Let me tell you where to currently get the best espresso coffee in London: at the small Caffé Vergnano 1882 on 62 Charing Cross Road, London.
I was lured in by a sign saying “voted best coffee shop in London 2005” but did not have any expectations. Yet another publicist trick I thought.
The caffé is fairly small. Just a few tables and two bars along the window and the wall. When I visited there were three staff working and they were skilled and very efficient.
First thing you notice when you enter the shop however is the massive Elektra Bell Epoque Q1-C espresso machine.
On a note on the wall you find out that these machines are hand made and only a few (10?) are made each year. The Vergnano coffee company elects each year a European Vergnano coffee shop and lend them one of these “Rolls-Royces” of espresso machines. This is the first time ever a London shop has had the honour.
I ordered a double macchiato which was brewed very well. Good temperature, excellent taste and no bitterness nor sourness. The barista even made a perfect rosetta on top of the coffee, effortlessly.
Each coffee is served on a tray with accompanying glass of water. Do it right and have the water before the coffee to clean your palate.
All the coffee machines, grinders, tables (and staff) are so clean and sparkling that you could almost make the mistake and think that the shop is closing or closed. This is however another sign of perfection and that coffee making is taken very seriously in here.
The coffee experience was so good and such a surprise that I had to have a second double macchiato just to assure my self that it had been for real.
Getting there: get off at Leicester Square tube station. Walk North along Charing cross road. The café is on the left side, just a few blocks up.
And there are plenty more photos in the gallery of Golden Retriever puppies photographs.
A few of them are still available for sale. If you live in or nearby London and would be an exemplary owner, do contact me! Not anymore
Another scorcher in London last weekend with temperatures soaring up to 30C. We don’t get many of those in London and Imade sure to soak it up properly.
Lounging in an inflatable pool from Argus, the BBQ stacked up with char coal and VH1 Top 100 classic rock tunes pumping out from the living room. If I only I had had a Piña Colada floating next to me, I could have totally dreamed my self back to the Maldives.
The puppies are growing really fast and have for the last 4 days been demanding to be left out in the garden. I feel a bit anxious about letting them rummage around in the wild but it is most likely good for them.
Just the other day Oswald (the orange one) found a gap under the wooden decking and disappeared. Only after pulling out five boards did I manage to find him. He was sleeping soundly and protested loudly when I rescued him.
How was your weekend?
Around 9am today (Thursday) several London underground trains and busses had exploded. All of London underground network is currently suspended and people are being evacuated.
Initially the incidents were being reported as “power surges” on the underground. After several buses had exploded as well it was clear that it was actually bombs that had exploded.
Currently (11am) there have been a few (2) fatal casualties.
No information regarding who is responsible for the attacks as of yet.
I am fine and so is our family. I have been in touch with several close friends who are all fine as well but I am very worried that not all have been so lucky.
Currently there are more than 33 fatalities confirmed. More than 300 people have been treated.
Real time Wiki
Yes it is 5:01am.
Ginger, our Golden Retriever, has just had her fourth and last puppy.
Surely she is able to take care of her newborn pups so it’s time to get a few hours rest.
Zzorry for the incoherent writing.
Turns out that last puppy was not so last after all.
Two more puppies were delivered before 7am. By then I had already passed out in the living room, so I did not notice.
Prepare yourselves for a whole load of puppy photos in the near future. Eating puppies, sleeping puppies, puppies playing and puppies in jars… no, not that, sorry.
Turns out that the six puppies are all boys. What is the chance of that?! (Actually it is 0.5^6 or 1:64 or 1.6%).
Since we cannot keep them all, 5 of these Golden Retriever puppies in London will be for sale second week of August. This of course after an excrutiating interview process 🙂
Use the contact form to contact me.
Google have extended their brilliant Maps and Local services to the UK. Until now I have only been using it to see how good online services can be. Now I can use it daily to find addresses, get directions and find services (plumbing especially) in London and UK.
Google Maps is a very intuitive way to present maps. Easy zooming, powerful search and smart dHTML like moving the map around are my favourite features. Wonder if Google plans to add satellite images like they do with the US maps.
Google Local combines Google maps with a local directory of services, restaurants, theaters and much much more. Until now I have been using UpMyStreet and it will be interesting to see how well Google Local performs compared with them.
Last but not least, see if Google Local Mobile works with your mobile. It should if it supports XHTML (i.e. not older than 2004).
Having access to free maps, directions and local directory from your mobile is just priceless.
PS The SonyEricsson T610/T630 has problems with the mobile version. Firefox has problems as well, use Internet Explorer if you want to try it from your desktop.
Currently the Yell footer has a bug (omitted quotes in href) which creates a XML parsing error and only sloppy IE can display the results. Stay tuned, should not take long to fix this.
Update May 10th
The error has been fixed. I doubt it was due to the email I sent to Google support (I did get a reply though) but instead due to the official launch of Google Local UK Mobile (GLUM). Have a go!
With an unconfirmed European release date of July 2005, many European gamers are certainly eyeing imported alternatives. They are however weary to how an imported system will perform in Europe and UK. I picked up a Sony PSP value pack during a recent trip to Japan and can report that using the console and one Japanese game has been very easy (and highly enjoyable).
My main worry was whether the Japanese console supported English menus. I was happy to see that when you turn on the PSP for the first time, it let’s you choose between 15+ languages (English being one of them). From then on, you will not see a single reference to Japanese.
I purchased the much raved about game Lumines. The game is 99% in English making it very easy to play. All in all I have seen two “pop-ups” in Japanese but they were not relevant to the game. Good news. There were several RPG games on the shelves that seemed to be in Japanese only so I avoided them.
Previous PS console games had region encoding which meant that a game purchased in USA would only work in North America. Sony decided to unlock the PSP to make it a truly portable system: if you travel from Europe to USA, you should be able to purchase games in the USA and be able to play them on the way back. With the recent PSP release in USA, you can now get hold of many new English titles.
The UMD movies are region encoded at the moment. The Japanese PSP is region 2 which suggests it is better suited for future European UMD movie titles. USA is region 1 as usual.
The PSP is delivered with an electricity adapter that supports 100-240 Volt and 50/60 Hertz. This means that it can be used in most (all?) countries provided you have a socket adapter. The end that plugs into the socket can even be removed and replaced with your local version.
So is the Sony PSP any good? So far I have been mighty impressed with the big bright LCD screen, graphics, sound, photo and video viewing from memory stick, MP3 listening and WiFi support. Dead pixels seems to be a common problem so it is good being able to switch on the unit before purchasing it to test for any dead pixels. However 2-4 separated dead pixels are very difficult to spot during game play.
At the time of writing a PSP value pack was YEN24,000 which is roughly £120. It will be interesting to see how much the PSP will sell for in “rip-off” London when it finally launches.
Comments have been closed. Please use the Sony PlayStation Portable PSP forum to ask any questions.
Being the owner of a Swedish passport, I have been quite spoiled with never having to issue any visas during all my travels around the world. Until today because all foreigners require a visa to visit India.
The place to get an Indian visa in London is India House, Aldwych, London WC2B 4NA. The operating hours are 08:30 to 12:30 but you’re best to be there by 07:30…latest! The queue builds up very fast after that and you would spend the rest of the morning there if not being turned away due to too many applicants.
First you have to queue outside, in the freezing morning, to get a queuing coupon. The small window where they hand out the queuing coupons opens only at 08:30.
After that you are at least let inside and can purchase a warm drink. Inside you wait until your number comes up to hand over all the paperwork.
Make sure you have a pre-filled visa application form, your passport, two passport photos and cash enough for the fee (usually £ 30). If you require a business visa to India make sure to bring a letter both from your company and the Indian company, stating the purpose and duration of your stay. If you have been travelling recently in certain Yellow Fever endemic countries, bring proof of vaccination.
The last waiting exercise is to get back your passport. This process is less organised as the passports come back in batches of 30 and the numbers are shouted out.
All in all it wasn’t an as stressed experienced as it might have been, had I arrived only 30 minutes later. There were even some jokes going on about certain embassy staff that were reading the morning paper and drinking tea in the middle of the chaos…
Yet another address in London; this is the fourth time we shuffle all our lively possessions in hopes of bigger and better.
Moving is a pain in the butt but (intended) this time we had help from the amazing guys at Aardvark Removals. They were very professional, chatty and did not flinch even when faced with two 100kg+ rose pots (actually, they did flinch a wee bit) in the garden.
14 hours and 100 boxes later, we were settled in into our new flat and the festive bottle of champagne was uncorked. Still plenty of unopened boxes but with the bed assembled, a roof over our heads and the TV set-up I am content.
House warming party you ask? Send me your details and you will be invited in the very near future…
* The moving guys singing along to Dire Straits, Money for Nothing playing on MTV. “We got to move these refrigerators, We got to move these color TV’s”
* Pizza dinner and listening to 30 years of removals stories
* Ball room dancing in the new lounge while sipping champagne…
A friend recently moved to London. Once again I was reminded about the basic things that are so difficult to accomplish once relocated to London.
Having a bank account is the main thing to arrange to be able to live and work in the capital. While some people manage to get by with cash only, I would not recommend it.
Banks in other countries I have lived in are very keen to secure new customers. They often give new customers perks just to sign up for a new current or savings account. In the UK it seems to be the opposite.
The process to open a current account is so complicated, many people fail trying. Among other countless things you need to provide is an utility bill (electricity, gas, phone, etc) to prove your identity and address. This may seem reasonable until you realise you need a 3-6 months of bank statements to be able to register with an utility company.
Another requirement in order to get a current account is having a monthly salary going in. Since most employers require you having a bank account to put your salary in you have to
beg persuade one of them (the bank or the employer) to make an exception from standard protocol.
The thing that seems to work best, regarding bank accounts, is having a lump sum of money to deposit. Having £1,000-2,000 in cash greatly helps to get a bank account quickly but should that really be necessary in a developed country like the UK?
The amount of cash that you are able to deposit into your account without providing evidence where you generated it has just been lowered considerably. It is supposed to be a money laundering deterrent.
A manager I talked to was not able to disclose the exact sum, not even in loose terms but it seems to be below US$100.
Funny thing is that the big fish criminals do not deposit money in their local branch. They just wire it from or to their off-shore accounts. It is average Joe customers, exchange students and tourists that will be affected the most.
An interesting incident below:
Continue reading “To bank or not to bank in the UK”