A couple of weekends ago I hopped on a train to London to visit my friend Charlotte for the weekend. Charlotte is one of my oldest friends – we met in our first year of college (the fact that my oldest friend hails from my college years shows just how much I enjoyed school) and have remained great friends ever since.
I’ve realised that the sentence I began this post with belies quite what a frustating journey it was to get into London – that was the weekend of mega winds, fallen trees and heavy rain and my journey took over 3 hours with lots of shivering on the train platform and being crammed into a very busy train carriage. But it was all worth it when I arrived in Waterloo, met up with Charlotte and we started our mooch towards our first destination – Borough Market.
For those of you that don’t know, Borough Market is a huge food market next to London Bridge station which has all manner of food stalls including fresh food like meats, cheeses, fish and fruit and vegetables, but also cafés, bars and restaurants and lunch spots where you can order everything from Thai street food, to fish and chips to salt beef bagels.
The range of food on offer was amazing and I had a feeling that this would be a much frequented spot if I lived in London, however on a Saturday morning it was unfortunately that – much frequented – and the throngs of people made it awkward to get around. There were a lot of cameras and some organised tours perusing the alleyways so it is clearly a popular tourist spot. We bought some salted caramels and mooched on in search of a cup of tea.
We decided to go straight for the next item on our list, the Isabella Blow exhibition at Somerset House. We knew that London Fashion Week was on but we thought we’d be able to swoop past the fashionistas and go straight into the exhibition. We were very wrong. Hordes of photographers lined the front gates and I had to avoid getting in photos with my particularly unfashionable ensemble of a bobble hat, anorak and lace-up boots (it was freezing and pouring with rain!) After negotiating around umbrellas, long camel coats sweeping just above growing puddles, and lots of be-sunglassed people despite the pouring rain, we headed into the café searching for that cup of tea. After running almost straight into Proudlock in a tartan suit, trying to find a spare table that wasn’t occupied by a horde of stylish looking people gathered around a Mac or iPad, we decamped again to find some lunch.
We headed to Covent Garden to check out Five Guys but the queue snaking all the way around the building meant we quickly moved on. Instead we decided on Jamie’s Italian, with a much more agreeable 20 minute wait for a table. We finally got the drinks we’d been waiting for and I opted for a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail with fresh lemon, elderflower cordial and cranberry juice – yum.
We decided to order a selection of things from the menu rather than getting mains, and went for tomato and mozarella risotto balls, a meat ‘plank’ with meats, cheeses, pickles and salad, squash and ricotta bruschetta and polenta chips with salt and rosemary (they were absolutely divine and the quickest to disappear from their bowl!)
After lunch we decided to head back to Walthamstow where Charlotte lives, to hunt out some cake and go back to her flat for a well-earned sit down. I actually really liked Walthamstow and we had a look in several cute little shops and patisseries. In the end I bought a giant cupcake from a selection in the local Co-op – a local Co-op that has an artisan pizza shop inside it and sells Burt’s Bees and Korres products, not like my local Co-op!
Back at her flat it was time for me to meet her cat Winston. I have heard an awful lot about Winston since Charlotte and her boyfriend Ed got him last year. He is a cat with a big personality and bags of photogenic-ness, hence Charlotte re-naming her instagram feed ‘Winstagram’. He lived up to his reputation.
That evening was filled with TV, fajitas, cider and more attempts at photographing Winston. A lovely evening indeed. The next morning I awoke to a mug of green tea and poached eggs on homemade bread – what a perfect start to a Sunday! We then headed on to Pimlico Car Boot where we’d heard there were bargains to be had. All we had to say about that was ‘hmmm’. There were no bargains that we could see, but maybe you had to pay for the early bird entry – hmmm indeed.
We decamped again to check out Brixton Village and the markets there. I think this was my favourite place that we visited – I just loved the feel of it – people having breakfast on tables outside little cafés, shops with vintage clothing and homewares, art and design shops, delicious fresh food on offer from charcuteries and bakeries, people catching up over steaming coffees, teas and all manner of tasty food smells emanating all around the market. I got another pang for wishing I lived in London just then – even in such a big city there is always something that feels very ‘social’ about London – people meeting to catchup over breakfast, groups of friends wandering around and chatting, café owners who know their customers by name. I feel very at home in places like that (though I tend to feel at home wherever there is yummy looking food available!)
We settled on Honest Burger for lunch, where there was a growing queue despite it being only really the beginning of the lunchtime rush. Luckily we were able to put our names down and get updates on where we were in the queue. The initial estimate of ’40 minute wait’ actually transpired to be about an hour and a half, but we were happy mooching around the market and getting a cup of camomile tea whilst we waited.
Once we were in, Honest Burger did not disappoint. Can we all take a moment to do a collective dribble at this mouthwatering menu? We both went for the Honest Burgers, they sounded too delicious to miss out on.
I went for a homemade lemonade whilst we waited. The stripey straw has to earn me some cool points, right?
Messy hair, don’t care.
When the burgers arrived they were every bit as amazing as we’d expected – melted cheese, tasty pickled cucumbers, onion relish, and don’t even get me started on those rosemary chips…
Let’s all focus on the food for a minute and pretend that my camera strap didn’t sneak into that last photo – what an amateur eh? After our amazing lunch it was time to tube it back to Waterloo and wave goodbye. Goodbye to Charlotte and goodbye to London – I would love to live in you but you are too far from the sea for my job and my fiancé. Until next time mon amour!