Helloooo everyone, I’m finally back.
I’m actually only a couple of days back from my last trip to LONDOOOOON!
It’s possibly my favourite place in the whole world, aside from the deep Irish wilds and maybe also Boulder’s Beach (it’s got penguins which is a major plus for me).
My step-dad works and lives there so I’m lucky enough to have a gorgeous little haven to sleep in whenever I get the chance to pop over. Needed to see my lovely boy and I didn’t much feel like going back to Dublin so close to Finishing Time, so hey, why not meet halfway in London Town?
We were there for four days all in all and managed to squeeze a LOT in, though mind you, as is commonplace enough when it comes to us, much of that involved meandering about shopping and eating. So, how will I do this? I know, I’ll do what I always do and give you the highlights, my very favourite bits.
- The West End
So I’d never really been one for theatre. Obviously I’d been to the odd pantomime at Christmastime and a disastrous countryside production of Under Milk Wood with my dad, who fell asleep fifteen minutes after the curtains opened, but I hadn’t been to anything particularly impressive or cultural, I don’t think (unless you count the Lion King at the West End, which is a total must-see). Anyway, along comes Jacko with an extensive knowledge of theatre and film, thus passing the interest onto me, and here we are, watching my fourth theatre production this year.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Well, it was absolutely flipping amazing. Have you read the book? If you haven’t, do. It’s told from the point of view of a teenager with Autism who begins by trying to solve a local mystery and, well, becomes embroiled in all sorts of mess he’d never bargained for. But the way it was performed – the acting, and prop use and the lighting, was so clever that I often felt I might fall off my seat onto my face, I was that on edge. Coupled with the Merlot – in a little plastic beaker which you’re allowed to transport around the theatre – and king-sized box of Maltesers, I was quite giddy and overwhelmed by the end.
2. Camden Market
This was always going to be on the Best Things list – I can’t get enough of the place and set aside a whole day to go whenever I’m in town. Even more exciting, Jack had never been so I was able to relive the First-Time-Visit excitement all over again with him. Also, and any Londoners reading this will know what I mean, Camden Lock changes just about every year. Every time I go there’s some new cake-stand quarter, a new square laden with pop-up boutiques or a new tunnel of Middle-Eastern trinket shops.
One of the best new shops that we discovered is called Dirty Rich Apparel and is like a big warehouse full of simple but stylish clothes. All the pieces are handmade by the owner in a shed, would you believe. Super nice guys, super cool stuff. Check it out if you get a moment by clicking on the name.
Now, something you might like to know about me is that I’m a total dope. Not all the time – sometimes I’m quite clued-in, even rather cunning. But 75% of the time you’d want to double check facts before taking my word for things, especially when navigating the way through an unfamiliar place (or even familiar place. Managed to get us lost in Canary Wharf on night 1 on the way to our own house despite bragging about my sense of direction for weeks. There are lots of tall buildings and I’m very small. That’s a perfectly plausible excuse). So when I tried to convince J that Camden Market would absolutely be closed on Sunday, he was very clever to double check online to find that Sunday was in fact the busiest day at Camden Market. London never sleeps – this is a fact. But I was sure I’d been there before to find all the stalls unmade and the shops locked up. Chris reminded me later that this was New Years Day three years ago in torrential rain.
My point is, the place was jam-packed. It took us a good forty minutes to squeeze through the food court at lunchtime in a bid to get a falafel wrap before they all sold out. We did (literally) stumble upon a very lovely Jamaican man cutting open coconuts with a machete, which helped to calm the nerves after the battering we got in the crowd, me doing my best not to get the red velvet cupcake I was trying to eat smacked out of my hand.
Anyway all this food talk brings me onto:
Food’s a pretty integral part of any trip, isn’t it. I love going to get food. It’s one of my favourite times of day. One of my favourite things to have whispered in my ear is “Will we grab some lunch now, then?” Anyway, as I said to J, the thing about London is that everywhere is amazing for food. You can’t go down a street without pointing at literally every restaurant or cafe and going “Ooh look at that Mexican kitchen! Isn’t it quaint? OH – no, look there. A Hawaiian bar – how gorgeous. CUPCAKES.”
Maybe that’s just me, though. I’m also prone to over-excitedness.
The best thing to do, I always find, is to amble until you find something suitable. And we did just that. We ambled all over Covent Garden, Picadilly Circus, Oxford Street and Chinatown, until we found this gem of a place and settled happily in with some small-child-sized burritos.
Whilst at Covent Garden (though admittedly on a different day – Covent Garden was a frequented spot of ours) we also got the most amazing icecream I think has ever been made. And I’ve sampled quite a few spots, as you might remember from older posts. But Venchi Gelato really was a treat.
My final boasty-foodie-piece involves what must be one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever stepped foot in – Shoreditch House.
Shoreditch House is a wondrous rooftop club and restaurant frequented by London’s artiest people. Luckily we happen to know some of those artiest artists and were granted access to the top floor which boasts a swimming pool and free-hanging lightbulbs (“It’s a yes from me.”) It’s a lot of fun. Thankfully I left my high-heels and pencil skirt at home – it’s much more stylish, within the arty scene, to go as casually as possible with a hint of quirk. Less is more and all that.
So, that about wraps up the trip. Obviously there were more nice things – the cable car lift across the Themes, every possible art gallery there was, an evening in with beers and comfies (long days call for comfy nights) and shopping-based fun, but sometimes I abandon camera duty and just enjoy the moment, which is OK too (plus who wants to see a collection of clay poos-on-sticks representing the struggles of war? If you do, head to the Tate). I’ll attach some extras anyway, you might like to see them.
Thanks for reading, chaps! I have some cheery and exciting posts coming up so stay tuned!