On Saturday we were finally able to relax since we didn't have to go flat-searching. We cuddled in bed and watched cartoons, I don't think either of us put a foot out of bed until after 2pm (the ability to do absolutely nothing with each other still feels amazing after spending so long apart). In the evening we caught the bus to Paul & Rachael's house for champagne and then drove to Southall for one of the best curries I've ever eaten.
I've been to Southall several times in the past for curries, but not to Giftos Lahore Karahi. The atmosphere is cafeteria-like with long shared tables, bright lighting, no decoration, and an open kitchen. The enormous room was very busy and mostly packed with Asians (always a good sign) and the chatter mixed with the booming Bollywood (or perhaps Lollywood) music made it sometimes difficult to hear each other. Between the four of us we ordered what was probably too much food: we started with mixed curried grilled lamb, prawns, kebabs, and chicken. There were many different items on the menu that I didn't recognize, so I went with the safe bet and ordered chicken tikka masasla (which is actually a British Indian invention). We shared a portion of fried rice, garlic naans, and bombay potatoes. For dessert I had the "kulfi pista" (pistachio ice cream). I thought I had eaten good curries in the past, but this was one of the best. It only came in second to our Indian friend's homemade curry.
Sunday we went to the city centre to look for some new shoes for me since mine are in a state of disrepair. I had forgotten how much of a nightmare London becomes when I'm trying to do practical shopping. I hate shoes with excessively pointy or square toes, but it seems that's all that is in fashion now. I finally found a pair I could live with, but they weren't in my size so I called around and found them at a different store so I'll pick them up this weekend. We were on South Molton Street when we decided we needed a rest, but the only places near us to get a drink were Starbucks and a Chinese tea shop called Sen. We went to Sen.
It's immediately obvious when you walk into Sen that it's designed to be franchised. With it's clean lines and bright plastic flourescent light atmospehere it screams "fast food tea". Despite this I thought the service was really good. An elderly Chinese woman asked us what were looking for -- we told her we needed some energy, so she marked us down for two different teas which were brought out to us on wooden trays. The staff were friendly and playful with each other, which made it apparent they enjoyed working there.
Monday afternoon I took the tube to Oxford St. to meet Max after work. We then caught the train to Surbiton in order to take another look at the flat before signing the papers. I left the camera behind because I realized by the time we arrived there it would be dark, but it's just as well since the Australian woman who currently lives there had been frantically packing for her move back to Australia and her belongings were all over the floors. We went back to the estate agents and signed the papers where I discovered the flat is actually in Kingston-upon-Thames, not Surbiton. No wife-swapping for us (what a shame). It's equidistant from both the Kingston and Surbiton town centres which broadens my chances of finding work near home and it's also just down the road from Kingston University so I'll look into the possibility of taking some intensive French courses (I'm hoping to be near fluent by next year in order to be able to communicate better with the French side of Max's family), and perhaps some other courses.
We'll be moving on the 15th and will probably be without net access for at least week (painful). I'm still not sure if this place is further out of London than we want to be, although I'm excited about exploring a new area. If it turns out we're not happy with it we can always move in 6 months.. but I'm feeling optimistic.
Didn't see anything on the Sen site about franchises, so I think they're just planning to take over the world without outside partners. I told my friend Sabine about it—she's studied Traditional Chinese Medicine™ for years, and may even be in London right now. Sure looks like the kind of thing that would do well over here (completely aside from whether it's good or not, of course).
Congrats on the apartment! I'm moving from PT to Seattle this weekend—no wife-swapping in my neighborhood, which I think is a good thing, since I don't have a wife to swap!
I agree that Sen would probably go over well in certain areas of the states. I intend to go back sometime, but I think the draw to go back is mostly due to the good service. I wasn't paying too much attention this time, but it appeared that they added either some kind of syrup or juice to the tea -- I'd be curious to know exactly what ingredients go into it.
Thank you! Congratulations to you as well for finding an apartment in Seattle and getting a net connection promptly.. it definitely takes priority. ;)
I still haven't seen the Kingston town centre since our flat is closest to the Surbiton train station -- I look forward to exploring it. I spent some time in Richmond when I lived here a few years ago, we'd take walks by the river and check out the shops. It's a really nice area. :)
Mmm... talk of curries got me hungry. I used to love Southall trips & Indian fast food. Best place for Indian Indian food I've ever discovered though is Chetna's in Wembley (though it's been about 10 years since I went there) - awesome South Indian food, but if you arrive after 7pm then be prepared to queue about 20 minutes with all the Indian families waiting to get seats.
I think I know roughly the part of Kingston/Surbiton you're in - used to ride through there on the bus on my way to work in Tolworth. Trying to think of "you must check out..."s but it's been so long since I've really known that area, and so much has changed. Anyway, enjoy it :)