Sunday, 31 August 2014

2014: No Summertime Sadness!

Summer for me usually brings a foreign holiday in the blazing sun, this summer I embraced Mother England for a change. I thought to myself, couldn't I be a champion without going abroad?! From South to North my summer is still standing tall! Newcastle, Blackpool and some of the South served me with some golden memories! Summer 2014 keep being that champion! 

I chose London to kick start my summer of enlightenment, I wanted something extra! Ten days in London gave me the opportunity to reconnect with family who had moved to the capital, surely I would be able to see the sights? London was the reason! I stood at the top of the Greenwich Royal Observatory, loving the sickening view over London's EastEnd evermore. I got hungry so a visit to Brick Lane served me with a meal to remember. I don't like to call myself a tourist by any means so I went Underground to get the most out of the capital during my stay. Strike up the band I wanted to see a musical! Alexandra Burke served Whitney Houston well in the Bodyguard Musical, the show was legendary! Leaving the main event I took the Docklands Light Railway to Woolwich for some West African food. What's up Golders Green?! Yes, my London trip consisted a lot of eating! That was the plan entirely. Almost home?!

London gave me glamazon realness! She's a strong and beautiful city that is in charge of her dominions, I knew that already? Yes! Stamford Hill brought the Hasidic Jewish vibe back into my life, that part of London had a vibrant pace but didn't give me my Kosher chicken soup! Whereas, Golders Green gave me exactly what I wanted! Woolwich had that yuppie type feeling, there's some serious development going down within the Arsenal. South East London served as the perfect contradiction with the gentrified areas finding a way to get on with the better known culturally rich neighbourhoods. London's Thames Path showed me so much more of London's riverside, learning to love my capital city some more. I was enjoying this no foreign travel lark a little bit too much! Hey Queen! You should try the Anchor Tap, set in the heart of Shad Thames I was impressed! London showed me that hipsters and pubs work, Shoreditch played my game, The headlines are true, I really loved London!

Brighton called my name! Choosing to spend twenty four hours by the seaside I couldn't get any more south! My writing had won me a free nights stay at any one of the Jury's Inn hotels, Brighton worked because I had just been in London. Getting the essence of such a bohemian beach town I trusted Brighton from the very first second I saw the Lanes. Taking things a little slower than I had in London, Brighton spiced up my life with the Royal Pavilion. There was something special about seeing the blue waters. I learnt fast that the townspeople of Brighton watch out for the seagulls, I didn't fancy my chances as I ate my lunch by Brighton's first pier. I usually endorse the main attraction but I wasn't satisfied with the new Brighton pier at all! I just wanted more but I knew that London had taken it out of me so I took it easier in Brighton that day and night. I would sure return for a night out in Brighton in the future! Oh, I will do! 

I tried hard not to get lost in the illusion because my time in Brighton had come to an end, meaning my return back to the West Midlands. The south had served a few days of rain but mostly sunny spells graced the days that I spent running around trying to see as much as I possibly could. If truth be told I was sad to leave Brighton, I guess goodbyes just aren't that cut and blow dry? Nevertheless, I really appreciated the Indian spice that Brighton's Royal Pavilion oozed, it served as a tasteful reminder of the British Raj. Suffering from a slight bout of tunnel vision I missed out on a sweet treat from Choccywoccydodah, I mentioned about that night out, I shall be back B! Who knew that I would win a competition based on my comedic writing skills?! I surprised myself if you must know the truth! I received some shade towards my 'Next Stop... Brighton, England' blog. You know I have no time for haters! How the beautiful south allowed me to fall in love with Brighton!

To the north! On a whim I booked a weekend in Blackpool. I had just received my degree results so Blackpool had to be the best place to celebrate! Leaving my dignity at the coach door I didn't know that B'pool could look so good! I was drunk! The legendary Blackpool Tower took the crown, she's still working it after all of those years. Comedy never got so blue! Nursing a hearty hangover I took a chance on Joey Blowers comedy show at the Merrie England Bar on the North Pier. He told a crude joke or twenty but I wasn't prepared to be pulled up to the stage! I was tired of waiting for a good night out, just wait a quick second Joseph! Blackpool broke it down to me like it was looking at me! Blackpool didn't need my approval because I left my judgement alongside my dignity at the coach door. No fish and chips for me that weekend, it was all about pie and chips. There was no diet that weekend Brit! No I didn't swim in the sea! 

Funny Girls kick started my Lancashire weekend with an injection of cabaret, I even got a selfie with DJ Zoe! The night was young, I had heard some great things about the Gay scene in Blackpool, getting my drink I hit the Flying Handbag and Kaos that Friday night. I literally crawled down to breakfast the next morning, who serves breakfast at 8am?! I felt delicate! I had almost forgot what pre-drinks were before that weekend, my student days had wrapped up just before that Northern trip. University was done so I reunited with a fellow student who I met at UCB's LGBT Society. Girl, we got our drink on! Yes! Hitting the up the same nightspots on the Saturday night I did see Amy! Breakfast didn't exist the following day, Blackpool showed me a weekend to remember or not! Time never stays still so I said farewell to the Las Vegas of the North once again. Talking of Las Vegas! Did Blacks measure up to that Nevada mecca? Go past the Stratosphere to understand the Vegas note. 

I made a promise to Newcastle Upon Tyne! Fulfilling my pledge I made the mammoth journey up to the Toon. Megabus got me to the North East without a hitch but I never want to repeat that journey ever again! The Tyne Bridge served cloud and cold rather than fog, beggars cannot be choosers. I was guilty to say that I was inspired to visit Newcastle because of seeing the reality series Geordie Shore. Money's been tight so I stayed at Newcastle Backpackers, it served the purpose of my trip perfectly and was located close to my chosen nightspot. The Geordie accent arrested me I just couldn't stop listening to the locals talk their talk! Grey's Monument had me at 'hello' yes I loved it! As Chinatown's go by, Newcastle's compact Oriental corner served me a budget priced beauty of a meal. I bet you couldn't tell that I'm easily pleased? True to say I had that Newcastle Upon Tyne state of mind. No fog on the Tyne!

I got my public transport hype on to reach Gateshead's Angel of the North, another key reason why I trekked from the Midlands to the North East, 'Cheryl Fernandez-Versini', formerly of Girls Aloud will always be the true Angel of the North for me. However the actual cast iron queen stood strong like a fierce looking glamazon! Now I say, take me to the Pink Triangle! I saw right through the clubs that were featured on Geordie Shore I wanted to party at Eazy Street! Newcastle Upon Tyne has a very chilled feeling in the day, people went about their business figuring why the night scene got crazy! Eazy Street served North East realness, Thursday night gave me the opportunity meet 'Beauty Killer' I got a shameless selfie with her! Friday took things up a few notches, the party people were out at Eazy Street for sure! There was no pretence at Eazy Street for it was all about having a great night whatever happened! I was in Crazy Stupid Love! NCL how did you do that to me? Take me home! 

No Passport Needed! 

Joseph Harrison 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Back To The Beginning... Birmingham, England!

Birmingham was great to me but at the time I just never that, I don't need to look back because I always make a comeback every once in a while. I went back to Birmingham the other week to see what was good. Bilston gets me down sometimes, Birmingham had something to give me back! I knew that the Botanical Gardens and Bubble Tea would be a great combination!

Birmingham, since I've been gone I have had to rewrite the book. I have been doing so good but I never needed a reason to revisit my student city. Someone had left the lights on, this city has changed fast! My blogging is crazy right now so with my crazy margins I needed a snap of UCB's frontage. Graduation is upon me, I never planned on attending, I had my Emirate idea of being a Cabin Crew for the airline but I was brought back down to earth when I didn't get the job. Nevertheless, I've been back to pick up my transcript so I will be graduating with honours in September. Fast forward to the present I booked a trip to Newcastle so with an early coach I made an afternoon out of it, choosing wisely to print out my papers for the journey at the resource centre. My life is in transition at the moment, things are on the pause button, I sure get excited about small things. Birmingham, I'll walk these streets again! Yes!

Choosing a university closer to home has worked in my favour so I took the Metro to Birmingham Snow Hill from Bilston Central. It's mad to think I now make any excuse to visit UCB when in the last year I hardly ever attended. I still got all my work done but I preferred a good lie in because nobody loves 9am lectures. The resource centre gave me life, as silly as this sounds I really enjoyed the quiet atmosphere that took me back to the frantic days when I planned my Dissertation. UCB you got me looking at you in a whole new way! I'm tired of waiting, I just want to graduate already! UCB I want you to tell me what you're waiting on! Why Birmingham before Newcastle? The Geordie Shore got me looking once more, I was just like its time to see what that North East city had to offer me. Going back to Birmingham was a no-brainer! The studies have been completed, the results are in, there's only three weeks until my graduation! UCB, I'm going to work this out good and proper!

Bubble Tea is the cure for a lot of things. My current hometown of Bilston won't ever know what Bubble Tea is, I chose Birmingham! Caffe Chino knew I was back! I had planned to meet with my friend Kelly in the city but it wasn't meant to be so I went ahead with my original plan. I chose to drink a Hong Kong style Bubble Tea, accompanied by a Hong Kong style cheesecake. I love things from Hong Kong! Birmingham's Chinese Quarter reminded me of happy times from my university degree course. Aside from Bubble Tea and cake I took some solace from my visit to Caffe Chino. I learnt the art of buying Chinese cakes and pastries upon my first visits to Caffe Chino, this time I knew the drill because Bilston hasn't got a clue what I enjoy, Major's chips are amazing but I just want some Bubble Tea! Cathay Street will always look a certain way for me, I know Birmingham is changing. Oh, I should have bought some Oolong Tea! Boo!

Chinatown, to me that part of town always looks like a kaleidoscope of culture, colour and flavour! Undoubtedly, one of my favourite parts of Birmingham's Southside I just can't get enough! It has to be Birmingham's Chinese Quarter. Chinatown I have love for you! So, Xie xie! I'm a mad one for planning things, time in my book must be respected so I broke that rule completely. I wasn't feeling too good but I knew that my sweet treats would set me in the right direction to the Botanical Gardens. Since Blackpool things have been slow but it's been refreshing to see the simple things in life are keeping me going. Bubble Tea and a visit to the Botanical makes everything good again. I'll be back in Birmingham for my graduation in a few weeks but I have some things planned until then until I get my papers all in line. Thanks again Caffe Chino! Headache gone, all was right with the world! Birmingham will be waking up to a new tomorrow with the expansion and modernisation going on!

Chilling out for the afternoon I walked for what felt like a million miles like really, I gave up on my iPhone map route to reach Birmingham's Botanical Gardens. I had been once before when I was aged seven, throughout my University College days in Birmingham I vowed several times to visit again but I failed. With my departure to China approaching I used my spare afternoon to my advantage and got something done for a change. Using my student discount I made my way through the plant houses, the heat was humid and the plant-life impressed me much. I'm not the best at reading so I had mooch around the gardens, found a seat that overlooked the manicured gardens to read my book. I'm trying to finish 'Fresh Off The Boat: A Memoir' for the third time so I made the best of my attempt. Opened on the 11th of June 1832 the Gardens are in Edgbaston, Birmingham's exclusive side. Yes, Birmingham does classy ish!

Needless to say I couldn't believe a council estate lay a few minutes away from the image captured above. Let's just say that the time I spent relaxing with my book in the gardens was lovely, taking time out to zone out can be great. Getting back to Birmingham was the thing I needed before my Geordie weekend, let's just say it was nice. Bubble Tea and a little visit to university put me right, Birmingham is changing but I'll be back soon. I have to express that the Botanical Gardens brought it! I'm easily pleased so the greener pastures of the manicured gardens shine for sure. Birmingham, you sure know how to keep bringing it! Choose Birmingham's Botanical Gardens to take the stress out of the city, I know what I would rather be doing! Birmingham I know you recognise this! Would you visit Birmingham? I honestly don't care if this blog sounds boring or if you think it lacks character, I can look back at my last Birmingham day with a smile. I must look forward, there's no going back B!

Birmingham... Best Believe!

Joseph Harrison

Monday, 25 August 2014

Let's Introduce: Shrewsbury, Shropshire!

When times get tough I feel like it's the perfect time to branch out, to introduce someplace new. Shrewsbury caught my eye and after a following on Twitter I just had to get out to see what this Shropshire town had to give. No stranger I did what I usually do, leaving my expectations at home I embraced Shrewsbury to the fullest! I wanted me some ramen noodles! Yes SH!

Why Shrewsbury? I said why not! I was beckoned to that Shropshire town to see what all the fuss was about! No fuss was found, I left Wolverhampton to arrive in Shrewsbury within the hour so nothing needed to be rushed. From the very moment I stepped onto the platform from my train in Shrewsbury I could feel that small town vibe, a town with history and tonnes of winding roads that gave me a break from the post-industrial town of Bilston. You know I still love you Bilo! Located close to the Welsh border it was easy to hear the slightness of a twang in the townspeople's talk, had I reached Wales? Greeted with the English Bridge I loved the view onto the Severn river. I've only ever heard about Shrewsbury through the news, when the rain falls the Severn river throws some serious shade on Shrewsbury! I left my expectations at home to find I was very impressed by the Tudor vibe that Shrewsbury served so well! 

Shrewsbury Square served some kind of Morris Dancing folk show! That Saturday took me to somewhere else, a crowd was attracted to that spectacle for sure. Getting around Shrewsbury didn't take all day, centrally located from all the main amenities, it was no sweat to see everything in an afternoon. I knew it hadn't been long since I had visited Newcastle, somewhere new beckoned, staying closer to home Shrewsbury told me that miracles can happy every now and then. I might have enforced that I don't do shopping but Shrewsbury possesses a long run of niche boutiques that didn't have a Poundland price tag, SH was showcasing some real class! For a small town it stood strong with lots of independent retailers, we need to empower these mom and pop businesses! I thought I had seen it all but I had been fooled, check out Shrewsbury's High Street to soak up all the Tudor architecture, it was a blessing to see something different! I was getting hungry, that needed sorting! 

In hot pursuit for some Korean and Japanese fusion food I wanted my lunch already! Momo No Ki, the home of Ramen in Shrewsbury town. Twitter got me good, after a follow from an interesting looking eatery I didn't see why I couldn't have some of that good cooking! I ordered the signature dish, the Momo No Ki served up noodle bowl heaven with spice and substance. Bringing out all the colours and flavours from the Ramen goodness I could have been back in Chinatown, New York City! I didn't have to wait in line for I was served promptly by the friendly and professional team who worked the floor at Momo No Ki! Captured to the right stands my hearty serving, accompanied by a Kirin Japanese beer I dined on an international hype even though I was in the charming town of Shrewsbury. This experience has really made me pay more attention when I get an alert on Twitter, social media has a lot to answer for! Yes! 

After the main event being my lunch I wanted to see more of Shrewsbury, looking towards the edge of town I found The Quarry, now a vast park space to enjoy I found a spot to take a break along the Severn River. Dubbed the 'Original One Off' I would have to agree with that tourism description of Shrewsbury, the relaxing pace of the town was infectious even with the busy pace of the Saturday afternoon that was in full swing. Need I forget to mention, Momo No Ki is located opposite the Abbey, so look for that once you cross the English Bridge from Shrewsbury's town centre. Get it together! Go get lost in Shrewsbury like I did, it made a nice change to for the day. Staying overnight can be done, I passed numerous centrally located hotels in the town centre so making that Shropshire stay can be easy. Another Twitter follow from The Buttermarket showed me that Shrewsbury has a lot going for itself even if its a small historic town! I kid you not, no shade Shrewsbury! No!

I'm not religious, but like a prayer I found myself taking a moment at Shrewsbury Abbey. I didn't receive any calling but I'm a sucker for a place of worship. Shrewsbury Abbey reminded me of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the resting place of William Shakespeare. Like a prayer or maybe like a dream? With its earliest foundations dating back to Saxon times in 1070, the Abbey was most influential when it was used as a Benedictine Abbey in 1084. Something told me this Abbey had put in some serious years I guess life is a mystery? I noticed Shrewsbury had a cathedral but I just wasn't interested in that! Shrewsbury's Abbey gave me some peace and quiet so all was good. I didn't expect to find an Abbey that had so many years behind it, the engravings looked like Latin! 1070 might well be 944 years since Shrewsbury Abbey started, hope for another 944 years. I even paid one pound to take a photo! S, I was good! 

I didn't know somewhere like Shrewsbury could be located so close to home!? I chose to keep Shrewsbury's Cathedral at arms length because Abbey served enough, this Shropshire town had all the qualities I had once seen in Chester! Another town that could have been scouted for Disney's UK Pavilion at the EPCOT World Showcase in Orlando? It really does beg the question?! I told you Shrewsbury had hidden depths, but why did the heavens have to open?! I mean the rain! Please believe it, Shrewsbury beholds a castle! On my way to the train station I knew there was something hidden reason for me to take the wrong turn, back in the early days Shrewsbury Castle ran the town to slay to protect the people. As well as the Castle the Regimental Museum stood within the forever royal grounds, who be dropping ammunition like Geronimo? My visit to Shrewsbury led many things, the Abbey gave me time to think and Momo's served me some おいしい food! That's 'delicious!'

小さな町めん! (Small Town Noodles!)

Joseph Harrison

Friday, 22 August 2014

Destination: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England!

Wye aye, man! The Toon wasn't ready for me! Newcastle Upon Tyne is a far off place for me, the North East coast of England sounded like a plan. Promise this, I didn't want a typical Geordie Shore experience although I was looking for something extra! Take the time to say your prayers because I'm not apologising for nothing! Oh, hold that coach I'm on my way again Newcastle!

I don't know how you did it to me Newcastle, from the first moment I saw the Tyne Bridge I was captivated! Nothing good comes easy so the six hour coach journey confirmed that I had made it to the Geordie Shore for all the right reasons! A certain Geordie pop icon was born in this city, can you guess who she is? No fog on the Tyne it was rather cloudy and cold! I was like hold up, I wasn't impressed by the signage on the bridge but I realised it was all in aid of the Great North Run. I had always had a burning desire to see Newcastle Upon Tyne, she's almost Scottish so the trip took some doing but it was worth it. From those first glances Newcastle presented itself as a former industrial powerhouse like her sisters, Sunderland and Middlesborough. Get into Newcastle! I've been to Sydney, Australia where I saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge but this Geordie prototype was taken to Sydney, Australia! Two bridge sisters! Yes, NCL! 

I can always sense when a place has a buzzing atmosphere, from the second I stepped off my Megabus on to North East soil I had a great vibe from the Toon! Life expects us to be strong but Newcastle Upon Tyne is a busy lady! You should be too?! I wasn't on any Byker Grove hype, spreading my wings I took some time to embrace the waters of the Quayside because it told a story of strength and toil. Industry is being replaced by alternative points of interest, the miners might have packed up but on the way through Sunderland I noticed some of the foundries had been transformed into museums. Newcastle looked just canny to me, I could mark off another amazing home city visited in England. The night was far off from that point so getting to know the daylight side of the Geordie Shore had to be done before things got crazy! If truth be told I did love eavesdropping on people's conversation as the Geordie talk had me instantly listening. Auf Wiedersehen pet! There was no way out, Newcastle!

Grey's Monument took me to the heart of Newcastle Upon Tyne's city centre, definitely resembling Nelson's Column! Now a Grade I listed monument this pillar of strength was built in 1838 to acclaim the 2nd Earl Grey, Charles. A contrast of a city Newcastle showed itself to be, nevertheless I adored this central part of the city centre. The stone buildings stood regal along the road leading to Grey's Monument, Newcastle just keep on serving! Quitting was out of the question, my early morning departure seemed a world away, I was willing and ready to soldier on. Loving life must be an official Geordie sport, the streets surrounding Newcastle's column showcased a maze of shops, restaurants and cafes. I wasn't feeling the 'Material Girl' vibe for I was on a severely tight budget so I saved my paper for the night. Fear not, Newcastle is a walk-able city, I never used the Metro. Stress saved, I loved the Toon, N! 

I have a fancy state of mind but I always travel basic, hotels are for haters! I had love for that Newcastle hostel! Newcastle Backpackers has a winning formula, it's affordable and possesses a central location. Choosing my bed in the bunk I felt comfortable at Newcastle Backpackers, I even got a cup of tea made for me! Westgate is the only way to experience Newcastle on a budget, don't judge because like most trips that I take I met some genuine people from the four corners of the world. I'm not saying this to make it sound good I'm just being real, leave your attitude at the door because this backpacking friendly hostel just wants you to enjoy England's North East! Back to the Toon, I must admit that Newcastle has a compact Chinatown that served up a budget meal with a big budget taste. Choose The Gate for pre-drinks or the cinema? I watched the new Inbetweeners Movie. Laying it down Newcastle has a calm feel during the day, people went about their business fine, N!

Get me to Gateshead! Leaving base I took the 21 bus from Eldon Square bus station, Newcastle to the Angel of the North. I had been so pumped to see this glamazon, she's just so statuesque! OK, I must admit that the pop icon in-question was Cheryl 'Fernandez-Versini' Cole. The nations sweetheart hails from Newcastle Upon Tyne, I wholeheartedly believe that she's the true Angel of the North but like every winner there's always stiff competition. This cast iron queen didn't have to sing a note because she stood strong, serving and protecting the Newcastle and Gateshead region. I first saw the Angel on Geordie Shore, not taking the show too seriously I was intrigued by the cast iron queen, I just had to see her for myself. Its's no secret that Newcastle has produced some famous faces, making themselves known by their many trades. So, I'll stay faithful to the true star of Girls Aloud. Cheryl is my true Angel of the North! Yes NC!

I'm a city boy at heart so being back in a bustling centre city filled with some craziness felt good. The TV series Geordie Shore influenced my motive to visit Newcastle, by no means was that my only reason for looking North East. I loved visiting Manchester in January 2014 and Liverpool several times so I have a close connection with the North of England. Things just have a feeling of chill about them, let's be real its difficult to find southerners willing to be helpful with directions or acknowledge when shoulders accidentally collide? I've just made the biggest sweeping generalisation of everyone who lives south of the Midlands but I know its true. The Angel of the North looks fierce but she means well, like her Northern population I understood why an angel was built to promote a feeling of cohesion and to uplift the region. It's no Billy Elliot story the drama of the miners strike shook the region, the Angel of the North does her bit. Cast iron is gorgeous! She's a glamazon pet!

Make no bones about this I just wanted a drama free night out, those queens are just too much! Eazy Street showed up and saw right through me, I just had to see what was good! Like a rollercoaster I just enjoyed the highs of the night. Beauty Killer was the compare on Thursday night, girl I wanted a selfie with her! I was trying to understand what was going on, I was in Crazy Stupid Love! Trading the predictable haunts like Tiger Tiger or Bijou I loved Eazy Street, it didn't ask questions or judged anyone for that fact! I made a new friend, not a Geordie but he was a gentleman. Friday night turned things up a notch, feisty and ready for the weekend I knew where I was going! I made a detour to Rusty's, let's just say that a fellow doppelganger was shady! Telling the DJ to take it high returning to Eazy Street to conclude my final night in Newcastle's Pink Triangle! Yes Cheryl, of course I requested Promise This! Work Brit!

That hangover didn't have to apologise because I loved my nights in Newcastle's Pink Triangle! Now it figures why the city has such a chilled vibe during the day, everyone's sleeping soundly! Thank you British rail for being so expensive so I got myself back to Bilston via Birmingham by National Express coach and Midland Metro, it was rough! Newcastle Upon Tyne showed me North East realness, she didn't hold anything back but she endeavoured to be classy at the same time. Honestly, who really cares whilst we're having a great time?! The way my crazy weekend unfolded I wouldn't of changed one thing! My return journey home got crazy but six hours on a coach isn't good! From the original Tyne Bridge to the centre city of Grey's Monument I made the right decision to visit the Geordie Shore! Gateshead gave me the Angel of the North, keep on serving Geordie realness! Newcastle Upon Tyne, the birthplace of the nation's sweetheart and the true ambassador of the city! Gan! 

Up The Toon!

Joseph Harrison

Monday, 11 August 2014

50 Shades: London, England!

That's some shady shade! London is a city that's unapologetic, she doesn't want your feeble words! From north to south and in between this Roman city of the future is a supermodel of the world! London will take those queens down, she's got fifty shades to throw at you! Let those Pearly Kings and Queens serve their London hot couture! Queen Elizabeth II, reign onwards! 

Hey Queen! Lizzie, let us spill the tea? Yes! Buckingham Palace is the place to have a good old fashion Kiki! Yes, I'm British but when I checked out Buckingham Palace I was just like 'get out of my way!' London is a quick paced city that welcomes you with a short smile, its the London way or the high way! I let my patriotic side have its moment, I was royally impressed at the show piece of the British Royal Family. Westminster wins! We embrace the international vibe in London for people from the four corners of the globe try and catch a glimpse of Queenie and her clan but we had plans! Liz, you better work! Spilling the tea I think Queen E was home at Buckingham Palace that day, something to do with the flag? The American's put their hands up to the Royals, those folks just love our Royal Family! They weren't throwing any shade! Since Prince George was born we have seen a boom in tourism. Thanks!

I can't say what it is that makes me love London? Maybe because I was born there? West Midlands heart, London by that Great British burgundy book! Get hooked on London's intoxicating vibe, let's stay with Westminster because Cupid boy you'll see the good stuff! Forget Soho, you know its all about executive realness if you know what I mean?! Throwing some serious shade on the scene is the political side of things for the decisions are made in the Houses of Parliament. The Elizabeth Tower stands like a Glamazon, maybe she was based on female phenomenon? Let's keep that political shade for next time, don't blame me if I bring that issue up, it would just get real ugly! How many shades of London have I thrown so far? I've lost count! London's political avenue makes its voice heard, those protesters fight for their respected cause! Bring it for the children! Thinking that I was going to cancel on this straight talking blog makes my blood boil, let's got forth to throw some more shade! Go, London!

Let's Azonto down to the West African vibe, a controversial choice but I was brave enough to try some Jollof Rice and Beef! This part of London brought realness, not that many tourists know this part of the game so make that your challenge to make a change? Consider that done! Take the Docklands Light Railway to Woolwich Arsenal to experience London's take on Accra and Lagos, I told you London's got many sides to her complex character. I chose 'Tasty' to order that Jollof Rice, its a taste I won't forget so that's another reason to try something new! The young British African ladies served realness with their weaves and hairpieces, serving competition for real in London's SE18! A girl has to travel, Crossrail is coming to Woolwich Arsenal in the coming months! Intertwined with the West African vibe I noticed that Woolwich's waterfront and barracks will be London's new executive address. Let's go!

Serve your wig or weave, African lady! Woolwich brings the Firepower with a sickening new museum that educates the willing about the wars and artillery of now and yesterday's battles. Woolwich has an extensive history with its story dating back to the days of the Royal Arsenal. Eat some Jollof Rice and Beef, educate yourself about the Arsenal then you'll be a champion! I told you that I was bringing back some shade! Let's empower Woolwich because destiny could well be yours SE18! I have friends from this part of London, they are genuine and down to earth, that's all that matters! London is a bit like me, we're both unapologetic so recognise! Embrace the African vibe, I used to live in Newark, New Jersey where her Downtown served West African 1920's realness! Just because a place has a cultural influence and a kick ass wartime story positive shade shall be thrown! Just spill the Tea! Turn out the lights, wake up our souls London you'll never be alone! Get turned up Woolwich! No! 

Flashing back to those snatched visits back to London, I lived for Soho and its Chinatown town! Getting my Chinese food fix from a young age had to be done! I lived for those gates that we needed to make a wish under. I always knew when I left Leicester Square Underground Station it meant that London's Chinatown would be nearby. In the here and now I would do anything to be back in the familiarity of London's Chinatown. Why is London's Chinatown one of my shades? From a young age the area has attracted me to pay extra attention to the food and to the surroundings, the lights and buildings. I'm currently looking for a job in the Far East, things will work out in their own time but I believe it will all work out perfectly. Have I gone all soft? Yes, because the West End and Soho holds such a place in my heart. Leaving the delicious Chinese food behind me, I'll let the other side of London become known. I'll get to it! 

Just like delicious Chinese food, I can find something equally as delicious in Soho! I knew from when I was a little boy that Soho held something different for me. Fast forwarding to my 19th birthday I was fronted with an amazing drag show at Madame Jojo's on Brewer Street, during that night walking down the rainbow lit streets I felt something different in my water. Knowing what that difference was didn't take me long, I had always had an affinity with Soho as a boy, as a young man I was attracted to Prowler's windows! Did I want the underwear or the models? Both! That night cemented many things in my head and heart that had already been there but just hadn't been sparked. Like a firework, I would burn bright and return to London's Soho to marry the night! Soho holds more than fifty shades, I know that it's helped mould my character, that 19th birthday night laid the cement for sure! Taking the rainbows and Chinese food with me will keep that Soho moment alive, L! 

People have been talking since the beginning of time, you're standing that test because she serves with bridges that reunite the northern and southern sides of the city. Captured to the left is Tower Bridge, one of London's most iconic bridges to stretch the Thames gap. On the southern side there's Shad Thames in the London Borough of Southwark, that part of town turns it back to Dickensian London with its former warehouses and brew-houses. Why not try a pure brew pint at the Anchor Tap on Horselydown Lane? London wants you, she doesn't appreciate slackers! Crossing the bridges of London needs to be done with focus, stick to the path and you'll be fine! Tower Bridge reigned as top dog during London's shipping era but there's always a new girl to throw the shade as usual! Rising from nothing The Shard is the skyscraper for now, she's the future?! Build her a they friend! Now! Go!

Okay, I'm going to break it down because I call the shots here! Upon my last visit to London I didn't go to Camden Town, I had seen her on my previous trip so I chose something new. Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Brick Lane was the answer to that question, searching for Huguenot realness I found that and the work place of Jack the Ripper! I got my drink on with some crazy fools at the Ten Bells Tavern on the corner of Fournier Street, then I stumbled down to Brick Lane for a curry! I'll always be shameless! That Jack slayed! You wanted to say that I know you did! I said 'Shalom' to Golders Green and Stamford Hill! I had some Kosher Chicken Soup and a Cream Cheese Bagel or two, I tell you London I wasn't disappointed! The London Underground is the toughest mother out of the lot, the commuters of London have a code so don't break that sacred thing! London definitely has fifty shades of realness and sass, respect and don't forget Chinatown, she's got stories for next time! 

She's Ready!  

Joseph Harrison