Destination: Birmingham

Birmingham is a destination like no other! It's a city that doesn't receive the praise its entitled, neither the funding to take it to the next level! I try to get back to Birmingham as much as I can, one can never have too much of a good thing! I wanted my day to be refined for some reason? Birmingham gave me my sanity back that day I know that for sure! Represent Queen B!

I never really appreciated Birmingham when I was living there during my time studying but each visit back to my region capital I take something new in! I had things to do, with the dullness done I headed for Birmingham's Cathedral to see if I could track down some divine intervention because I was feeling the heat that week. Like a prayer I did find a pocket of calm in my life, even if it was for a brief second. Celebrating its 300th birthday this pint-sized house of worship served Jesus Christ Realness! Bless yourself, then genuflect! Nestled within the glass fronted Colmore Row Business District this house of worship has witnessed some serious change since it served a progressive West Midland town. 1715 didn't know what change this cathedral would witness, I didn't pay much attention to this cathedral during my student days back when I would take the Midland Metro home. Life is a mystery!

Birmingham you say?! This destination stands in the shadow of others like London and Manchester, both places are great but Birmingham has the art of reinvention down to a fine key! Throw your shade but I know B will be getting into a whole new groove in the coming years! Crisp the weather may have been I wasn't looking for anything to dampen my unplanned Brummie pursuit. A part of me wanted a cheeky pint and a full English breakfast but I ignored that hunger pang for another time, breaking from the usual is what I did that day. Swinging by Victoria Square and the Council House I noticed Birmingham former Central Library was looking towards a new 'Paradise' that reinforced how much my life has been altered, I wouldn't mind going to a lush 'Paradise!' Keeping my head in the game I traded my down demeanour for a outlook of optimism, Brum had one more chance to serve greatness! How did I come up with 'Jesus Christ Realness?' Heaven help me! I'll choose Brum!

Shopping isn't one of my favourite things to do but I broke that chain of thought whilst I was last in Birmingham. I'm a firm believer that the Bullring isn't Birmingham's main selling point because their are greater things that represent Birmingham! Channeling my inner 'Material Girl' I took a chance on Selfridges, I had just been paid so I wanted to flash some plastic fantastic. Paperchase knows my pin code, I could spend obscene amounts of money at that premium stationery outlet in Brum. Diamonds and pearls always look alluring but I had my eye on a new cherry red notebook for my notes at work. Primark's concession caught my eye on the men's clothing floor, I'm a skinflint when it comes to money so grabbing a £7.00 black and gold tee suited me just fine! I've got to look sickening the next time I hit the clubs of Southside! Birmingham is a fashion phenomenon! BHX isn't the only runway in Brum!

Leaving the 'Hot Couture' behind, it had to be operation Southside for my obligatory Hong Kong style bubble tea from Caffe Chino. It's a little ritual I always make sure that I execute whenever I visit Birmingham, it's more a flashback to my university days when me and my friend Kelly would ignore our studies for a moment for a slice of something sweet and a bubble tea for two. Kelly now being in Hong Kong the distance doesn't seem so gargantuan when I enjoy my bubble tea! Rod Roj on Smallbrook Queensway had my full attention, I had heard a few positive reviews about the food served so I wanted some of that good Turkish cooking! Dining on a delicious serving of chicken and lamb shish that was served with rice, salad and bread like any self-respecting Turkish should be formed. Ayran was in my life for the first time in a long while! Could Southside be the new Turkish Quarter?! I might not live in Birmingham anymore but there's somethings that won't ever leave me! Get it B!

University College Birmingham provided me with the tools to achieve my university dream but I wanted to see how the other half study. Making it to the grounds of the University of Birmingham didn't take much thought, I was looking for the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, for that ticking landmark embodies Birmingham's most prestigious educational institute! The students that passed me by were potentially training to be doctors or other respected professions so a certain type of stereotype was brewing. I loved the clock tower and the grounds that made up the Chancellor's Court reminded me of my time spent in Havard near Boston, USA. Their was a cool vibe beneath the clock tower, it was weird seeing all the students because I've been quite hung up about not having university as a part of my life anymore! Quite frankly I need to get a grip! A Brummie university that's right on time B! 

The University of Birmingham campus and halls of residence played a part in my university journey even though I studied at UCB. I remember going to one of the halls of residences for a fireworks display during the first semester of my first year of uni in Birmingham. Rounding off the experience now after my graduation to see 'Old Joe' felt like the right thing to do. My halls of residence 'The Maltings' were located on the Mailbox's doorstep so I was within a five minute walk of the city centre if I speed walked, looking at the main campus at UOB I gathered a few amenities were on campus to make things more convenient for the students. I preferred being in the thick of it for nights out were so much easier to execute, rather than being a train ride from the centre of town I wouldn't like being away from it all at UOB. 'Old Joe's' clock tower impressed me much and I saw the other side! Who knew that I would be serving 'Educational Realness?!' Birmingham is a destination! Work!

Going walkabout was just what I needed to do, I feel stress very easy so lets just say I needed to be distracted for a little while! Making my way from Chancellor's Court I chose the canal to get my head around the last couple of months, my short canal-side stroll got my head back into the game. Leaving Edgbaston behind I had my sights set on Harborne Village to seek a more refined Birmingham. Eventually, I made it across to Harborne but wasn't overly impressed by the parade of shops really, I was looking something more quaint! The houses behind the main parade of shops exuded a small town feel, on the outskirts of Birmingham I probably didn't do badly? Getting it together I stepped closer to Birmingham's city centre for time was pressing on, having only one day off I didn't have the chance to extend my Brum escapade. Yes, I traded that mid-morning pint that I wanted, so a posh cocktail was needed Boo!

After being followed on Twitter by a boutique hotel in Edgbaston I thought it would of been rude not sample a drink or two from the menu! Retracing my steps from the Hagley Road I made it to The Edgbaston Hotel, a six bedroom luxury Art Deco hotel. Taking a place at the bar I was informed about one gin cocktail that sounded superior to me, I chose the 'Bees Knees' which tasted like a heavenly melody with a honey based after taste. Not feeling completely satisfied and making up for the amount of walking I had just done I treated myself to a 'Santa Muerte' that set my brief experience of The Edgbaston Hotel perfectly! I would love to stay that that stylish hotel because it had something special about it! Passing back through Broad Street I made my final pit-stop at one of the bars at BrindleyPlace to see my brother Lewis whilst he was on shift, I had a few pints of cider before making the decision to return back home. Birmingham has my heart, its my destination! OK, I'm done!

Birmingham is Ready!

Joseph Harrison

Desperately Seeking Adventure - The Third Strike!

The third strike is real! It's been three years since I upgraded my Facebook notes, for a blog that would become my own international phenomenon, from a simple idea my pursuit of adventure has turned into something else! I hate looking back sometimes but having any excuse to produce a flashback blog works for me anytime! Yes, I'm serving up third year Realness! 

My university placement took me to Newark, New Jersey in 2012 for reasons I have mentioned several times, yes I'm bringing this old relic back one more time! It's where my blogging odyssey began and where I was acquainted with the gargantuan powerhouse of New York City! Looking back at my first and second year blog birthday round-ups I don't seem to be recognising those places I captured on a whim during my placement years! Things must change right about now! It took me a quick second to realise I had been bitten by the blog bug when I visited the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, at the time I saw my first baseball match it just seemed like a new experience when it was another monumental memory for my blog. Baseball was good but you know I was searching for something fabulous! Madonna stopped by at the Yankee Stadium during her 2012 MDNA Tour, did she make it rain alright?! Yes M! 

From a home run to getting into the groove with the queen of pop I made it up to Bronx twice during my year over the pond! I kick myself that I didn't investigate the neighbourhood but that's for another time I will make it back B! Surrendering to the charms of NYC didn't take a second to compute, I was in love with a mega metropolis that won't ever leave me, I long to return but I need serious funds for that epic reunion with that Big ole' Apple! My blog didn't mean much when I was stateside because my life was crazy, I have become obsessed with the blog count for each month and monitor the paragraphs with a fine tooth comb! Jennifer Lopez's former block put me in my place, oh my Bronx! Getting my ass over to Broadway for a bizarre rendition of Evita at the Marquis Theatre only to see Ricky Martin play the part of Che! The crazy life was mine to document in my own special way! I feel forever connected with my year of desperately seeking adventure! OK?!

Retracing the journey's of New York's early immigrant history I found myself looking up to the Statue of Liberty! Self guiding myself from my former Ironbound, Newark neighbourhood to Ellis and Liberty islands to seek something quite remarkable! Hoboken was my intended hangout for that summer 2012 day off, I saw Hoboken early on in the day but was left hungry to see something that ticked some of my boxes for the year I wouldn't be repeating anytime soon! Miss New Jersey helped me sail across the Hudson River to see the former Ellis Island Immigration Centre, a fusion of stories and struggle faced me during that day to realise we all have a dream! Deep down in the depths of my heart I was living my dream! Let's go back B?!

Getting half the day off work wasn't enough for me so I gave away my evening shift at the airport during the October of 2012, making way for my unplanned day out to the New York Borough of Queens. I got lost on the NYC Subway as I made my way west from Newark into the city, luckily I found Jackson Heights to be fronted with a vibrant south Asian neighbourhood that served me some lovely Indian food for my lunch! I wasn't satisfied ending my day after my dinner so I hopped off the N train at Astoria Ditmars Blvd to find a different part of that Royal Borough of Queens, there was something of a Greek and Italian feel as I passed the market stores and businesses that traded along Ditmars Blvd. Walking off the main street revealed a Middle Eastern hype, Queens serves spice! 

My American blog crusade of 2012 had a short intermission during my weeks holiday in England, I wanted to see my new cousins and get back to Bilston for a short turnaround! Whilst I was away a certain evil called 'Sandy' caused havoc along the east coast of the USA not long after my Virgin Atlantic flight departed from Newark Liberty Airport! Upon my return to Newark I was faced with a waiting time for the PATH to resume its 24 hour service, lets just say it made my trips into New York City a little stressful because the last train would leave for Newark Penn Station at 10pm! Even then I didn't realise how much of an impact my blog would have on me after my placement would end. Well three years down the line I have to pinch myself for all the places I documented throughout that distant time. I had under three months remaining of my placement and winter had arrived, there was no time to loose! Oh life B!

I looked towards the festive season with a smile, if you had of asked earlier on in 2012 about Christmas I would of had a breakdown but with time and my visit home I came to realise that spending the holidays in the NJ/NY area to be an absolute pleasure! I took my final trips to NYC in December of 2012 to be welcomed by the High Line, an urban garden project that takes form on the base of a former freight line that spans from the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, showing me a view from the top always looks better in the freezing cold. I accidentally deleted my blog photos during 2013, for a brief second I thought I had lost my snaps of that elevated walkway forever! I recovered the necessary photos finally if not with some struggle! So, year one, two and three of blogging haven't been so bad after all! I know that I shall keep on desperately seeking adventure into the future, no matter what life throws at me! Newark and New York City, I shall return one day soon!

Happy 3rd Birthday Blog of Mine! 

Joseph Harrison

February 2014: This Time Last Year ...

2015 hasn't been that exciting if I'm completely truthful, so with that said its time to flashback to this time last year! How I did I get so lucky with my food and lifestyle blog publications during February 2014? Chinese New Year was celebrated with my friend Kelly in Birmingham's Chinatown for the year of the horse! How time changes our situations in life! Oh, February!

Yes, I can be a cheeky sod, after dining at Coast To Coast American Restaurant on Broad Street I had to tweet all about it! With a bit of luck and negotiation I secured an evening at their Birmingham Broad Street location one Saturday night in February 2014. I choose my friend Kelly as my plus one so we could spend some time away from the stresses of our dissertation and for me to compile a food orientated publication that would feature on my blog. Choosing from the vast menu we both enjoyed the hospitality of Coast To Coast that winter night. I ordered the pulled pork burger that was served with coleslaw and fries, a tasty component to my American infused evening. Both me and Kelly sampled a few cocktails before we sat down for our evening meal. I was tripping, I had been given the chance to blog about a restaurant and enjoy a great meal in the process! Let's just say I was very happy to be a part of that!

Newly opened on Birmingham's entertainment avenue, Coast To Coast's opening beckoned a new start for Broad Street due the many vacant outlets that took the life out of my student city. Even students need treats that don't incur vile hangovers so a new place to have a bit to eat acted as the perfect antidote to mine and Kelly's final year university commitments. I was on the frontier of my final semester at University College Birmingham so I wanted to get the best of what Birmingham had to show me this time last year. It was great to be getting recognition for my blog, first and foremost I never set out to be a paid blogger because for me its all about my own personal adventures that contribute to each post. Back to the food, we sipped our mixed drinks and moved on to desert before calling it a night. I chose the peanut butter cheese cake that was served with ice cream, Kelly enjoyed the chocolate brownie so all was sweet! We both left feeling full and happy indeed B!

Februrary 2014 was a month of surprises, well even more so when I got an email inviting me to spend one night at the Rotunda. The view from my Staying Cool serviced apartment was out of this world! Birmingham never looked so good! I lounged around for the evening, enjoying the amenities and of course marveled at the view of Birmingham's Bullring and Eastside. Like my food review I had never before been asked to stay in a lovely apartment to then publish a publication for it. There must be something Birmingham, because it looked damn good from the top! Chilling out I made the best of the Sky television that posed as a luxury for I was currently living in student halls of residence at that time so that was lovely. I had the kettle boiled several times, the wide selection of tea, coffees and hot chocolates had me hooked! There was one thing that I didn't want to miss, I wanted to see the sunrise! It was beautiful!

Taking a brief interlude I accepted an invitation to review a new show concept at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre. Brought by the English Touring Theatre I enjoyed the performance of Eternal Love that bitterly cold February night. I had the chance to revisit the backstage to see the different set and props, I'm sure the trees were from Blenheim Palace? I met a whole host of bloggers and tweeters that evening, plus I had the chance to be part of a question time with a representative from the show to find out more about the history of this alternative love story. Aside from my blogging pursuits I was busy with the joys of final year, my Dissertation took up a ferocious amount of my time due to its enormity of 10,000 words and all the 'academic' reading I had to undertake! Well in a manner of speaking! Birmingham looked good to me for once, through the year I was away and since my return from Newark my opinion of my former student city was fine with me! So, what's next?!

As if our American chow down at Coast To Coast wasn't enough! Me and Kelly made it for Chinatown the next day! Chinese New Year had arrived so we reconvened and headed for Birmingham's Chinese Quarter to join the festivities. Waiting in the dodgy conditions was worth it because we caught the opening ceremony and the releasing of the firecrackers! No Chinese New Year is complete without a parade of dancing dragons, I left the photography to Kelly for she can snap a photo without stress! In between the festivities we ran for cover in Caffe Chino, we had a Bubble Tea to pass the time before the dragons and fireworks. I didn't appreciate those tea drinkers who didn't favour an Oolong brew or something more Oriental! Toasting the day we dined on some crazy Dim Sum dishes at Ken Ho on Hurst Street. I put my trust in Kelly to order some out of the ordinary dishes for us to dine on, I was impressed Kelly!

Since moving back to Birmingham from Newark, NJ in early 2013 it was mad to see Centenary Square look like a building site, the new Library of Birmingham took a long time to finally be built but it now stands proud! I took some time away from my Dissertation during 2014's throw of February to capture this icon for a blog publication, I saw the view from the top that looks over Birmingham's growing skyline to think that I've been very lucky to experience such a experience over the last four years. I look back on February 2014 with a smile because I was afforded some great opportunities during that month, I didn't stress about having more blog ventures because I was busy with uni and going on day trips! Chinese New Year was cool, Kelly's now in Hong Kong so I look back on those times fondly because I don't know when I'll see her again! I wouldn't mind Staying Cool again! February 2015 wasn't so bad really, I got a job at long last! On-wards and upwards February! Let's move on!

Fabulous February!

Joseph Harrison

The Thames Path: Rolling On A River!

Rolling on a river?! The Thames Path is independent, connecting London's iconic sights along that legendary riverside! I previously stopped by Tower Bridge, the Shard and the Tower of London so I'm going to get back to Richmond and Greenwich amongst other places to see what else the Path serves! Thames Path keep on serving, let's all keep rolling on that river! Yes!

Stretching its source the Thames Path stretches from a quiet corner of the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier in London, I couldn't resist serving a second helping of this South Eastern icon! Bringing one heck of a university challenge, Oxford showed me the fashion of England's premium higher education institutions along the Western corner of the Thames Path. Remembering that reading is fundamental, its key to pay a visit to the Bodleian Library to appreciate the legacy as one of the oldest libraries in Europe, schooling the greats from yesterday and to this very day. The Oxford branch of the Thames Path is a sedate affair compared to the hustle and bustle of London's winding waterway! I made damn sure that I took a stroll alongside the riverside to take solace from the environment, there wasn't a soul to disturb my brief acquaintance with the Thames Path. Oh, the best things in life are free!

Call me stupid? Before my visit to Oxford in October 2014 I didn't realise this legendary city sat on the banks of the Thames River, may it only be a tributary no one can deny that London lay just around the river-bend. I didn't indulge in the punting, I wanted to seek greatness during my Oxfordshire day. Birmingham treated me well as a university student, but at Christ Church College those students lived in a whole other world with a their grand banquet hall that resembled the one that was featured in the Harry Potter film series! Children, I'm more than you'll ever be without that silver spoon that I never had! Know yourself! I had been schooled in many respects whilst I was in Oxford but I admired the authentic side streets that told me so much more about this historic university city, I would never have the nerve to read Oxford in such a shady way! Take me back to the chilled out flow of Oxford's branch of the Thames Path already! Trust and believe! From colleges to palaces?

Hang on in there Proud Mary! Winding closer to the city of London, lets take things on a palatial hype? The Thames Path has many faces so in January 2015 I took the liberty to escape the craziness of London for Richmond-upon-Thames to experience another chilled out perspective of the Thames Path away from the big smoke. Hampton Court Palace showed me royal highness and so much more, beautifully located beside the River Thames that portion of the river flowed free of stress. Taking it back to Richmond, I found Rich's Riverside on a cold January day to see a whole different section of the mighty Thames Path. People were just chilled out, some were at the riverside pubs and cafes or taking a stroll along the rivers edge. Central London happened to be down the tube line but Richmond served complete chill! Leave your good job in the city, that Thames Path keeps rolling on baby! Yes, I know Richmond!

The pool of London hasn't always been a tourists playground, its been a hype of industry and activity since those early days of trade! Rotherhithe saw the Mayflower set sail for the New World in 1620 from the docks of Rotherhithe's patch of the River Thames, opening a new chapter for a land that would become the United States of America in time. I admit the Thames Path has a few non-riverside twists and turns but I've never got lost! Head for Tower Bridge and Shad Thames to carry on with the winding way of the mighty Thames Path walkway, I mentioned before its like being schooled all over again! Marry the night to see London's growing skyline alongside the former docking point of the Mayflower with a pint in hand, formerly named 'The Shippe' that London pub has many a secret to tell us all! From Richmond to Rotherhithe the fabric of London's skyline changes considerably but the Thames runs through the of my capital city with the same pace and status! I do love London!

With Oxford seeming like a distance memory let's take this to South East London! That wasn't a question! Paying a visit to the Royal Borough of Greenwich allowed me to see a section of London's iconic riverside from a higher point of view. Maritime Greenwich lies east of Rotherhithe along the Thames Path to prevail the Greenwich Royal Observatory, a part of London that's always right on time! I was blessed with views of Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena as I sat amongst the many tourists at the top of the Observatory. Now, that's where 'GMT' time originates from! Going back to reality I found Goddards at Greenwich, serving me an authentic portion of Pie and Mash during my summer 2014 visit. This time I saw fit to feature sides of the Thames Path that don't fit within the centre of the River Thames, to offer a variety to keep my interpretation of the Path fresh. No, I didn't indulge in any jellied eels!

Woolwich's Royal Arsenal is firing its artillery once again in another sense, for a new chapter beckons for this side of the Path! Splitting the town centre into two, the former artillery barracks have been transformed into a new urban riverside community with its own view of tomorrow's London! Crossrail is coming to Woolwich Arsenal in the coming years so a new wave of urban craze has been ignited to transform a sleek new Eastern terminus of the vast Thames Path. I have love for Woolwich's West African influence, I know that in time the two sides of Woolwich's town centre will be looking on point! Will the Thames Path be extended from Woolwich through Thamesmead to furthest Erith? There might be plans but when I get back to the big smoke I'll put my best foot forward to look East along a unknown side of London's iconic riverside! When all is said and done I know that Oxford, Richmond, Rotherhithe, Greenwich and Woolwich all serve Thames Path Overness! I'm out!

Keep Rolling On That River!

Joseph Harrison 

Somebody's Hometown Glory?

Where is your Hometown Glory? I had to leave my home country of England to realise that my Hometown Glory is Bilston, an ex-mining town that's close to the city of Wolverhampton. Along with Bilston I'm going to focus on two other ordinary places that I have lived in over the years. Where does my allegiance lie? Bilston, Birmingham and Newark, I want answers right now!

Bilston brings the first installment of Hometown Glory, its purely by default that this contender is in the mix! I've lived in Bilston since the age of five after relocating as a boy from Ealing, London. It's got its charms but as a university graduate its become a place that I have found myself back at the beginning. I have published numerous publications about this West Midland town but it leaves me wanting more! The weekly market is Bilston's saving grace because despite the economic hassle its still attracting people from the region. Where I am at the moment needs no introduction, I look to other graduates who live in towns like I do, towns that don't have much to offer when I studied for four years at university. The saying goes that we are a product of our environment? I'm not sure if I wan't to answer that question because I want to get my money and go travelling for as long as I possibly can! OK?

That felt good! It's not all bad in WV14, no I sampled the nightlife in Bilston in December 2014 to find that the pubs of Bilston's high street resembled the 'Jockey' pub from the Manchester based show 'Shameless!' If truth be told I have championed Bilston through my publications as I mentioned before because its a quirky place that could be popular with the American tour market! Aside from the shade and negativity its difficult to be hard on Bilston, let's just say a pork and stuffing sandwich makes all the difference! There's no place like home so I guess its like an annoying sibling that just gets on your nerves? I like the sound of that term of phrase! I still have plans to spread my wings but Bilston is the base for the moment, its the way its got to be right now. This town is my waiting room, I'm hatching something grand, I have Bilston to thank for giving me the thirst to get up and get out! Bilston is a compulsory Hometown Glory of mine, need I say anymore?!

Packing up my suitcase I moved to Birmingham in September 2010 to begin my university degree at University College Birmingham. Taking a chance on Brum changed my life, I grew in confidence and commanded my own life that was full of independence and freedom. Residing in Halls of Residence took the mick sometimes, it enabled me to meet people from different places and social backgrounds, broadening my outlook on life, teaching me life lessons. Birmingham serves Hometown Glory for different reasons when compared to Bilston! Learning to leave my comfort zone didn't take much persuading. I saw Birmingham change from a city into a destination, appreciating the flaws I saw greatness in my student city! Yes B!

Yes, my studies challenged me for all the right reasons but in my defense I was in living a city centre environment so I had the opportunity to cut loose sometimes, that freedom was beautiful! When the sun set it was time for us to marry the night, well for the fresher period anyway! Over the course my time living in Birmingham I became familiar with Southside and its many nightclubs, breaking from writing my Dissertation would usually result in a crazy night at the Village Inn. Breaking from the centre I saw Handsworth and Bournville for myself because its all about testing those boundaries! It's said that all good things have to come to an end? I agree with that sentiment in one sense, I know that Birmingham will embrace me again in the future, there's no need to stress! Oh my life B!

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean to reach Newark, New Jersey opened a whole new chapter in my life! I made the Ironbound District my home for eleven months until January 2013, I worked as a Passenger Service Agent for Virgin Atlantic at Newark's Liberty International Airport. Getting into the rhythm of Newark City Life was something else, I thought I had this but Newark's got a fierce edge! Getting to grips with the culture and Brazilian vibe of the neighbourhood was an immense pleasure, the food took me to new places that I had never previously been to! The airport grind exhausted me, I like my sleep but I soldiered through during my time in Newark, USA. I got on with my laundry and sorted my own bills out with my flatmates but I want to go back and slap my former self to just cut loose and trust the Downtown! I decided against investigating the CBD further, I missed that chance! Go plan BB!

I wasn't looking for love, I enjoyed my time stateside during my Industrial Placement so that's that! Was Newark ever one of my Hometown Glory's? Yes, that ratchet city built me up more than Birmingham could in a different sense! My airport days helped me develop an alternative personality, Britney Bitch didn't have time for any foolishness, she ruled her territory and didn't care who disapproved of her craziness! I miss that part of me, its not really the time or place to serve that kind of attitude but Newark is back on my radar after three years since my arrival I'm planning the extravaganza that shall be! I took the PATH train over to the Empire State of Mind to reach a higher point of being, New York City showed me so much more than I can express in words! Life moves on but I'm stamping NJ 07105 as the Hometown Glory I desperately sought adventure! I tell you for nothing Downtown Newark, I will make my comeback in the near future so watch out Brick City! That felt good!

Newark ... Eu Vou Estar de Volta!

Joseph Harrison

2015: The Hidden Truth!

What's the Truth? I hate it when there are a few things that I still need to blog about and I can't find a definite place for them. 2014's last bits have crept into the first quarter of 2015 because funnily enough I've been busy! Have you heard of the Well and Bucket? Have you rocked down to Brixton's Electric Avenue? Of course London's Shad Thames had my full attention!

Bethnal Green had my attention for some reason I'm not to sure of? Anyhow, I was looking to recapture my June 2014 experience of Shoreditch and its surroundings but the post-Christmas freeze turned me towards a renewed East London pub to warm up! I had trekked along Bethnal Green's vibrant high street before I found the Well & Bucket on Time Out London. Brick Lane had served me yuppie Realness but I wasn't on that hype compared to that summer day! Stripped back to its original state, the Well & Bucket pub gave me an infusion of old and new in one moment. Quiet during my visit I used the hushed environment to get to know this intriguing new-wave pub. I learnt that All Day English Breakfast's aren't the thing at Bethnal Green's revved up boozer, consulting the menu I opted for three different sliders and a pint of Estrella. Whatever happens just keep serving revved up E2 Realness! Go!

I'm not going to bring you flowers in the pouring rain! No! The Christmas period got me all confused, I had a plan to take one final chance on Bethnal Green to complement my outing to the Well & Bucket, I wanted to see the Columbia Flower Market in full bloom but I missed that Sunday time frame! Damn! Nevertheless, from what I saw of Columbia Road I liked but it would have been even better if I saw the market rather than a row of closed shops. I'll be back, no London you can get your own flowers! The quiet corner that I saw west of Bethnal Green did not lie, it was a stark change compared with the barrage of council flats, you know I'm not two faced E2. Don't get stupid! So, what else was new London? Shadwell showed me that Halal Couture is served in East London's new upcoming area! My parental pub crawl allowed me to discover Rotherhithe and the Mayflower pub for the first time. Find the well and full your bucket up, that London pub went back to the beginning B!

Like any trick London loved trading on the docks at Shad Thames up until the 1970's. Now a centre of chic boutiques and high end restaurants its where you need to be right now! When London had an elastic heart, tightening its firm grip of many overseas colonies it was the community of seamen that worked within this former South-East London powerhouse. Drop the anchor for a pint or two along Horselydown Lane at the Anchor Tap. The Tap was believed to be a favourite due to its close proximity to the salty waters of the River Thames. I usually stay within the Shad Thames area so each time I visit I endeavor to see more of this pillar of strength. Tower Bridge may be just a heart beat away, I'm all for Shad Thames warehouse sass!

The property prices in Shad Thames might sting like a wasp! How would Oliver Twist fair in modern Shad Thames? I first took a stroll down to Butler's Wharf in June 2014 to realise it was an area that Charles Dickens took solace from in-order to write his literature. Shad Thames shares the same postcode as More London Place and Bermondsey Street, making this corner of London's borough of Southwark an amazing part of London to be in right about now! Shad Thames keeps More London Place on its toes because that shiny new development will never top Shad's industrial Overness! This once overlooked part of South-East London captivates me each time! Horselydown Lane was a 18th century hot bed for port-side prostitutes and pickpockets! Shad Thames, you still be working?!

Brixton's Electric Avenue is all irie! The market stalls and food-stores gives this corner of Brixton life, a certain Caribbean vibe was in the air for sure! Located around the corner from Brixton's London Underground Station is Brixton Market with its wide array of colourful food stores staring right back at me, I expected more from that famous food market but all I saw was Artisan cafes and yuppie hangouts! I was right back to life, back a certain Electric Avenue. Darting for the first Caribbean grocery store I bought two boxes of Cerassie herbal tea and a can of Peanut Supligen. Gurr, you already know I was happy with my West Indian goodies. Brixton was alive with busy shoppers going about their business, I found an honest quality within Electric Avenue but imagined a different flavour for Brixton's Market. From the start it was plain to see that I would see authenticity in Brix! You should be representing SW9!

Shaking London off for the last time for now, I feel that these once stray segments have been given a shout out! London is a forever changing city, embrace the times! Honestly, Liz you need to face the facts that your corner of Westminster isn't the only place people should visit when London is on the agenda! Bethnal Green served me frozen Realness, thankfully my visit to the Well & Bucket gave me a chance to get out of the chill. The working girls of yesterday make me love Shad Thames because one way or another we serve Overness in our own way! Brixton has been spoken for Queen! What has 2015 got in store for me? That question I simply can't answer right about now!  Oh, shocks I never went to Walthamstow! Let's make this crystal clear, I won't be going back to London until the weather gets mild! I'm not serving frozen Realness again! Columbia Road I want your flowers, even if its in the pouring rain! The question remains, do you have a hidden truth?! What's the T?!

Honesty Is The Best Policy!

Joseph Harrison 
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