From the top of the world to the top of Carlton Hill.
As you travel away from the city, 384 Carlton Hill is on the left, in the first run of shops as the road levels out. It was known for many years as The Indian Prince, a Kashmiri restaurant and takeaway. I’m sure that many people still regard it as their local Indian takeaway. The building itself is very deceptive. It has a very narrow shop front that suggests it is just another takeaway. The building however continues through a restaurant (that seats around 40 people), to the kitchen at the back.
For the past few years it has been The Everest Bhansaghar, a Gurkha Restaurant and Takeaway. As the title states; it is a restaurant first and a takeaway second.
Many of us associate the name Gurkha (also spelt as Gorkha) with the military units in the Nepalese
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Another new Nottingham restaurant.
As the saying goes, you wait for one Korean BBQ and two come along at once.
Only a few weeks after the opening of Pan Asia BBQ Miss Korea opened its doors in the chapel quarter on the corner of Angel Row and Mount Street. Apart from one piece of (bad) press the opening has been low key. In addition no notable signage or a visible menu are a surprising marketing strategy. The decor is a clean simple look, plenty of faux wood flanking a corridor layout. The best feature were some bloody comfortable chairs. Yes I’m getting old.
The menu is shorter than Pan Asia, frustratingly few dishes are listed on each page, frantic flicking back and forth ensued. The main shtick of these new ventures is a grill in each table where guests cook their own meat. Options are vary from sea, land, and a few things to keep vegetarians happy, each with different…
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I am not particularly well travelled, but there’s something really exciting about seeing landmarks for the first time; particularly when they appear unexpectedly or when you least expect them.
These exciting moments probably stem from childhood car journeys; when that irritable boredom is lifted by the chance of being the first one to see the sea!
In the late 1980’s I over-nighted at one of those cheap and nasty $10 motels in San Francisco. Prior to leaving early the next morning, I looked around at the uninspiring block of buildings. Between the building line, through the mist, I saw no more than a glimpse of something reddish/brown and an unusual shape. It was the Golden Gate Bridge. I photographed this moment, but that was all it was; a photograph of a moment, meaningless to anyone else.
I first got to know Liverpool in the late 1990’s. Every year I had a few days there with work. My first stay was at a large hotel called The Atlantic Tower. Having arrived at night and dropped off by taxi, it was not until after breakfast that I ‘took the morning air’, on a 3rd floor balcony next to the restaurant. The balcony narrowed to a point. When I looked back I realised the hotel was shaped like the bow of the ship, unremarkable in itself except that the ship’s bow was directed towards the iconic Liver Building.
I say iconic. In fairness I probably recognised it from the opening sequence to the 1970’s sitcom ‘The Liver Birds’. Nevertheless it is a big building that would look impressive even without the two Liver Bird statues. I was looking at what was, until 1932, the tallest storied building in Europe. I was in Liverpool for the first time and I was now excited.
Adjacent to the Liver Building is the Albert Dock. For those who have heard of this but who are not familiar with it; The Albert Dock is a series of warehouse buildings around enclosed docks. As with most things in Liverpool, politics and lack of investment had left this area derelict and at risk of demolition.
The regeneration of The Albert Dock had officially started in the 1980’s and each year new things were happening. Its museums and art galleries will keep anyone busy for a weekend.
During my subsequent stays in Liverpool, I began to use the hotels at The Albert Dock. Initially the Holiday Inn Express and, from 2003, the Premier Inn. Both these are regarded as mid-budget hotels but I have to say that both are very good value for money and well managed. In addition, if you are lucky, some rooms have a real character of their own. I remember one room at The Holiday Inn which was on the rounded corner of the building, had windows down to floor level and gave a panoramic view over the River Mersey to Birkenhead. Another room overlooked the enclosed dock, and immediately below my room was a large green platform in the shape of the British Isles! Unbeknown to me, it was the ‘weather map’ used in a daytime television programme called This Morning ITV. Such is the size of the Albert Dock that hotels, restaurants, museums, offices and television studios, all co-exist! They also found the space nearby for the O2 arena and conference centre, complete with parking.
Moving onto my most recent visit to Liverpool this time with a couple of extra things on the ‘to do’ list. These involved Liverpool being synonymous with Football and Popular Music
All of our friends were from Nottingham and (it turned out) fans of the beautiful game. None of us had been to Anfield or Goodison Park, the home of Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs.
So on day one, with the sun on our backs, we walked the 3 miles from The Albert Dock to Anfield and then onto Goodison. And that basically sums the afternoon up. The walk was neither pleasant nor interesting, and, it has to be said, neither of the stadia were worthy of landmark or iconic status. The initial walk was through the modern shopping area of Liverpool One, then passed the Liverpool Museum and the statue in memory of the 96 Liverpool supporters who died at Hillsborough in 1989. From then on the route meant criss-crossing the A59 and passing derelict pubs, shops and houses. By the time we reached the Anfield Stadium, all excitement had long since evaporated.
Our walk across Stanley Park towards Goodison brought back renewed hope. A pleasant green open space with ponds. It seemed well used and reasonably well maintained, although it was a shame that the removal of litter is not more of a priority.
The area around Goodison had a better community feel, but the obvious lack of decent pubs and bars was disappointing.
A bus journey back into town was required.
The following day was devoted to the Albert Dock itself. The Beatles Story is one of those tourist attractions that I had previously resisted. It is situated in the basement directly beneath the Premier Inn. My daughter had joined us for the day and, although she was not born until the 1990’s, she certainly knows more about the Fab Four than I do. In the end, I am pleased to have increased my knowledge of the Beatles story. I was given headphones which narrated the story of the group, and guided me through various displays and themed rooms. I even stood at the cafe in the recreated Cavern Club and was served a cup of tea by a young looking Cilla Black (cut out)! There were a significant number of Americans who were from a nearby Norwegian Cruise ship. They were filming everything and I have no doubt that by the time they are back in the US, they will have convinced themselves that Mr Lennon is alive and well…. and back in Liverpool!
In the tourist areas of Liverpool there are many statues. The Beatles naturally, are on Mathew Street, the location of the original Cavern Club. There is a statue of Bill Shankly at Anfield; Bill was the club’s most revered manager. Around the docks there are a number of statues of horses. These are in remembrance of the working horses that, in times gone by ensured the economy of the docks.
There is also a very nice statue of…. erm….. Billy Fury!
I had heard his name before. I understand that he was a singer in the 1960’s. I only knew him from two 1970’s films called That’ll be the Day and Stardust. These were about a rock singer from that era and the lead actor was David Essex. Every teenage girl in the 1970’s loved David Essex, so every teenage boy took a girl to see the film. I think Billy Fury may have had a small part in it, or one of his songs was in it.
I will wind this post up now, but before I do, I need to bring it back with a reference to Nottingham. I had another great time in Liverpool. Like Nottingham, Liverpool is an old industrial city that has seen it’s economy change dramatically. Like Nottingham, Liverpool has had to adapt and to establish itself as a tourist attraction.
Liverpool’s history may have produced buildings larger than Nottingham’s, football clubs that are bigger than Nottingham’s, and a rock group that is bigger than any other; but Nottingham is just as proud of its history and culture. Literature rather than music has been the main creative export. Perhaps Nottingham is more modest. It has its fair share of landmarks too!
Those that visit Nottingham on a sporting pilgrimage will walk the two miles from the Old Market Square, through the Lace Market and by the canal to Trent Bridge. There they will see the river, two football stadia and a world class cricket ground. They will enjoy the walk and probably stop for a drink at a pub or restaurant of their choice. Who knows? They may in the future see statues to rival those in Liverpool. Not only of Robin Hood or Brian Clough but Peter Taylor, Alan Sillitoe, Lord Byron, DH Lawrence, Torville and Dean.
We may even save a space for Jake Bugg. The Americans will love him!
Fancy a city break? This may give you an idea.
Guess who I bumped into the other day on Mapperley Top?
None other than Saul Deeney, former Notts County, Burton Albion and Derby County goalkeeper. Having got talking to him, it transpired that he had recently left the Rams ‘by mutual consent’. I got the feeling that he was a bit wary of my request for an interview. I think he ‘smelt a rat’ so to speak; that I was looking for an exclusive from the corridors of power at Pride Park!
Once I’d convinced Saul that (as far as the A52 to Derby was concerned), my interest extended only as far as Canning Circus; he was happy to talk.
Now I knew that Saul had represented the Republic of Ireland before, but you never know what accent footballers are likely to have. They have a habit of surprising us don’t they? After all, former Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp played…
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This post seems to get more and more topical!
In this post I am going to be a theatre critic and if that means 50% of readers go elsewhere, then so be it.
This post links a couple of memorable theatrical performances that are so different, and yet have a similarity in the message that they continue to send out in 2014.
To be a theatre critic for the day, I need to explain what I consider to be theatre and why. I rarely visit a cinema or watch television. I need my entertainment with a personal connection. Both sport and musical events are also theatre, whether the venue is a stadium or an open space.
In fact the most melodramatic, epic and tragic event that I saw unfold was the ill fated FA Cup Semi Final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool. To stand on a packed terrace and watch the events slowly develop over a 30 minute period…
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I am going to donate blood today. The first time I did this was a few years ago when a big Blood Service bus arrived at my workplace. I realised that if a big bus comes to you workplace and asks for help, then it must be important.
I have given blood over 24 times. I know that because they gave me an enamel badge as a reward. The badge is now in a drawer at home with all my other badges, mainly from the 1970’s when they were really popular and had band names like ‘Buzzcocks’ and ‘The Jam’ on them.
Nottingham’s blood donor centre is on Castle Boulevard. There are two ways of getting there. Drive and park outside or take a walk along the canal. I prefer the walk along the canal for two reasons.
- It relaxes you and lowers your blood pressure. This is useful…
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Saturday was one of those unplanned days. The weekend had arrived unannounced, after the distraction that a busy week at work creates. Unplanned carefree days don’t come very often, and when they do, they can go either way. They remind me of time spent in France where carefree days seemed to be the norm.
Some of the morning was spent in the garden but it was hardly work; more a case of getting reacquainted with it. I made my excuses and said ‘cheerio’ to the meadow of dandelion and drifted back inside. I wandered around the house, doing things at will. I achieved absolutely nothing but I felt good about it. I listened to BBC Radio 6, then Radiohead. A short trip in the car and it was the folk music of Jezz Hall that entertained me. One track reminded me of time spent in Ireland, with the words ‘Beat the Drum Slowly’. A check on the internet and I discovered that the song is not a rebel song but about the Great War and titled The Green Fields of France .
Subconsciously, France had already entered my mind on two occasions.
After listening to Notts County preserving their League One status, we decided to eat in town. No plan. Just an idea. We watched the Manchester City match with an ‘aperitif’. Three pints of pale ale to be more exact.
Now ready to eat, Lisa suggested French Living. We had not eaten there for a couple of years. 10 minutes later we were sat in the window of ‘the restaurant that speaks French since 1994’ looking out onto King Street.
We were about to enjoy possibly the best city centre meal we have had all year. What made it extra special was the atmosphere, which was as relaxed and carefree as our day had been. There were a few tables free at street level, although the the basement area was full, and the diners looked settled for the evening.
The menu was extensive but split into four sections; pre-theatre, menu de Saison, Menu Gastronomique and a la carte.
We chose the Menu de Saison. £21.90 for three courses. We chose well.
After a pastis, and my palate cleansed, I was ready to order in my finest Nottingham Franglais.
My first course was the Salade Fromagere Auvergnate. Diced unpasteurised cheeses (one blue), with walnut on a bed of mixed salad. A good portion served with French bread. The beauty about these salads is that they demand to be eaten slowly, allowing the flavours to be enjoyed.
My main course was memorable for two reasons, the food and the translated conversation about it.
The Onglet a l’Echalote is a French cut of beef steak with a shallot and veal stock sauce served with pommes sautees and vegetable garnish. The menu offered the steak to be cooked blue, rare or medium. Now I usually have my steak rare to medium, but something told me that the chef was confident that this should be eaten with just the meat sealed.
Onglet a l’echalote s’il vous plait.
Oui, et le boeuf?
The chef was right to be confident. The steak was very tender and served with the ‘onion gravy’ over it. It had that home-cooked dinner feel about it. The ‘garnish’ was in fact a good portion of fresh seasonal vegetables. When I complimented the proprietor Stephane about the meal, he corrected me. The ‘onion’ was in fact shallot. Most readers will recognise shallots. They’re those onions shaped like rugby balls!
For dessert, I chose the Tarte Myrtilles Amande. A blueberry and almond tart served with Amaretto creme Anglaise. Now I had visions of this being the French equivalent of Derbyshire’s finest export, Bakewell Tart, but I decided to keep this thought to myself. The tart was served cold and was clearly freshly made. From the pastry base right through to the covering of blueberries, it had clearly been made with pride.
Et Voila! There we have it. An enjoyable day rounded off with some quality French cuisine in Nottingham.
France is a beautiful country that has everything. Not only that, it produces, broadly speaking, the finest food and wine in the world. French cuisine permeates how we eat our food.
Nottingham has a number of French restaurants. Most of them have names like ‘Le Mistral’ or ‘Petis Paris’. Nottingham’s Michelin starred restaurant ‘Sat Bains’ used to be called ‘Hotel des Clos’.
French Living has, as part of its ethos an pledge to ‘share our knowledge of French culture, language and lifestyle with all our customers.
There is an irony that despite it being 100% authentically French, it has its name in English!
I will leave you with a link to a wonderful photograph of King Street Nottingham. The restaurant is not in view, but you will understand why I chose it. The photographer is named Lamar Francois!
You can’t get more French that that!
Including a 10 year old from Porchester NG3! Well done