The Monday after our visit to the National Observatory (and 0 degrees longitude), we returned to our hotel using a combination of light rail — which took us through Canary Wharf for a brief look at this part of London — and the Underground. We recuperated and dried off, and then picked a restaurant for dinner.
Sharon wanted some really good fish and chips. (While this is a traditional national dish in England, we have found the fish and chips in London can be disappointing. You never know what you will get, and often the result is either very soggy or to greasy. Another traditional part of a fish and chips meal is mushy peas, a unique English side dish which involved mashing up marrowfat peas after they have been soaked overnight. They defy description, and are a bit of an acquired taste, and I didn’t get any on this trip because, well, you’ll see …)
Sharon consulted our guide book and found a place that was supposed to the best fried fish in London — a restaurant called The Golden Hinde. It was one Tube stop and short walk from our hotel, so we set off.
It should be noted here that this was the second time we had come across the Golden Hinde this day. The actual Golden Hinde (a hinde, by the way, is a doe, a deer, a female deer) was the English galleon Sir Francis Drake when he circumnavigated the world in 1577, plundering plenty of Spanish sailing ships on the way.
A replica of this famous ship now lies moored on the River Thames not far from the London Bridge, and we had toyed with the idea of dropping by until our tour of the Royal Observatory took up our day.
But I digress.
And so we set off, with only a map of London and a general idea of where this restaurant might be. When we got off the Tube and emerged from underground, we had been turned around. It’s quite simple, actually. Tube stations are pretty deep underground, and you usually go through a combination of stairs, hallways and long escalators to get back to street level.
I am constantly amazed that Sharon simultaneously trusts my ability to get us just about anywhere we wish to go while she has no confidence that I can locate my own nose. It doesn’t help when I start out disoriented, and that was case this evening. Fortunately, I have no problem asking directions, and a very nice public worker (you could tell by the yellow vest) set us right.
Once started, we moved through the narrow streets rather easily, always getting closer to the restaurant, with me leading the way and Sharon following while questioning my directions at the same time. This was especially obvious every time I said we needed to cross a street. At that point she would balk, then move into the street cautiously.
You can’t be cautious in London streets, however. You have to move quickly to the other side, because the streets are narrow and the cars move fast — very fast.
When we reached the corner where the Golden Hinde should be, we couldn’t find any open businesses. I was getting frustrated when Sharon noticed two other tourists across the street looking frustrated, and standing in front of a darkened building with “The Golden Hinde” boldly printed.
It was the Monday after Easter, and a bank holiday to boot, and the people who fry fish at the Golden Hinde apparently decided to take the day off. We were very unhappy as we made our way back to the Tube station. We had passed a number of small restaurants on the way, and so we stopped in one and had an OK dinner — as British cooking is as a rule bland and tasteless.
We will probably never know how good the fish and chips were at the Golden Hinde, but they have lost my business forever.