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Oranges and Lemons

    Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races

    When I’m an old* lady**, I want to look back on a life that looks like a patchwork quilt, embroidered with tales of adventure, contrasted with silver stitches of quiet reflective moment and panels of laughter. I want to explore stories, live in escapades and make my own kind of history. And, when I’m an old lady, I want to be able to say that I lived life to the utmost in my own unique way*** free from competing with the Jones’ and full of contentment.

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (For the best resolution of the images, click them to open the slideshow.)

    So it is with great pleasure that I finally, finally, finally made it to the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races accompanied by the gorgeous Annie of MontgomeryFest fame – the taco-adoring Southern belle who helped us plan our Louisiana roadtrip escapades making it our best holiday ever. With her and her husband having moved over to London from Louisiana (via Brussels and San Francisco), I wanted to share with her some of my London, that crazy traditional history side that keeps the magic of my adoptive city alive (and if you don’t agree you are a muggle, fact.)

    So, Pancake Day – or Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras – is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter – is traditionally a time of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” (absolved from their sins).

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The actual tradition of mixing the ingredients up for pancakes is thought to come
    from a pagan ritual or a Christian tradition, with
    each ingredient representing one of the four pillars of the faith. Eggs
    for creation, flour sustenance or the staff of life, salt for
    wholesomeness and milk for purity. Alls I know is that most people now enjoy them because they are tasty.

    The pancake features in cookbooks as far back as 1439 and the idea of
    tossing them is almost as old. “And every man and maide doe take their
    turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s
    Palin, 1619).

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    There are several events around London where tossers wield their batter filled pans (with freshly cooked pancakes obviously) but I had my heart set on the races held by the London Livery companies who run the event to raise money for charity (who also hold the annual Sheep race on London Bridge.) Whilst I described the Livery Guilds in the City of London as “basically business orientated mafia”, most of the Guilds began life in medieval times as a loose
    association of tradesman with similar interests, before growing into what were
    essentially trade bodies. (For more history see here – I’d really recommend a look.)

    Each heat kicks off with a bang from the Gunmakers livery as 21 teams of four race around Guildhall Yard
    to win frying pan trophies. Organised by the Poulter’s Company (who
    donate the eggs too), pancake making essentials are supplied by other
    livery companies – lemons from the Fruiters, Gloves from the Clothmakers, plastic forks from the Cutlers — even the Clockmakers get involved in timing each
    race. Flipping kicks off at noon with all team members running in their
    regalia or chosen fancy dress. I read one source that claimed you can only take part if you’re in a
    Livery company associated with making pancakes but we saw people from all kinds of Livery companies including the Marketors.

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And of course, any excuse for the usually quite reserved Brits to dress up…

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I mean, where else in the world could you witness Albert Einstein racing a Church Organ, armed with a frying pan?

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Or perhaps a Turkey racing a Horse Jockey, arms loaded with sweet fried goods?

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Legend has it that tossing originated in the sleepy town of Olney
    when a housewife, consumed with the business of pancake making, forgot
    herself entirely until hearing the church bells when she raced out the
    house – complete with frying pan and pancake. 

    Now tradition is ingrained within the squares of London – you just have to sniff out the cooking batter. 

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And where else could they hold it, bar in the vicinity of Milk Street and Honey Lane?

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Flippin’ great fun!

    Secret London Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Are there any unique local traditions around your neck of the woods?

    * I’m also going to be a crotchety old lady
    ** By which I mean older than I am now
    *** Terrible grammar and all


    A luxurious sunrise brunch at Duck and Waffle – best way to start Monday

    I finally did it. Hauled myself out of bed before sunrise and breakfasted amongst the amazing views of Duck and Waffle. Not only did I get myself out of bed, but managed to tempt Mr Kiwi along with me (though for some reason he thought we were going to a pub for a pre-work brunch? It goes to show how crazy he is, because he did it anyway) up 40 floors for brunch among the clouds.

    Sunrise brunch at Duck and Waffle

    Sunrise brunch at Duck and Waffle

    Recently (after much reminder temptation from the likes of Angloyankophile and JessOnThames, and knowing that sunrises are getting earlier and earlier) we booked an intimate table for two as a Monday morning pre-work treat, to start the week off in a slightly more fun way than our usual porridge al-desko. Over the weekend prior, having watched the weather predictions with horror at Storm Irene threatening to drop a weather system on all the commuting Londoners the very morning we were meant to be enjoying the sunrise, we breathed a sigh of relief when we emerged from Liverpool Street Station to a windy, but fairly clear sky. That was a long, pre-caffeine sentence, my apologies.

    A year ago (nearly to the day amusingly enough – hello procrastination
    and warm duvets) a gaggle of giggling bloggers and I assembled for a mid-morning
    catch-up, trying out all of the signature dishes – the duck and waffle, a gluten-free ‘Full Elvis’, an ox cheek ragout doughnut and a round of coffees in this sky-high restaurant. Upon my return, we fancied trying a few different dishes on the ever-changing menu.

     Duck and Waffle Sunrise brunch London Restaurant Review

    Duck and Waffle Sunrise brunch London Restaurant Review

    Once we were seated (Mr Kiwi breathed to me “how DO you find these places?” I shrugged and told him that’s one of the few upsides of living with a blogger) we popped in our orders of a pot of tea for the Englishman & a flat white for the Kiwi – because we couldn’t let our respective stereotypes down – as we perused the menu. I was fairly certain my no-frills meat eater was going to go for a full English breakfast but I couldn’t decide.

    After landing on the ox cheek eggs benedict, but not being able to have it due to unavailability I panic chose my safe option of the cheeky salmon benedict, served on waffles with perfectly poached eggs. It was a good call. The Scottish salmon was full of flavour, the waffles beautifully light and crispy whilst the interiors were mallow soft, the hollandaise a soft, creamy blanket and then we had the eggs.

    Duck and Waffle Sunrise brunch London Restaurant Review

    Oh, Hello #eggporn. Now that’s how Monday mornings should be.

    Duck and Waffle Sunrise brunch London Restaurant Review

    Opposite me a coil of pork & herb sausage, organic eggs cooked of his choosing, streaky organic Duroc bacon, grilled tomatoes, a field mushroom, sourdough toast and a hash brown were so delicious I caught my date with his eyes closed in happiness. Having snagged the Scottish brown pudding from his plate and swiped a bite of sausage, I can definitely confirm that it was delicious.

    Duck and Waffle Sunrise brunch London Restaurant Review

    We’re still not sure who won the battle of the breakfasts even now. I voted strongly for the rich, luxurious spin on eggs royale but Mr Kiwi insists it was the beautiful ingredients of his breakfast that won the day – not to mention the perfect bacon. We’ll call that one-all.

    Duck and Waffle Sunrise brunch London Restaurant Review

    One thing I don’t really understand is the slightly awkward seating service we’ve had each time – the first time we couldn’t expand our booking by a person and this time they wouldn’t allow us to sit on the west side of the restaurant floors – both times despite clearly empty tables. In fact they let the 2-person tables I had had my eye on sit empty for the duration of our visit. Our waiter was lovely and efficient, and nothing was a problem.

    Luxury brunch at Duck and Waffle London Restaurant Review

    As a side note, Mr Kiwi’s incredulous face was worth the whole visit when we were asked if we fancied breakfast dessert. “Breakfast? Dessert? What madness is this?” Welcome, welcome to the world of brunch!

    Unfortunately we decided that is was better to get a headstart on the morning rush hour to our desks this time, but we’ll be back to Duck and Waffle soon. That full Elvis dessert concoction is calling my name… (nb. due to the layout of the room, if you’re hoping for an
    uninterrupted view it is best to pop along in pairs – the majority
    of bigger group tables were central to the room – though the bar next door has good views as well).

    Luxury brunch at Duck and Waffle London Restaurant Review

    Are you willing to get out of bed early for brunch or a luxurious breakfast?


    15 London secrets that the tourist crowds miss

    Living in London long-term is a fascinating window into the eccentricities of British history. Buildings that have survived more than 10 generations of human stories, streets that echo the rambling paths of underwater riverbanks, rolling acres of grassy parks and the delicious smells of a melting pot that is London cuisine. History books be damned, this city is alive with the most incredible tales.

    What to do in London

    And what’s more, as lifers, we get a chance to discover the small and precious moments of 1,972 years of inhabited streets (yup, London was apparently founded in 43AD. Let me repeat that – 43AD. My home country was founded in 1840, some 1,797 years later.) We obviously get to enjoy the major sights and sounds of tourist London every time we have visitors, but we can also slowly and deliciously discover the inbetween bits over time. The nooks and crannies, the local history and finally answering the loaded question of what to do in London (and best of all, every single one is absolutely free – hello stacation ninja status).

    Uncover a lie that’s been told about the Eros statue overseeing Picadilly Circus for years.

    What to do in London Eros in Picadilly Circus

    Admire the decorating genius that is running the river Tyburn through the basement of a collection of antique stalls, such as Grey’s Antiques.

    What to do in London Basement Rivers

    Make friends with the regal inhabitants of Holland Park, before absorbing some of the zen-like calm of the remarkable Japanese Gardens.

    What to do in London visit Holland Park

    Stumble upon The Elfin Oak, a c.800 year old Oak
    stump relocated from Richmond Park (Surrey), carved and painted with elves,
    princesses, fairies and woodland creatures situated in Kensington Gardens, a stone’s throw from Kensington Palace (aka the royal “Aunt Heap”.)

     What to do in London visit Kensington Park

    Sample the pleasures of wandering along the Canal network on a sunny day; in a two mile or so stretch of the Regents Canal you’ll see a Pirate Castle, the glory of
    Regent’s Park, skirt the London Zoo, walk past a Chinese floating
    restaurant, make friends with a few swans and spot incredibly palatial
    follies of many styles.

    What to do in London visit Regents Park

    Puzzle out the hidden depths of painted codes and personalities hanging carefully along the walls of the many museums and art galleries. If there is an unusual interest, I can just about guarantee there is a museum dedicated to it.

    What to do in London visit the Tate Museums

    Visit a local newsagents shop and duck behind the displays to see a 3,000 stone. The London Stone no less.

    What to do in London visit the London Stone

    Take a running jump at a magical brick wall at Kings Cross Station’s Platfrom 9 & 3/4s, Harry Potter style. You know you want to…

    Kings Cross Station's Platfrom 9 & 3/4s, Harry Potter style

    Listen for the sweet notes of Tin Pan Alley.

    Where to go in London Tin Pan Alley

    Watch deer act as cricket fielders in the sprawling acres in one of the small oasises (oasii, oases, troubled 90’s bands?) of green where you can go to get a breath of fresh air and relax, shielded from the busyness of London such as Bushey Park where herds of fallow and red deer roam the park.

    Where to visit on London Bushey Park

    Where to visit on London Bushey Park

    Discover the measure of a secret hiding in plain sight at the world famous Trafalgar Square. Tell me, where would the English be without their Pint (apart
    from sober, and less in trouble with their wives)? Jamie Oliver would
    be caught short without his Pecks of spices, and Irish and Scots would
    be bereft without their Drams of Whiskey (I actually typed Whishkey
    there… what a Fruedian typo).

    Secrets of London Trafalgar Square

    Slow down that commuter march and subtly consider the door ornamentation of a local home. Is it a relic of the home’s original Victorian history used by rich
    young women after a night dancing with their beau? Was it found in the
    car boot of a antiquing entrepreneur? Is it a modern knock-off added to a
    brand new door by a family wishing to prove their new-found fortunes
    have endowed a touch of class?

    Secrets of London Trafalgar Square

    Sing along to the Saint Clement Dane bells joyously ringing out the slightly scary Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme.

    Secrets of London Oranges and Lemons

    Take one of these. Go on, you know you want to.

    What is the most incredible, crazy and fascinating thing you have found locally?

    (Linking in with the lovely Lauren and Amy’s London staycation linkup…)


    10 things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

    Christchurch broke our hearts. 4 years after the 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake, there are still families affected by the violent tectonic shaking and insurance companies running out of budget to get them back on their feet. Everywhere you walk through the quiet city there are reminders of the devastation – a half standing Cathedral surrounded by fallen masonry, orange construction cones barring entry and staircases leading to nowhere.

    10 things to do in Christchurch New Zealand

    On the flip side, the ‘number-8’ wire sensibility – the particularity Kiwi knack for making do and succeeding with whatever
    is to hand (and if you’re a farmer it’s usually 8-gauge fencing wire) – is everywhere. Take the surprisingly beautiful Cardboard Cathedral, the stunning murals painted on the exposed walls of buildings, wire fences set with colourful patterning and the ReStart mall made from shipping containers.

    Read more


    Oranges and Lemons; Last lines

    What started as a simple challenge to create a round-up of a few churches became a year long exploration of the East End that made my travelling heart happy. I’ve tried proper Pie Mash ‘n Liquor, heard the Bow bells call to new Cockneys, learned a little of the lingo and discovered an incredibly unique museum.

    (I guess) hearkening to our colonial past, the hallways of my New Zealand Primary school would to ring with the chanting of the London East End lines of Oranges & Lemons. Now, I can lay the history to rest, having discovered the roots.

    The origins to the nursery rhyme sung with unknowing irony by young children much like the origins of Ring-a ring-a rosie, removed from the jungle gym are rather sinister and strange.

    The culminating lines go;

    Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

    Chip chop, chip chop, the last man’s dead.

    Physically the rhyme ends (at least in my old playground) with a child being caught between the joined arms of two others, emulating the act of chopping off their head.

    The reason for the sinister last three lines of the lyrics of “Oranges and lemons” are easily explained as a reference to the Tyburn Gallows, they were added to the original rhyme, probably by children! This addition dates to some time before 1783 when the infamous public execution gallows (the Tyburn-tree) was moved from Tyburn-gate (Marble Arch) to Newgate, a notorious prison for both criminals and debtors hence “When will you pay me?”. The executions commenced at nine o’clock Monday morning following the first toll of the tenor bell of St Sepulchre.

    All you that in the condemned hole do lie,
    Prepare you for tomorrow you shall die;
    Watch all and pray: the hour is drawing near
    That you before the Almighty must appear;
    Examine well yourselves in time repent,
    That you may not to eternal flames be sent.
    And when St. Sepulchre’s Bell in the morning tolls
    The Lord above have mercy on your soul.

    The ultimate list?

     “Oranges and Lemons” say the bells of St Clement’s

    “Bull’s eyes and targets” say the bells of St Margaret’s.

    “Pokers and tongs” say the bells of St John’s.

    “Pancakes and fritters” say the bells of St Peter’s.

    “Two sticks and an apple” say the bells of Whitechapel.

    “Old Father Baldpate” say the slow bells of Aldgate.

    “Maids in white aprons ” say the bells of St Katharine’s.

    “Brickbats and tiles” say the bells of St Giles’.

    “Kettles and pans” say the bells of St Anne’s.

    “You owe me five farthings” say the bells of St Martin’s.

    “When will you pay me?” say the bells of Old Bailey.

    “When I grow rich” say the bells of Shoreditch.

    “Pray when will that be?” say the bells of Stepney.

    “I’m sure I don’t know” says the great bell of Bow.

    Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

    Chip chop, chip chop, the last man’s dead.


    Another 101 in 1001 goal ticked off the list, woohoo!

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