Monday, 28 February 2011

Walk this way...

A long, long time ago when nobody read this blog I wrote about the Hammersmith London Business Improvement District and their I Heart Hammersmith Privilege Cards. In a nutshell, you get a card, you get some money off stuff and the odd email about local events. One of the things I regularly get emails for are the Monthly walks that they organise. Sadly though I always seem to be busy or away from home. Both applies this coming weekend. Additionally, because I have given up drinking in preparation for the Reading Half Marathon that is now a mere 20 days away, I predict this particular walk would have put my sobriety under additional unnecessary strain as it incorporates a tour of Sipsmith Distillery.

This doesn't mean I can't make you all aware of it in case you had a free day and fancied a walk this Saturday (5th March 2011). All Privilege Card holders are invited (here's how you get one) leaving from Ravenscourt Park Tube at 11am. They do ask you to RSVP here though, so I assume it's on a first come first served and who knows that could apply to drinks at the Distillery too!

If you happen to go along let me know how it goes and if you're feeling nice maybe grab me a bottle of London Dry Gin (for after March 20th, of course).

You take the milk from the coconut...

(I'm really not sure how I find these song lyrics to use as the titles of my blog posts but I do and they work, just about. This song is by a band called Toto Coelo, who appear to be a Banarama-meets-Culture Club who don't actually sound that dissimilar from Lady Gaga.)

Last night I went to Esarn Kheaw, yet another Bush restaurant I should have been to before now. As I virtually hired a town crier to announce, it was my birthday on Saturday and so to end a weekend of being spoilt and well fed and watered, my very good friend Whitney came over for a quick dinner, long catch up and more watering. Despite many recommendations for the highly applauded Polish restaurant Patio (on Goldhawk Road), neither she nor I were in the mood for tasty stodge or vodka. Instead we enjoyed a three course (how did that happen!?) Thai meal that was appetising and authentic (according to Whitney who has been to Thailand many times).

An Uxbridge Road favourite and stalwart for many years, Esarn Kheaw translates (I think) as Northeast Green relating to the area of Thailand where the restaurant's founder comes from. There is much made of Mr Puntar's origins and how Esarn Kheaw came to land in Shepherd's Bush in both the menu and on the website. It's an interesting read (and very cute use of English) and reminds you of the millions of individual journeys that have been made to London from far, far afield.

It was Chicken Sateh for me to start with while Whitney "enjoyed" Deep Fried Chicken Wings. I say "enjoyed" because there was a point when she was half a wing down and she looked up at me and uttered the following words most people would never want to say at that moment: "I'm not 100% convinced this is chicken.". Admittedly they were very small chicken wings and the meat looked pinker than I would expect, but after a slight pause, she proceeded to eat two and a half more "wings". See what I mean about authentic?

For main course I chose (real) chicken Thai Green Curry for me and Whitney went for King Prawns cooked in a Thai Red Curry, though we were tempted to try either the "Son-in-Law's Eggs" or the "Pad Prik Khing" just for their names. Both our curries were delicious and more-ish which is high praise from two girls who are coconuts for coconut. I will say the Green Curry had more of a kick than I am used to but again this is what I've heard about Thai cuisine in actual Thailand so more authenticity marks awarded.

We finished our meals sharing mango sorbet and yummy coconut ice cream. All this was washed down with the house champagne that was actually called "The House" (and I'm not convinced it's ever seen a "Maison du Champagne" but it was fizzy and drinkable so made me smile). One of the highlights, aside from the bright turquoise green decor and elaborately arranged napkins, were the waiting staff. Three men of a certain age (50 plus) attended our every need and desire with big gentle smiles. When asked what their speciality "sticky rice" was like the one wearing a bow tie immediately replied "sticky" without even a blink of sarcasm. They were like the Thai Grandads I've never had.

I'm not sure of the total cost as Whitney hijacked the bill before it had even landed on the table but I would happily go back as a paying customer and not a free-loading dinner guest and soon.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday...

Today is my birthday. My worsening hangovers and increasing reliance on night cream remind me I am certainly a year older. A quick reflection on the last 12 months (new job, new flat mate, NewMan) suggests I am a year wiser or at least should be.

Trying to convince Mo to start her own present-wrapping service: Wrappers Delight (copyright Bird in the Bush, 2011)
Though I am fast becoming a minority with most of my friends, I continue to love and look forward to birthdays: not for the cake (although the cake is important), not for the presents (oooh I do love presents though) and not for it being the perfect excuse for a day of good food and fizzy drinks (I find I have 364 other suitable daily excuses). I love birthdays because they are an achievement; another year of life achieved.

Friday, 25 February 2011

We were the Kings and Queens of promise...

Our third tweet up occurred last night. It was a lovely evening in a lovely venue. As a result of the last tweet up and thanks to some extra-curricular drinking on the Green (now that is REAL Shepherd's Bush) as the result of twitter conversation two of the finest Shepherd's Bush Tweeters were crowned King and Queen of Shepherd's Bush. Never one to turn down an opportunity to exercise my arts and crafts skills (and possibly some buried Blue Peter-presenter-wannabe demons) I set to work. It's amazing what you can achieve with a cereal box, kitchen foil, a Paperchase sticker and Haribo obsession and some Ann Summers feather fans.

All hail Queen Kerry and King Owen!

As I walked home down Uxbridge Road (wi
th other local blogger James aka Bee in the Bush) I realised it's quite a remarkable thing turning internet communication into real-life interaction, especially when it works. I feel like we're all slowly but surely becoming good friends. And all because of our common interest and place of residence. Someone in the pub last night (not a member of the Bush Twitterati I hasten to add) called Shepherd's Bush a toilet (although he acknowledged it as a "very interesting toilet") while one tweet-up attendee described Shepherd's Bush as "real life". Be it a toilet, be it real life, be it both, I have proof that I'm no longer alone in thinking there is much to love about living in Shepherd's Bush.

Thank you for coming toilet Shepherd's Bush livers and lovers, I'll see you at the next one...

Long live the Bush!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Keep on Running... Training Run 20

Distance: 7. 2 miles
Time: I hr 8 mins
Area covered: Shepherd's Bush - around Brook Green - Shepherd's Bush - Marble Arch - Shepherd's Bush
Weather: Cool and dry again. 
Playlist: Lady Gaga - Hercules and Love Affair - Barry White (nobody gets it right, like Barry White) - Desmond & The Tutus - The Go! Team - Jennifer Hudson - Bloc Party - Passion Pit - The Clash - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (A-Trak Remix of Heads Will Roll) - Kings of Leon - Talking Heads - Toots & the Maytals - Empire of the Sun - Black Kids and the brilliant Miike Snow saw my sprint(ish) home.
Comments: Yesterday I nearly decided to give up on my half marathon training. On Saturday yet another run ended in pain (and tears) and after discussing with my sportiest of friends I was advised that it may be time to recognise that the pain of my delicate ITB isn't really worth it. My mother also reminded me of what a knee specialist told me when he diagnosed the problem; keep running without managing this and you'll eventually need surgery. However I wanted to try one more run, to cover a few more kilometres, maybe miles, before I threw in the towel. It turns out this potential last run was one of the best I've done yet, the pain was manageable and I even, dun dun duh, enjoyed it. As I ran I also remembered something. I am also doing this run for charidee; I am running for Royal Marsden Cancer hospitals, a cause that was invaluable to my co-runner best friend's uncle who fought a long, painful fight with liver cancer. 
Just three days ago I found out that a girl in my social circle is to undergo open heart surgery this week after a (hopefully benign) tumour was found in one of her aortas. If that wasn't a healthy dose of reality and perspective I don't know what is. So in short, even if I have to walk the 13.1 miles of Reading Half Marathon, I will do so knowing that I'm fluffing lucky to be alive and walking on that day.
Updated 23.02.2011: I forgot to mention that Operation Bust-a-Blister has been greatly assisted by Paul and Jim who commented on my last Training Run update to say that Compeed plasters were a runner's best friend when it came to blisters. I'm happy to say they were right (though I've still needed to fabric strip my foot up to keep them in place when I run) so tonight I'm off to buy Westfield Boots' entire stock (and quite possibly shares in the company too).

Two little birds...

Last night Bird in the Bush was in The Bird in Hand. Confused? Don't be; it's a lovely little pub to be found in the W14 outskirts of Shepherd's Bush. I'd heard good things about this place from my sources in East Shepherd's Bush (i.e. West Kensington) and seeing as it wasn't a million miles away from my own home I wandered on down there yesterday evening, bravely accompanied by Darren who I owed a bottle of red to after that Training Run that I'm not sure he's recovered from yet.

Source: Chris Amies who on Flickr appears to be a keen local (W6/W14/W12) photographer.

I'm not sure if this is an official term, but it's a corner-pub which I like as it normally means a nice big bar and more than one door to fall out of. The Bird in Hand delivered on both counts. Not that there was any falling out of doors last night as we were very civilised in sharing the one bottle of Montelpulciano d'Abbruzo (déjà vu?) and then some lemonade and a healthy portion of unhealthy dry roasted nuts.

It's easy to see why people like and recommend this pub. The best way I could describe it is "simple, yet effective". It's a warm and comfortable pub to walk into despite it essentially being the one large open plan room. I suppose it helps that it ticks a lot of the now predictable London pub boxes: large refurbished antique tables and chairs, retro mirrors on the walls, patterned wallpaper on the others and candles and a clipboard menu on each table. Yet it's not doing this to keep up with the Jones' (or Defectors Welds) of London, there is a suggestion it is like this because it suits the character and the clientele. Apart from a man and his dog and a couple of old boys at the bar watching the football on a single drop down big screen in one corner, this is a pub for the young/middle-aged professionals who live nearby.

Yesterday many were there enjoying The Bird in Hand's Monday Curry Club (£10.00 for a curry (there were three options to choose from on the blackboard, oh - another London pub box tick!!), naan bread, rice and a pint or glass of wine) though other people were enjoying other dishes on offer. The Bird in Hand has no less than three food menus depending on what day or time you're there. All three looked pretty good to me and may possibly be now saved to my Favourites.

The wine list was concise (I think I was spoilt by the "fine wine folder" at Princess Victoria) but covered most bases and I have to say the Montepulciano I sank last night was delicious. They also feature a selection of independent and guest ales; this week the guest ale is Bear's Ass and last week it was Wee Shimmy. From this I think it's fair to say that this is a pub with a sense of humour, which is not necessarily something every London pub has.

Sunday night is pub quiz night at the Bird in Hand which they confidently call "The Quiz". I like the way it's free to enter and that the prize is a modest but of course very welcome bottle of Champagne. Sometimes pub quizes and their prizes can all get a little serious, but no fear, not at the Bird in Hand where you can play for free and on a pint of Bear's Ass for £3.20 (Shock horror a pint of ale in London for less than £4.00).

In brief, this is a pub worth venturing out to the W14 extremities of Shepherd's Bush for. The staff were friendly, the food sounded, looked (and smelt) good, the wine certainly tasted brilliant and though the furniture was completely wooden (a little uncomfortable) the atmosphere certainly wasn't. It's nice to know that there's another Bird in the Bush when it's this good.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Mad world...

Last night a weirdo, who I know to be a Shepherd's Bush local (of no fixed abode I fear) said some horrible things to NewMan and I as we caught the 220 bus home. I did write a long old post about it but I have deleted it so that once I have forgotten all about it, which I nearly have, I won't be reminded. It was a one off incident and far worse things have happened on night buses in London. I just got upset because it happened in Shepherd's Bush.

This morning I was determined to remind myself that this is a good place to live. I tweeted this and much to my surprise I received many tweets back from fellow Bush residents with scores of reasons why they love living in the Bush, some old favourites of mine and others I very much look forward to experiencing:

Thank you so very much to fry-up fan (and a man after my own heart... disease) @gamray, our most glamorous "local celeb" @RebeccaCaine, the ever sweet @AlexBrownW12, to @ruthbrown, who is also training for the Reading Half Marathon (and doing much better than me! Go Ruth!), @NelsMels who I'm very much looking forward to meeting on Thursday and the always amusing, and apparently philosophical @BryceElder who told me that he'd had a very different bus in the Bush experience; a stranger gave him her spare Oyster card when his ran out of credit.

Sadly this was tainted because the Bush wasn't kind to two of these lovely people this weekend with one having their car bonnet being keyed and another having their Sat Nav stolen.

I suppose this is what Shepherd's Bush is all about; there is a lot of crap around us and sometimes it can be shoved in your face more than you would like, but it doesn't mean the good isn't there. You just have to make a little effort to find it.

Today I found the good of Shepherd's Bush in the people who live there who used Twitter to reach out to me and remind me of what they like about living in W12. I'm genuinely excited to try the things I've never done and to re-enjoy the others.

I also found a bit of good at lunchtime today in a Pork & Lemongrass meatballs Bun Noodles from Pho in Westfield. Try it the next time you experience some "Shepherd's Bush Bad".

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Let's get together again!

After a fun and eventful (yes, I'm talking about you late night Shepherd's Bush Green cruisers) W12 meet up it seems that we are all keen for another one. So here are the details of next week's piss up gathering:

Date: Thursday 24th February 2011

Time: 8:00 pm and beyond
Location: The Queen Adelaide 412 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 0NR. Oooh, hark! A new venue! One for the Uxbridge Road crew!

I hope you can make it, especially as after some great  twitter banter this week there is quite a lot of enthusiasm for some possible upcoming W12 events including a bank holiday bar crawl and a Come Dine with Me inspired "Come Dine in the Bush" (brilliant idea, thank you Bush Belle Robyn). And yes, any sexual innuendo is fully intended.

I probably won't blog about this each and every time a local gathering occurs as it appears to have taken a wonderful life of its own. However, it did occur to me that some of my lovely readers may not be on twitter so I wanted to make sure they were aware. Likewise some of you twitter lot may forget where you're supposed to be and when so use this as a reminder.

See you next Thursday!

Bird x

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Keep on Running... Training Run 18

Distance: 5.78 miles
Time: 53 minutes.
Area covered: Shepherd's Bush - Marble Arch - Shepherd's Bush
Weather: Cool but dry - great running conditions
Playlist: Ellie Goulding's album Bright Lights. It is very rare I can listen to whole albums while running, especially ones considered to be "pop" music, but I had this on at work one day and thought it would be fast enough to carry me around some miles and God bless 'er, it did.
Comments: After last week's disastrous run I tried another few runs over the weekend that were, quite frankly, equally as disastrous albeit without the credit card abuse but I was far too embarrassed to blog about them. There are two reasons why I struggled so much last week; my ongoing ITB problem and a new smaller, less serious yet just as painful and frustrating ailment; a small blister on the arch of my right foot. I was ordered by Darren of Training Run 12 fame to not run again until Thursday, but when a nice guy tells me to do something I normally do the opposite so a couple of hours ago I hit the streets. It was not, however without preparation. As part of  Operation Bust-a-Blister I took the following precautions: a handful of Vaseline, 2 plasters, 1 bandage wrap of fabric strip and two pairs of socks. I couldn't feel my toes for most of the run but it certainly helped to begin with. Sadly by the last mile the blister had fought through the layers to make its presence known. I will have some stern words with it later but for now I am just happy that I got some more miles under my muffin top. Keep on running!! Look away to avoid picture of my foot though I have kept my "finger toes" out of it!)

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

You're my funny Valentine

I'm not sure I like Valentine's Day. Not because it's a commercially created "holiday" which sends people into a panic trying to decide which card remotely echoes their feelings towards The One, The One That Will Do For Now or The One That Has Done For Too Long (I find this quite funny as I observed the queues in Clintons and florists in the City at around 5.45pm last night). I'll be honest and admit that of course I hate the overly-magnified exclusion and the de facto sense of rejection that Valentine's Day brings a single girl or boy. Some of my unhappily single friends aren't good at dealing with that on the best of days (fear not, I'm working on them!) so Valentine's Day can be long, hard and as they bunker down for days before and after it is not at all conducive to their overall goal of meeting someone special.

I also dislike it personally because it's one of the few days a year when I hate being single, Christmas Day and bizarrely New Year's Day being the other occasions. Or rather I should say it was one of the few days I used to hate being single as I'm no longer "single" (I'm reminding myself more than anyone). Call me controversial but as a happy single girl who was often looking for a decent bloke and maybe a decent relationship (sometimes purposefully in the wrong places but now and again in the right place with night goggles and a Sat Nav) I actually appreciate the idea of their being a day when you both have to think about saying or doing something nice to each other and quite frankly that always sounded like a good thing to me. I've since learnt that actually couples can and probably should be nicer to each other much more often than that!

Anyway, it's a slippery slope down off a big soap box for me when I start talking about being single and about relationships and now that I do have a boyfriend I will run the risk of contradicting myself or appearing incongruous. I think what I'm trying to say, albeit badly and possibly to no-one's benefit, is that though it's okay to be single at Valentine's Day of course it's going to smart a little (but not a lot!) but in a curious way it should therefore follow that when not single you should make some attempt to enjoy it. Which is what I was determined to do, it being the first Valentine's Day I was sharing with "someone special" (vom) for more than five years.

NewMan wanted us to go out for dinner last night (he is a foodie and a good one at that - a goodie foodie) but I simply couldn't face the "couple-off" that many restaurants and bars must have been last night. Instead I asked if he would cook one of our favourite meals, chicken, mushroom and ricotta pie and I would provide a bottle of wine. He did, I did and we both also did little presents to one another much to my surprise.

(Look away now for photos of a couple indulging in Valentine's Day through the medium of pie and cake or cheese related gifts. I will no doubt equally hate these pictures come the next Valentine's Day when I am single...)

YumBots - my gift of robot silicon cupcake cases from a Robot and Cupcake obsessed NewMan
Otherwise known as NewMan's least subtle hint for me to make more cupcakes yet.

My gift to NewMan - Godminster Vintage Organic Cheddar
... in the shape of a heart obviously!

NewMan's famous chicken pie.
and after.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sunday lunch awaits...

Did you know that within W12 you can find one of the best pubs in London? I'm sure you did and you know precisely which one I mean. I am embarrassed about how long it has taken me to try the treats offered by the award winning Princess Victoria. Having known about it for nearly three years I have just not prioritised heading there for food due to it being the wrong end of Uxbridge Road to me and my Sunday hungover hunger often needs satisfying before I get past Shepherd's Bush Market station. However, a worthy occasion presented itself when it came to be that my parents and Mo's parents (who are friends) were visiting for Sunday lunch.

This beautifully restored former Gin Palace was built in 1829 can be found on the corner of Becklow Road and Uxbridge Road and in my humble but well fed opinion, defines the term "gastro pub". It does drink jolly well and it does food very well. The extensive range of starters (including made to order "scotch quail eggs"), traditional Sunday roast options and heavenly yet hellishly tempting deserts could have kept me happily busy all day. That's not even mentioning the thick plastic binder that is their wine list, which you can actually buy from as an off licence as they pride themselves as "Purveyors of Fine Wine". A tactical group decision was made for us to head straight to main courses and save any extra course stomach space for the deserts.

I went for the roast pork, which was well-cooked, cut in thick slices and with more crackling than I could eat. Pause for photos and digestion.

I have to mention that the wine, a Montepulciano and a Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet, was some of the nicest I have tasted in a long, long time (and I've drunk a lot of wine in that time). This is the place to go in Shepherd's Bush for mighty fine Fine Wine.

It was worth sacrificing a starter for the pudding I had. Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and toffee pecan sauce. It was as good as it sounds. I will dream about it tonight.

Princess Victoria is worth a visit to admire the building alone. I know little of the history (and want to find out more) but it is clear that the owners are committed to maximising the original features and feel of the architecture. Though it may not look like much from the outside, it's really something inside with signature antique furniture, working fireplaces and natural light flooding in thanks to a number of glass sky lights. 

At nearly 200 years old this is a building that has seen and survived numerous changes in Shepherd's Bush. It is safe to say that if it continues to serve up such delicious food and drinkable wine, it will continue to be a wonderful part of the Bush's future. 

Saturday, 12 February 2011

I'm gonna have to make a switch...

A quick post to publicise an event that I just stumbled upon whilst walking around the Bush running a few errands and putting off going for a run. There is a Swap Shop happening at Defectors Weld tomorrow from  2 - 6pm as this badly taken photo shows.

It would appear that you can bring virtually anything (maybe even life partners? No, Bird, not that kind of swapping) to swap and what with all the trendy-bendy folk that frequent the Defectors Weld I'm sure there could be some really interesting finds. It says that there is an £8.00 entry fee which does seem a little steep, but the proceeds do go to charity. Further cyber-investigation suggests that the authors of this blog are behind the event and the charitable cause is a very personal one; one of their friends is battling a type of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It sounds like it could be a fun event so get off your hungover bottoms and go and have a look tomorrow; worst comes to the worst at least you did a bit for charidee. I think I'm going to...

Bush Tucker Trial: The Falafel-Off

I am not a vegetarian but you may have noticed that I love vegetarian food. I am inclined to blame it on being raised by the super-health conscious, pseudo-vegan and Abel and Cole's biggest fan that is my mother. One of my favourite vegetarian foods is falafel. I should therefore thank my lucky stars that I live where I live because Shepherd's Bush has a respectably high ratio of falafel outlets to Bush dwellers. And herein lies the foundation for a Falafel-Off. This is the first in a new series of blog posts entitled Bush Tucker Trials where I aim to find out about the best and worst grub that Shepherd's Bush has to offer.

For the Falafel-Off I shortlisted three outlets that people have referred to on Twitter and where I have been before too and would go back; Falafel Hut, King Solomans and Mr Falafel. Because I have been there and eaten falafel from these places previously and I'm still not sure where you get the BEST falafel in Shepherd's Bush, I enlisted the help of Mo and falafel virgin NewMan who are now both (enthusiastically) aware of this blog.

Staffed by West Africans and situated in the heart of the ever character-full Shepherd's Bush Market, Falafel Hut will charge you £3.00 for a falafel wrap full of salad and also aubergine with as much chilli sauce as you mouth can handle. The service was polite and friendly if a little rushed and production line-esque. I believe the winks and cheeky grins were at no extra cost to myself. I may even have winked back.

The greeting, service and overall experience in Lebanaese "food joint" King Solomans was a very different experience. A very polite young man asked me how my day was going as he prepared the falafel from a fresh batch - i.e. there wasn't a stash of already cooked falafel balls waiting for me like there was at Falafel Hut (and admittedly at every other take-away falafel outlet I've ever been too). I was invited to take a seat and watch the world of Uxbridge Road go by. As I did two other customers came in, both were clearly regulars. My King Solomans take out falafel wrap took ten minutes to be cooked, prepared and presented to me and cost just £3.45. (For a brilliant review of this restaurant and its owner and history original Shepherd's Bush blogger Chris Underwood did this write up recently).

My final stop was at the very well known Mr Falafel, an apparent hit with local BBC workers, Shepherd's Bush residents and beyond. Based at the top of Shepherd's Bush Market (Uxbridge Road end) Mr Falafel has grown from a market stand to a walk-in cafe and it claims to have the "Best Palestinian Falafel". Speaking to a variety of customers in both Arabic and English, Mr Falafel himself was polite and prompt in serving me. Their menu was extensive and intriguing (I'm going back for the Makdoos) and my falafel wrap set me back £3.50.

Back at my flat NewMan, Mo and I tucked in and here was our verdict (how I wished we could have had a black cab and A4 scoring boards for this part a la Come Dine with Me):

Falafel Hut: NewMan - 10/10, Mo - 8/10, Bird - 7/10. Average score - 8.33/10

The overall consensus was that the consistency of the falafel and its salad neighbours complimented each other and the right amount of sauce was applied. Personally I found the taste a little more bland than the other two falafels, but falafel-rookie NewMan was a big fan and ate up the left overs before Mo and I could realise there were any. The aubergine (which I think the other outlets would provide just not as standard) was a very welcome surprise.

King Solomans: NewMan - 7.5/10 "a little dry", Mo - 8.5/10, Bird - 9/10. Average score - 8.33/10

This was mine and Mo's favourite.  It looked, tasted and was fresh. That plus the fact there was the perfect amount of pickle (I love pickle!) and having the relaxed customer experience I got when ordering places King Soloman's in a very regal position in my eyes.

Mr Falafel: NewMan - 5/10, Mo - 6/10, Bird - 7.5/10. Average score - 6.17/10

Despite the falafel being very, very, very edible it was felt by all (especially NewMan) that its accompaniments were too acidic (too much pickle?! impossible!?) and it needed more humous.

This makes King Solomans and Falafel Hut joint winners of this Falafel-Off. One other place that I like for falafel is Woodys Grill on Uxbridge Road so it's worth trying that one too. I didn't include it in this falafel off because I'd been in there the night before somewhat tipsy and chowing down on a kebab like my life depended on it. I like to wait at least a few days before returning to the scenes of such crimes.

To summarise and hereby declare this Falafel-Off a success, I think I can safely conclude that Shepherd's Bush is indeed a good place for good falafel, and long may that continue.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Keep on Running... Training Run 15

Distance: 2.2 miles.
Time: Time? Time I upped my game and got on with this training!!!
Area covered: Bank - Oxford Street - Uniqlo - Marble Arch tube home via the off licence.
Weather: Mild, despite raining all day.
Playlist: Grum - Lady Gaga - Free - Kings of Leon - "Get-outta-my-way-tourists" - Mystery Jets - Leela James - "Sod-this-I'm-going-shopping".
Comments: Going on holiday and having an incredibly busy week at work has meant I haven't run properly for nearly two weeks. Last night I attempted running the 6 miles home from my job in the City. However 2 miles in I was struggling and I am now convinced that the holiday and this week at work has undone all the previous training I have done. It wasn't my fitness that let me down it was the pain in my knee and my inability to find a good pace. I'll also be honest I couldn't be bothered. So when my shoe lace came undone outside Uniqlo on Oxford Street I took it as a sign and I'm now one dress, one skirt and one pair of nice cargo pants richer (or poorer if you're my bank manager). Admittedly running through the West End of London at rush hour isn't exactly ideal running or pace-finding conditions so at least a lesson was learnt there. I'm going to try again tonight and this weekend and fingers crossed I find my pace and running mojo again. Please God.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Follow the leader, leader, leader

Well this is exciting. I have now signed up to Bloglovin so I can be followed (or ignored, whatevs) on there if that's your bag, baby.

Follow my blog with bloglovin

Bird x

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

I don't want no Scrubs...

If you love Scrubs (guilty) then you'll be somewhat excited to know that Ted's band The Blanks are performing in our fair Bush (at the Empire) on Saturday night. I heard about this last week but put my interest down to my unhealthy obsession with barber shop quartets and cleverly crafted harmonies. However yesterday Twitter went crazy RT-ing a tweet by Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills about the gig.

Not sure if tickets are still available, and sadly I don't have any other barber shop quartet fans to go with but this as as good an excuse to post a few funny videos as any.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The hills are alive, with the sound of music...

Well maybe not the hills, but the Bush is soon to be.

On Saturday 7th May this year Shepherd's Bush is to host Bushstock, a one day music festival to take place at 4 local music venues. I had anticipated the Empire and Bush Hall would be two of these, but nul points to Birdie. It's a pleasant surprise to hear that Bushstock is keeping it nice and raw and intimate by choosing the following much smaller venues: home of the first few tweet ups The Goldhawk, our famous public toilet-cum-comedy-night-cum-nightclub Ginglik, home of soon to be Open Cinema's Shepherd's Bush film-without-borders club St Stephens & Thomas' Church and a slight outsider (thanks to it's W14 postcode, but hey we'll allow it) Shepherd's Bar.

It is being launched by Communion who rightly pride themselves as being "independent champions of good music" at club nights and festival dates across the country and beyond. However it all began in 2006 with a successful regular night at Bird in the Bush favourite, Notting Hill Arts Club (and continues to do so on the first Sunday of every month), so it would seem they are aiming to stay true to their West-Landan roots by organising Bushstock for us West-is-Best folk. If it's more credibility or mainstream relevance you're after, one of Communion's founders is Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons fame. Now as an established record label (Communion Records) they also boast a number of promising up-up-up-and-coming artists including the rather lovely Matthew and the Atlas and the rather hairy but jolly exciting sounding Philadelphia Grand Jury.

The full Line Up is yet to be announced but with 30 bands promised, I will put my dancing shoes on the line to say that I am confident it will be one that is worth heading out and listening too, especially seeing as they are coming right to our pub (and church) door steps. 

Tickets are available now at a reduced early bird price and more information can be found at

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Boys, boys, boys

I have just returned from a snowboarding trip with NewMan and three of his male friends. This was a first for me as my usual holiday companions for the last 6 or so years have been close female friends, so I was certainly apprehensive about the prospect of spending 8 whole days with four boys (or three boys and one man as would NewMan correct me). I was also somewhat panicked by the assumption that I would have to keep up with the boys in terms of boarding on/off piste and drinking when very much on the piss.

And keep up I did. The snowboarding was steady with some long, hard and fast days but on other occasions we took it easier and enjoyed the vin chaud and pression more. Bizarrely I actually found it more difficult to keep up with the drinking as I've now come home full of cold and at least 3kgs heavier. There is of course a strong argument that there was no obligation for me to keep up with their jugs of Amstel, but hey, I was one of the boys for the week!

On a serious note it was an educational experience. I have learnt that boys really aren't as blindly ignorant to dirt as I had previously thought. They can also be very considerate (waiting for me to get down icier parts of a slope) and best of all they did accept and carry out my orders (they may be aware of dirt, but that doesn't mean they rush around to get rid of it). Of course the last comment didn't apply to NewMan who politely told me where to go each time I asked him to empty the dishwasher, though I have to admit he is very well house trained and doesn't need much nagging, ahem, I mean asking. They were all also excellent at keeping our wood fire burning ("Me man, make fire") and thanks to some brilliant tuition I now know how to play poker, and win ("Total beginners luck"). 

This not a man-bashing post; far from it. The boys were great company and aside from one or two odd conversations about IP addresses and iPhone apps I felt included and on completely equal terms. This was flattering, not because I am a girl but because I am a girlfriend. I know my friends and I leave a lot of conversation topics off limits if one of our boyfriends was present. Likewise, I don't think my girls and I are as open and honest with each other. For me and my lady friends, going up the mountain and picking our runs and first coffee spot for the day would have involved protracted discussions and some bartering of emotions. With the boys, one picked and others grunted agreement. Later on if anyone wanted to do something different to everyone else, they did just that. Again, with (my) girls that could have meant hurt feelings and conspiracy theories. Lesson learnt.

However one day last week when my legs were sore and I'd had one bad fall too many I was craving my best female company (i.e. my Mum) just so I could have a bloody good cry and a moan. Admittedly NewMan got a ski-lift preview of this show but I could tell he wasn't interested in a ticket for the full length feature so I blew my nose, shook the snow out of my knickers and grudgingly went back to being one of the boys. Another lesson learnt.

In all in all it was a brilliant "boys" holiday, though I fear my liver and legs will continue to ache for some time. But that's ok as I am back with Mo and will be seeing my other girls this week so I can get all of the backdated moaning out of my system and catch up on their emotional traumas too.

You can take the girl away with the boys... but this girl will always be one of the girls.