Doing London – not another coffee shop review…

I’m not sure if I’m in love with London anymore.

In the last few years, there’s been this sense that the city I know more than anywhere else is moving ahead of me. I was born here and despite living amongst a population of 8.7million people, there’s been this undeniable hollowness? We all know the cause and feel its effects. It’s insidious and relentless in scrubbing out our cultural safe spaces and calling it a new name. It’s reminding us to move with the times.

Deep down I guess it’s why it’s taken me so long to find the inspiration to write this guide.

But I’m still attached to London, with its rich cultural legacy (largely owed to immigrant communities servicing a labour starved post-war Britain) and various languages I get to interact with on the daily. London still has soul and potential, and the other stuff? I’ll just have to figure it out…

 

London – Where to Visit/Experience

  1. Southbank Centre – a multi-venue art space with talks, performances and festivals. Be sure to check out the Southbank Street-food Market on weekends, situated in the Southbank Centre Square. Meat eaters must order the confit duck burger from The Frenchie – otherworldly.
  2. Libreriaa cosy little bookstore with a whimsical interior.
  3. Barbican Centrea huge arts centre in the City of London. Great for a photography walk, if not for its architecture alone. Be sure to check out the conservatory!
  4. The Tate Moderna contemporary art institution/event space in one of the most scenic parts of the city.
  5. The Black Cultural Archives – a dedicated learning space and archive to preserving, collecting and celebrating Black British history and heritage.
  6. Alexandra Palace & Hampstead Heath – go for incredible views of the city.
  7. Dans le Noir – diners eat in pitch-black – a truly unique experience.
  8. Friday Lates – a monthly event where the top museums host extended tours, talks and music nights.
  9. Black History Walks – a walking tour covering the Black British presence in UK history.
  10. Notting Hill Carnival – an annual street festival celebrating Black British/Caribbean culture. Expect dazzling carnival costumes, thumping sound systems and delicious food. It is the largest street festival in Europe.

Where to eat

Breakfast/Brunch

Something homely: The Crocodile Café – a cosy, independent café in Muswell hill, which also doubles as a gift shop. It’s very relaxed and family-friendly. The outdoor patio is a good spot if the weather is nice.

 

Lunch

 Something local: Maloko – a crepe café offering up a variety of creative, plant-based sweet and savoury crepes. Bring your own bottle.

 

Dinner

Something authentic: Il Giardino – a rustic trattoria in the heart of Peckham serving up traditional Sardinian cuisine. It’s been open since the 80s and is still going strong.

 

Drinks

 Something different: Drink, Shop & Doit’s all in the name.

For the culture:

  • Fish & Chips – a British national treasure. Order cod, chips with a bit of salt and vinegar and a side of curry sauce (for dipping). Thank me later.
  • Morley’s fried chicken – a national treasure (unofficially), but no less important. Popular with high school students and any other fried chicken lover who only wants to spend a few quid on something tasty, cheap and quick.

Want to read the rest of my London guide? Head over to Spirited Pursuit to read the full version.

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