Sunday, January 4, 2009

Foxes and Hounds and Pigs! Oh my!

No, we did not visit a British petting zoo, but rather took a pub walk through Chelsea. With promises of seeing celebrities' houses, visiting real English pubs, and a walk through the most exclusive borough of London, we set off with Claire, our guide from London Walks.
Our first stop was the Fox & Hounds where we were told to drink only "real beer", AKA cask ales, or else risk banishment from the tour. Cask ales are served much warmer than lagers and other carbonated beers because they are served at cellar temperature (just imagine the beer in the summer months). The casks are stored in the cellar and the bartender siphons the beer into the pint glass up by pumping the tap. We joined the crowd and tried Young's Special and Bitter. The Fox & Hounds was a lovely Victorian pub, with wood paneled walls, decorated ceilings, and beautiful furnishings. As you entered the building, you stepped back into time.

After finishing our (half) pints, we walked through the heart of Chelsea. We passed the Old Royal Chelsea Hospital and the houses of:
  • Paul Getty
  • Eric Clapton
  • Mick Jagger
  • Brian Adams
  • Keith Richards
  • Richard Rogers
  • And, the most important residence, of James Bond, 007. You can see the street sign from his street in the first photo. Unfortunately, he wasn't home.
Our next stop was The Phoenix, a "tarted-up pub" according to the guide. It looked like the cross between a Starbucks and cosy wine bar inside. Fearing exile from the group, I tried an English cider instead of an ale. Fortunately, my Aspall Draught Suffolk Cyder was approved by the tour guide since it was made in England.

We finished the tour of Chelsea in The Pig's Ear, a pub across the street from Eric Clapton's house. Needing to get up early the next morning, we skipped the last drink and headed back to the hostel for the evening.

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