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Archive for the ‘England’ Category

London City

Posted by Jen on Jun-7-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 8:30 am on June 4, 2010.  We checked out of the Best Western Hotel.

We jumped on the shuttle bus going to the airport at 9:30 am.  We would be flying from Dublin, Ireland to London, England today.  We arrived at the airport at 9:55 am.

We checked our luggage in and then went through Security.  We got some breakfast. 

We boarded the plane.  There was a problem with one of the bags not being accounted for, so there was a delay.  We were supposed to leave at 11:25 am, but actually left at 12:50 pm.  The time went by pretty fast.  We watched Little Britain on the laptop.

We arrived at 1:55 pm in London.  We got the train.  We missed the train by a few minutes, so we took one at 2:53 pm to London Bridge.  It was a slow train that took 50 minutes.  It was fine though.  Ivan used the internet while I finished a blog post.

We were now in New Providence Wharf.  We checked in to the Radisson Edwardian Hotel.  The room is well decorated and big.

We took the Thames Clipper boat to the city.  It was a nice warm day – perfect for the boat ride on the River Thames.  We saw the HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge. 

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Tower Bridge is definitely the best bridge I’ve ever seen. 

We had dinner at Masala Zone.  Ivan and I each got a glass of rosé called Pink Elephant.  It tasted really good.  Ivan got the chicken grand thali while I got the prawn grand thali.  Lil Dave got a chicken & banana curry with a banana naan bread.  The food was fantastic as usual.

We walked to the movie theatre.  Lil Dave went to see Space Chimps 2. 

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Ivan and I went to see Sex and the City 2.  The movie was funny during the first part then it got more serious.  It’s different now since most of the girls are married and they don’t dish about sex and men as much.  It was a good movie though.

– Sex and City 2 movie poster image from IMP Awards

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We Will Rock You

Posted by Jen on May-26-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to Wetherspoons Pub for lunch on May 24, 2010.  Ivan had a 5 bean chili wrap while I had a Mexican wrap.  Lil Dave got a wrap with bananas, chicken and avocado.  The food was good.

We got a train from Croydon to the West End.  I bought a Moleskine notebook at Foyles.

Ivan got us some Magners Pear Cider at the Montagu Pyke.  He bought Lil Dave a banana juice.  Ivan’s brother, Neal showed up a few minutes later.  We chatted with Neal about his recent trip to Cuba.  He bought Ivan a keychain with two bongo drums and he gave me a keychain that was shaped like a cigar.  Very cool!

We walked to Yo! Sushi for dinner.  On Mondays, it’s called !Blue Mondays where the blue dishes are £2.20 per dish.  The dishes are placed on a conveyor belt and you can grab what you what.

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If you don’t see anything you like, you can order off the £2.20 menu with the cooks.  Unlimited still or sparkling water is available for £1 per person.  The sushi was really good.  It was great that they had appetizers, noodles, rice and sushi plates available on the special blue menu.  Ivan and I didn’t eat as much since we had a late lunch.  Lil Dave was happy that he got custom banana sushi since he provided the chefs with the bananas.

We said bye to Neal.  Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to see the musical We Will Rock You.

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The musical is set in futuristic London where making your own music or playing musical instruments is illegal.  The music played are songs of Queen.  It’s a spectacular musical.  The costumes, sets, hairstyles, make-up and music are simply amazing.  There were 4 stand-ins since the regular people weren’t there.  The best two were the guy who played Galileo Figaro and the woman who played Killer Queen.  It’s a must-see show if you’re ever in London.

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London Carr

Posted by Jen on May-26-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I left Neal’s flat in Stratford on May 23, 2010.  We took our backpacks and jumped on the train.

It was another lovely warm day in London.  Arriving in South Bank, we walked to the restaurant Eat. Ivan got a falafel wrap and a tomato and basil soup.  I had a chicken and basil sandwich.  Lil Dave had a banana soup with a banana and peanut butter sandwich.

We walked to the National Theatre.  We stored our backpacks in the free cloak room. 

We went to sit down for the play London Assurance.  National Theater is a unique theater.  The stage is big and very open.  The stage revolves around.  Ivan said the stage can actually sink down as well.  

The play was written in 1841.  The actors talked in Olde English, so we had to pay close attention.  It was a really funny play. 

We grabbed our backpacks and then took the train to Croydon.  Croydon is located in Surrey, not London.

We checked in to the Holiday Inn Express.  Ivan took a shower and I got ready.

Lil Dave stayed at the hotel so he could watch monkey movies and jump on the bed.  Jimmy Carr isn’t appropriate for young monkeys or children.

We walked to Wetherspoons Pub to get something to eat.  Ivan started off with a tomato soup.  It was too tomato-y for me.  Ivan had a cous cous salad with chickpeas.  I had a nice BBQ chicken melt. 

We walked towards the theater.  We took our seats at the Fairfield Halls.  Our seats were front row a little off center.  Comedian Jimmy Carr came on.  He’s a posh guy from London who tells rude jokes.  It was hard to hear him since the sound wasn’t good.  It sounded echo-y.  Sometimes we couldn’t hear the jokes.

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Jimmy Carr always asks his audience if they have any questions.  One odd one was What’s your favorite Pokemon?  He totally made fun of that guy.  He thought he came on a special bus. 

A guy wanted to ask a question.  He said the question wasn’t for Jimmy Carr though.  The guy named Adam asked his girlfriend to marry him.  Jimmy Carr said that the girl could do better.  The girl Selina said yes.  Jimmy Carr was confused since she didn’t look pregnant.  Jimmy Carr thought it was awesome that he was sharing his love with the public.  He asked the staff to bring a bottle of champagne to the newly engaged couple.  I didn’t think it was very romantic proposing at a comedy show. 

The show was awesome.  Jimmy Carr is hilarious.  His style is mostly one-liner jokes.  Ivan thought that he might have toned down his jokes.

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Mexican Comedy

Posted by Jen on May-25-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to Nando’s for lunch on May 22, 2010.  Ivan and I shared a red pepper dip.  Lil Dave got a pita with bananas and peri peri sauce.  Ivan and I each had a chicken breast pita with peri peri sauce.  The pitas are very filling.

Ivan took me to Covent Garden.  Ivan said that we’d meet in an hour.  He wanted to check out the music shops.  I walked through the shops and the market looking for a purse.  I bought a cheap £3 purse from Primark last week that already fell apart.  I guess that’s why it was so cheap.  There’s lots of cool things for sell like clothes, purses, journals and purses.  I couldn’t find a reasonably priced purse.

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I was done early and went to the courtyard where the street performers put on shows.  It was really crowded today.  I sat down and read my newspaper.  One show I saw a lady juggling swords upside down. 

I was still sitting down when our meeting time arrived.  But, I didn’t see Ivan at all.

I walked back to where he dropped me off.  I thought that he might be there instead.  I watched another act in the courtyard.  The guy was doing weird things.  I’m not sure if he was a magician or not.  I was getting worried and mad.

He finally came an hour later. I wasn’t too happy.  But, he told me his bus took forever since it was in traffic. 

We walked back to the internet cafe we used the the other day.  I remember seeing cool bags there.  I saw a cool pirate-themed Toki Doki Lesportsac fake purse there.  Ivan said he would buy it for me.  I love it!  It’s a great size and really cute.

We walked to the Mexican restaurant called El Camino in Soho.  We started off with guacamole and chips.  The guacamole was delicious!  We got another bowl of guacamole.  I noticed three girls from the musical Hair eating in the corner.  The food took awhile to come.  Ivan got a grilled tilapia salad.  I got a chicken burrito.  The food was great.  Ivan noticed on the bill that there was a service charge already added.  We didn’t see it listed on the menu.  Ivan asked the server about it.  He said that the service charge actually doesn’t go to the servers, it goes to the owner.  Ivan took the service charge off and tipped our server with cash.  We’re not sure now if the server lied about the service charge going to the owner and thought we’d pay the service charge and tip him extra.

We walked to The Comedy Store. 

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Ivan picked out seats in the second row.  There was a stag party (bachelor party) in front of us.  The groom-to-be was dressed in a Prison outfit.  We saw six comedians  The funniest guy was Mike Gunn.  Our host Paul Tompkinson was really funny as well.  We had a great time watching the funny comedians.  I believe laughter is good for the soul.

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Beatbox Market

Posted by Jen on May-24-2010

It was great to sleep in on May 21, 2010.  We had a late start today. 

We went to Borough Market.  It was a nice warm day in London.  There’s all sorts of things being sold there like cheese, salsa, burgers, bread, meat, wine and beer. 

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Ivan and I went in search of lunch.  We each got a nice chicken burger.

We walked around trying all the samples of cheese and dips.  Ivan bought a veggie burger on lettuce. 

Ivan found a French drink called Elexia.  It’s a sugar-free lemonade.  It was really tasty and refreshing,.

Ivan got an apple cider a few minutes later.  We tried some healthy granola.  Ivan bought a small bag of the Mini Magoo’s ginger granola.

We weren’t sure what to do next.  Ivan thought of something, so we jumped on a train towards South Bank.  We sat down and chatted in the shade.

South Bank is a great pedestrianized area.  We walked towards the Udderbelly.  There was lots of street performers putting on a show. 

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Some of the performers are quite good.  Ivan went to pick up tickets at the Udderbelly box office. 

We checked out the bookstore Foyles.  Then, we sat down and chilled outside the store.  They have a fake grass area that has lawn chairs on it.

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Ivan and I went to the Udderbelly.  We each got a yummy Pimm’s (Pimm’s with lemonade, apples and cucumbers).  We played a game of huge Connect Four (a big sized Connect Four game that’s almost as tall as me).  Ivan won 2 out of 3 games. 

We got seats in the front row for the Shlomo in Boxed show.  Shlomo is a great beatboxer from London.  He’s so good that he can create a whole song using just his voice.  Boxed is a story that Shlomo created. 

There’s no music or sounds playing – everything is done by the voices of the beat boxers.  The story is about a deaf guy played by Shlomo.  He’s picked on by everybody.  He meets a guy who teaches him beat boxing.  He then finds out that his beat boxing can turn back time.  Then, three girls join the two guys in beat boxing.  Another beat boxing group challenge them to a duel.  I really enjoyed when the beat boxers did songs.  They create the sounds and vocals of a song and it turns out sounding just like the real thing.  It’s amazing stuff! 

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The show was really good.  We wished there wasn’t that much story and more performances of the songs.  We still enjoyed it very much.

We had a tasty chicken burger in the Udderbelly.  Ivan and I walked across the bridge to a bus stop.  We waited for the Ghost Bus Tours to come. 

The big black Routemaster Ghost bus appeared.  We got some seats upstairs.

Ivan told me if you say Ghost Bus Tours really fast it sounds like Ghostbusters.  Try it, it really does!  Anyway, the bus takes you on a drive through London and the tour guide tells you about the scary things that has happened in places we pass by.  There was also a safety bus inspector on board who goes a bit crazy.  It was actually a lame tour.  It wasn’t really scary.  The stories were kind of interesting though.  Ivan read lots of good reviews that it was hilarious.  It was only a little funny to us.

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Indian Food and Enron

Posted by Jen on May-24-2010

Ivan and I had Pret a Manger for lunch on May 20, 2010.  I had a good chicken and avocado sandwich.  Ivan had a salad.  Lil Dave went to visit his dad’s friend in Earl’s Court.

We took the bus to North London.  I wanted to see Abbey Road.  There was a lot of people taking pictures on the crosswalk that The Beatles made famous.

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Ivan took some pictures of me walking along the crosswalk.  Abbey Road Studios is nearby.  There’s tons of graffiti of fans signing the wall in front of Abbey Road.

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Ivan says they paint it over every 3 months or so.

We took the bus back to Central London.  Ivan wanted to try a smoothie at Snog. I got a Bittersweet Chocolate yogurt smoothie with strawberries, smart foods and blueberries.  It was good but the chocolate was overwhelming, so you couldn’t really taste the other ingredients in the smoothie.  Ivan got a Natural Yogurt smoothie with smart foods, strawberries and raspberries.  Ivan’s was better since you could taste everything.

We had some time to kill.  Ivan took me to Neal’s yard.  He had a cup of English Breakfast tea.  I didn’t have anything since I was still full from the smoothie.

Then, we quickly walked through Covent Garden.  Ivan bought me a heart mirror and a monkey key chain for Lil Dave at the cool store Octopus.

Ivan and I walked to Masala Zone.  It’s a great Indian restaurant with colorful puppets hanging from the ceiling.  We both got a grand thali.

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It comes with rice, papadum, dahl, yogurt, potato and peas, mixed vegetables in a spicy sauce, an onion bhaji, chapatti and your choice of a curry.  Ivan likes to spread out the rice and put his curry all over it.  The thali was awesome.

We went to get tickets for Enron next.  Earlier in the week, we were laughing about how we wouldn’t want to watch Enron since we thought it would be boring.  Ivan read reviews online saying that it was a good play.  So, we thought we should give it a go.

I was really tired.  So, I thought the play was good but a bit weird during the first act.  Ivan really liked it.  I got some Red Bull during the interval to wake myself up for the second act.

I didn’t think there would be dancing and singing, but there was.  It’s a very light-hearted and entertaining play.  I didn’t know much about the Enron story, so it was interesting to me.  Ivan thinks it’s the best play he’s seen in the last few weeks here in London.  My favorite was the musical Hair.  It’s full of great songs and a good story.

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Snog Oliver in a bedroom

Posted by Jen on May-24-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to get the tickets for Oliver! on May 19, 2010.

We went to Pret a Manger for lunch.  Lil Dave brought along a banana and honey sandwich to eat.  I got a delicious Chili King Prawn baguette.  Ivan got a prawn and avocado sandwich.  Ivan picked up an egg and smoked mackerel sandwich as well.  Ivan liked it, but I could taste the horseradish and it was a bit fishy for me. 

There was still time to waste.  We walked around and saw the new frozen yogurt place Snog.  The yogurt is organic and sugar-free.  Lil Dave got natural yogurt with two portions of bananas.  He thought it was very banana-y and tasted great.

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Ivan and I shared a small natural and bittersweet chocolate swirl with raspberries and smart foods on top.  It was delicious!  The store has colored lights on the ceiling that blink in time to the music.  While we were eating, we heard cool spacey music playing.

We met up with Ivan’s parents at the Oliver! theater.  Ivan and I told them about the great frozen yogurt at Snog.  So, we went there.  I went to Cyber Candy next door to check out all the candy.  I ended up buying a box of Japanese strawberry gum.  

Ivan’s parents enjoyed the frozen yogurt.  One small size is enough for two people unless you’re really hungry for a cold snack.  I chewed on my new gum.  It tasted good, but the flavor only lasted for about 2 minutes.  It’s good for making bubbles though.

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Oliver! plays at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane which is the oldest theatre in Britain.  It was time for Oliver! to start.  We saw lots of young school kids in the audience. The musical was really great.  It was a little hard to hear sometimes.  The cockney accents were a little hard to understand.  I had to pay close attention.  The musical was dark and violent.  I don’t think it’s really appropriate for young kid that were in the audience. 

We all walked to Whole Foods.  Lil Dave picked up some organic bananas.  Ivan’s mum bought a few things. 

Ivan, Lil Dave, me and Ivan’s parents walked to Bistro 1 for dinner.  There was a good deal for 2 or 3 course meals.  Everybody decided to get the 2 courses.  I had the bistro meze and the chicken penne arriabatta.  Ivan got the salmon and avocado salad and vegetarian moussaka.  Lil Dave decided to get a banana salad and a banana gyro.  The food was excellent.  It was great day out with Ivan’s parents.

We hopped on a train.  Ivan really wanted to see Billy Elliott, but unfortunately it was sold out.  So, we got back on the train.

We saw the play Bedroom Farce.  It was a bit funny in the first part.  The second part of the story wasn’t as good.  It wasn’t as farcical as it could have been. 

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Sweet Soba

Posted by Jen on May-22-2010

Ivan met up with his friend Tom on the morning of May 18, 2010.  I got to sleep in a bit.  

I met Ivan at the Stratford train station.  Lil Dave stayed in Stratford to study for an upcoming Math test.  We went to Central London.  Ivan got the tickets for the musical Sweet Charity that we’d be seeing later.

We went to Satsuma for dinner.  Ivan had the chicken soba noodles while I had the king prawn & fish cake soba noodles.  It was a very tasty meal.

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Ivan and I went to the musical Sweet Charity.  The lead Tamzin Outhwaite was sick so there was a stand-in.  The stand-in was excellent.  She didn’t mess up once.  The story is about a girl who a bit of a push-over and always falls for the wrong men.  It’s a really great musical.  The acting and the dancing was top notch.

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Speed Magic

Posted by Jen on May-22-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had Nando’s for lunch in Stratford on May 17, 2010. Ivan and I each had a peri peri chicken breast pita with pineapple.  We shared a nice red pepper dip.  I didn’t eat too much since I was still feeling sick.  Lil Dave had a banana sandwich with mild peri peri sauce.

We took a train to South Bank.  We would be going on a speed boat tour with London RIB Voyages

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The lady gave Ivan and me jackets and life vests.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have monkey-sized jackets.  Lil Dave did put on a life vest though.  He doesn’t like water very much. 

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Our group consisted of 8 people and 1 monkey.  I put on some goggles so my eyeglasses wouldn’t get wet.  The tour guide was a blonde lady.  She told us that we’d be going really fast on the River Thames.  Then, later on she would talk about the history of the river.

The speed boat went super fast.  Lil Dave had to hold to me otherwise he might have flown away.  The river was a little choppy today.  So, sometimes the boat jumped a little.  It was really fun going so fast.  The guide even played James Bond music while we were zooming along on the river.

We learned lots of interesting stuff about the River Thames.  It wasn’t good being a pirate.  If you got caught, they chained you in the river and you had to endure three tides.  Of course, if you were a privateer – you could do the same as a pirate, but you’d have to give some of your earnings to the Queen.  I also heard that River Thames is the cleanest river in Europe.  We all had a great time on our speed boat tour.

We went to Primark on Oxford Street.  Considering it’s a Monday, I thought Primark wouldn’t be as busy.  I was wrong.  It was still busy just not AS busy. It was still a mile long wait for the Ladies Changing Room.  Why is it that there’s always a long line for changing rooms and bathrooms if you’re a woman?  It’s just annoying.  They really need to make more changing rooms and bathroom stalls for women.  We returned a few things and I bought a couple things.

We went to Boots next.  I was coughing so I needed some chesty cough medicine.

That night, we had dinner at Koya.  It’s a new Udon restaurant.  You can get cold Udon noodles with hot broth or hot Udon noodles with hot broth.  Ivan got the hot Udon noodles with mackarel in a hot broth. 

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I got hot Udon noodles with chicken and vegetables.  I thought it was good.  I had to add soy sauce and chili powder though.  I think the chili powder cleared my sinuses a little.  Lil Dave had Udon noodles with bananas.  He thought it tasted a bit odd.  I don’t think bananas are good in a soup.  Ivan thought the Udon noodle soup was just okay.  He prefers Udon noodles in a stir fry.

We stopped at Slug and Lettuce.  Ivan and I each had a glass of red wine.  Lil Dave got a banana juice.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to Leicester Square Theatre for The Magic Underground show.  It was presented by Christian Lee and Jerry Sadowitz.  Jerry Sadowtiz is a really awesome magician according to Ivan.  But, he’s very rude and weird.  Ivan thinks everybody in the audience was hoping he would show up.  The show was located in the very small basement.  There was probably about 25 people in the audience.

The first half of the show was good.  There was magic and also some comedy.  The magicians used people in the audience to help them out with their magic tricks.

There was an interval.  At the first half, they said Jerry might actually show up in the second half. 

The second half got worse.  Most of the magic wasn’t as good.  One funny part was when Wes Zaharuk pulled me out of the audience.  Wes put me behind him and I was playing his arms while he hid his behind his back.  I pulled gum out of his pocket.  I had to put the gum in his mouth.  I thought that since my arms are short and I’m very short that I wasn’t getting it anywhere near his mouth.  Ivan told me later that I was sticking the gum in his eye. I knew it didn’t feel right!  Then, he put the chewed gum (yes, his saliva and all!) and put it in my hand.  Gross!  The next part, I had to peel a banana.  Not an easy feat without seeing it.  Then, I had to feed it to him.  Ivan told me later that I was getting the banana right in his eye.  The banana broke off and fell to the ground.  The audience seemed to love it.  I went back to my seat.  The magician asked if I wanted to keep the banana as a souvenir.  I said yes and gave the remainder of the banana to Lil Dave.  He was such a happy monkey.

There was a young guy named Oliver who went on.  He did a trick word for word (even the same joke) as the magician Bill Malone.  It’s the Sam the Bellhop trick created by Bill.  He messed up twice doing the trick but he did finish it all the way through.  Next, he did a coin trick.  Well, he attempted to do it.  Then, he said No that won’t work.  I think because of the angle.  Then, Oliver just gave up and sat back down.  Pretty sad really.  He was so nervous.

The show was okay.  Jerry Sadowitz didn’t show up which I didn’t think he would.  Ivan could do better magic tricks than most of those magicians.  It’s sad to think that London doesn’t have better magicians. 

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Rainy movie

Posted by Jen on May-20-2010

Ivan and I checked out of the Marriott Hotel on May 16, 2010.

We had lunch at La Tasca.

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We got a variety of tapas:  chicken skewers, salmon, large potato bravas and a salad with apples and manchego cheese.  The food was great as usual.  Lil Dave enjoyed two plates of fried bananas.

I wasn’t feeling so good.  I think it’s allergies and a cold as well.  We took the train to Stratford.  We would be staying at Neal’s (Ivan’s brother) flat while he’s away in Cuba.  It was raining outside.  Stratford is a bit of a rough neighborhood.  I guess it could be worse.  It could be Jakarta, where it’s smelly and dirty.

It rained all day.  We wished it would stop, but it didn’t let up.  We chilled in Neal’s nice flat and used the internet.

Ivan thought we should catch a movie.  Neal told him recently that Four Lions was funny.  Lil Dave wanted to see Space Chimps 2, but it’s not out yet.  He decided to stay and watch Space Chimps on the computer.

Ivan and I walked to the theatre.  We had about 30 minutes before the movie started.  The restaurants around the theatre weren’t very exciting.

The Chinese buffet we ate at was pretty bland.  It was expensive as well at £11.95 per person.

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We watched the British movie Four Lions.  It’s about four suicide bombers.  It was very funny.  Best movie we’ve seen this year.  If you get a chance, go see it!

– Four Lions movie poster image from IMP Awards.

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