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I've always been a fan of comfort food (possibly too much of a fan) and its one of the Sausage & Mash cafe's specialities. One of Natalie's finds, this upmarket greasy spoon has fast become one of my favourites. Whenever someone asks for a restaurant suggestion for Notting Hill this place often comes to mind. Especially now as the days grow shorter and colder and we head into the dark depths of winter.

Decorated like a diner, the tables are covered in plastic red-checked tablecloths and the walls are covered with pictures of cowboys, the Beatles, and banners declaring "come sad, leave happy!". Posh is definitely not a word that comes to mind. It's a restaurant that has no pretensions. The laid-back decor complements the classic dishes available on the menu.

Ordering is a simple process. We usually choose the Mix'n'Mash. We pick two sausages of different varieties (my pick is Pork and Honey & Mustard), a type of mash (herb and spring onion), a type of sauce (house gravy) and an accompaniment (I like minty peas, Natalie has mushy peas and Andrew goes for baked beans). Our food arrives quickly and we dig in happily. There are clean plates all round at the end of every meal. Without fail, I'll rub my very full stomach and complain about eating too much. Routine is comforting too.

S&M's slogan is "Eat Yourself Happy". Probably not advice to adopt for the everyday. However, after a plateful of sausages, mash, peas and gravy, you can't help but leave S&M with a full belly and warm glow.

jess - 8th Nov 2007, 11:11 tags: london food nablopomo nablopomo07 love_london

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We're always a little bit sad when we miss out on Australian celebrations over here in England. We do try to mark the important occasions like Australia Day and Anzac Day. (I can tell you though, partying on January 26 on a cold winter's day is just wrong! Australia Day requires a BBQ, a swim and sweltering weather.)

In November, we miss out on the circus that is the Melbourne Cup. Melbs Cup Day represents a chance to wear a silly hat and drink champagne. Unfortunately, the Cup's three pm starting time means a four am start for us. I'm not that keen to wear a silly hat or drink champagne.

Luckily, we've been able to transfer our affections to Guy Fawkes Night (November 5th). A 150 year old horse race challenging a 400 year old tradition. If Guy Fawkes Night involved champagne it could have beaten the horsies.

On Saturday evening, we headed to Battersea Park and watched the fireworks display from the bank of the river Thames. It was quite pretty, but really what is a fireworks display without the Harbour Bridge as a centrepiece (Deja vu? I'm sure I said the same thing last year.)

For me, the most amazing thing about the evening, was memories of Guy Fawkes Night from the year before. Last year, we also watched the Battersea fireworks display. We watched it from the window of Phil and Liz's flat. For me, it's strange to be able to think "what was I doing this time last year?" and have London as the backdrop for the memory. Before last year, London was just a place on a map, half a world away. Now it's the place we call home (base).

With a year's experience we are no longer London babies. We are fully-fledged London toddlers. I'm not sure that we're going to make it to adulthood.

aaaaaaaaaaaaah oooooooooooer
oooooooooooer aaaaaaaaaaaaah
Group photo ooooooooer

jess - 7th Nov 2007, 11:11 tags: london nablopomo nablopomo07 guy_fawkes bonfire_night

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Despite London's status as a major global city, it has more than its fair share of green space. Near the city there is Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Holland Park and Regent's Park. Head a little bit further out and you find Battersea Park, Clapham Common, Wandsworth Common, Wimbledon Common (where the Wombles live), Ravenscourt Park, Ealing Common, Hampstead Heath... the list goes on. I'm always partial to a bit of open, green space. The perfect location for some ultimate action!

jess - 6th Nov 2007, 11:11 tags: london nablopomo nablopomo07 love_london

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Every year in September, the city hosts an Open House Event. Over 600 buildings throughout the city open up to the public. During the event we have the opportunity to take a sticky beak behind closed and often locked doors. Some of London's most iconic buildings such as The Gherkin and London City Hall are on the list.

It was London City Hall that piqued our interest this September. We had decided to make the Thames Festival, which coincided with the Open House Event, our priority. Some of the Flickr group were on the ball and managed to do both the Thames Festival and the Open House Event. Easy enough to do as London City Hall is located on South Bank next to the Thames. Clever Flickerites!

After viewing photos of the interior of City Hall, I decided it was a building I must visit. The facade is quite distinctive, but the most striking feature is inside. An unusual but beautiful spiral staircase winds its way through the core.

Luckily, I didn't have to wait a whole year before I could pay a visit. City Hall hosts an Open Weekend once a month. Last Saturday, Natalie and I trundled off to the City of London to have a peek inside City Hall and admire its spiral staircase.

Spiral StaircaseReflectionsSwirls

More photos on Flickr

Some interesting facts about London City Hall:
  • Billed as a Green building, it is designed with the environment in mind.

  • The building is a curved, almost spherical shape which minimises the surface area and heat loss of the building. The building has 25% less surface area than a cube of the same volume.

  • Heat generated by computers and lights is recycled. Deep floor plans allow for the collection of heat at the building's core, which can then be redirected.

  • There is no air-conditioning. Ground water is extracted from bores and used to cool the building. (I'd love to know if this works. It was extremely warm in the building when we visited. This was on a crisp Winter's day.) This ground water is recycled and used to flush the toilets.

  • Solar panels have been installed on the roof to further reduce the building's electrical consumption.
I'd love to have a look in the Gherkin. Must try and remember for Open House next year (if we are still here... )

jess - 5th Nov 2007, 11:11 tags: london nablopomo photography nablopomo07 explore_london

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I really love the bus stop signs in the UK. They provide more information than just a listing of buses that stop at that particular stop.

Each sign has a location identifier on it, whether it's a local landmark or the nearest cross street. It makes life so much easier when catching the bus. If you pay attention to the signs you know where to get off. The signs also indicate which direction the bus is travelling. So, it's easy to find out which stop you need to stand at. It's also extremely useful for orientating yourself when you leave an underground station. Just check out the bus stop to figure out which direction you need to walk in.

Sometimes, it's the small things that count.

jess - 4th Nov 2007, 11:11 tags: london nablopomo nablopomo07 love_london

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