Back in the big smoke
After three weeks of gallivanting around the country teaching drama to small ones and drinking myself into theatrical oblivion at the Edinburgh Fringe, London welcomed me back with big open arms and I settled back in like I was curling up in my favourite armchair.
Even though I’ve been balls-deep in a bunch of delicious spreadsheets at work, I still found some opportunities to giggle and guffaw through the week, catch up with a handful of my favourites and visit some of my most-loved London haunts, which helped to ease the Edfringe blues.
After supping a pint of London Pride on the cobbles outside The Crown and Anchor and watching a guitarist busk in the late, hazy August sun, me and my pal Jen paid a visit to Bill’s in Covent Garden this week. Bill’s has annoyed me a bit actually, because I was convinced it was somewhere excellent that no-one really knew about, and then it went and opened a load of new branches. AND NOW EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT IT. So slutty of you Bills. But, lo and behold, the food was as always blooming lovely fodder. Piping hot mini sausages to start, with skins that had a slight crack as you bit into them, and a spicy marinated half chicken that would probably win if it was in a fight with a Nandos. DELIGHTFUL.
Saturday arrived, smug and lazy at the prospect of letting Monday join the weekend gang and brought with it a spot of afternoon tea at Drink, Shop, Do in Kings Cross. This place is unashamedly adorable, the decor and all the vintage crockery just screams at you ‘I AM CUTE LOOK AT ME!’ Huge slabs of cake were consumed; my red velvet cake was so scarlet and decadent it looked like I was eating a big slab of Restoration Furniture. We washed down the crumbs with endless cups of Earl Grey, that saucy master of my teapot. Always a win, if you’ve never been go! GO NOW!
Sunday was a special day. I was MEGA CHUFFED to be invited to sing at the Southbank Centre ‘Village Fair’ as part of Crafternoon Cabaret (run by the magnificent Hannah Cox- you can read all about her fabulous creative endeavors here. She’s one of my girl heroes). The Southbank Centre is just bloody brilliant. I sort of want to have kids purely so I can take them there to get involved in all the amazing free stuff they have on. After my soundcheck I wandered past the fountains and giggled at the kids in their pants screaming as they got soaked, took in a twinkle-tingle-enducing brass band, cooed at the Camden Cloggers, read the poems stuck on windows, sniffed the blooms in the public herb garden, sampled cheeses and street food at the market watched people whizz down the helter skelter, went ‘awww’ at a lovely group of earnest hand-bell players and thought to myself, how utterly brilliant that this all exists and is free for anyone who wishes to slam their peepers onto it. After the gig, I armed myself with a milk bottle full of cloudy cider made by Burrow Hill Farm and skipped up to the roof gardens to sup at it in the sunshine. Cloudy cider is my downfall. Or more correctly, my falldown, because that’s what happens when I drink it. I then took a promenade down the Southbank to snap some of London’s moments with my spangly new Canon. Good work Bank Holiday.
Slightly sore of head and arm in arm with a best one, I managed to stagger up to St John’s Tavern in Archway for a leisurely bank holiday pub lunch. Grace Dent (another big girl crush) gave this place a stellar foodie write-up recently and I was well-up for my taste buds being tickled. And by Jove they were. This joint is lofty, spacious, with tip-top service , interesting menu choices (pigs head anyone? Dorset snails with bone marrow butter?) and a bloody mary that punches you in the tongue. I had dressed crab which came with an alarmingly phallic claw harking it’s arrival at the table, with a tasty hunk of sourdough on either side. Creamy, sweet and slightly peppery, it was gorgeous. My partner-in-foodie-crime went for a scotch egg, which was arrogantly perfect. Spicy sausage meat encasing a perfectly soft-boiled egg, and it was the size of an ostrich’s testicle. Though arguably more tasty. OH ST JOHN’S YOU BIG TEASE. I have certainly found my new favourite local.
Oh London. It’s good to be home.