East side love
Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and Leicester Square, predictably, were the first few places I saw when I first came to London. They’re the ultimate tourist destinations, crawling with parka-wearing, flag-waving, camera toting groups from all over the globe. To them, this is London. Not mine.
It might be a huge cliché these days, but I love the East End. Living in the south east London area (the eternally ‘up and coming’ New Cross) during my uni years (and experiencing my fair share of souf-eaz lundun culture… god I miss Goldsmiths) was a big part of that love forming.
I remember how easy it was to hop on the East London line before it closed, and being able to shuttle to Shoreditch and therefore Brick Lane (for bagels from the Beigel Bake every time, natch) in a jiffy. These days, it’s a huge trek that usually involves at least one train ride, followed by a bus ride.
It’s a place I take every friend or family member to when they visit London. There’s always something new to see, something new to eat, there are always new sounds, new colours.
One of my favourite bits is Columbia Road Flower Market in the spring. I adore the little shops and galleries along the edges of the market, the characterful stallholders…look out for the brilliantly camp Cockney guy near the end of the market in colourful rasta colours bemoaning having to sell chichi travellers pink Japanese cherry blossoms! Naturally, I had to have some. He was well pleased when I obliged him and asked for the ‘light red’ flowers instead of embarrassing him by using the term ‘pink’… ;-)
There’s also ‘that’ fried seafood storefront, selling cups of prawns or calamari for £3/£1.50 respectively. It’s not the greatest fry, but perfect for when you want something to graze on while perusing the market…
Perfect coffee next to the StArt gallery
And next to the StArt gallery is this amazing little coffee stand. Such a cheerful fella, the guy who mans it. They use Arabica beans for the brew… ’twas an excellent cup, with a perfect cashmere-soft foam for my cappuccino. Yum!
All in all, a day spent here is just my cup of tea. Or, should it be, a perfectly brewed cup of coffee?