Travels: London: Monday 11th December 2000

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London Dungeon

I checked out of the hotel a little later than planned, at 10:00, and arrived via Tube at the London Dungeon just before 10:30. It was supposed to open at 10:00 but didn't seem to be, so I strolled around via Tower Bridge Road, the GLA development and Hays Galleria to kill time and then found the Dungeon open.

London Dungeon

I'd bought my ticket online right after my previous holiday so didn't have to queue (there wasn't one anyway this time).

The first stage is a silly photo thing - you get photographed in a pretend execution-by-axe. Fortunately I managed to skip that and get straight into the tour. It's a long one (over an hour) and is mainly in groups with various guides for certain parts. There was a section on the Jack the Ripper murders, a section on the Great Fire of London and a clever section involving small entrained boats which mimic being dumped from Traitor's Gate to the Whitechapel sewer outfall! Overall it's well done but perhaps aimed at the 8-16 age group?


Afterwards I walked back to Bankside and at last went into The Anchor (Bank End), having been past it so many times this year. I chose Pedigree and got a full pint for 2.40. Other beers included Directors and 6X. Loud rap music was playing on the PA but the place has so many nooks on the three floors I saw that I probably could have avoided it. All-in-all, a good place, I thought.

As I returned to London Bridge station, I went past an awesome cheese shop a couple of doors past London Bridge Brewery (Park Street), with huge rounds of interesting cheeses.

For lunch it had to be Porters again - this time grilled barbecued butterfly chicken breast, minted peas and Californian Zinfandel, with spotted dick and coffee to follow (18.45). Excellent yet again.

I had yet to explore the part of Covent Garden to the north so set off that way, passing a Tesco Metro at the top of Bedford Street, which answered my query as whether there were any normal supermarkets in the area. I spotted the Lamb & Flag, down Rose Street, but it looked packed. It's the oldest pub in the area at 300 years old and formerly known as the Bucket of Blood due to prize-fighting there.

At last I found Earlham Street: it has market stalls down one side of its western branch and the eastern branch has Belgo Centraal and opposite that is the Freedom Brewery bar, showcasing the brewery's real lagers. It look very "youth-oriented" from the entrance - stairs lead down into the depths - more like a nightclub. I walked on through Seven Dials and back down Bow Street to the hotel, picked up my luggage and caught the Northern Line to Euston.

As I had time to kill till a Kings Cross train, I went into the Head of Steam again and had Cottage Brewery's This Time Next Year (4.0%, 1.95) - a pleasant bitter, nothing remarkable. Other beers on the "to come" list included O'Halon and Fisherrow. To go to the loo, one gets a door code from the bar staff! I think it's because it's on the ground floor, away from scrutiny and easily reachable from the bus stop outside.

Footnote - Belgo Centraal

An excellent edition of BBC2's Back to the Floor around this time showed the boss of the Belgo chain trying kitchen and front-of-house jobs at this, his flagship restaurant. It's claimed to be the busiest restaurant in the UK.

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