The catering report (specially for Nicky) and the kindness of people in England.

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.

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19 May 1802.  Napoleon instituted the Légion d’Honneur.  200 years later on 17 July 2002 Arsène Wenger  was awarded France’s top civil medal.



21 Replies to “The catering report (specially for Nicky) and the kindness of people in England.”

  1. The few grumpy Londoners that exist Walter were probably in Newcastle that day getting grumpier by the minute. Glad you had a good time!

  2. Lovely catering report Walter. I’m glad you and your wife had a good trip.

  3. insideright – don’t you mean “Middlesexers” rather than “Londoners”…? Fortunately, Walter didn’t meet any of them…

  4. An excellent report Walter, I am very pleased you and your wife had such a nice time – good food and company will add to any trip – and the football results were not too bad! 🙂

  5. Walter, you sure have a great taste in dessert 🙂

    This left me in stitches “Everything tastes good at St. Totteringham’s day.”

    hahaha 😀

  6. Walter &Carine glad you had a lovely few days ,l live in Kent and had visited Canterbury many times
    So you can imagine what is was like to see the inside of the cathedral for the first time when my daughters graduation ceremony took place inside the cathedral

  7. I couldn’t stop laughing @ the grumpy part. Glad you had a great time in London although I am getting hungry.

  8. Steve,
    That must have been impressive in such a surrounding.

    We will go back to the cathedral next year as due to circumstances we only visited half of it and then couldn’t do the rest as there was a service going to start . Plans are made up already. 🙂

  9. Walter,thank you for praising the English menus!

    It is nice that Mrs Walter, is mow able to visit The Emirates with you.

    Mr. Wenger, manager of the Champions.

  10. Walter,
    How kind of you to remember my liking of catering reports as an occasional respite from those about football.
    As a devotee of patisserie, I tried to drool over your delicious menu in Canterbury but to no avail.
    Just recovering from a nasty attack of novo virus which has left me temporarily with a total lack of appetite.
    What DID cheer me up on reading your report though, was that Madame B. was able to accompany you on your visit to the UK (along with her very healthy joy of food).
    I send her my very best wishes and I look forward to the occasional catering report from you next season.

  11. walter

    Thanks for a great report.
    I do see a pattern though. Clearly, your travels (not only to the Ems)include naughty food! I’m still licking my lips from your previous catering reports. They always involve chocolate.

    Look, I understand where you’re coming from (being a fellow chocoholic), but this is Outrageous!, (and Delicious).

    It’s no use, I’m trying to scold you. I’ve just eaten a small chocolate egg (Galaxy, which is better than Cadbury’s). The thing is, I need someone to blame. And it’s YOU !

    (I’d been on a chocky fast for – let me see –
    19 days)

    Sorry, 19 hours.

    Anyway, I’m not obsessed with chocolate and chips. What a lie. I’m starting to sound like footy pundits.

    Great report, and fun too.

  12. Nicky I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you find your appetite back soon.
    To get the rest of you drooling I brought for Tony and Andrew whom I was sure to meet before our trip a box of chocolate pralines from Belgium from a small chocolate maker close to where I live. If you like the more known brands from Belgium like Leonidas… forget about them. They are (not really) rubbish compared to these ones.
    Well that is my take of them anyway.

  13. Glad you enjoyed your three day stay over here so much Walter with your wife. Only two weeks ago my wife and I stayed a couple of nights just outside Canterbury and visited the Cathedral and the city. The weather was good so on the Saturday we went to Sandwich where there was a food fair taking place in the streets. Then we drove to Deal and later onto Ramsgate where we enjoyed some time on the beach and looking around to where my wife worked a summer season many years ago. We finished with fish & chips sat on a sea wall before driving home to Northampton. Do you enjoy this traditional British meal Walter?

    Last September we stayed in Bruges and loved it. The people were very friendly and helpful and we found some good eating places. Especially enjoyed their mussels and chips. We visited a local chocolate factory and brewery as well. A tour to Ypres was very interesting and we were very impressed with the museums, monuments and military cemeteries which are so well maintained. A memorable holiday.

    Hope we enjoy many more St Totteringham days and what could be better if next season we are the champions and they can have the runners up spot. That would be even sweeter. Hope both you and your wife keep well and enjoy many more visits here.

  14. Great report Walter. I am glad that you Carine & the Belgian Gooners had a wonderful time & brought us that special luck again. God bless you with happiness.

  15. Walter!!! Your upcoming refereeing season is clearly in jeopardy as I am sure the Belgian FA don’t allow officials to zip around on go-karts or whatever. Just listening to your reports about chocolate addictions has added 4 kilos to my waistline!!! I have to pass a fitness test to return to officiating and I am worried they’ll mistake me for a beached whale and harpoon me!!! It’s all your fault! Now I’m off to eat a pound of oreos and cream icecream because I’m depressed I live so far away from Belgium…..:((( C’est la vie!!!! tant pis!!!!

  16. Nigel,
    we almost did the same tour 🙂 We also went to Sandwich and then to Deal. But as our boat departed in Dover we then had to go to Dover. Traffic in London kept us behind our schedule a bit but that is fine with us as we think that when you have seen it all there is no need to return and now we have a lot of things on our program to see again or to see for the first time next time we come around.

  17. Very nice report , Walter . Thanks . And just like the others , I too have this sudden urge for chocolate and ice cream .
    A glass of red wine would probably have to suffice !

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