While my students were off ‘doing Europe’ for Spring Break, I thought it was high time to take a Spring Break of my own. 36 hours in London with the parents in tow. Let’s do this thing!
We arrived at the hotel at 9PM on Friday evening, dumped the bags and about turned out the door with food firmly on our minds. It was late and as we cast around desperately for anywhere that wasn’t a kebabaria, we stumbled onto Cabana, a very cool Brasilian Barbeque spot on the Islington High Street. Food was fab, staff were lovely and the decor was very funky; a stroke of luck.
Back to the ‘otel where a slight mix up with the rooms meant we had one double bed between the three of us. Not unaccustomed to roughing it, I gallantly offered to sleep on the floor and all credit to Hilton’s choice of carpet fabric, I slept like a log.
Saturday morning was a slow starter, mainly due to the fact I had to go in search of actifed for my ever bothersome sinuses. That and the fact I wanted to make full use of the H&M around the corner. (We don’t have a H&M in Galway so when the opportunity presents itself, I usually pounce)
Saturday was also match day; Arsenal v Watford. You can read all about that here:
After Arsenal’s 4-0 win, we mosey’d to the nearby 12 Pins. As one Yelp review eloquently surmised: ‘This is a grubby dark dingy pub. Not many would venture here on a weekday. But on Arsenal or Premiership games this pub comes alive.Probably the best atmosphere to watch a football match. Even better than going to the stadium in truth. It’s a hardcore Gooner pub with a lot of memories to go with it for most. So for a football pub, especially if you’re an Arsenal fan this is a must gameday.’
In 2011, I spent a semester on Erasmus in Toulouse in the south of France. By virtue of our native tongues, quite a few of my friends there turned out to be Welsh/English/Irish and, having finished college, several of them had settled in London. Cue messy drunk night out/ catch up/reunion. XOYO in Shoreditch was our chosen venue to see Ben Pearce supporting the inimitable Greg Wilson.
I digress momentarily at this point to tell you the most stereotypical Paddy abroad story ever. The aul lads were not keen on their pride and joy heading off out into the (wet and miserable) night in London town nursing what transpired to be the beginning of sinusitis and did everything in their power to persuade me not to head out. Undeterred, I zipped up my bright blue Regatta jacket (the height of style) and Dad escorted me to the bus stop. By my calculations, Shoreditch was a 10 minute hop from Islington. 25 minutes later I was still on the bus. 40 minutes later we still hadn’t arrived and I was becoming suspicious, wondering had I somehow missed my stop. By the time it dawned on me to check Google maps, I’d reached the terminus of the bus. Terrified of running out of data (roaming charges are a disaster) and being left at the side of the road in the middle of London, I ran to the front of the bus to ask the driver how to get to Shoreditch. To his credit, he tried to stifle the laughted as he explained I’d got the bus going the wrong direction and would have to stay on the bus for another 50 minutes to get back to more-or-less where I started. I was literally too embarassed to answer the phone when my friends rang to see why I was so late.
XOYO was absolutely immense on the night. On previous outings when we’ve seen Ben Pearce he’s played mainly Deep House but he rpoved his versatility with the funkiest electro set I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing him play and the entire sweaty, smoky dancefloor were out on their feet groovin’ for two hours straight. Greg Wilson was actually quite disappointing. His set included a lot of more expiremental noise and distorted sounds repeated on a loop. Just as he was about to lose the dancefloor, he pulled it back with the 80s classic Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Relax’. Sometimes all the punters want is a song with a few words. The night wound up shortly after and, unwilling to risk another 5 hour round trip on the Nightbus, I got my first Uber.
As is by now an O’Malley family tradition, we spent our last morning in The Breakfast Club, Angel. Although the queue is usually bananas (you could be waiting anywhere up to an hour) it’s worth the wait. Inspired by the iconic 1985 film of the same name, the cafe is littered with memorabilia and stills from the movie and has a huge all-day breakfast menu. Hard to argue with the sugar rush from a giant stack of pancakes after a night on the hooch.
Flights Aer Lingus : Shannon – Heathrow return
Accom : Double Tree by Hilton, Islington