Review : KitKat Chunky Double Caramel

And lo, KitKat did go too far. Not content with their odd and disturbing KitKat Mocha (in the classic four finger style, but with overtones of mint and cold tea) this Chunky version is loaded with two types of caramel. It’s on offer at Sainsbury so I picked it up. First bite and it is redolent of a biscuit (something perhaps from Marks and Spencer or Waitrose Christmas biscuit selection). It is too sugary and there is too much going on. I go back for more and it comes to me : this just tastes like a massive Caramel Rocky bar. And if I want a Caramel Rocky, I can just buy one of those. Kit Kat! First you lost the foil, now you’ve lost the plot!

Review : Waitrose Banana

Today I had a Waitrose Fairtrade Banana. Bananas are a yellow fruit that it eaten by peeling the exterior ‘wrapping’ off to expose a soft off-white fleshy protuberance. This particular banana had been in my bag for two days and was rather bruised, but the interior had survived relatively unscathed. Sadly, it was not sweet, or pleasant, nor creamy, like some of the best bananas are. This was a tepid, phlegmy affair that I felt almost too sad to continue with. I ate it all though as I was hungry. I would not give this more than four stars out of ten, perhaps only three. Bananas are rich in antioxidants and potassium. This was a banana rich in regret.

Review : Aero Mousse

I am a big fan of Aero chocolate bars, my almost all time favourite chocolate bar is the Peppermint Aero. It’s up there with Lion bars, Galaxy Ripple, KitKat Peanut Chunky and the other classics of the genre. So I was intrigued by this new effort from the scientists at Nestlé. The bar is light – the mousse is soft and creamy and it means you don’t feel too satiated, apart from, of course, the mass of sugar, fat and salt injected into your bloodstream. It is pretty good and I might try again if I find it on offer. The wrapper is nice, all gold tones and retro vibes.

Cycle Ride to The Wanstead Tap


Dave and I went to school together.  On a mission to not drink too much during January, we agreed a cycle ride to a pub.  The day arrived : Saturday, dark, raining, a drizzle closing in.  I geared up, high vis, my massive safety helmet and my rucksack.  I pumped my tyres and off I went, down Central Park Road, up Henniker Gardens (a road much known to me as I used to walk up it to catch the 147 from outside what is now NK News and Club MM).  I decided to take the Katherine Road route to Wanstead Flats – a road filled with hazards, parked cars on both sides, narrow roads, hills and dangerous drivers.  There are also some gems, like the old St Stephen’s Petrol Pump, and the giant Trebor Sweet Factory.


West Ham were playing home so while I waited I saw Chelsea Tractors, one after the other, pile into the narrow East End lands.  Forever blowing bubbles indeed : bubbles of giant exhaust fumes.  I met Dave on Capel Road and we swiftly worked out a route to the Tap – down to the Overground Station and along the line, parallel to Station Road.  We’d find the Tap right after we stumbled upon the Hawkes Cider Room.  La Forchetta have a wood-fired oven there!

The Tap is delightfully self-contained in a deceptively large railway arch.  It is packed full of craft beers and perry and some sofas, and we broke our fast with much relish.  A few halves later, we headed up the road to the Hawkes place for a cider and a pizza (both delicious) and were joined by several hipsters.  The scent of the wood-fired oven was lovely as was the IPA they had on tap.

We had a drink and then agreed it was time to go home : off I went, through the driving rain in nothing more than a leather jacket and clad in the shroud of my youthful dreams.  Rain water soaked me to the skin.  So be it !  We must retreat from the edge, as the soil is crumbling.

A Walk Down High Street North, East Ham, E6


Spurred on by a need to stretch the legs and the news that High Street North is developing into somewhat of a ‘curry mile’, L and I decided to head off on a walk from the Boleyn ward end of Barking Road down Central Park road and up the High Street.  Our nominal destination was Chan’s, a long-established Chinese restaurant that has been in the vicinity since the 1940s.  There is also apparently a framed menu from then up on the wall. Initial enthusiasm was dampened by the rain but we slung on some winterwear and off we went.  We first trod down the Barking Road parallel: the B167, Central Park Road, a gentle swoosh of Georgian red-brick terraces, some with park views.  The nicer stuff is on Rancliffe, but who’s counting (some are, that’s for sure).

Swing south through the Park, across the semi-formal gardens and a left before the Elizabethan Formal.  We wind up crossing the Barking Road and heading through the maze of the East Ham Covered Market, all £5 watches and cut price threads, some bootleg perfumes, Mama’s Kitchen, meat being ground down, sawdust, mothballs, dust.

I say that we should stop at Seahorse, who for the longest time did the best chips in East Ham.  Always fresh, cut small and fried in groundnut oil.  Served open in a cone and splashed with as much onion vinegar as we could feasibly get away with, which then runs through the paper, onto your hands, and that faint, onion, acidic smell lingers all day through the handwashes.  But L likes the Ercan chips better and deep down, so do I. It’s mainly drizzle now and we head North up the High Street, past the shops I know and the shops I knew and the shops I don’t want to know  and the shops I wish I knew better before they went.  I still miss Our Price, Woolworths, but Blue Inc and Smiths cling on, vastly altered.  There’s a new CeX games shop.  A huge Primark where Marks and Sparks used to hold court.

Further North, past East Ham Station, begins the dotted procession of curry houses big and small, some pure veg, some South Indian, some just sweet shops filled full of baisan and barfi, jalebi and gulab jamun.  Some a mix of the entire sub-continent, the worlds colliding of the old Overdraft Tavern with its South Indian restaurant annexe.  On the way back from our waypoint I grab a kashmiri tea and ask for a lid (on account of the rain).  The chawallah tells me to take the lid off, before I drink, because otherwise, I won’t be able to sip the almonds and pistachio fragments.  I feel oddly grateful, chastened, and I take his advice and we continue, to Sainsbury’s, right through, all the way to the cereal aisle.

Lifestyle Blogs

I’ve lived in East Ham since the mid 90s and never really felt the need to do a lifestyle blog.  Perhaps I will though.  Apparently there are a few springing up now that hipsters and first timers have been forced out of Forest Gate and the Stow and Mile End, even.  Perhaps I was just never very good at this blogging thing: the wearing insistence on cynicism, the fear of being ridiculed and/or satirised, and maybe just the sheer lack of desire.  But does it run deeper : some kind of world-weary depression that just won’t lift, won’t budge, won’t move, a mental block to the kind of guile-free happy public sharing that can be healthy and beneficial.  So I am going to start to make that change, and I begin with a little exploration of my adopted home town (I am a Brummie by birth) just as soon as this dismal rain lifts and the Hammers fans have kicked out at 2:30pm.  For all that grist, there is this mill, but I am tired, and it is a long way to the sunshine from here.