Posts tagged "Jack Meyer"

Many sites, from playhouses to train platforms, inspire pilgrimages in the Olympic host city

This package was compiled by writers from BSU at the Games.

Pilgrimage (n): “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion … as to pay homage.”—

The word pilgrimage often inspires images of religious relics and trips to the Holy Land. However, pilgrimages take many forms.

Many of the thousands of fans filling Olympic stadiums in London have stolen time from gold medals and world records to visit other, less obvious places in England’s capital city. You see them everywhere, trying to push a cart through a wall in King’s Cross station, or walking in single file across busy Abbey Road, or standing for the duration of a three-hour Shakespeare play.

They have traveled thousands of miles and parted with unknown sums for this—a photo, a feeling, a moment. And not because guidebooks told them to (though many do), not because their travel companions or the folks at home necessarily understand.

Their reasons are both highly personal and comfortingly communal. They are pilgrims. They are geeks.

And everyone is a geek about something.

—Kait Buck


Hanging out with dead people at the most haunted place in London

By Kait Buck

The famous White Tower at the Tower of London. The tower was originially built as a palace by William the Conquerer with the rest of the grounds being built over time to protect the central palace. Photo by Bobby Ellis.

Thirty-two pounds. It’s the equivalent of 52 U.S. dollars. Fifty-two dollars could buy a girl a lot of things.

What did it buy this girl? Entrance into the Tower of London—twice.

I’m not your typical tourist. I eat, sleep and breathe history, and Great Britain just happens to be home to my favorite time period. Medieval monarchs are my calling. I’ve indulged in countless books on the Tudor dynasty and their early predecessors.

And the Tower of London is a central landmark in these historical tales, as the site of coronation processions, mysterious disappearances and unprecedented executions.

At the Tower, I stood before the unmarked graves of 1,000 headless “traitors.” I examined graffiti carved into the palace walls by prisoners from my history books. I walked through the rooms where King Henry VI and the little York princes were murdered. I passed the Traitor’s Gate where Queen Anne Boleyn was brought for her coronation and later her execution. I studied the armor worn by the infamous King Henry VIII (and almost hyperventilated from excitement).

You see, these landmarks in the Tower are more than signs to read or the butt of witty jokes by a tour guide. People I’ve admired, respected and hated walked the ground beneath my feet. So rather than “tourist,” I’d say I’m a pilgrim—one who journeys a long distance to see a place she holds sacred.

My pilgrimage ended at Tower Green, a site where three queens and a dozen other noblemen lost their lives. Here a monument was erected in their honor, and the description engraved captures the motives of my journey beautifully:

“Gentle visitor pause awhile. Where you stand, death cut away the light of many days. Here jeweled names were broken from the vivid thread of life. May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage under these restless skies.”



Shakespeare enthusiasts go for the ‘groundling’ experience

By Emily Thompson

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a popular tourist attraction. This modern recreation of the Globe was opened in 1997. Photo by Valerie Carnevale.

Along the River Thames in the midst of the modern architecture of Central London, Shakespeare fans step out of the 21st century and into a bit of the medieval world.

Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, which was built in 1599 by the playing company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It’s set up just like the original Globe, with a ground level, seats that span the circle shape of the theatre and an open roof. The Globe is both a tribute to Shakespeare and a venue for performances of his work.

Just outside the venue, “groundlings” queue for nearly two hours before the play begins. They only pay 5 pounds for a presale ticket, but that also means standing for the duration of the three-hour performance.

Clare Eanes was the very first person in the groundling line to see “Richard III” Wednesday night.

“Part of the fun of being a groundling is all atmospheric: the groundling community, and you get to chat with people in the queue,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to sit in the seats.”

Eanes is studying Shakespeare for her master’s degree at the University of Birmingham. “Richard III” was the only Shakespeare play she had not yet seen.

Admitting to being a diehard Shakespeare fan, her eyes lit up as she talked about why she loves seeing his plays.

“All of my focus through my study has been how you take Shakespeare’s language and then put it on the stage, and how that works when you have an actor performing it and an audience understanding it,” she said. “All his words bring his characters to life.”

A few people down the line, Lesley Jones waited patiently for the perfect standing spot. She had been to five shows at the Globe. This was her second play at the Globe that day; she saw “Henry V” in the afternoon.

She sat in line for over an hour and a half but said that it’s well worth the wait.

“It’s the first time that I’ve been able to get right to the front, which was really exciting this afternoon,” she said. “So I want to do it again.”

The line finally started moving, and the groundlings filed into the theatre.

Nikita Nemygin found his spot up against the stage. Even through intermission, he held his ground so no one could take his prime location.

This was his fourth time seeing “Richard III” but his first time seeing it at the Globe.

“It’s very interesting to see how the history evolves in Shakespeare [plays],” he said. “I’ve found that ‘Richard III’ is one of the best histories of Shakespeare.”

He’s no stranger to the Globe, though, as he saw every play last season and hopes to see all of this season’s.

“I enjoy that it’s 5 pounds,” he said. “I enjoy standing here, and the atmosphere is very homey. And it’s not really touristy.”

During the performance, most audience members seem to forget they’re living in the modern world and become entranced by the story unfolding on the stage. Aside from a few jets that fly over the open roof and act as a reminder of the world outside, the atmosphere holds true to the Elizabethan era.

“I just the love the way that you can come along and be surrounded by all these people in the queue,” Eanes said. “Some of them will be Shakespeare academics; some of them will be tourists that have never seen Shakespeare before.

“And they’re all going to leave having something different from it. Some of them will understand all the complex references; some of them will just love the spectacle. That’s what I really love, is how many different people his words can touch and the different ways that [Shakespeare] does that.”



For Harry Potter lovers, Platform 9 ¾ is the London landmark they must see

By Jack Meyer

Patricia Boal gets her photograph taken with a dolley at the fictional Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. The area stands next to a store that sells “Harry Potter” souveniers. Photo by Bobby Ellis.

Laughter rang through London’s King’s Cross-St. Pancras train station Tuesday as children, teens, 20-somethings and parents took turns having their pictures taken attempting to walk through one of the station’s solid brick walls into the magical world of Harry Potter.

Unlike in J.K. Rowling’s hit books, no one actually managed to pass through the wall with the silver luggage trolley to the fictional train and Platform 9 3/4 that takes wizards and witches to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. But that doesn’t stop the books’ fans from coming to the site where half of a luggage trolley is made to look like as if it is on its way through the wall.

Three girls from Maryland pulling luggage joked about being in their 20s and still excited to see the platform in person after having their picture taken pushing the trolley together.

The three said they had used their day to see two of the most important things in London for them, Abbey Road Studios and Platform 9 3/4. They plan to see Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament later in their trip.

“Every kid wants to find out they’re a wizard and not just what they are,” Kate Selby of Gaithersburg, Md., said. “It makes it real; we get to take part in Harry’s trip being in King’s Cross.”

Parents stood smiling alongside children in line to have a turn at attempting to push through onto the fictional platform, which isn’t really at the place in the station used in the movies that accompany the seven-book series.

But that didn’t seem to bother any of the passersby.

One parent, Amy Haas from Hilliard, Ohio, was far more excited than her two teenage kids to throw her bag into the basket of the trolley and fly towards its handlebars.

“J.K. Rowling is absolutely my favorite author,” Haas said. “It just makes the fantasy more real if you imagine yourself doing it.”

“She’s a kook,” chimed Amy’s husband, Dan, as their kids laughed.

The group said they had skipped seeing London’s famous Westminster Abbey for their mother to have a chance to see the trolley on their way to Wembley Stadium to take in an Olympic soccer match between Japan and Mexico.

Haas said she was inspired by Rowling’s books to begin writing herself. She said she hopes to have a book finished in the next three years and intends to have it published.

John Larkin, 12, of New Jersey, ran to push against the trolley with his two sisters while their father stood to the side to take pictures of the three children looking back, beaming.

Larkin said seeing the exhibit was second on his list of things to see in London, just behind the Olympic Games.

“It inspires me because Harry was like a nobody before he became a wizard,” Larkin said. “And then he’s like an everybody now.”



Tourists fly around the world just to walk across this road—Abbey Road

By Lindsey Gelwicks

Members of the French Olympic Team pose for the famous Abbey Road crossing photo with their medals. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp.

The walk down Grove End Road exiting St. John’s Wood Station is quiet—until it meets Abbey Road. There, a little ways down from Abbey Road Studios, groups of Beatles fans attempt to cross the legendary crosswalk hoping to recreate the album cover and capture the perfect picture.

A constant stream of cars makes it easier said than done. On Wednesday, as soon as traffic started to slow, six friends ran across laughing and speaking quickly in Spanish. They struck a pose as the seventh in their group snapped a photo before dashing to the other side to let traffic flow through again. After checking the photo, they tried again several times with different combinations of the group.

Moments later, brothers Joe and Alex Morris of Wales casually strolled across the street, high-fiving when they get to the other end. Goal accomplished. Yet their dad, Michael, standing farther down the street with a camera, shooed them back across for a better photo. Their mother, Anne, laughed as she watched them from her post on a brick wall.

“I think it’s really funny how people can’t walk naturally when they’re doing this,” she said as Alex walked a bit stiffly across.

By this time, Joe had removed his shoes to imitate Paul McCartney.

“It’s eerie,” he said. “Just being in the same place as they were 40 years ago.”

Actually, it was exactly 43 years to the day that John, Paul, George and Ringo stopped traffic to shoot the cover photo for their 11th studio album—Aug. 8, 1969.

Andy David from Australia was one of the few who seemed to know this. The self-confessed Beatles nerd grew up listening to the Beatles since the age of 6.

“But what kind of Beatles fan am I coming here without a Beatles shirt?” he said as he looked down at his outfit.

As David, who came alone, searched for someone to take his picture, Texan Meera Nandlal took her turn crossing the street.

“I look like a complete nut trying to get the pose,” she said. “When you’re thinking about it, you don’t look as graceful as the Beatles did.”

Soon, Mario Pipola and Carmen Norero, London flatmates originally from Italy and Chile respectively, approached her and asked if she could take their picture walking across.

For Pipola, walking across Abbey Road was something he couldn’t miss out on while in London.

“I have to say thank-you to the Beatles,” he said. “I think they were a starting point in my life.”

His father listened to the Beatles when Pipola was a child and it was because of them that he learned to play guitar. He felt that he owed them for the impact music has had on his life.

Most motorists were patient with the groups, but not all. Cars honked as people stalled in the middle of the road. Anxious motorcyclists zoomed through the groups. Even with people standing in the middle, cars tried to inch past.

“I like this one,” Nandlal said, laughing as she looked through her photos from that day, stopping on one that had a car in it. “It shows how brave I am.”

After 13 attempts to get the pose right, Nandlal ran out into the middle of the crosswalk again. She had to get the perfect photo because she said all her friends would critique it.

“Just one more,” she said. “I want to get it before dark.”

Instead of recreating the iconic walking pose, she squared herself off to the photographer, plastered a big grin on her face and threw her hands up in the air as if to say, “I’m finally here!”



Beloved princess inspires devotion to memorial fountain

By Jessica Pettengill

The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain provides a place for family’s to relax in Hyde Park. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp.

Princess Diana was one of Great Britain’s most beloved royals. Until her death in a tragic car accident in 1997, she served as an inspiration to the British people. Now the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park in London carries on her memory.

The circular granite fountain creates a path of endless flowing water and encourages passersby to sit and dip their feet in the current.

One such visitor, Virginia Engles, sat quietly one recent afternoon at the top of the lawn of the memorial, looking on the scene. Half-dressed children ran in and out of the water.

A native Londoner, Engles visits the memorial about once a month. Though her reasons vary, she said the Diana Memorial holds a special place in her heart.

“In the summer, I’ll bring the kids to play in the water,” she said, pointing at Julia, 8, and Tom, 6. The two joined the other children splashing around on the granite.

“But mostly when I come here it’s to sit and read, or meditate, or just not do anything,” she said.

Engles believes that this is one of the most tranquil places in London. The 143-acre park provides a calm backdrop to the rush of the water.

“Her life was so full of giving and love, even after the divorce,” said Engles. “She was the type of person who won a Nobel Peace Prize but wasn’t above visiting those with AIDS, or simply dedicating something to the children of London.”

The fountain is not a grand marble statue or an overly thought-out metaphor. It is simple and elegant and open to all who should pass by—much as Diana lived her life, according to Engles.



Hardcore tennis fans visit Wimbledon just for a peek through the gates

By Jonathan Batuello

The sounds of grunts and tennis balls being hit back and forth were gone. The crowds who loudly cheered for the United Kingdom’s Andy Murray to win a gold medal in tennis a day earlier were at different Olympic sites and places across the city. Still, Wimbledon had tennis players and fans milling around outside.

Even with the gates locked and no one permitted on the grounds.

“It’s history in there,” Kasey Plighton from Connecticut said. “I played tennis in high school, and it’s a place I always wanted to go.”

Plighton had made the trip to London for the Olympic Games with her mother, JoAnna. A recent college graduate, the 22-year-old didn’t play at the University of Colorado but still felt a connection to the sport and the site of the historic tournament.

Jayme Robinson, who lives a 15-minute walk from Wimbledon, said a lot of people like Plighton and her mom come through the area during the year to peek in the gates and walk around when tournaments aren’t going on.

“Anytime I walk down here in the summer (in Wimbledon Park, adjacent to the tennis venue) there are people around who have cameras and iPhones up,” said Moreton, who doesn’t play tennis himself. “Sometimes you’ll see them pretending to swing a racquet or something like that, too.”

As Plighton kept walking around, she peered in through openings in the fencing. It was the only way she would get to view Centre Court or Henman Hill. She peered over hedges and attempted to see everything she could from the outside.

“I wish I could walk inside, but at least I’m here,” she said.

10 ways to enjoy London after the Games are gone

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

Although the 2012 Olympics are coming to an end, tourists undoubtedly will still flock to London in great numbers to see all the city has to offer.

For the past few weeks, network televisions streams have been flooded with images of London’s most famous landmarks—Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace among others.

For travelers coming to London in the coming months and years, here is a list of attractions around the city that are lesser known but still more than worth a visit. Some of them might even help answer that classic tourist question, “Where do the locals hangout?”

1. The Churchill War Rooms

Entering the Churchill War Rooms, just a short walk from Westminster Abbey, visitors will be surprised at just how unchanged the tunnels truly are.

The bunker, which protected Winston Churchill and other top government officials from German air raids during World War II, has had minimal changes such as  additional lighting and directional signs since it was closed off after the war ended in 1945.

In one dimly lit meeting room, a doodle drawn by an English diplomat or strategist during the war shows Adolf Hitler in the Atlantic marking the supposed location of German ships approaching the UK.

The maze of underground tunnels wind through meeting rooms, dining areas and temporary bedrooms from which Churchill directed the war.

The War Rooms won’t take a full day to see but can start to become pricey for large families at £16.50 ($25.89) for adults and £13.20 ($20.71) for students and seniors. Children under 16 enter free.

2. The Kernel

A beer lover’s trip to London can’t end without a trip to the Kernel Brewery’s back alley location just one Tube stop away from London Bridge Station.

The brewery sells its beer every Saturday no-nonsense style from the front of its nondescript warehouse brewery where small crowds can be found each week, sipping, laughing and stocking up on high-quality brew for the week ahead.

The Kernel likes to keep its batches small so when the week’s brew is sold out, visitors will have to wait a week for more. Only a select list of pubs in and around London sell the Kernel’s beer.

Check out the brewery website’s map of how to get to the Kernel on Saturdays, or it may get a bit tricky to find. It truly is hidden but well worth it.

3. Lucky Chip at Netil Market

For American tourists in London, Hackey’s Netil Market is home to one of the best burgers that will be found anywhere.

The Lucky Chip, owned and by operated by Australian Londoner Ben Denner, specializes in top-of-the-line burgers and even takes them a step further.

Denner has spent months developing and perfecting his recipes, which include many less traditional combinations like pineapple, barbecue sauce and onion rings, or duck, veal and liver.

Prices for a meal at the Lucky Chip start at about £6.50 ($10.02) for the “Clint Eastwood” veggie burger and classic cheese burger and stretch up to £16 ($25.11) for the “John Belushi,” which includes a list of more sophisticated toppings.

A quick search online will be enough to pinpoint Netil market on a map, or get off the Tube at Bethnal Green station and ask around for a bit of an adventure.

4. Brewdog

Brewdog‘s slogan, “beer for punks,” says it all. This Scottish brewer is focused on brewing and selling great craft beer regardless of what the masses are drinking, as the punk attitude would suggest.

The brewer’s mission statement of sorts says the brewers “were bored of the industrially brewed lagers and stuffy ales that dominated the U.K. market.”

Not being located on Camben Town’s main strip keeps the London pub somewhat clear of tourists who haven’t done their beer homework. But you’ll often find the pub filled to the brim with beer lovers.

The pub sells a selection of high-end ciders and the Brewdog’s signature beers—some accessible, like the company’s flagship Punk IPA and 5 a.m. Saint, and some more exotic, like Hardcore IPA and the Tokyo intergalactic fantastic oak-aged stout.

The company also makes limited-release brews like their Olympic brew, Nevermind the Anabolics, which was brewed with creatine.

Find directions to the company’s pubs as well as the spirit behind the slogan and the company’s beers at

5. Primrose Hill

There isn’t a better place to take a break or bid the city farewell than at the top of Primrose Hill.

On the city’s north side, the hill sits in Regent’s Park and gives visitors an unparalleled view of the city’s skyline. The park is filled day to day with mostly Londoners, picnicking, drinking, napping and just enjoying themselves.

Anne McCab, from England’s southern coast, said she has been to London hundreds of times in her life but had never made it to Primrose Hill until last week after volunteering during the Olympic Games.

“It’s a beautiful view because it’s such a wide sky and I’m used to seeing it from the other side of London,” McCab said. “It’s a secret, really, and it’s a secret for the people who live here I think. Once you come you’ll come again.”

The park is open at all hours of the night so visitors may want to make day and night trips to the area to really get the skyline’s full effect.

6. Portobello Market

One of London’s oldest markets is usually a hustle and bustle of locals pushing past visitors to stores and booths lining the street crowded with clothes, hats, glasses, souvenirs, and food from around the world.

But on weekdays, said a watch seller at one of the market’s permanent shops, business has been struggling because of the world recession and the Games, which have forced many Londoners to skip town.

“The Portobello Market is one of the most important markets in London and it’s the biggest,” said Sikner Altintas a Londer of six years who has spent three of those in the crowded Portobello shop.

The market is located on the city’s west side on Portobello Road not far from Ladbroke Grove Tube station.

Look for this market to begin to surge again once the economy picks up and things return to normal in London after the Games.

7. Shoreditch

It takes about a half-day to get the full affect of Shoreditch’s artistic scale.

On one Wednesday afternoon, Adam Brazier of Graffiti Life, a London-based graffiti company, is painting a wall-sized mural with a colleague. Because the wall is in such a high-profile area for street art, Brazier is doing the piece as a non-for-profit job.

“In such a good location that a lot of people walk passed, we’ll do things just for the price of paint,” Brazier said. “This is kind of exposure for ourselves, so this is almost marketing for us.”

The wall Brazier is painting is on a corner already covered in graffiti. Just above where he is working, two decommissioned London Tube cars sit on the rooftops as an instillation. Across the street is a wall that has been painted for Oakley Sunglasses as advertising.

Have a walk around the Shoreditch area and all kinds of huge street posters and back-alley wall murals will jump out from all corners.

“Shoreditch and the Brick Lane area in London is just really known for its street art scene now, and it’s been really accepted by the council and the police,” Brazier said. “If you come to London and you want to see street art, you come here.”

Get off at Shoreditch High Street Overground station and have a look around.

8. Boxpark

Between the art-covered walls of Shoreditch High Street, Boxpark is a noticeably tidy corner amid the paint.

The property is made up of 20 or so shipping containers, each containing a different narrow store or restaurant, many of them high-end retailers.

Brands that can be found in Boxpark’s spaces include NIKE iD, DC Shoes, Levi’s, Vans, and many, many more. The park’s second floor is filled mostly with restaurant boxes where visitors can find frozen yogurt, Mexican, Thai and a number of others.

The stacks of containers are described by locals as a “pop-up mall.”

Again, to find Boxpark, visit its website at or come out of Shoreditch High Street Overground station and ask around—someone will direct you.

9. Greenwich Royal Observatory

This observatory may be one of the most significant locations in or around London, being

the namesake of Greenwich Mean Time and lying directly on the prime meridian.

Visitors can tour the observatory’s museum to see how the creation of GMT and the prime meridian changed the world. When the observatory is open, tourists can be seen straddling the prime meridian, marked with a line in the building’s courtyard, and having their pictures taken with a foot in the eastern and western hemispheres.

Other attractions include the observatory’s astronomy center and planetarium.

For an extra bit of adventure, take the foot tunnel under the Thames beginning near the Island Gardens light rail station. The observatory is just a short walk from the tunnel’s exit.

Check for pricing on the observatory’s website.

10. White Chapel Bell Foundry

Britain’s oldest manufacturing company is a great place to stop for any history buff willing to plan ahead. Because of its popularity, tours of the White Chapel Bell Foundry are often sold out for months and sometimes a year in advance.

The company doesn’t do tours everyday because the foundry is still churning out bells regularly, including the bell used to open the London 2012 Olympic Games, which was the largest harmonically tuned bell in history, according to owner Kathryn Hughes.

“We were established in 1570,” Hughes said. “We’re also one of the only real working sort of factory-type places in London because nearly everybody else has left.”

The foundry has been in Hughes’ family for more than 100 years and has made a few other bells that visitors may be familiar with, including London’s Big Ben.

Those without a tour can still enter the small museum at the front of the foundry and see the template used to make Big Ben around the lobby’s front door.

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and

Photos by Tyler Varnau.

The view from Primrose Hill. Visitors can see the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral and most of London’s other architectural landmarks from the top.

Workers at a permanent store in Portobello Market show shoppers watches, jewelry and paintings. The store is just one of many that line Portobello Road’s curbs.

Adam Brazier of Graffiti Life works on a mural in the Shoreditch area of London. Graffiti Life has been one of the contributors to the area’s strong street art scene.

Box Park’ exterior lit up one evening for shopping.

A tunnel runs under the Thames leading to the Greenwich Royal Observatory. Find your way to the tunnel’s entrance from Island Gardens Light Rail Station to take it to the observatory’s base.

Hundreds of years old bells fill a courtyard between White Chapel Bell Foundry’s front lobby and the foundry area in the back. The foundry is open for tours but reservations sometimes fill up as much as a year in advance.

Tyler Varnau is a junior journalism graphics major at Ball State University and photographer for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @tvarnau@bsuatthegames and

London’s Lucky Chip selling burgers at Olympic party, new restaurant

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

A ‘Kevin Bacon’ comes together on the preperation table in the kitchen of the Seabright Arms in East London. The burger is a creation of Ben Denner who has designed a burger for Coca-Cola that will be sold at a final party for Olympic athletes.

On a busy evening at Sebright Arms in Hackney on London’s east side, Ben Denner, an Australian-Londoner, walks into the pub’s small kitchen to see the final burgers of the night sizzling on the grill.

The burgers, the Tom Selleck with cheese, pineapple, barbecue sauce and an onion ring, and the Kevin Bacon with cheese and, of course, bacon, made their way to the table of Fiona Woodcock and Emily Henderson, new London residents who’d come to the pub for their second time.

“They stand out,” Henderson said as Denner’s girlfriend Jody came to cut the burgers so the girls could share. “They just taste different from normal burgers.”

Denner and his company, The Lucky Chip, have been in a flurry of growth the past few months working to open a new restaurant selling slider-style burgers in London’s soho district and designing a burger for Coca-cola, which Denner said will be sold at a closing party for this year’s athletes at Olympic Stadium.

“It’s a Coca-Cola-raspberry and chipotle barbecue sauce with beef patty, bacon, American cheese and seeded bun,” Denner said.

Last week Denner said he was preparing to make thousands of the burgers, which Coca-Cola requested be based on the drink, to serve at the event.


The perfect burger

Two of the night’s last burgers enter a dumbwaiter to make their way up to the dining room at the Seabright Arms. The pub, in partnership with The Lucky Chip, have had great success selling Denner’s burger recipes for more than six months.

On any given evening, the dim dining and drinking rooms of Sebright Arms are filled with dinners, generally between 20 and 40, munching on one of Denner’s ten burgers on the menu. He rotates certain burgers on and off the menu periodically.

One burger, priced at £16 ($25.10) includes more sophisticated toppings like duck, a veal and marrow patty with foie gras (liver), truffle aioli and pedro ximenez.

But the menu is also filled with the expected cheese, double cheese and bacon burgers as well as other less familiar combinations starting at £6.50 ($10.20.)

“We were going to do a menu of just different French fries from around the world with different sauces on them,” Denner said. “Then we started playing around with burgers and having loads of fun with that and one burger all of a sudden become five burgers and then we had a menu of ten burgers.”

Some of the burger’s, Denner said, took months to perfect, others he has been working on for the last year.

The El Chappo, a beef patty topped with bacon, blue cheese, roast jalapeños and a garlic mayo aioli was the menu’s first burger and took about a month to create.

“Normally we find one ingredient that we want to work with and then find things that compliment that,” Denner said. “For example with the El Chappo, we tried to find something that went with [the blue cheese.] We very quickly discovered that jalapeños go with that and aioli.”

Denner spent just as long working to perfect his burgers as finding the right places to source the ingredients for them. He said he tried a number of different bakers before finding the perfect buns, which are steamed before making it to their burgers.

“It’s the most important thing for us that we source our ingredients from the best possible place we can,” Denner said. “Our butcher is a 200-year-old butcher out in the country who drives 70 miles down here every day to drop everything off.”

Denner said he has tried to source as much of his supplies from around London but some ingredients, like jalapeños, have to come from elsewhere.

Steady growth

The Lucky Chip began more than a year ago selling burgers out of the company’s food truck in the parking lot of a London church. It then moved the truck to Hackney’s Netil Market not far from Sebright Arms where it began selling a few months later.

Since then, the amount of burgers the Lucky Chip sells has increased many times over but Denner won’t say by exactly how much.

“I don’t really want people to know. I like it to be a bit of mystery,” Denner said. “First when we were open we’d do 30 a night and we were like, ‘this is full on’ and we were kind of stumbling around like ‘what do we do?’”

This week, the Lucky Chip opened up shop with a new restaurant called Slider Bar in London’s soho, an area near the city’s center filled with bars and restaurants.

“The appetizer section, which is the first part of the menu, is designed around fun and fast food stuff but with our twists and plays on it,” Denner said. “And you’ve got essentially what would be the main courses, which is sliders. And then we’ve got our desserts, which are all ice cream based desserts.”

The restaurant’s sliders will be based on the menu that is sold at Sebright Arms but with a few new burgers in place of a few regulars from the pub.

Denner plans to start things slow at Slider Bar due to fears of getting too busy too early and, if things continue to go well, open a drive-thru.

“I’m stoked, I’m really excited about the future, we’ve got some big plans,” Denner said. “It’s what I see myself doing for the rest of my life now.”

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and

American barbecue presence grows in London

By Jack Meyer | BSU at the Games

Pit Cue Co. food truck in London

Passing customers stop to order some of Pit Cue Co.’s beef brisket. The American-style pulled pork barbecue sold out before closing on Sunday evening.

Jamie Berger stuck his head out of his metallic food truck parked on the South Bank of the Thames Sunday night, selling the last of his American-style barbecue to passing Olympic goers and London natives.

Berger is just one of a number of entrepreneurs cashing in on London’s desire for such fare, which Berger says has been growing in recent years.

“When we started there were really not very many at all,” Berger said. “There’s certainly been an interest in barbecue in places like New York and on the East Coast, so it’s kind of a natural progression for it to come over here.”

Berger, a Georgia-born American who has lived much of his life in London, started his business, Pit Cue Co., two years ago with a single food truck parked just a few minutes’ walk from the London Eye. Since then Berger has opened shop in a permanent space in London’s SoHo and plans to open a second, larger restaurant at the beginning of 2013.

Two Londoners sat between Berger’s truck and the Thames Sunday afternoon munching on some of the last of the day’s beef brisket, which is served the American way with sides of pickles and coleslaw.

“I’ve had it before, and it’s really good. Proper American barbecue,” said London native Niiamu Swaniker. “I’ve been to America a lot, so I’ve had it over there. It isn’t represented really well here, so it’s nice to find a place that does it really well.”

Berger said his business model doesn’t involve trying to make a direct copy of the pit-style fare that is well know, in the southern Unites States.

“We’re not trying to replicate any one regional kind of barbecue,” Berger said. “We’re seeking to take the best of American techniques and marry them to old rare-breed English pigs and cows to create something rather unique.”

Although Berger is selling barbecue in England’s capital, he said many of his customers are Americans who are familiar with his product but are often surprised to see it across the Atlantic.

“Often they are very surprised and somewhat incredulous,” Berger said. “They are also rather, ‘How can you have pulled pork over here?’ Then we kind of have to explain the story and then they try it and realize it’s very delicious.”

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and

Opening Ceremony helps one Londoner feel at home

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

On the evening of July 27, Eileen Hsieh stood with 1,400 fellow dancers ready to storm the floor of Olympic Stadium on London’s east side.

“Once we heard that music going, we all were just pumping and yelling in the back,” Hsieh said. “We were underneath all the seats so no one could see us. Then all of a sudden we just ran onto the field, and cheering to the crowd, and the crowd was cheering us on too.”

Hsieh, a Taiwanese international journalist and Indiana University graduate, knew she wanted to participate in the Olympic Games since last year, when she left a reporting and producing job at CNN in London to pursue the opportunity.

“That was my goal. I wanted to participate in the Olympics, and there was no way I could do it fully unless I quit my job, so I did that,” Hsieh said. “I auditioned before Christmas for the Opening Ceremony to find out which position they were going to put me in.”

After two auditions, Hsieh was chosen as a volunteer performer during the portion of the Opening Ceremony showcasing English music and honoring Britain’s Tim Berners, who created the World Wide Web.

Hsieh began practice with her group in April, spending time receiving instruction from professional dance coaches, as well as Danny Boyle, the English filmmaker who directed the ceremony.

But without previous dancing experience, Hsieh said she spent extra hours perfecting her performance outside organized rehearsal.

“I would just gather with some of my fellow dancers who felt the same way as me, who weren’t as confident, and we would just rehearse in our own time,” Hsieh said. “We would go into the studio and just practice in front of the mirror.”

Hsieh has worked as a freelance journalist for Reuters in London since leaving CNN, a position that allowed her to keep more flexible hours preparing for the ceremony.

As a dancer and reporter in London this summer, Hsieh has gotten the unique opportunity of seeing London’s Olympic Games from the inside and out.

“I wanted to participate and wanted to make sure I did everything I could to get my feet in there somehow,” Hsieh said. “It takes so much effort and so much good will to actually make it happen.”

Hsieh has spent portions of her life living in Taiwan, Morgan Town, W. Va., and London, but she says participating in the Opening Ceremony has made her feel at home in the city where she lives now.

“It means that I am integrated to the city already. I feel like I’m a true Londoner because it is really a London event, and I’m part of it,” Hsieh said. “If they asked us to do it again tomorrow, we all would.”

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and

For oldest pub in London, head over to the Cheese

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

It might be assumed any establishment across England whose title bears the words “Ye Olde” is a gimmicky trap for tourists looking for a medieval experience, but one pub in Central London is worthy of the name.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, one of London’s oldest pubs, was rebuilt in 1667 after London’s great fire and has survived the reign of 14 English monarchs and welcomed the likes of Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Walt Disney and Queen Elizabeth II.

The pub still serves drinkers from across the world with it’s olde-timey feel and is a must see for Olympic-goers this summer. Here are a few things that may interest you enough to come in and have a pint or a plate of fish and chips.

- Great Beer

The pub, referred to by locals as “The Cheese,” is owned today by English brewer Samuel Smith who keeps the pub stocked with a wide selection of its stouts, ciders, taddy casters and organically brewed lager and wheat beers. The pub’s three bars on two floors offer beers and ciders on tap and many more in bottles ranging in price from £4-6. Wine is also offered for those who don’t care for the taste of beer.

- Great Atmosphere

One step into The Cheese is a step into the past. Dark dusty wood and stone floors leave no questions as to the legitimacy of the pub’s age. Its dimly lit halls upstairs wind through two standing and sitting areas and wooden doorways leading into the pub’s cavernous cellar, which offers another full bar and an arching brick celling. Although tourists frequent the pub, its nooks and location down a dark Fleet St. alley make it feel intimate.

- Escape the Olympics

Although travelers won’t find The Cheese tourist free very often, it’s an oasis away from Olympic drama. Samuel Smith, according to the bar staff, doesn’t allow televisions or music in the pub according to company policy. “The company is just old fashioned—we like the old kind of chatty pub atmosphere,” Dominic Moss said, a Cheshire Cheese bar staff supervisor.

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and

Feeling at home in London

As I stepped onto the tube for the first time in months at Chancery Lane in Central London I felt a familiar tingle of excitement. After studying abroad in London this past spring semester, anything I could possibly want was in reach again.

During that time, I learned where to go to find the things that make me happy in this city. Whether it’s a pint at the Scottish brewer, Brewdog in Camden Town, a gourmet burger from the Lucky Chip in Hackney or a place to sit and think at the top of Primrose Hill, I know how to make myself comfortable.

Returning to London for the Olympics after living here for the first three months of the year has been such a treat and put me ahead of the game[s]—literally. For this reason, I don’t think I could pick a city I’d rather report from. The tube is simple, the pace of life is quick and the friendliness of Londoners and foreigners sharing the city is endless.

During my time studying at the City of Westminster College, I began to feel like I was coming home after returning from trips across Europe, and it didn’t feel any different as I made my way into London earlier this week.

After my experience here, there was no doubt in my mind that London would display itself in a grand way for this year’s Olympic Games. This was proven to me Saturday evening when a group of BSU at the Games journalists and I watched the fireworks blast off from Olympic stadium in Stratford, signaling the start of this celebration of togetherness, diversity and sport.

After this year’s Games, the world will recognize London as the beautiful, vibrant and relevant city I know it is.

Jack Meyer  |  Features Reporter

Mood turns optimistic as Games begin

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

The dimly lit Café Kick Sports Pub in central London was a mix of jovial patrons, drinks in hand, staring at TV screens showing the Olympic Opening Ceremony last night.

Between beers, cocktails and games of foosball, foreigners shared Londoners’ excitement in welcoming the Games to the city above the low roar of the pub, which was spilling out the front doorway into the street.

Colin Davidson stood outside Café Kick watching the ceremony while sipping a Peroni and said he expected the Games to have a strong economic affect on London, especially it’s east side.

The diverse group of pub-goers cheered as their country’s athletes filed onto the stadium floor. The three hour event ended early enough for those watching the ceremony at the stadium and elsewhere to get home before the London’s Tube underground system closed for the night.

“It’s a great moment for Britain,” said Davidson, who has spent all 32 of his years in London. ”I think it’s just pushing us more together than ever. They’ve put a lot of this money into this, and it’s going to bring Britain back to where it needs to be.”

The narrow pub filled with pride when the Olympic rings hovered above the stadium, and groups of drinkers from around the world clapped and shouted as their country’s athletes spilled out onto the floor.

“It’s nice to have an event that involves the whole world coming together in one place,” said Elliot Maule, an Indian-Englishman from the Clapham Borough on London’s south side. “Even though London has the Olympics, it still involves the whole country. So I think it’s a huge source of pride for the whole of the U.K.”

The Opening Ceremony marked the beginning of the Games last night with appearances from celebrity L.A. Galaxy Soccer star David Beckham, a performance from Sir Paul McCartney, and actor Daniel Craig taking part in a video piece showing Queen Elizabeth II “parachuting” into the Olympic stadium.

The performance included an estimated 15,000 volunteers, according to BBC reports.

“The English are very unassuming and honest and pessimistic, and I think everyone had a lot of negative thoughts going into this,” said London local Susie Combem. “To me, watching this tonight, I feel really proud and I feel really patriotic.”

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and