Expensive UK tripping

Huon Hooke is finding the UK to be expensive. Pxhere

It’s expensive to be in the UK today. The Aussie dollar’s exchange rate with the pound has been up and down and pretty poor for many years, but it’s worse now than I’ve seen it for years. Almost AUD $2 to the pound.

Arriving in London I took a taxi from Heathrow to the Docklands, where I’m staying, and it cost GBP £131.80—which converted to AUD $252. OK, I got ripped off. The cabbie decided, for reasons known only to himself, to take us on a scenic tour through the centre of London’s CBD*. It was Saturday morning and very quiet, so it should have been quick, but wasn’t.

The Borough Market was humming. A fishy lunch at Applebee’s warranted a nice cold glass of Chablis.

The Elizabeth train line is, of course, the best option—but not if you’re towing masses of luggage.

What to drink when everything is costing an arm and a leg?

The sun had come out after months of rain and cold, so every man, woman, child and dog was out enjoying the weekend. The Borough Market was humming. A fishy lunch at Applebee’s warranted a nice cold glass of Chablis. Happily, there was a lovely bottle on the list and we drank it. Domaine Grande Roche AC Chablis 2022 was GBP £65, and clearly the way to go. Delicious with starter of house salmon gravadlax and mains of prawn risotto and turbot in a lemon butter and samphire sauce. That would be a tolerable AUD $124. Basic Chablis is nearly always a fair value buy.

Next day, a tapas supper at Tapa Tapa, and an all-Spanish wine list so no Chablis even if we’d wanted one. The closest thing is albariño. Tapa Tapa has a good wine list and we drank a Martin Codax Lias Albariño 2021 from the Rías Baixas appellation in Galicia. At GBP £58 (AUD $110) this is similar value to the aforementioned Chablis, and teamed beautifully with ceviche yucateco (sea bass, chilli, red onion, coriander and lime), boquerones (anchovies marinated in olive oil and vinegar), and brocheta de pollo (skewers of marinated chicken, pimiento, tomato and mushroom).

The albariño was wonderfully fresh, dry and aromatic, and the high acidity, while frisky on its own, was just right when partnered with these foods.

We might just get through this trip without breaking the bank.

*Michael Hill Smith reminded me later of The Adventures of Barry McKenzie in which the red-necked Bazza arrives at Heathrow and from his taxi window en route to the city is surprised to pass Stonehenge.

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