By Walter Broeckx
Whenever I come over to the Emirates to see Arsenal play I find it almost always a pleasant adventure. Last times our supporters club travelled we ran in to all kinds of troubles with the boat, the train, the traffic… leading to us even being late and missing kick off. We stood on Holloway Road when Alexis scored his first goal against Watford….
So for the trip for the final match of the season we (Carine and I) decided to travel in good time and use the holiday we had in Belgium on Monday to make it a 3 day trip. And to make it a real holiday we included visiting Kent for the first time. Visiting Kent has to include Canterbury and the Cathedral. I must say I was highly impressed with the building.
As we had taken some sandwiches with us to eat in the morning we only had a nice piece of dessert shortly after midday. We entered Patisserie Valerie (High street Canterbury) as all what was shown in the window looked really delicious. Apart from some coffee (don’t take the espresso as you only get a drop) my wife took the fruit tart and I took the double chocolate. It was made with dark chocolate sponge layers with dark Belgian chocolate cream layers, finished with a chocolate profiterole. The Belgian chocolate should have been no surprise as the patisserie was originally founded by a women from Belgium, named… Valerie. If you ever are in Canterbury and wants something sweet I can recommend you this. Calorie and sugar bomb but oh so nice.
Later that evening we went out to eat something in London. Andrew and his lovely wife had invited us over and had chosen the Canteen at the South Bank of the Thames. An excellent choice. I really can’t remember what Andrew and Pauline took but as we were in England and the menu said that their pies were world famous Carine and I had to try them.
They have pies of the day that change every day. Carine took the vegetarian version and I took the meat of the day version. Well by putting them on Untold they will become world famous I think. My wife had never eaten pies before and she loved it. Vegetarian pie with mash and crispy salad. The meat pie was with beef and I took chips with them. I’m from Belgium after all so we love to eat chips. And don’t say French fries when I am around. Anyway, they could pass the comparison with Belgium chips. As dessert we took the homemade icecream and that also was excellent. A really excellent choice from Andrew and after our dinner we walked off the calories we had taken by wandering on the South Bank. A really enjoyable walk in good company.
After a copious breakfast at our hotel we went to Camden Market on Sunday morning and I still cannot believe what I have seen or describe it. You have to see it to know what it is. All four Arsenal Belgium members attending the match were there we later found out but we didn’t see each other. But as time was calling we went to the Swimmer to meet Tony and the rest of the Untold team.
Still completely full from our breakfast we decided to only have a dessert at the Swimmer. We both took the chocolate cake with vanilla ice. Chocolate again I hear you thinking… and that was what I was also thinking when weighing myself after the trip. Not as good as at Valerie in Canterbury but surely well worth the money.
After the match we went with Marcel from Belgium and Sarah to the Vineyard situated at Upper Street in Islington. As I had enough of chips I decided to go Italian and have the BBQ Chicken pizza. It was …well… pizza you know. Good for once but not really setting the world on fire. I think they were running out of chicken as there wasn’t a lot of chicken on the pizza. But my stomach was filled after a long, pleasant and funny day. Everything tastes good at St. Totteringham’s day.
Carine took the vegetarian spinach, mushroom & cheddar filo tart with mixed salad. And that was an excellent choice according to her. She ate it all. She would take the same again, I might go for something else next time. A big bloke stepping up to us in the pub asking us: “Wenger in or Wenger out” was answered by me and Marcel with : “Wenger in.” We got a friendly nod on the back: “that’s good”, he said.
The last day we only did breakfast again at the hotel and had a baguette with cheese and ham & cheese in Deal with sea view. A last meal was taken on the boat but that wasn’t really something I would do again. Next time we will try to eat something in Dover. Yes plans are made to go back and certainly for the last match of the season in May next season. Who knows we might celebrate the title that day???
Finally I have to say a few words about people in England and in London. As Carine is mostly bounded with her wheelchair to take long walks, we are used to the problems we can face as not all places are wheelchair accessible.
But the amazing thing for us was that whenever you stopped with the wheelchair to have a look at how to take the obstacle that we were facing with the wheelchair, people spontaneously came over to us and asked if we needed a hand to push, lift, pull or whatever what was needed to help us past the obstacle.
I must tell you with a red face that people in Belgium are usually not that kind and helpful. But in Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Dover in beautiful Kent people jumped to help and assist us even when we didn’t ask anything. And maybe much to most surprise the same happened in London. In the Swimmer someone offered to move to another table as that would be easier for us with the wheelchair. Just like that. He saw us coming to the tables, saw another empty table and saw that his table was excellent for someone with a wheelchair and just proposed us to take his place.
Later that evening when we came back to the hotel we were looking at the parking meter to see how long we could say in the morning after paying for the maximum 2 hours we could add to our parking place. Luckily it was free of charge during the weekend. But as we were looking a young couple arrived with their kid at the next parking meter. The woman saw us and almost ran to us saying we didn’t need to pay now. And we started talking and suddenly they came up with a card they could use for guests that would allow 3 hours of free parking.
Those were just two small examples on how kind and helpful people were to us. I must say that this was really overwhelming at times and made us feel very welcome in not just the Garden of England but also in the capital of England. There will probably be very grumpy Londoners around but they sure weren’t in town when we were there.
A big thank you for all those unknown (and known) people we have seen on this wonderful 3 day trip and who have been so kind and made us feel very welcome.
- Arsenal have chosen, and the £50m player (or £51m players) is/are almost at the airport
- It’s Happened Again! (And now, let’s remember we are all Arsenal fans).
- Why changing Arsenal’s shirt in 2005/6 was not such a terrible idea. Maybe.
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