Category Archives: Reviews

2015 in Twickenham: A Year in Review

ice-cream-van-twickenham-twickeratiWhat a funny old year it’s been on twickerati. From a springtime of booming reader stats and heated debate in the comments sections to a summer lull and retrenchment, and then to ending the year trying to move things forward with additional contributions. A very big thank you to the many people who have provided such positive feedback about twickerati. If it wasn’t for you the site would definitely be consigned to the internet wilderness by now. Thanks too to the lovely locals who have offered to help with additional content, especially to those who have already provided copy, namely ‘Bill Webb-Ellis’ and the ‘Newbie’ journo. It’s much appreciated. Here’s to more collaboration in 2016.

Of course, regardless of the sustainability or otherwise of the finest and only blog featuring ‘news, comment and ill-informed opinion about Twickenham’, the town itself has had plenty of newsworthy excitement in 2015, so much so that we wrote a few words for the Richmond & Twickenham Times about it. You can read it on page 14 of the current edition of the paper. Can’t find your copy? You could always sign up for the e-edition couldn’t you? In the meantime, we’ve included it below for your public convenience. We hope you enjoy it…

Twickenham – A Year In Review

2015, eh? What a year it’s been. First there was January happily ticking along all on its tod and then, hot damn, before you knew it a load of other months turned up one after another, after a-flippin-nother. And this happened not just in God’s Own London Borough (that’s Richmond upon Thames, btw) but across the whole of the south of England too! It really is amazing how LBRuT (aka El Brute) manages to co-ordinate this with other local authorities. Hats off to them! And what of plucky Twickenham, you ask. Well, here at twickerati HQ this is what we remember about 2015.

It all began with a lot of heated debate about bus stops moving, pavements changing and cycle lanes migrating. And then it just carried on. It’s all part of El Brute’s Twickenham Action Plan aka the “TWAP”. First it was the new luxurious York Stone paving in the town centre that got people all in a lather. This was a tad ironic because, as we’ve all now found out, a jolly good lather is exactly what is needed to keep those fine slabs gleaming and gum free. The one teeny problem? This hasn’t actually happened yet. As for the new cycle lanes in central Twickenham, there’s nothing like dedicated cycle lanes to transform the whole cycling experience and what we have is nothing like dedicated cycle lanes. To be fair though, the uncertainty about what bikes and vehicles are now supposed to do in King Street keeps everyone hyper-alert, and we especially love those new car-sized boxes at traffic lights where drivers can pull up and stop on top of a bicycle painted on the road. Satisfying.

London Road

London Road, cycling

By the time we got to April, election fever was in full swing. It was turning into the battle of the doctors but not in the sense of Baker versus Tennant versus Capaldi but rather Cable against Mathias. Continue reading

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Twickenham Fine Ales Brewery Tour

Twickenham’s rugby connections mean that the town is more famous for the consumption of beer than its production. It will be a long time before that changes but local brewery Twickenham Fine Ales is doing a pretty good job of putting Twickenham on the map for quality brews. In fact, it’s London’s oldest micro-brewery, having celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014.

Founded by Steve Brown in 2004, the business has grown over the last decade picking up awards, moving to a bigger and better space, and raising both its profile and its sales. Its beers are now widely available in local pubs and further afield too. They can also be found, bottled up, on the shelves of discerning off-licences. Perhaps you’ve seen Naked Ladies, Grandstand and Redhead on the pumps at your local. These regulars form just three of the 20 different beers produced each year.

The brewery bar is open on rugby days (there’ll be a big screen there for this Saturday’s England game) and there are also monthly tours which offer a guide to the art of making proper ales and provide an opportunity to sample the wares ‘in the spirit of education and learning’. Here at twickerati we don’t usually do reviews but for the chance of drinking some booze at a real life brewery, we thought we’d break the rules and pop along.

For the beer-hardened band of brothers (and sisters) who assembled at TFA’s Mereway Road HQ the tour began with a run through of the brewery’s history before moving on to the rather more important subject of making beer. Our hosts Ben and Dave talked through the whole process from end to end with plenty of ‘sciencey’ bits thrown in. Dave even went into detail (too much detail, perhaps) about the hot, sweaty, uncomfortable work of cleaning out the copper. Rather him than us, we all thought.

Twickenham Fine Ales currently produce four brews each week but with demand still growing, a fifth fermentation vessel is now being added. Tour goers get the opportunity to sample three beers, in our case Grandstand (3.8%, well hopped, refreshing with citrus notes), Sundancer (3.7%, a crisp and hoppy session bitter) and Winter Cheer (4.4%, dark, full bodied, hints of spice). As brewer Dave explained, Twickenham beers tend to be at the ‘hoppier side of traditional’ with their hops sourced from countries such as the USA, Slovenia and Germany as well as from the UK. The rise of micro-breweries in recent years, especially in America, has caused a significant increase in the demand for hops, pushing up the price and meaning that brewers are having to look carefully at where they source their ingredients.

Grist, mash, liquor, sparging, hot wort, cold wort, wet yeast, dry yeast and ullage. If you don’t know what they are now, you will do by the end of the tour.

The Mereway Road brewery is not exactly a big place and so looking around doesn’t take up much time, but the insights into brewing and the business of brewing provide for a very interesting evening, made all the more enjoyable by the friendly and informative team. And then of course, there’s sampling the beer too. In conclusion: well worth a visit.

LINK:
* Twickenham Fine Ales Tours (cost: £15)

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Twickenham Tips

UPDATE: Twickenham gets featured in the Homes & Property section of the Evening Standard this week? Are they right, are they wrong and have you learned anything new? Here’s a link to the article.

PREVIOUSLY, IN TWICKLAND: We’ve just heard that the Evening Standard’s Homes & Property Section (aka @homesproperty on Twitter) is going to feature Twickenham in its next edition. Woo! Get in! And what’s more they’ve even asked us if we’ve got any top tips. Or rather what they actually said was “Hi @twickerati our next @HomesProperty area guide is on #Twickenham. Pls tweet your local tips, comments etc to include on Wednes. Pls RT”.  Well, needless to say there’s bloomin’ loads of good things about the area although whether we really want every Tom, Dick or Harry from across London turning up here is another matter. But, in the spirit of true generosity, let’s do the sharing thing. Here’s a very quick list. Why not add yours too?

  1. Excellent local website. And then there’s twickerati too.
  2. Lots of green space. It’s by the River Thames, convenient for Richmond and Bushy Parks.
  3. Some excellent pubs – and we don’t just mean rugby pubs either. Check out The White Swan, The Eel Pie, The Fox, The Sussex Arms and pretty much all the others.
  4. Some great local shops. And we don’t just mean the Poundland. There’s Rubens Bakehouse, Sandys Fishmonger, Laverstoke organic butchers. And we’re even seeing some green shoots of recovery on the high street. Again.
  5. If you like coffee you will never go short. There’s the usual chains and a host of small independent cafes.
  6. Some good restaurants and a sprinkling of boutique shops, especially down ‘historic’ Church Street. Talkin’ tapas, Italian, curry, deli food & more
  7. Easy to get to. Easy to get out of, should you want to, that is. Good transport into London and easy to head west.
  8. Convenient for Heathrow or if you just like plane noise.
  9. It’s not just about rugby… but it is home to the national stadium and Harlequins, a Premiership rugby club.
  10. There’s a Twickenham festival in June with loads going on, especially down by the river.
  11. Good schools.
  12. Arty types doing creative stuff on Eel Pie Island
  13. And of course, it’s cheaper than Richmond!
  14. You get to see this kind of thing….
Thames sunrise

Thames sunrise

And this…

Misty April Morning, Marble Hill Park

Misty April Morning, Marble Hill Park

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Best Sunday Lunch in Twickenham?

When someone sends you a message suggesting that it might be good to do a feature on the best place for Sunday lunch in Twickenham, do you:
(a) Sit around thinking about it for over a month but not actually do anything about it; or
(b) Get to it straightaway because readers need this information and it’s clear that with winter on the way, it’s an ideal time to be thinking about where to get a great Sunday lunch locally.

The Sussex, Twickenham

The Sussex, Twickenham

That’s right, you’ve got it! The answer’s “a”, just sit around for weeks on end hoping the item will materialise on the website out of the ether. Well folks, we’ve given up waiting and taken action. The waiting? Remember that thing ? Well, it’s like so over. We’ve realised that review pieces don’t write themselves, that’s your job and it’s one you’ve always done very well in the past.

We’ve covered Indian, Chinese, Thai and Italian on here before. We’ve also talked about Twickenham’s best cafes and pubs. But, dear readers, the killer question remains: what’s the best place for some proper Sunday grub? We’re talking pub roasts, traditional restaurants or maybe other places that don’t easily fit the other categories. We are not going to use terrible phrases like ‘hearty fare’ but if we were, we would. And we’ll also assume the planned Burger King on London Road will open too late to feature here. Such a shame.

How about the likes of The Sussex Arms or Ales & Tails, both of which have had impressive feedback in the lunch department. If that sounds loaded with innuendo, it’s not meant to. Maybe you’ve tried the food at The Alexander Pope, The Royal Oak, The Albany or The Fox? Or putting pubs to one side for a second, how about the likes of Arthurs, Raefils or Pinchos? Or maybe you desert downtown Twickenham for rarified air of St Margarets, East Twickenham, Teddington or that place over the water. Where’s good? And why?

Only you can know the inner secrets of your heart when it comes to Sunday lunch. So, it’s time to unburden yourself, free your spirit and share your foodie tips with the rest of the twickerati. Make sense? Deep down you know it does. Simply add your comments below.

P.S. Previously on twickerati:
* Best Curry
* Best Italian/Pizza
* Best Pub
* Best Cafe
* Best Thai

One more thing: If you enjoy reading this (free) site, please consider making a small donation to our Christmas Appeal for the local charity SPEAR, who work with homeless and other vulnerable people in Twickenham and across the Borough. Details here.

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A Twickfest Litfest

UPDATE: Have you been to any Lit Fest events yet? The festival is about half way through and there’s plenty still to come whether it’s part of the main event or at the Literary Salon. And there’s even a special twickerati 2 for 1 offer for this Friday’s spoken word double bill with Martin Figura and Byron Vincent. See below for more details.
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The Twickenham Shopping Index

After an epic journey around the streets of Twickenham involving hours of diligent note taking, we are able to bring you the great twickerati “Twickenham Shopping Index”. It’s not quite the Standard & Poor’s ratings index but it is a seriously considered (if amateur*) assessment of the prospect of the town’s sometimes successful but often beleaguered retail premises. Continue reading

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Twickenham Festival: How was it for you?

So, Twickenham Festival has now ended. As the food stalls, paddleboards, music stages, beer tents, dragon boats and kids rides get packed up for another year and the padlocks firmly secured on Pope’s Grotto and JMW Turner’s house, we ask the question, “How was it for you”? OK, so it’s not quite like that and there’s no huge lock-up in a railway arch where Arthur Daley is storing all that kit for the next 11 1/2 months but we like the idea of it anyway. And fret not, there are still a lot of events going on over the summer which you can check out on our What’s On page (see Index menu) but the Festival proper is now done & dusted.

A lot of work goes into putting on the activities and so we’ll add a word of thanks to all those who helped make it happen especially the folks at Twickenham Alive, LBRuT (yes, El Brute), the Twickenham Town Business Association (including its Chairman Bruce “Crusader Travel” Lyons). Cheers folks.

The weather was a bit crap for most of it but the turn out seemed pretty good. Did you go to much? Did you go to too much? Too many events? Or too few? If you didn’t show up, what would you want to see at a Twickenham Festival to grab your attention? Too many questions? Time for some answers then. Off you go…

P.S. One link:
* The twickerati Twickenham Festival & Carnival Photo Gallery

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Come on you Quins! A Fan’s View

Saturday 26th May 2012. Remember the date. It might just become one of the most significant in the history of Harlequins. On that day the mighty Quins take on Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium in a bid to lift the Aviva Premiership trophy for the first time. Victory over the Tigers will be a well deserved end to a season in which they topped the table since September. Put simply, it’s a massive game. In this guest item, Twickenham resident and longstanding Quins fan David gives his take on what it means to support Twickenham’s top flight rugby club.

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Best Chinese or Thai in Twickenham. You tell us.

Is there a town in Britain without a Chinese takeaway? Come to think of it, is there a city in the world without a Chinese restaurant of some kind? To take each of those questions in turn, probably not and… probably not. Add to that the fact (and it is a fact, or at least a made-up fact) that Thai food is the new Chinese and that Vietnamese is the new Thai and we’re positively spoilt for choice when it comes to cuisine from the far east. Or so you might think. A recent delivery to twickerati HQ of a decidedly average Chinese takeaway sowed the [sesame] seeds for this item. Let’s just say that a few of the dishes were left a little bit wanton. New knowledge is required. We’ve previously established Twickenham’s best Indian restaurant, where the best Italian food is to be found and which is best local pub (the answer to all three questions being a very clear: “your personal favourite”) but what about the best place for crispy duck pancakes, or pad thai or pho? Whether it’s eat in or takeaway, the twickerati need to share their knowledge and reviews of where’s best in Twickenham for Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. And how about where to go for Indonesian and Malaysian food? Or perhaps we want to head north for some Japanese and Korean fare?

Here’s a list of most of the places that fit the bill in Twickenham although we’ve probably missed a few: Jun Ming (Heath Road), O’Zon (London Road), Shanghai Village (York Street), Pho Saigon (York Street), Miss Siam (York Street), Lakksa Thai (Heath Road), Thai Pin (St Margarets Road), Thai at the Prince Albert (Hampton Road), Makan Makan (Richmond Road), Fat Boys or Thai Upon Thames (East Twickenham), Sopa, (Strawberry Hill), Panda Garden takeaway (Heath Road) or E-wok takeaway (Crown Road).

Add your comments and reviews right here. We’re simply quite desperate to find out what you think.

P.S. Previous review threads on twickerati:
* Best Curry
* Best Italian/Pizza
* Best Pub
* Best Cafe

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