Our "home base" for the trip was the house of Kate's friend pir (who I gather knows several assorted other friends of mine) and his lady Miko. Their place is in Walthamstow, pretty much on the other side of London from Heathrow, so we got used to a long Tube ride. That said, it was nicely easy (important given that we were pretty sleep-dep'ped), save for one oddity: for about six stops, there was this random skinhead sitting across and a few seats down from us and glaring at me. It wasn't worth getting into it, and he got off at King's Cross, but it was puzzling. Adding to the puzzlement, when we got to our stop -- Blackhorse Road, between Tottenham Hale and Walthamstow -- there was an enormous police presence: several dozen cops, cars, a dozen motorcycles, all in bright yellow. Nothing happening, but we could tell that somebody was trying to send a message.
Anyway, we arrived at the house, Miko showed us to our room, and we crashed for a few hours. Once we woke up, I started to piece together what was going on: apparently the #EDL (one of the big British right-wing organizations) had declared that they were going to march on Walthamstow today. The lead-up had caused a kerfluffle the day before -- they had declared that they would rendezvous at King's Cross, and the staff there (largely Pakastani) had declared a strike in protest -- but there was nothing on the BBC or other television stations, due to an apparent news blackout.
(Which was somewhat understandable in context: this was the general area that kicked off the big British riots last year, and the authorities were presumably going to do whatever they needed in order to keep it from spreading again.)
So I spent a fair chunk of the afternoon listening to the police helicopter (which hovered more or less over our house for something like six hours), and piecing the story together via Twitter. The EDL march had been met by a counter-protest, #WeAreWathamForest, which was vastly larger -- far as I could tell, a few dozen EDL members were met by several hundred folks, who simply blocked the road and refused to let them pass. The Twitter stream faded as we got towards evening, with a bunch of triumphant tweets from the locals, along the lines of, "Got bottled up by the police, but it was *so* worth it".
Finished with a quiet evening (save for the helicopter) -- Miko made us a delightful Indian dinner, and I was introduced to possibly the most important foodstuff in Britain: Millionaire Shortbread.
So here we come to the first example of "What don't we have this?":
It's pretty simple stuff, really: a thin shortbread, with a very thin layer of caramel, topped with chocolate. There are plenty of American candy bars that try to accomplish something like this, but usually come nowhere near the awesome yumminess of the real thing.
Anyway, Kate had told Miko that I needed to be introduced to Millionaire Shortbread, thinking that she'd pick up a pack of half-a-dozen of them. In fact, she got two boxes of about 25, so it became our mission to make sure we worked diligently on it during the trip.
The conclusion is that I may need to learn how to make shortbread (I understand the theory, but have never tried it), just so I can replicate this...