Just a couple of days after flying back to the UK after a year of ups and downs in Lyon, I headed down to London to meet up with Laurence for the day. I caught an early train in an attempt to keep costs down and all was going smoothly until I arrived in Crewe, where things instantaneously went to pot. Virgin Trains were experiencing delays across the whole West Coast Mainline, but to their credit they announced that passengers could hop on any train they liked, so I did that and luckily arrived into London not much later than scheduled.
Once we’d met up, we headed over to Bank to catch the DLR out to Greenwich. Neither of us had been on it before, so sitting at the front of the train was a great novelty! On our way through Greenwich, I couldn’t resist stopping off at Sainsbury’s to pick up a croissant for breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised by just how good it was – easily as buttery and flaky as a genuine French croissant. (A relief to know I won’t be suffering from viennoiserie deprivation now that I’ve moved back to Blighty.) Energy levels restored, it was on to Greenwich Park for a view of the skyline. It was a classically British overcast day, but we could still make out Central London’s most distinctively shaped skyscrapers on the horizon.
Scouting out the deer was next on the agenda. It was far from being an easy task as they were tucked away in a paddock at the back of the park and seemed to like playing hide and seek in the long grass.
We then wandered back into Greenwich, pottering around Greenwich Market on the way. There were lots of stalls selling fat quarters and assorted other crafty bits and bobs – ever so tempting, even though I have several boxes stuffed with yarns and fabrics back at home and really don’t need to amass any more – and also plenty of stands piled high with sweet and savoury morsels.
Passing by Cutty Sark, a tea clipper which once sailed from China with a cargo of tea (well, cargoes, but I fancied inserting a reference to a song we used to sing a lot at Brownies), we decided to take the foot passage under the Thames and pick up the DLR on the other side.
Hopping off the Tube at Liverpool Street, we set off for Brick Lane in search of street art and hot salt beef bagels. (Neither of us could quite believe three years had passed since we’d last been there for one!)
Down the side streets, dozens of street artists were brandishing their spray paints and transforming walls into colourful masterpieces. As we wandered back down Brick Lane, bagels in hand, we couldn’t resist taking another peek; some pieces had evolved a lot in a relatively short space of time.
By mid-afternoon the weather had perked up, so we shared a drink in the sunshine outside Spitalfields Market before making our way to Tottenham Court Road. We had a nosy in Aperture for Laurence, who can never resist an opportunity for camera window shopping, and then wandered up to Soho to visit House of MinaLima. This little gallery features two graphic designers’ work from the sets of the Harry Potter films and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and – incredibly – is absolutely free to visit. (Shout-out to Dana, who drew my attention to this little gem a few months back!) If you’re a Potterhead, this spot should definitely be on your list of places to check out in London.
Original memorabilia from the films, including copies of The Quibbler, chocolate frogs and the Marauder’s Map, was displayed in glass cases. Prints of The Daily Prophet, Azkaban posters and Umbridge’s educational degrees, were hung on the walls and available to purchase if you fancied lightening your wallet by a hundred-odd quid. (Needless to say, we didn’t.)
Our penultimate stop of the day was Snowflake, for a pot of gelato to share. We couldn’t resist a scoop of the mango gelato, but decided to branch out for our other scoop and chose kiwi and banana, which turned out to be pretty tasty.
We rounded the day off with a detour to Pierre Hermé for some macarons, and then headed up to Euston Station in time for me to catch my train, which was – wait for it – delayed. Rarely have I been so unfortunate with my choice of trains, but eventually the train turned up and I was on my way. (I was later reimbursed for both legs of my journey, which made up for the delays.)
- Greenwich DLR doesn’t have ticket barriers like those you’ll be used to seeing at Underground stations in Central London. Look out for the little machines by the exits, and don’t forget to tap out as you leave.
- House of MinaLima (26 Greek Street) is open 12:00 to 19:00 every day. Queues can build up later in the day, so I’d recommend going earlier in the day if you’re leaving the city that evening.