London Bits & Bobs

Richard the Third

From Defeat on Bosworth Field Leicestershire 1485 To Victory at Chelsea's Stadium London 2016??

Five hundred and thirty years ago, the last Plantagenet Richard III was crowned king. The Tudors, eager to discredit the line, launched a campaign of calumny and distortion to turn Richard III into one of the arch villains of English history. Richard's image was further tarnished by (deliberate, one wonders) misinterpretations of the play of the same name attributed to Shak-speare. While there is dispute about the authorship, there is general agreement that the play wasn't really about Richard III but about Robert Cecil, the powerful and detested hunchbacked Svengali of Elizabeth's court. At the time the play appeared, Cecil was on the verge of being given even greater powers.

But truth always emerges arm in arm with vengeance and redemption. Richard III has now emerged from the grave as a towering figure in the British soccer Premier League!

In 2012 Richard's bones were discovered in a parking lot excavation in Leicester. The London establishment tried to dismiss the find but DNA evidence was conclusive. The bones were indeed Richard's. It's now clear that more than his bones rose from the grave. At the time of discovery Leicester hosted a second tier football (soccer) team that had been purchased by a Thai department store mogul who presciently changed the team's motto to that of his stores: King Power. By 2014, the Leicester Club clawed its way into the Premier League but seemed bound to quick relegation back to the lower leagues. Then, in March 2015, Richard III's bones were properly interred in Leicester Cathedral and beginning the following week, the team finished the season almost undefeated and was saved from relegation. This season the miracle of King Power continues. The team stands at the top of the table with only five matches to go (odds of Leicester winning at the beginning of the season were 5,000 to 1), several points ahead of North London powerhouses Arsenal and Tottenham. The final and possibly deciding season match for the Premier League Title will be in London on 15 May at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge Stadium.......



 Iconic London Cropped




2012 - A Glorious Year for London


Banksy - Olympics Ring Thief

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This summer was glorious with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration in June, the Olympics in July, the Paralympics in August but...

London 2012 is NOT over yet!

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Banksy - A Controversial Genius?  He is mostly known as an England-based graffiti artist who combines dark humor with graffiti to produce works that have pungent political and social messagesBut Banksy is now also a film director, a painter, and a political activist. Still...


It's Fall then...Game On!


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Tempted by the seasonal flavors of partridge, woodcock, or venison? London is the place for you this fall!

Our friends have been all over town in search of the best restaurants serving game and below are some of their favorites.

This is the right time of the year to enjoy game in many great restaurants around town but also in many pubs.

These delicacies should be offered fresh and always be simply prepared.

At St. John the woodcock is apparently legendary as is the pheasant terrine at The Bull and Last.

But where else can you find Game?




Olympic Tours

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Miss the Olympics.....there are still daily walking tours of the Olympic Venus

Crucial to London's successful 2005 bid for the games was the legacy proposal.

Tour now and you will learn about the plans for the future of the site now that the Olympic Games are over. This massive project reclaimed 2.5 sq. kilometers of contaminated land and transformed it into the Olympic Park.

Your official Blue Guide will detail the story of the hugely successful London 2012 Olympic Games, the athletes, the medals and now the Legacy..



It is time for Fortified Wine!

4 glasses of sherry

A nice sherry? A port? Why not?!

Four glasses of Sherry
Fortified wine is perfect for the right atmosphere! And... It's not just for Grandma anymore....

Recently fortified wines (aka sherry and port) have taken on popularity with people of all ages.

What is startling is the varieties offered.

In the past one was offered a cream or dry sherry but now there are so many bodegas from which to choose!

With cold weather, log fires, a good book... Nothing is better than a vintage sherry.

And I might add, it certainly promotes a good nights rest!

Cream Sherry


RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show 2012

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Five Days in May...Sounds like the beginning of a thriller but actually it's the most anticipated Flower Show in the world.

Attracting people from countries too numerous to name, the show is sponsored by the
Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London.
This is the location of the Christopher Wren masterpiece.


The Royal Jewels

Queen Elizabeth II What better way to honor the Queen's Diamond Jubilee than to go see the crown jewels displayed at the Tower of London?

An impressive collection of over 23,000 gems!

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Each year 2.5 million people drop in to see the crown jewels on view in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.

This year in celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, the collection of 23,578 gems, including some of the world's biggest diamonds, are being "re-presented" in a new 21st century display that will show off the jewels like never before.







Daylesford Organic Farmshop

The first Daylesford Farmshop on Pimlico Road at Orange Square is a perfect place to eat before or after visiting the Chelsea Flower Show.

Quite striking with its traditional marble counters & shelves, it also serves all fresh food directly from the Cotswold farm. There are daily delivery's of seasonal produce and meats that are raised humanely without hormones.

There is a delightful café or take-away for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Have a seat in the sidewalk area and enjoy watching London go by.

Located at 44B Pimlico Road, SW1 it is a brilliant place to enjoy a morning coffee or afternoon sandwich just moments from the Royal Hospital grounds. It is opens at 8am for the earlybirds.

Best Brolly in Town


London in the Rain!!!

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Always pray for sunshine when in London, but if it's raining...
Be prepared with a handsome brolly from James Smith and Sons.


From Your Front Door

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 How unique is this?

Open the door, and begin exploring your neighborhood with a licensed Blue Badge Guide.
He will spend either a half day or whole day walking your neighborhood and
its environs, explaining and pointing out all the historic and eccentric aspects
of your new London "hood".  What a treat!


Pooh Sticks

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Will Pooh Sticks Upstage the London Olympics?Pooh Sticks is a game Pooh and friends play together on a warm and sunny day... And it has now become quite the tradition! Yes, really!

An annual Pooh Stick Championship takes place at Day's Lock on the River Thames near Dorchester-on-Thames, in the Oxfordshire and over 1,500 visitors attend the event each year.
The 29th annual Championships will take place on March 25 - Do you want to join the fun?

Wondering what Pooh Sticks really is?

Well, it all started a very long time ago when...


 The Queen and her Dogs

Queen Elizabeth II The Queen is a true animal lover and, apparently, also quite the dog trainer! It is hard to see her that way, when we are all so used to imagine her as the Queen of England, tending to her many official commitments!
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Yet.......It is often said that The Queen prefers the company of dogs and horses to people. Can we really blame her?
With a schedule that is dictated months and often years in advance, meeting various dignitaries and subjects of the realm, and a family that can best be described as challenging, she can truly relax and enjoy the love and devotion of her animals.


It is Always Tea Time in London!

Yes! It is ALWAYS tea time it is just a matter of picking the right tea!

No Kidding! Just ask the Brits!

Tea is NEVER boring in Britain.

Just ask any Brit of a certain age, which tea one should drink and be prepared for a long chat. It's interesting that time of day dictates which tea many like to drink. The choices are endless, but all agree on one thing..... No tea bags please! Only loose leaf steeped properly in the pot.

For fun, read the English Tea Store Blog - Wonderful insight into the taste and nuance of different "leaves" and the origins.

Having afternoon tea is special - Here is a link where you can find a place to fit all budgets.



Cocktails of the Five Rings

Think of five cocktails, each one representing one of the Olympic rings.


olympic rings cocktail champagne rszdone blue for Europe,
one red for America,
one yellow for Asia,
one black for Africa, and
one green for Oceania...
and then combine it all with a similar-theme-colored menu!

Impossible?  Absolutely not true!


A Royal Coffee:  La Bottega

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If you are looking for the best coffeee in town, look no further! Granted, it is NOT traditionally British but, if coffee is what you are looking for (and NOT Tea!) then...La Bottega
This Italian delicatessen in Chelsea is open from morning to night. Come in the morning for the best Italian coffee with breakfast. Drop in, later in the day to pick up a traditional Focaccia or Ciabatta Panini, salads, and/or hot dishes for lunch! Oh! And what about the wonderful selection of cakes, pastries and afternoon treats? You may even want to stop by on your way home to pick up some great ingredients to take home for your dinner...

Just simple food that tastes amazing! - Try it!


The Diamond Jubilee

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Yes! Queen Elizabeth II will be the second English monarch (after Queen Victoria in 1897) to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee!
London has a lot in store. From the Thames River Pageant with a thousand boats mustering on the Thames, to the lighting of thousands Jubilee beacons, a great many events are being planned around the extended first weekend of June but also...

March with Commonwealth Day,
April with a special National Maritime Museum exhibition,
May with three nights of events in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, and ...
And there are many more year-round charitable, cultural, and political events!




Lucian Freud Portraits

"I've always wanted to create drama in my pictures, which is why I paint people.It's people who have brought drama to pictures from the beginning.The simplest human gestures tell stories.' Some consider Lucian Freud to be England's most brilliant contemporary portrait painter.

Others say the Queen should have put him in The Tower for painting such an ugly portrait of her.

Either way, you cannot remain indifferent to his art!

Do not miss Lucian Freud's Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London!freud queen rszd wb 66 100

The Queen


Diamond Jubilee Emblem

Do you know who designed the Diamond Jubilee Emblem?

It may come as a surprise but the Emblem was designed by 10-year-old Katherine Dewar from Chester!

Katherine's was the winning design following a national competition that saw over 35000 designs submitted!

Who is Katherine?! Here she is!

Big Jubilee Lunch
Do you want to honor the Queen too? You Can!

Simply throw a Big Lunch!

Where? Anywhere you would like!

With whom? Anyone you would like!

When? On Sunday June 3rd

Get as many neighbors and friends involved as you wish, choose the place you would prefer (whether your backyard or the street, or...?), you may even raise money for your own charity of choice!

Just build community, friendship and fun!
And, if it seems overwhelming, The Big Lunch organization is just a click away!


Coronation Chicken

Coronation Chicken......not so posh nosh!
How the mighty have fallen. From royal favorite to sadly soggy sandwich-filling in a single reign, coronation chicken has experienced a decline in fortunes that would give even Fergie's accountant cause for concern. But then this 50s favorite has never been quite as posh as it seems. Created by the founder of Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, Rosemary Hume – rather than her better-known business partner, celebrity florist Constance Spry, as is often claimed – poulet reine Elizabeth, as it was originally known, was a deliberate and tactful compromise between the luxurious and the thrifty for a country still under the dreary yoke of postwar rationing.

Coronation Chicken
Normally bright yellow, coronation chicken is usually flavored with curry powder. More sophisticated versions of the recipe are made using fresh herbs and spices and additional ingredients such as almonds, raisins, and crème fraîche. The original dish used curry powder, as fresh curry spices were almost unobtainable in post-war Britain.

It will be interesting to see what special dishes are concocted for the Jubilee. I'm sure the competition has begun and the knives are sharpened!


Charles Dickens at 200


Charles Dickens - Our Mutual Friend "Not to put too fine a point upon it"...

but London and the rest of the world are celebrating Charles Dickens' legacy.

Join the celebrations!

A "Carol Philosophy"

For Charles Dickens the "Carol Philosophy" is "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys".

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 offering the world a small book that had the power of opening people's hearts to the meaning of Christmas . According to Adrian Higgins in a 2009 Washington Post article "today we cannot imagine Christmas without it".

This story is brought to stages around the world every year to illustrate the meaning of Christmas. In London you can see it at the Arts Theater between 8 December 2011 and Sat 14 January 2012.

But if you are more the intellectual type, then maybe you would prefer talking about this unforgettable novel, with Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens's biographer, & John Mullan, December 14th, at 7 pm at The Guardian's Scott Room.


London is for Readers

London - where else would a book-lover want to be? You can find practically any kind of book you are looking for - from second-hand to new, from specialty to academic, from block-busters to antique, and all hosted in unique and highly specialized bookshops or even book markets!
So... what are you waiting for?

Visit one of London's unique book stores and buy a few as Christmas gifts! We are sure you can find wonderful ones at surprisingly pleasant prices, all you need is a guide!


Dickens 2012

"An international celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens"

Institutions and organizations around the world are working together to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of this extraordinary author

Join the celebrations!


Blue Plaques - Charles Dickens
According to English Heritage, Blue Plaques were founded in 1866 and serve to commemorate "the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked".

In other words, it is a system used to connect famous people with specific locations throughout London, and the UK more generally.


Stuffed Goose for Christmas

Here's to a traditional English Christmas Dinner!

The tradition of serving stuffed goose or turkey at Christmas time was apparently common prior to Queen Victoria's reign in London and the Southern part of England. When Queen Victoris rose to the throne chickens and turkeys were too expensive for the majority to enjoy. Northern England mostly opted for roast beef while London and the south, enjoyed mostly stuffed goose.

At the time, it was quite common for Goose "Clubs" to be set up allowing working class families to save up over the year towards a goose before this.

As most of you probably recall, Dicken's A Christmas Carol (1843), describes a traditional Christmas dinner with tukey as the main course... well... shall we say... both are delicious!

Here is an easy recipe for meat-lovers! Enjoy!


The Trembling Lady


Of the many bridges crossing the River Thames – more than 30! - the oldest seems to be London Bridge (which opened in 1209), the newest Millennium Bridge (which opened in 2002), the most famous is probably Tower Bridge (which opened in 1894 and can be visited year-round), but one of the most charming is Albert Bridge, also known as "The Trembling Lady "

"Oh, the many things I love about the Albert Bridge." says Deborah Crombie, the Crime Novelist


The Outer Hebrides

For her fortieth wedding anniversary, Ann and her husband Charlie decided to plan a romantic get-away. "nothing unusual about that"! as Ann puts it but finding the appropriate location was a bit of a challenge, as some of you may suspect!

Read all about the fantastic trip Ann and Charlie had to the Outer Hebrides a remote and interesting location characterized by amazing scenery, very few tourists, "AND bolts and bolts of woolen tweeds"!!!

by Charles Christ


Coopers Arms

The Coopers Arms on Flood Street in Chelsea is that rare dying breed...
A traditional "boozer" that has not succumbed to the pressure to "smarten" up.


Bangers and Mash

What perfect Pub Grub!

Bangers & Mash! Doesn't this dish just make you hungry!

Great all year round, wouldn't you say?!


Blue Plaques - James Abbott McNeill Whistler

According to English Heritage, Blue Plaques were founded in 1866 and serve to commemorate "the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked".

In other words, it is a system used to connect famous people with specific locations throughout London, and the UK more generally.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Fresh Food Heaven


London's Farmers' Markets are a wonderful delight for your senses!

Whether you are staying in Kensington, Marylebone, Pimlicio, Chelsea or any of the many boroughs of London town, the local farmer's markets are thriving with offerings of fresh meats, fresher produce, and deliciously prepared foods.

Hot sautéed French Duck sandwiches, wild boar ravioli with freshly grated cheese and olive oil, these are just a sampling of the amazing foods at the local farmer's markets in London.

Nina Thomson (who recently stayed in Ormonde Gate in Chelsea) was the happy food taster and her accounts of the markets are so enticing!


Summer Pudding


What a perfectly smashing summer sweet!

Juicy berries encased in slices of white bread that soak up the juice and turn a brilliant reddish purple.

Fresh, seasonal berries are key for this dessert to work properly. So reserve it for the summer like its name says and...


A Delicious (and Refreshing) Surprise!

The Surprise Pub, has gone gastro!

After being closed since late 2007 and being headed for the Dead Pubs Society,
The Surprise is back!
What a surprise - we might add!


Marylebone Pubs

Looking for a nice Pub in the Marylebone area?

Here are two perfect options for you:

The Gunmakers
The Duke of Wellington Marylebone

The Gunmakers Pub

Royal Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress Kate Middleton, or shall we say The Dutchess of Cambridge, wore on April 29, 2011, was absolutely spectacular!

Sarah Burton - creative director of luxury British label Alexander McQueen - and designer of this beautiful wedding gown was only 36 years old when she completed it.

Would you like to see it first hand? This summer it is possible!

The dress will be on display in Buckingham Palace during the Palace's opening to the general public between July 23rd and October 3rd.

This a wonderful initiative and a great way to remember those extraordinary moments forever!


Blue Plaques - Sir Henry Segrave

According to English Heritage, Blue Plaques were founded in 1866 and serve to commemorate "the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked".

In other words, it is a system used to connect famous people with specific locations throughout London, and the UK more generally.

Sir Henry Segrave

Fat Tire Bike Tours


Are you an active traveler?

Do you like to get some execise while you are on vacation?

Do you simply like to ride your bike?

Then here is an idea for you: Fat Tire Bike Tours

In London they offer a variety of tours to suit the individual traveller's interest and time constraints!


Bath ~ Bed & Breakfast


It is unsual for us to promote specific properties away from London but...

This property, Georgian Stables at Smallcombe House, is one of the most charming and peaceful accomodations we have found!

Yes, it is in Bath, only about 90 minutes from London, and it is lovely for a romantic getaway offering a wonderful view of the city of Bath.

Want to learn more about this extraordinary destination near London? Click here!

And, don't forget to let us know what you thought about it all!


Emily Hill Lifestyle Management


Emily Hill EHLM - Emily Hill Lifestyle Management - is a personalized lifestyle a managment company that caters to busy people's needs.

Whether you are looking to organize a special occasion, or need assistance sorting out your personal affaires, or are simply looking for the perfect gift, EHLM is the service for you!

Here is a run down of her services for tourists:
Private driver airport pick-up and drop-off service
Catering for private dinner parties and events
Delicious homemade meals delivered on request
Restaurant recommendations & bookings
Theatre/Show recommendations & bookings
Beauty Salon recommendations and bookings
Grocery shopping on behalf of guests; both prior to & during their stay
Original gift ideas & beautiful hand-wrapping
Assistance with local doctors / dentists
Male & female formal dress hire: ladies hats, top hats, morning suits etc.
Wonderful, don't you think?

Curious to learn more? Click here to visit her web site!


A Good Time to be in Egypt


Picture by Brian Mei

Egypt is a favorite destination for many of our English friends.

It offers everything the inhabitants of a cool wet island want in a holiday - hot desert lands surrounded by warm blue waters, monuments so old they make an elderly Englishman feel young, and a shared language (vestige of a few centuries of British ascendancy) in most parts of the country.


Wimbledon ~ The Queue

It's London, let's Queue!For those of you who were not fortunate to get tickets in the January lottery, take heed.... It's England! One can always Queue!

The queue isn't complicated and is really quite pleasant. There are vendors selling refreshments, and everyone is eager and willing to discuss the latest Tennis gossip. The queue is also surprisingly international with people from world over. If you are lucky enough to be in London (especially the first week of the Championships) by all means, take the tube out and soak up the atmosphere.

It's a treat even for those who don't follow tennis!


Pimms Cup Recipe


Pimms Cup YIELD:
Makes 8 drinks (serving size: 1 drink)

2 oranges, cut into half-moons
2 lemons, cut into half-moons
1 Persian cucumber (see Notes) or one 3-in.-long piece English cucumber, washed and sliced
2 cups Pimm's No. 1 (see Notes)
4 cups Sprite or other lemon-lime soda
6 to 8 large sprigs mint, crushed gently, plus a few loose leaves


Fill 2 pitchers 1/4 full with ice. To each, add a layer of orange slices, a few lemon slices, and a layer of cucumber slices. Repeat the layering.
Pour in the Pimm's and Sprite, dividing between pitchers, and mix with a long-handled spoon.
Poke mint sprigs and leaves down into drink.
Divide drink among 8 tall glasses, with a few slices of fruit and cucumber in each glass, along with some mint leaves.

NOTES: Persian cucumbers are small, thin-skinned, virtually seedless, and very tasty. They're sold at well-stocked grocery.


The Bull & Last Pub


London has many really marvelous unpretentious pubs serving truly delicious food, but none are better and more consistent than The Bull & Last.

Read more: The Bull & Last Pub

Happy St. Patrick's Day
Sláinte Gaelach ~ An Irish Toast Saint Patrick IS a traditional Irish celebration BUT who said that Londoners do not know how to have fun?


Pubs, Pubs, and more Pubs!!

Below are just samplings of web sights to peruse and salivate.

Go on line and research using Harden's. Two of my favorites follow along with others that are worthy of your time.

The Harwood Arms won pub of the year and was awarded a Michelin star. Amazing venison and game.

The Bull and Last arguably has the best and most varied charcuterie in London.


A New Pub in Marylebone

The Grazing Goat - a Brand New Pub that just opened in Marylebone! Looking for a brand new place to check out during your next visit to London?

Looking for a neighborhood with one of the best gastronomic clusters in London?

You can get both in Marylebone!


Hit the Pub


Spring is here and it's time to raise a pint to Will and Kate. Make way to your neighborhood local and after a half pint or two, stay for dinner. Of course not every pub has delectable quality food, but an increasing number of locals have upgraded and are now enjoying success as an unpretentious place to enjoy locally-sourced British fare.


Christmas Day Restaurants

Will you be vacationing in London on Christmas Day? While you plan on celebrating the Holiday in your vacation flat, cooking may not be on your list of things to do! Here is a list of great restaurants open in London on Christmas Day as well as what you should expect to find in a traditional British Christmas dinner.


Thanksgiving in London

Do you have plans to travel to London during the Thanksgiving Holiday but don't want to miss out on your favorite traditional meal? We have put together a list of some of the best restaurants in London that serve up a Turkey Day meal that will match your family's cooking!


Chelsea Physic Garden

Beside the Thames River in one of Chelsea's quiet residential neighborhoods just a few blocks from Sloane Square, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a medieval apothecary garden. High brick walls create a secret garden allure. They also help to lock in the moisture and warmth from the river, creating a microclimate that insures the survival of nonnative plants growing in the garden. It boasts the largest fruiting olive tree in Britain and the world's northern most grapefruit.


Royal Hospital Chelsea

If you wander behind the Duke of York Square down Cheltenham Terrace the Royal Hospital Road opens up to present the Royal Hospital Chelsea. It is so stunning you might drop your groceries!


Saatchi Gallery London

The Saatchi Gallery is just past Peter Jones, a block down the Kings Road from Sloane Square. The Duke of York Headquarters, designed by John Sanders of Sandhurst Military Academy fame, was completed in 1801.


Peter Jones Department Store London

Peter Jones is a true deliciously old fashioned store divided into 32 departments over 7 floors. Peter Jones sells everything. So do not worry about anything you may forget or left at home.


The Royal Court Theater in London

The Royal Court Theater is a striking redbrick Italianate theater house right at Sloane Square, serving as a reminder that there is good theater outside of the West End of London. Opening in 1888 as the New Court Theater, many of the plays of George Bernard Shaw were produced there in its heyday. In the 1930's the theater became a movie house and damage during WWII closed it all together.


Holy Trinity Church at Sloane Square


Near Sloane Square you will find one of the unique churches of London, The Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. This church boasts one of our favorite stained glass windows, worth a walk down the street from your Sloane Square vacation flat!


Fish and Chips

Fish and chips - freshly cooked, piping hot, enlivened with salt, soused with vinegar, wrapped in newspaper, stuffed in a brown bag for take-out. What could be tastier?! What could be more British?! But it seems the quintessential British fare did not always go together.