I have to tell you a secret.
A terrible secret of mine.
I’m… Thirty years old!
*Cries manically into my pillow*
Yes, this handsome and youthful exterior that makes plenty of people round the world weak at the knees actually holds a wise and reluctant thirty something soul within who’s seen the world twice over.
I now know how the Doctor feels.
So, as you can see, I was utterly horrified at turning thirty that I refused to acknowledge it on my actually birthday a few months ago. A quiet weekend with the family, who couldn’t be easily persuaded that I am actually 25 again, was needed with me hidden from view.
So it took those few months to begrudgingly accept enough to organise a little get together with my friends, old and new, right in the heart of England’s capital, London!
I never had a birthday in London. Sure, I had them in exciting places such as Perth in Australia and Munich in Germany:
See More: A Birthday in Perth
But I couldn’t believe yet that I hadn’t celebrated a birthday in my own country’s capital. It’s like never going to a strip club in Las Vegas (Mum, it’s a saying, I would never go to a strip club in Las Vegas…).
So, on one cool and sunny October morning, I had my avengers assemble mid morning in Covent Garden and we were in for a great surprise to find out the most unlikeliest things about good old London Town.
We all know I love walking tours. Like totes. As a history buff, I’m thrilled when I get to know all about the gruesome and power of the city. And London is no exception. I’ve been on lots of walking tours in this city that I’m simply historied out and I long for the unexpected and quirky knowledge that is hidden in plain sight.
Enter the Quirky Tour by Insider London Tours.
This 3.5 hour tour embellishes surprising information deep in the heart of London starting in touristy Covent Garden and ending in the popular landmark of Trafalgar Square.
Ranging from where you can find the world’s smallest police station, why you should be getting excited about straight roads, why Punch and Judy heralded the arrival of feminism and why you should take a closer look at Westminster’s lampposts, this 210 minute walking tour will go by with a blur. That is if you have a Viking of a tour guide whose entertaining commentary and picking on attendees had us in rip-roaringly laughter.
What’s so special about this tour that they definitely catered for deaf people. They were deaf aware, making sure that we fully understood and we, a deaf dominated group, could prompt for further explanation without any annoyance.
All in all, it’s a great tour and I’m keen to get back with Insider Tours particularly their underground tours.
Our stomachs and wine taste buds were soon calling us and we went to a highlight of the Quirky Tour that told us all about Savoy Palace that stood along the River Thames before it was burnt down in the Peasant’s Revolt. All save for a wine cellar…
Gordon’s Wine Bar
It comes to no surprise that it’s Gordon’s Wine Bar. One: Because it’s London’s oldest wine bar. And two: it’s where I can usually be found on a Saturday afternoon in Embankment should I be in London.
Serving all manners of Red and White Wines to delight the budding wine connoisseur within you (hey, I like wine!), you can accentuate to your taste buds with the range of delicious mature cheeses from Brie, Camembert and cheddar alongside with freshly prepared bread.
However, be warned. Gordon’s Wine Bar is extremely popular and you may struggle to get a table inside and even on the long terrace outside. Simply send a friend early on to pounce on a table and save it for your large group who will at least have something to set a wine glass on (in my case, a bottle).
But it’s not for the budget hearted so if you feel like you need to escape to somewhere cheaper, you don’t have far to go…
On the other side of Embankment tube station, you’ll be greeted with the mighty River Thames but the jewel in your eye will have to be Tattershall Castle.
It’s a boat anchored to the bank side.
So why is it called Tattershall Castle? Who knows? But I go there because I have a strong Yorkshire connection to this sea-faring vessel.
Before the Humber Bridge was built, connecting East Yorkshire with North Lincolnshire, only ferries operated from Kingston Upon Hull to South Ferriby or New Holland.
You can see where I’m going, right?
Tattershall Castle was one of those boats that had its own bar where you could sup a pint while you cross the dynamic estuary and tidal river. But as soon the Humber Bridge was built allowing you to drive across with ease (paying a toll), the ferries became more and more redundant. Therefore London is where the ship ended up serving delicious large meals and a range of beers at a fair price. Also, you can have views of the River Thames and the London Eye to appreciate.
It was here where we had a few more pints while steadying your sea legs while various people in my entourage tucked into a meal before their journey home.
A smaller group soon headed towards central London again ready to sample food at a newly refurbished restaurant that I heard so much about.
Reopened in the last week of September, this Spanish and Portuguese restaurant deep in the heart of Soho has built on the respective success of its sister, Barrio East, where I attended the Carnival Fiesta. If Barrio East is amazing, surely Barrio Central would be?
Booking in advance, I reserved a table and as I arrived, I was greeted with my name on the table as we costly squashed up to one another.
Drinks were served swiftly and the food took a while to come. Whereas the food was tasty, I was disappointed with the size of them as a main course, which could have been treated as a starter.
Our bill had a lot of wrong items on it and it kept changing but we got it sorted out in the end.
However, the atmosphere was pretty fantastic and music blared loudly that sometimes made me want to sway my hips. However, it was pretty noisy for us deaf people.
Downstairs, there was an underground club, which was slightly empty. When we tried to order drinks at the bar, they ran out of the drinks we wanted to order and we were told to go upstairs instead to get them.
Overall, it wasn’t the amazing experience I was expecting so we left hoping to see what else in Soho would give us a night to remember.
The Duck and Rice
We couldn’t believe it. We absolutely couldn’t believe it. We totally forgot about the England v Australia Rugby Union game!
Walking past the Duck and Rice, a short distance away from Barrio Central, we spied the game started on the big screen and we immediately hustled in, buying rounds of drinks, to banter with Australians on our table.
I rather liked this posh looking bar that seemed to be filled with friendly bank workers who wanted to have a good old relaxing time.
But Alas! England lost the game and was promptly kicked out of the World Cup. Well done, Australia!
Soon, the night beckoned and we ended up heading into Soho and its Chinatown to sample a range of bars. It’s a rather fitting end to my birthday as we, from the historical walking tour earlier that morning, ended up in party central of London, filled with revellers that have come far and wide to appreciate just how amazing London really is.
With that knowledge in mind, my friends around me and a keen future ahead, I guess turning 30 isn’t so bad after all.
Just don’t shout it from the rooftops, okay?