A very good day in London in November

Jay Rayner had given a strong thumbs up to Cafe East in The Observer. It’s some way out of central London at Surrey Quays so takes a bit of advance planning to get to. Behind this was my 1995 trip to Indochina which opened my eyes to Vietnamese food. I’ve had very few opportunities to track down good Vietnamese ever since (Hong Kong last year being a notable exception). Cafe East offered the potential of an excellent bowl of pho (say ‘fur’) – a soupy combination of broth, noodles and meat

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When ordering I was offered the option ‘spicy’. ‘Yes’ seemed to the correct answer and I duly obliged. Oh dear. The resulting soup had too much chilli heat, drowning out the glorious broth that may have been hiding underneath. So my future options are either to trek out to Surrey Quays, remembering not to go for spicy, or to seek out somewhere else

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A trip on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) brought us to the Tower of London, and Tower Bridge

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Which looked very good indeed in some late autumn sunshine

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The walk along the South Bank is always a delight, and we ended up at Tate Modern, which sits opposite St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Millennium Footbridge

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Tate Modern too has been round since 2000 but I had never before visited. The idea was to find somewhere free, out of the cold, with seats. And also to check out a world class visitor attraction. There was no plan as such, and we followed our noses to pieces such as

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And

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During which time night had fallen

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This view invited us to walk across the footbridge, towards the cathedral, and the wonderful Black Friar pub. This is one of very pubs that I know and love

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And then off to Brixton for the main event

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Nightwish are a Finnish symphonic metal band, introduced to me by daughter L. I’d only heard a very few tracks, and they’ve been through a turbulent line-up change or two recently, so going to see them was hit-and-miss, but I’m more than happy to take a punt every now and then.

Sorting out the logistics at the Brixton Academy saw us queuing at the cloakroom no less than three times before things started. And then we could enjoy the concert. They were good, and the crowd enthusiastic, respectful, and good-natured. Some was very loud and very metallic

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And quite a bit would not have been out of place at the Cambridge Folk Festival. So all in all a terrific mix of music, and well worth the punt

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