When you travel for work as much as I do, you get used to a specific type of hotel room. It’s not the Ned, the Grosvenor or even the Fairmont. It’s a Travelodge, Premier / Holiday Inn or Best Western if you get lucky with the booking (although I have stayed in some properly dodge Best Western’s in my time, the one in Tiverton particularly stands out for all the wrong reasons – and the time I suffered through three days there is another, very specific, story). So it’s rare that I come across the odd one that I walk through the door and immediately call Mrs P. to say that I’ve found a cracker. But that’s what happened when I got to the Rocksalt Rooms and it always means we’ve got something special .
In the past, I have had my fair share of issues with Jamie Oliver. I love his recipes, but despite multiple attempts, I’ve never managed to see the connection between the ethos behind his family orientated, ‘bish-bash-bosh throw it all on a board’ style of TV chef cookery and the over contrived wideboy-cockneyfied presentation of the restaurant chain. It all seems too trite. However, by virtue of me having this blog that you lot still seem to be reading (thanks very much!), they keep inviting me in to eat there and because I’m nothing if not universal in my acceptance of a free meal it was with the glorious abandon that only the promise of a free lunch can provide, that Mrs P and I strolled into Jamie’s Italian Covent Garden.
I want to make sure that I don’t mislead anyone with this review. So I’ll take this opportunity to make it perfectly clear; I loved the Tsumbay headphones. Loved them. Despite the fact that I am a man known across the globe for my sarcasm, there is none of that here. Not even a trace of irony or even any trivial mockery, I promise. Just to underline the point once again in case anyone is confused: I think the Tsumbay wireless headphones are BRILLIANT.
However it must also be said that as functioning headphones they are also absolutely dreadful. At best they are not bad and at worst totally rubbish but I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to explain, there is so much more to them than these simple descriptions.
It all started with a tweet from a good friend of mine called Mike. Having just eaten the phenomenal bacon chilli cheese burger from Sizzlers burger shack (if you haven’t had it yet, track them down and demand one immediately), he mentioned that the chilli was one of best he had ever tasted and he had tasted a lot of chilli. Other people chipped in and it soon became clear that everyone had their own version and the best kind of chilli was one that was shared. Before long it was confirmed; Saturday the 27th of January was the date of the first Wolverton Chili Cook off. Bring your best chilli and complete to claim your place as the best in town. With the added incentive of a separate hot wings contest, I just had to attend. I dug out my favourite recipe, made up a batch and went to see what was going on…
Every year the P. family make their way to London in order to enjoy the delights of the capital at Christmas. My decision not to book dinner for our trip in 2016 almost ended in divorce but thankfully Le Bab was there to save the day. And having so extensively explored Carnaby Street and the surrounding area, thankfully our 2017 excursion held a lot less drama and we managed to walked into Breddos with smiles all round.
What is it about a white Christmas? We seem obsessed about it in this country, ferociously reminiscing about ‘that year when I was a child, when Freddos only cost 10p and there was so much snow that the schools were closed for weeks’. It seems strange that our continental cousins don’t seem to suffer from such an affliction and we as a nation, seem almost too happy to chide them on their lack of gratitude for the daily snowball fights. Well more fool us because as the TwoMenAboutTown EU tour was conceived and implemented not long after I had agreed to spend Christmas away from home and with snow having been in very short supply this year after trips to the thermometer exploding heights of Croatia, it came as a very welcome contrast to the P. family.
Some people don’t like going to Italy. But then some people don’t like washing their hands after going to the toilet and we don’t trust them either do we? What’s wrong with Italy? Yes it’s full of Italian rantiness, yes it is difficult to get something done quickly and yes they do make you pay twice for train tickets (compulsory seat reservations that are not included in the ticket price? That makes no sense guys, just FYI). But it is also full of great wine, Roman architecture, art and fashion that’s so fashionable that if you understand it then you can’t afford it.
But I love Italy. A lot. I love the food, the culture, the language, the wome… the food and pretty much everything else. So making a list of all the places we needed an excuse to see and all the things we wanted to do on the next leg of our #TwoMenEUTour wasn’t hard but fitting them all in to the few days we had was the tricky bit. But as you will see, we did our best! Unlike our previous trips to Brussels or Ireland, we took a bit more time in Italy traveling down on the overnight train from Vienna in Austria to Florence, then on to Pisa, down to Rome, over to Pompeii and then back to Rome to fly home.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things on this blog; I’ve learned not to trust friends who have unplanned trips to Dubai, I’ve learned how to enjoy shaving again and I’ve also learned that to talk about tea, I had to talk about coffee. I know a few people who have ordered a salted caramel pumpkin latte with extra soya sprinkles in their time (I’m looking at you SuburbanGent) and that’s fine but are the McDonalds or Burger Kings of the coffee world really what you want every day? With their questionable sourcing policies, suspicious tax implications and deliberately average flavour all leaving you with a rather bitter aftertaste, I suspect not. But what else is there for one to do? If you work in London, it’s no problem as you have many better alternatives to choose from, but with so many people living in Milton Keynes and commuting in, sooner or later someone was going to open our very own proper coffee house and guess what? They just did.
People, you can ignore the Roman Gregorian calendar, the last 2,000 years of history and any talk to the contrary because you have only got ONE week until Christmas. One week, and one week only until Christmas starts on the 1st of December. That’s when you can open your advent calendar and we all know that Christmas begins when you can eat chocolate before breakfast! Well, maybe grown ups can’t justify chocolate with their daily weetabix but we think that a quick snifter before bed is more than acceptable to keep you in the festive spirit! If you get an advent calendar for the kids then you deserve some Christmas cheer as well, right? Well, Drinks By The Dram think they can help you with that situation, and I think they’re right!
When I bought my first Sonos I realised my life had been missing something, then my man SuburbanGent bought himself a EU BOOM 2 to share his love of Peter Andre with the world and I knew that things would never be the same again. Here at TwoMenAboutTown we love our music but you’ll already know that if you follow SuburbanGent’s twitter feed which speaks for us both when it comes to demonstrating just how indiscriminate our musical tastes are. But neither the Sonos nor the Boom provide a particular personal experience, thankfully Pioneer have been making headphones for a long time so they should be pretty good at it by now. We would soon find out because with Apple’s newest attempt at global domination and personal bankruptcy all rolled into one with the iPhone X launch well underway, Pioneer have decided to use their considerable proficiency to launch their first foray into lightning connector powered earphones.
So far on Trip 4 of the #2MenEUTour, it’s been a rampage across central Europe as we’ve taken in Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg and Stuttgart in a non-stop juggernaut of continental culture dunking. But we knew we couldn’t keep that up, we needed somewhere to slow things down for a few days and what better destination to do that than Austria? Stunning countryside meets fascinating history in this wonderful land of all things Von Trapp. Home to old skool Music moguls Mozart and Beethoven, the famous Spanish Riding School and of course some of the friendliest locals you could ever hope to meet, all made Austria one of our favourite destinations of the tour so far.
I’m a lucky man. I’ve said it many times in the past and it’s still true now. I have a beautiful daughter, who continues to surprise, infuriate and amaze me on a daily basis and usually in that order. An astonishingly brilliant wife within whose many and varied successes I am proud to live vicariously and some hilariously direct friends who have no shame in reminding me just how lucky I am. But it’s not all self congratulation, candyfloss monkeys and Unicorn smiles you know. Sometimes I get it wrong, really wrong. Sometimes the world gets to slap me right in the face and usually, I deserve it.
Take our latest trip for our 2MenEUTour for example. I go to Germany for work quite regularly so I knew what it was all about. It was without another thought that I made an executive decision that after Luxembourg, the Family P would go to Stuttgart, get off the Interrail, spend the night in an adequate hotel before going on to somewhere more interesting. Germany’s Germany right? None of it is that impressive…