Tag Archives: st john’s wood

Midnight Super Bowl snacks and a farewell to horse poo

12 Feb

Last weekend was our second time watching the Super Bowl from London. It still felt weird to bring the snacks out at 11:30 p.m. Even though Stephen and I are both trying to work out and eat better, we let that go for one night, because there’s something in American blood that requires you to pig out while watching the Super Bowl, even if the Super Bowl airs at 11:30 at night.  We had to watch it on BBC 1 which meant no commercials and an annoying NFL journalist and BBC broadcaster discussing the game during each break. That was probably the weirdest part — not the staying up until 3 a.m. to finish the game, but actually finishing the game and paying attention to it because there’s nothing else to watch. Luckily it was actually a good game. They kept talking about the previous Super Bowl match up between the Giants and Patriots which for some reason I couldn’t remember watching… until I remembered my roommates and I watched it in an attempt to make the Superbowl a “girl’s night” and we spent most of the night in a food coma from the obscene amount of snacks we made (which included candy sushi). Fun times…

Sadly because the Super Bowl ran until 3 a.m., I was not able to get up in time to attend the King’s Troop farewell on the high street the next morning. I admit it was only a few weeks ago that I learned the proper name was “King’s Troop.” I had just called them “the horses.” Every other day or so the horses would process down the street, occasionally waking me up. Last year I took this photo of them from my bedroom window:

For the longest time I didn’t know who they were or where they were going, but I got used to the clacking of horse hooves and occasionally stepping over mounds of horse poo on my walk to the grocery store. It was only when I took a different route home from Sainsbury’s once that I discovered the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery barracks and suddenly the horse processionals made sense. But now there will be no more hoof clacking or poo piles because the troops are moving from their St. John’s Wood barracks, which will be demolished and turned into either a real estate agency storefront or a dry cleaner’s, because that’s what makes up 80% of St. John’s Wood (I kid. It will be turned into luxury housing. Seriously. But there really are way too many real estate agencies and dry cleaners in my neighborhood and not enough restaurants. I just noticed one of the few restaurants on the high street has closed and will be replaced with a real estate agency, which will probably have a killer break room with a full kitchen.)

….

What I’m trying to say is that I will miss “the horses” and I’m a little sad I didn’t make it to their proper sendoff, which judging by the pictures in the paper, was quite grand. Had I gone I wanted to stop at Tesco afterwards, which seems like it would have been as likely as just popping into Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

This is what I missed:

Bye, bye horses!

Photo courtesy Ham & High, where you can read more about the troops and the grand farewell I slept through.

I did make it to Tesco the next day, where I got to see the street still decorated with British flags and the occasional pile of poo.

“Look, Mum, horse poop!” I heard a little girl shout in the most excited tone possible for horse poop. It made me feel a little sad inside…

…until I realized I was feeling sad about horse poop. And that made me sadder.

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An unnecessarily long post about St. John’s Wood Tesco Metro

25 Feb

(Yes, I’m blogging about grocery shopping again.)

I’m afraid I might have to stop shopping at Tesco Metro. I enter the store pumped for new groceries and leave in a stressed, frazzled state. That shouldn’t happen while grocery shopping.

For starters, the store itself is stress-inducing. Whoever designed the store did not count on anyone using a shopping cart or there ever being more than five people in the store at once. There are pillars, displays and storage carts in the middle of almost every aisle, making it impossible for more than one cart to fit through at a time. The aisles are so jam-packed that you can never stop to contemplate a purchase. You have to grab the item while still maintaining a steady speed so as to not create a backup. It’s like driving around looking at Christmas lights — you can slow down, but you can’t stop or people will honk. If Tesco insists on offering giant shopping carts in their tiny store, they should install horns on them. Nothing jolts an oblivious aisle-blocking stroller-toting mum like a good honk.

The store designer also did not count on there ever being more than two people in line at each check out (or “more than two people queued up at each till,” if I must Britishize it). If there are more than two customers, they stretch out into the aisles, making it difficult to cross the front of the store or to go down an aisle. No one likes to leave a gap for fear of someone cutting. Yesterday was so bad that I actually would turn my cart around and backtrack down an aisle towards the back of the store just to avoid crossing the lines at the front. Don’t people have better things to do on a Thursday morning than hit up Tesco?

The store is also in a bizarre location. It is called the St. John’s Wood Tesco Metro, but it doesn’t feel like St. John’s Wood. Someone on Twitter described the SJW neighborhood best: “Stunning houses, wealthy Americans, lots of dry cleaners but lacking in pubs.” It is also lacking in grocery stores, likely because all the “rich Americans” use delivery services (my refusal to have my groceries delivered is material for another post). The minute I hit Church Street it’s like I’m in a different ‘hood, a different country almost. There’s always a Middle Eastern-esque street market going on. They have your usual street fair items — fresh fruit and vegetables, jewelry, knock-off handbags and suspiciously cheap clothing. But there are also some really bizarre items, like duvets and small household appliances. It’s weird. “Hey, where’d you get that crock pot?” “Just down the street — literally.” There’s also always a strong incense aroma in the air. This is what I lug my shopping trolley by every time I’m craving Tesco-brand orange-mango juice or mushroom sauce.

I really wish I could commit to a grocery store and become a regular shopper. But there are three different stores within a mile and a half of my flat, and I like things from all of them. I go to Sainsbury’s for most items, but Waitrose has the best salad dressing and croutons. Tesco Metro has better ready-made meals and the mushroom sauce I like to eat with gnocchi. Of course yesterday they were sold out of it. That also contributed to my stress — lugging my shopping trolley over a mile for a certain item to find out it was out of stock. I also went because they were having a 3 for 2 sale on cereal. My family is coming in two weeks so I thought I should stock up on my some breakfast items. I have eight boxes of cereal now. I may have taken that too far.

In short, I wish I could quit you, Tesco Metro, but your prices and mushroom sauce may just keep me coming back. Perhaps I’ll make the journey worth it next time and pick up a nice £1.99 jumper (that’s British for “sweater”) or rice cooker from a street vender.