make.

in fact, i got a lesson on how home cooked meals are so muchbetter value. simon cooked a stir fried beef with tagliatelle. and it was just like stir fried chinese flat noodles … so i asked him where he got that tagliatelle, it was from sainsburys 500mg 95p. he said. it is cheaper than flat noodles 400mg from chinatown for £1.35. so i might replace these instead. the taste and texture is very similar.

the chinese ones are made from rice, these are made from durum. i think in all honesty there is a distinct difference in taste, fried rice noodles have that fried flavour and smell that is quite unique i think. but at a pinch you can use tagliatelle. 

free sourdough pizza lunch

5 Oct

london 2.42pm 17.3C sunny thursday 2017

another day another free lunch. this time it is a free sourdough pizza at franco manco in kings cross their new branch in york way. i read of this free offer in timeout, the free magazine, just a small paragraph. well, today turned out to be a sunny day so i decided to take the tube to kingscross… when i reached it, there were only a few people in the queue, and i was joined just a short time later by a couple, man and woman who i often see attending these freebies too. so we got to chatting and they told me they make it a point to do these freebies. they enjoy it, and he being self employed could arrange his work time to fit these in. they live in s.e.london near woolich. we were seated at the same table, and i ordered the lamb sausage pizza. and so did he, whilst his lady friend ordered a chorizo one.

whilst waiting, i asked them how a sourdough pizza is different from a ordinary one, and she said it is more chewy… and i am now able to taste one, for the first time.

it is chewy, unlike the crispy dough of an ordinary pizza. the one i got was huge, and have buffalo ricotta filling, rather than a tomato base. it is very filling and very generous size.

i was expecting a small pizza but this one is huge and very satisfying.

sourdough pizza is now the thing … there is a sourdough pizza in brixton market, that one has been going on for a long time and we dont hear much of sourdough before, until now when sourdough seems to be all the fashion.

now which do i like? i think i prefer the ordinary pizza. the crispy dough of the ordinary pizza is what i like. not to mention you can get thin and thick dough pizza. this one is chewy rather than crisp.

afterwards we walked down to kingscross and saw a bunch of people giving away free drink. it is a brand called monster hydro, and is a glucose drink. it comes in  green and red. i saw a lot of full bottles left lying around the courtyard so people have taken the drink but did not seem to like it, certainly the bottles were still full of drink. its basically glucose drink.non carbonated really, and the man said it reminded him of those children soft drink in a plastic strip.

the ingredients says it is triple filtered water, glucose syrup 11%. well, i wonder if it will take off. to me plain water is still the best. haha. during our conversation they told me they get all the information of these freebies from twitter. and it seems i can log onto twitter via my chrome book, i dont need a smartphone.

they told me of two other events , tomorrow and next tuesday… so i shall meet them again. haha. there is such a thing as a free lunch , it seems , at least in london nowadays. it is a nice activity, to attend these freebies. i can see why those two do it.  they say they also got free tickets to see the new bladerunner film tonight. tonight clashes with another freebie, at the hope pub, the one that hasbeen giving away a free pie all this week, tonight they are having a party night with free bar, and free pies. i have got the invite to go, first come first served so they say go early when it opens at 8pm. unusual to have a free bar… i am not sure if i shall go, dont really like to drink. 

talking of them seeing the latest sequel to bladerunner, (it officially comes out tomorrow , so they are seeing it in a preview one day early. ) reminds me of reading this article by someone who had not seen the first bladerunner, and her take on it. quite a simple interpretation, and after reading it, i thought what we should make sure is if we ever created intelligent robots, is not to make them too human like. make them look like things, all square and have wheels instead of legs, so that we can never mistake them for human beings. that way we shall never get into this situation where we mistake them for humans, and attribute feelings to them that they will never feel. we humans have a tendency to anthropomatise animals and objects to make them have feelings. give them human attributes like some people are allready doing with a box like object like siri, or alexa. if they can do it with a box, how much more if it looks like a human being. so the lesson to take from bladerunner is never make a robot look human. make it look like a machine. 

added. 5.55pm simon came back and asked me if i want to eat, he is cooking this. 




i asked for a tiny bit, but this is what he gave me, that belly pork is delicious. i ate it all. even though i had that free pizza earlier that was so filling. well tomorrow i can eat very little. in my defense i can say it has been about 5hrs since that meal. haha. just joking, because i dont eat this much normally. 

free burger, prime burger chain

26 Oct

london 2.35pm sunny 17.1C monday 2015 sunrise 6.42am GMT sunset 4.45pm GMT

this whole week, prime burger is giving free burgers between 1pm-2pm mon-fri 26.10 to 30.10.2015. to celebrate the opening of their branch in euston station. it is on the mezzanine floor. when i went there i found it difficult to find, until i looked at a plan, where they were listed but the plan was a bit out of date, saying yet to be opened.

wandering all over the concourse, i did not notice the mezzanine floor at all, so this promotion certainly was a good idea to let us find them. certainly the management fo the euston station signposting could be better, to tell people milling around the main concourse that just above them is a eating place with seating and quieter and u can still see the train board showing the arrivals and departures. the main concourse was manic, with so many people but the upstairs mezzanine was an oasis of calm. 

i was there at 12.30pm, when the queue started so was amongst those early arrivals.its always nice to have free burgers. i got the bad boy, normally costs £10.45 ;a double beefburger, with two beef patties. very filling, though they cook it well done, so it was a bit tough.now i realise why some of their competitors do it medium rare. if they do it medium rare, (leaving the middle raw) it will be more tender. like the byron free double burger i ate when i ate there for their charity do a few weeks ago. there it was 20p , this one is totally free and you can eat there again for the week. just register yourself at the website and fill in the form and they will send u a email which u show to the cashier. some people printed it out, but it is not necessary that would save me 20p as it cost that much to get one printed at my library.

no, all you need is  you just show them the email,  i just opened my chromebook and showed them the email. i got a laugh from the server, as i was the only one doing it, everyone else showed their smartphones. haha. but it serves its purpose. hehe. in fact i could use it again if i go everyday for the free burger… but i must admit i wont take advantage of their hospitality and let others have a chance. it is only the first 100 between 1-2pm, that the offer is valid for. 

they have a electronic thing that they give you and which beeps when the food is ready to collect. that is clever. 

the cutlery was wooden knife and fork which dont cut well, so i used my fingers and tried to eat it. i managed it . of course it was very nice to have a free burger and i enjoyed it. they have stiff competition, because right next door to them, and having lots of customers was a leon burger place. they sell the same type of food at the same prices too. the leon place was packed so maybe there is enough customers to share between the two of them. well i wish them both good luck.

added 29.10.15 this morning i saw the branch of leon’s in victoria place and got to read their menu and they are nothing like a burger place at all, in fact they dont do any beef burgers, only chicken burgers. so they are not in competition with the prime burger people. but u can tell i dont frequent these places when i dont even know what leon sells. 

i just realised the cashier did ask me something and i said yes without realising what i said yes to. i think that must be the time when she asked how i wanted the burger. so maybe u can specify how rare u want your burger. the other places just made it medium rare without asking… hmm, that is one of the things that happen to you when u get old and lose your hearing. haha. oh dear, and i tend to say yes, even though i dont really know what the question was… ah well, part and parcel of growing old i suppose. but if u ever eat at these places make sure u ask for medium rare, as it is so much more tender to eat. 

I just hope i dont get to be like that old couple who came onto the bus. they were slow and doddering and the bus driver even brought the bus down to make it easier for them to board. and delayed going until they were seated. then near oxford circus when the bus paused , they suddenly got into their heads to get up and started walking towards the exit door and the old man began to push against  it, and  he began to walk forward to reach the driver , that was when the bus moved again and headed to the bus stop and when it reached it he began to push against the door … they act so impatient, or as if the bus wont let them off as if they have never been on a bus before. i hope i dont get to be like that. so old and doddering and do lally. slow and tottering, at first, and then acting like they are sprinting to get out… as if. 

it is really nice to live in a city like london with businesses opening and owners willing to risk money on it. and have people willing to spend money and patronise these businesses to keep them going. it gives a very dynamic and happening impression and the feeling that you can make your living here and even your fortune, or if not that you can at least enjoy a lovely life here. 

talking of all kinds of things

14 Mar

london saturday 2015

i got an email from ikea, telling me they are giving all ikea membercard holders a free meal. a free main course and dessert, during this period from mother’s day sunday 15march – friday20march.

well i am looking forward to eating a meal there. my branch of ikea is wembley. and i have never eaten their meals, even though i heard so much about their meat balls. haha. though i am more attracted to having either the fish and chips , or more likely the lambshank. it is not often i eat lambshank. but whatever it will be rather pleasant to decide when i get there.

i will be going there on monday, because i can get free coffee on weekdays with the members’card; but also i am hoping the weekdays esp monday will be quieter. . it would be nice to bring a friend along who is also a member, but i dont know anyone. the plus side to going alone is that i can go whenever i like and dont have to hurry to keep to the arranged time.

mother’s day… simon was telling me is his mum’s birthday too. so i said well isn’t that good, u need only buy one present and make it do for both. but he said not with my mum, she will blow a gasket if i do that. haha.

thankgoodness i dont to bother with it;  not that i have a mother living to buy a present for.

i am rather absentminded about presents, i forgot my father’s 80th birthday too.

that is a rather special birthday with the chinese.

remember?  i sent a email notifying some friends who i lost touch with of my new mobile number; well i got replies from them, and that is nice to keep up with their news. one of them replied and among other news he tells me he is going to malaysia in May for his mum’s 80th birthday.

time really flies, i can remember his mum when she comes to visit him in london, must be a long time ago; she likes to come  on her own as his father dont like travelling. she is a very nice person. so it is a chance for her to enjoy a holiday from being a carer to him.

 and now she is 80… all these signs of time passing which means we are getting old too… i asked him to take note of all the changes that must have happened in malaysia, and to tell me of it. i have not gone back for more than 10yrs.

his father is now suffering dementia. and that must be a big change for a start.

i was at the library and read an advert from morrisons about £1.98/kg shoulder pork. so i went there and found two with no skin. that way of presenting the pork i have not seen before. usually they wrap a skin round it to make crackling when roasted and that means there is a lump of fat below the skin.

but i think they realise there are some of us dont want to roast it, because for the first time i see these two packs with no skin. and i have cut them up to freeze in separate small portions and they are very lean. hardly any fat at all. so i am rather pleased about that…

i  find that area , camberwell, where the morrisons is a very ethnically mixed atmosphere, with a hustle and bustle that i really like to see.

shops crowded with people all doing their own thing, i do like to see that. i dont like places that are deserted and lifeless.it makes me realise i am truly a city person, as i like the crowds. there is a noodle shop there with a sign on the window saying all you can eat for £6. well in chinatown one dish may cost £6. 

there was a large sign advertising lycramobile outside this shop where the bus stop was, and it says 1p/min for calls to nigeria. and free calls and text for all lycramobiles to call each other in uk.

if i like to call my family overseas i would certainly go for these mobiles providers. and make sure all my friends have the same provider so we can all get free calls in uk. maybe that is why they are everywhere being sold in london. lebara does similar cheap overseas calls too. but since i dont call family in malaysia, it is better that i go for the sainsburys sim card instead. though the sainsburys dont do free calls to fellow sainsbury phones. ah well, cant have everything i suppose. haha.

more free lunches

19 Nov


There seem to be a glut of new restaurants opening. this one is a chain called honest burger. selling £8 beef burgers. since 5guys opened  few years ago, london have seen a spat of these high priced burger joints. 

added 22.11.14 it just goes to show how behind the times i am. i saw an advert for tgi friday this morning and it prompted me to look at their menu, and i see they allready do high end burgers costing £12. so the idea of posh burgers has been around for a long time. the trend seems to be to upscale what used to be low-end foods for the masses. thus we see street food like pho, or burgers being upscaled and presented as posh. 

what is the attraction i wonder?

i got the chance to find out for free yesterday. honest burger gives 100 free burgers every day this week, mon-fri.

it was a long wait. i went to queue up a about 10mins before they opened at 11.30am i was 70th in the queue. got chatting to a punjabi guy who lives way out west of london taking 1hr 15mins to get to work;  with his wife.

he said he knew about it because he has seen the site being done up by workmen and then seen the notice on their window saying 100 free burgers for a week. the place is notable he said for being opened at 7.30am, for breakfast. not many places in the city do that. this one is very near liverpool st station in a side street that has many shops for let and done up. 

they gave us chips whilst we waited. but even when u finally get in, you still have to wait, when they give us the menu and asking if we want to order drinks. 

there were two people, a man and woman ahead of us, and he said they are colleagues , they work in the design section, whilst he works in another  dept. so i got in as part of their group , 4 of us.

the woman ordered a frizzy can drink whilst us men passed. at the table they plonked down a bottle of tap water and gave us glasses with a lemon slice in it. rather nice of them. and later i find out no need to pay for that even.

i ordered their house special, it costs £11. the others were a bit afraid of ordering more, and went for the honest burger.

when it finally arrived after a long wait, they were preparing it hot, so it is understandable there is a delay, the woman’s burger was too raw. and she asked to send it back, and had to wait a long time because she thought they will just cook hers some more, but no, they prepared another burger for her. she found out how raw it was when she cut hers up , whereas the one they gave her finally was whole.

her man friend had allready eaten his burger. it shows how small it was. the punjabi guy ate his burger but could not finish the chips, and pressed for time as he has long overstepped his lunch hour; asked for a doggy bag.

mine was larger, and had lots more things in it, chilli and what looks like a popadum. haha. and the meat was larger too. it was medium rare which i find is the attraction of these kinds of burger joints. they are quite thick and so have to be medium rare otherwise the outside will be burnt. i did enjoy eating it.

is there any difference in taste to the burgerking / macdonald burgers? not really. my opinion but i find raw beef has not the same huge difference in taste that u can get with raw fish.raw salmon, tuna has a totally different taste and texture to cooked version. so it is well worth eating , but raw steak? even when i tasted steak tartare, which is raw minced beef with raw egg, it just tastes of nothing really and the texture is quite slimy.minced beef burger is best eaten medium cooked or even well cooked. the smell of slightly charred beef is heavenly and tastes fab. so eating this is very nice as an experience but not something that is enhancing.

certainly the £8 ‘honest burger’ is not worth the money. my special might be worth it if u dont mind not being able to hold it in your hands and eat it with the hand, which i think is half the fun of eating burgers. this is because the stack is high and the base loaf disintegrates. they provide a knife so i expect it is meant to be cut into portions.

i was in the tesco the other night and got a 20p rustlers burger reduced from £2. i queued earlier on monday at the restaurant when they opened, but too late to be within the first 100. so i was kind of craving for a burger. i have to say that cheap burger  was rather nice. it is microwaved but the base was firm and solid so i was able to eat it handheld.

i think with these designer burgers they are just too thick to be able to eat it in a mouthful. i wonder if there is a trend , one chap gets the idea and opens a shop and it catches on and others see it so popular and so open up new joints. i wish these guys well, and hope they make a success of it. the servers are very good, cheerful and helpful even though they are not going to get much tips. i wonder how it works, will the management make up for it to them? otherwise the poor guys have to work extra hard and not get any tips at all. and it goes on all week lunch time, driving away normal trade. this is the first time i see a place offering free lunches all week.

they did say they are having half price breakfast as a promotion. so coffee(unlimited refills) for £1 normally and burgers normally £5 , will be half priced. so hope they will make a busy morning trade.

that might explain why lobster joints are now the craze. there has been 3 new places opened within a short distance of each other near where i got my free lobster lunch recently.

well, it is great for people like me who get to taste it from these free opening lunches.

office workers for which these places are aimed at might find the wait too long for their lunch hour. interestingly my punjabi guy says his wife makes his lunch. it was lasange that day. he is a sensible one.

as i left the burger place i walked past  a pizza place and looked in the window at the eaters. very thin pizza with not much toppings and they are paying abou £5 for it . it was busy , with queues.

sometimes i wonder why these guys dont pack their own lunches. though one explanation is that  it is quite isolating when u eat your own food alone in the office. the eating out with your colleagues is a form of bonding i guess.

sampling london

30 Oct

london thursday 2014

i can see a real autumnal change in the leaves around me now. the leaves are turning yellow. and littering the ground. so it has taken them this long to get going. and the temperature is still very mild. its really very nice.

recently i have been sampling a little bit of fast food eating by joining the queue for a free lunch at lobster kitchen. they opened a new branch, near the central ymca in tottenham court road, and wanted to publicise it. it is a very small outlet.

after quite a long time queueing, about 2hrs , it was a warm sunny day so it was no hardship;  with two guys who were behind me leaving because they have to get back to work, and a guy from the ymca giving me a free 3day pass to the ymca; me chatting to a woman who came from epsom, and when i asked her how she got to know of this offer, she said she asked people in the queue who told her of it.

she is quite a bossy woman, in that she was urging me to volunteer at the british museum, to conduct the tours. even gave me a brochure from the museum and she telling me i will feel good about volunteering and giving something back to society. later she told me her husband who is spanish had gone back to spain to live with his parents rather than stay in london with her. haha. i am not surprised as she is so bossy. 

the food was quite disappointing. but i realise it is because we did not know how to order. but still, let me say what happened and u decide. they have lobster rolls prepared and so we just ordered the topping that goes with it. there were a choice of toppings. the lobster pieces were not many, only 3 i think but smothered in the topping, which in our case was thousand island dressing, or what looks like it. they call it by some other name which i forgot.

but while we were sitting on the bench eating it, we heard a woman at the counter asking for whole lobster. the person said they dont normally include that but will make it an exception for them. (it was the end of the queue, no one else behind her) and when we saw the order that they got, i was surprised. it was lots of lobster pieces on top of salad. i asked the girl cleaning up the tables what it is called, she said it was lobster sides, the menu says the small is £6,large £11. our rolls was listed as £15, which at first i thought was a mistake but it is not so. i said to the girl, the lobster sides are better value. i cannot believe that our rolls normally cost £15.

perhaps the amount given to the women was not the normal amount for the sides. as she did say she wanted a whole lobster. so maybe the normal lobster sides are not as good as what she got. 

just goes to show if u are brazen enough with these free lunch offers,where there is no mention of what u can order, u can get a whole lobster for free. haha.

i saw in my reader the next day a blog talking of a singapore restaurant with S$21.50 lobster meal consisting of lobster roll, a side dish and chips. it is about £11. so i think a better value than what we can get in london.

added.8.11.14 sat. this article says there is a glut of lobsters now so wholesale prices have gone down by 70%. that might explain why there are these lobster fast food places opening up now. 

afterwards the woman and i went to waitrose for our free cup of coffee. haha. she did not know of that branch near goodge st, and she did not know how to operate the machine, so i taught her. she says she usually go to john lewis in oxford st, to get her free coffee from the waitrose there. 

the next day i thought i shall go to the ymca and try out the free 3day pass. i went in the afternoon. it was easy to get the pass, and i saw the swimming pool from the coffee shop as there was clear glass windows overlooking the pool and the swimmers. rather nice i thought, though it did put the swimmers on show.

the cafe got free computers to log on and get free wifi or u can use your own laptop. there is even a free library. 

i went to the men changing room but could not quite figure out how to get to the pool or the gym. so i walked back to the cafe, and asked a woman who looked like she is a member how to get to the pool. she said it is through the changing room . and i found out that the £1 coin is returnable for the lockers.

the pool is very nice, not as long as the queen mum swimming pool which i normally go to, but nice enough. and i saw a guy coming out of glass doors on the side of the pool and it turned out they are steam room, and there is a sauna further along too. it was very nice to alternate swimming with the steam room and sauna. 

later as i was lookng at their website, i saw there is a over 60 rate, £30 annual fee plus £2 per visit, or £100 for 6months. off peak though, which means last entry is 3.45pm and must get out by 4.30pm. for normal rate it is £580 a year.

it is very good value but i allready got free swimming at the queen mum, so if i join here it will be for the gym and their classes and the sauna and steam room.

i have not used their weights so i shall go again and try those. 

update 2.11.14 i went again a day later, but did not try the weights. instead went swimming and using the steam room and sauna. the weights area was not very inviting. i could see it as there is a central well, with the basketball and tennis courts on the lowest level and rising all round it are the floors carrying the running machines and at the far corner the group of weights machines. there dont seem to be any free weights area. it looked a very small area for weights and that means  i felt there will be a lot of waiting for others to finish. there were more areas for running machines and cycling machines.

i decided that i still prefer going to the queen mother’s sports swimming pool. it has natural daylight and very high ceilings which gives it a spaciousness that is lacking here. as for the steam room and sauna, i realise it is a distraction from the swimming. somehow with them being available, i dont feel like swimming that much. the tendency is to succumb to the temptation of being lazy and just flop down in there and vegetate in the heat. 

my free outing to canterbury

18 Sep


Quite an enjoyable day trip to canterbury today.

there were 50 people, mainly women, only a handful of men and all of them chinese. i got a free snack of chinese char siew pau, one woman told me of it to go and ask for it from the guy who had a bunch of it in his hands. and when i wondered why they are not having it too, they said they already had theirs and eaten it;  which was quite delicious but perhaps it is because it has been a long time since i eaten something like it, so anything would be delicious…

this is the first time it seems this chinese group had organised something like this, so there was a bit of a hiccup right at the start. i guess it is foregiveable, after all they were quite young chinese boys and girls. it is sweet of them to go to all this trouble really.

the bus was too big to negotiate the soho square area, what with its small one way roads and sharp bends. so after an hour’s delay when the coach wandered all over the place trying to find a way in;  we walked to shaftesbury avenue to catch it.

it was a long ride to canterbury. i thought it would take one hour but in the end it took 3hrs, with a stop of 1hr (loo stop) at blue water shopping complex.

(first time i been to bluewater. heard so much about it but i think it has been overtaken by the two westfield complexes in shepherds bush and stratford. it is only 2 stories tall, sprawled over quite a big area, and dont look as luxurious as the other two westfield centres; spaces must be cheap i guess; we never went up to the first floor, and i think there is nothing there, or maybe a restaurant.

the ground floor eating places were busy. and that was about all that was busy. the shops themselves seem empty. 

it was a thursday so maybe it is  quiet on weekdays. perhaps weekends are their busy days.)

one of the girls who organised this trip was telling me when she was doing her A levels in canterbury, the school would bring them to bluewater as a school outing. it was something the school did. 

canterbury is a walled town , we could see the surrounding walls. the coach parked near the sainsburys, and we walked to the chinese restaurant.

lunch was rather nice.

a chinese soup of pork bones and dried chinese veg and chinese dates. later the waiter took out the pot and gave a whole lot of the veg and pork bones with the soup. i quite like it, and i seem to be the one who ate them mostly. haha. my mother used to do a similar soup.

then came a plate of chicken and mushrooms, (big and fat chinese mushrooms which i love) and a plate of beef balls and chinese wood fungus. and a plate of fried lettuce.

there were only 3 of us at the table so we got them all to ourselves, though we did pass some plates over to the next table of 4 who had the same combination.

the couple , man and woman, at my table are small eaters.

to finish there was a plate of cut oranges and apples, they were granny smiths i think because they are quite sour, but i like them.

the chicken was very tender. They were thinly sliced chicken breasts. i wonder how they got them to be so tender.

the chinese restaurants know a way of tenderising the meat … whenever i eat at chinese restaurants their meat is always so tender. i recall papaya was used as a tenderiser as it contains papain an protein enzyme.  but maybe this restaurant uses a commercial tenderiser. i wonder whether  soya sauce is a tenderiser. thank goodness this lunch was not overly salted. 

after the lunch we strolled down to the entrance to the cathedral which will be our meeting point. there was a £10.50 (i think, cant remember the exact amount) ticket to get into the cathedral itself.

the grounds are not accessible and it was difficult to see the cathedral from outside the gate.

a strange cathedral, this,  which is surrounded by buildings so u cannot see it from afar. i prefer to see the outside as i have seen the insides of so many cathedrals, i am jaded. they all look the same from inside really… some have nicer stained glass than others but really if u have seen one cathedral you have seen them all. haha.

an exception maybe for the churches in venice, where each have a famous artist painting the interiors.

one of the men in the group  told me that he came with his wife and kid 40yrs ago, now his kid is 43yrs old. he is in his 70s now. i asked him did u get to see inside the cathedral? he said the charge was like £2 then.

anyway because of the charge, many people were hanging about at the entrance, i saw a row of school kids sitting on the pavement along the street that ran from the entrance to the main shopping street. so maybe canterbury was the other destination apart from bluewater for school outings haha.

We were left to wander around on our own.

There were quite a lot of young people about. which is rather nice. the weather is really nice, so lots of guys were wearing shorts; some of them have very smooth legs…its quite disconcerting to me, the legs are so white and smooth; and they are muscular guys too; so the legs do look quite attractive, but then i am rather biased as i think men’s legs and feet are really very attractive whether shaved or not haha.

do they shave them and why? they cant all be cyclists can they? or is there a fashion amongst the young for shaved legs nowadays?!

there was a nice stream running underneath the main shopping street. it was very fast flowing but shallow, and i can see the weeds drifting and waving about in long  streams . the water looks very clean. there were two guys advertising boat trips on it. 

you wait ages for a free lunch and then two comes along

11 Sep


Yesterday i got an email from a newsletter saying there is a free lunch given by pho the company in their new branch in one new exchange, near st paul’s cathedral. it is a vietnamese eating place. i have not tasted pho at all, even though there are lots of vietnamese restaurants serving them. So i decided to go there today to get the free lunch.

pho is pronounced like ‘fur’. click on that to hear it.

the place opens at 11.30am and i thought i shall not try to get there too early as i dont want to be the only one there. haha. how naive. when i got there at about 10mins to 12pm, the queue was long stretching outside the door.

it was on the first floor and it was so new, the name of the restaurant was not even listed in the entrance of the building.

i just saw 4 women who were obviously office workers going up the escalators and thought i shall just follow them.

if u were two people u can jump the queue, and then they were calling for one person, so i got to jump the queue. if u are a large group you have to wait.

it was very nice, no hassle to order anything else that is not free.

we can only get the pho, no starters or desserts, but that is fine by me. i know what i wanted and said i want the house special, because it has tiger prawns in it.

it came in a large bowl soon after i set down in a bench filled with other diners. and there was a side dish of herbs and bean sprouts, all of which i added to the bowl. i only kept the fresh chili apart. there were chili sauce, and chili oil, vinegar as condiments on the table.

I enjoyed it and chatted with a group of 3 guys who came to sit  later. one of them said the two guys at the end of the bench were their colleagues at the same office, but they came earlier.

he said he had not eaten pho either. I said it is very similar to malaysian style soup noodle dishes. that is a surprise to me as i thought vietnamese is a distinctly different dish to malaysian.

except malaysia dont have mint herb. but the coriander and bean sprouts are the same though in malaysia it will be added to the dish before it is  brought to the table. malaysia dont have this custom of having extra veg/herb at the table for u to add more of.

 i know the thais also allow you to add extra herbs and veg at least in those hawker road side stalls i see in thailand. so maybe vietnam also do the same. Though in this case there were no veg allready in the bowl, so the side dish is just for show, because all of it really is needed to be added to the bowl. though doing it this way the bean sprouts are real crunchy.

the house special is very nice, with enough tiger prawns and thin slices of beef and tofu. from the menu it costs £10 or so. glad i dont have to pay it. haha. but here is a real free lunch. no catch there. and it is on all day till they close at 10.30pm. what is to prevent people from going there again today? nothing, but i think no one will.

so finally i can say i have tasted pho.

free lunch

8 Sep


We have all heard of the expression , ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’ meaning that there is a hidden catch in any free proposition.

But yesterday, i had signed up to go to a outing to canterbury  and there is a lunch included and as far as i can see the whole thing is free. if there is a catch it is not apparent. but perhaps i should wait till that day is over so i can get what the catch is, if any.

in these days of advertising, you could get a free meal and there are no obligations. so i think there are still free lunches that have no hidden catches in this world.  

that lunch is obviously not free for whoever pays for it, but if it is not you, than as far as you are concerned it is a free lunch.

I am looking forward to it, the whole thing, not just the lunch, as it will get me out and about and maybe meet new people.

I am here in this library surrounded by books but i have a confession … i am finding it rather boring to read books that are here.

there are a lot of new books being displayed but i find i just could not get up much enthusiasm for the plot enough to borrow them. i know one must not judge a book by its cover, or by the little blurb on the book jacket, but i can get a inkling of what the subject matter is about, or reading a few pages at random can tell me and i find the plot is mundane to me or too uninteresting to me.

there are lots of campaigns to get people to read, but if the subject matter is not interesting to that person i dont think they will read it.

i find as a reader i am very callous with writers. i pick up a book and read it and may find it interesting, but once i finished it, it is like ‘very nice… next!’  or i might not finish it and say ‘rubbish this… next!’

i dont think of the time and effort by the author to write that book. is it because i did not buy those books with my hard earned money?  like what people say… if it does not cost u something, you wont appreciate it… true or not?

or is it because it is a boring book and i would not have bothered to read it in the first place if it were not free.

or maybe the whole system should be stood on it head and you pay only if after reading it you judge it good and then u pay. you dont pay if you judged it no good. though knowing human beings everyone will say it is no good, even if it is, just to get out of paying it.

 it is one of the unique qualities of books that after reading it, you dont really want to keep the book. there is no reason to keep it. it is the real throw -away culture when it comes to books. if u do want to keep books it is more a collective mania that prompts it. i know plenty of people who buy books just to keep them and they dont read the books. i myself was guilty of it. i have stopped doing it now.