London (coffee) is lovely

Last week I didn’t go into work.

I woke up at 5.30am each morning, rode my bike to King’s Cross and performed the ashtanga yoga primary series in a room with 200+ people as Sharath Jois counted out the asanas. Then I drank coffee. I had planned to do some stuff that I’ve never got around to doing – you know, cultural stuff – but instead I just drank lots of coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. I hit up many of the London coffee shops I’ve been meaning to visit. And then I rode my overcaffeinated self back home to my flat and lazed around. And I went to bed at 10pm just so I could do it all over again the next morning.

Do I regret not doing London stuff that I had lofty ideals to do at the beginning of the week?

Nope.

San Francisco in London

I’m loving living in Bermondsey.

This Saturday, stopping off at Maltby Street Market with my new bicycle (before heading off to Peckham to get it serviced – I wouldn’t have ridden it normally since the market is only 3 minutes away from my flat by foot…), made me realise why. Bermondsey, particularly the grass-roots Maltby Street Market, is like a little slice of San Francisco in London. Independent businesses have popped up shop in a (perhaps affectedly) haphazard way under the railway arches, selling their wares to lazy Saturday punters.

Picking up a piccolo from Monmouth, stopping off at Bea’s of Bloomsbury for some cake, enjoying the laid-back vibe with other in-the-know Londoners, I was struck by how much Bermondsey felt like Hayes Valley.

I love San Francisco. I love London.

It’s positively lovely here south of Tower Bridge.

As for cycling in London – I can’t believe I didn’t start sooner. It’s amazing. No transport costs. No late buses. No sweaty Tube. No delayed Jubilee line. Travel times nearly cut in half. Sure, I haven’t ridden in the rain yet, and the weather has been particularly beautiful for the last week that I’ve been the proud owner of a bicycle. But the fact that I don’t have to deal with buses, Tubes, sweat and other people makes me think I’ll be an all-weather cyclist for good.

Now all I need to do is learn to ride a fixie up some steep hills, and it really will be like San Francisco in London.

 

PS, I don’t own a fixie.

A very Good Friday

The Easter Bunny was crucified on this day so that I could eat chocolate and spend a blessed morning mooching about in Southwark.

My alarm went off at 6.30am, and up I got. I dressed, shoved some yoga clothes in my bag and headed out the door, greeted by the still-cool air. It was a quiet commute from Wandsworth to West Ferry (via Canary Wharf because the Waterloo & City line was shut); everyone else was sleeping in on their bank holiday, I assume.

Yoga was invigorating, as always. I managed to get up into headstand at the end with straight legs (all the way up) and hold it for the requisite 15 breaths, despite being (down)dog-tired by that point. I even lowered my legs halfway down this time – holding for 10 breaths – all the way back up and down again without losing my focus or balance, thereby crumpling pitifully sideways onto the floor. A resounding success. I’m proud of my abdominal muscles on this day, because that shit is hard.

I hopped on the DLR, which bizarrely was only heading into Tower Gateway, so I decided to take a walk over Tower Bridge into Southwark.

Bombarded by bank holiday tourists on the way over, I forwent the Southbank and instead meandered up Tooley Street over to London Bridge. Borough Market was still relatively quiet. I poked in. I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink, so Monmouth coffee was a must. The queue was epic considering how deserted the market seemed – a testament to Monmouth’s greatness (or maybe just to its mainstream appeal). But someone was working the queue and took my order for a medium-roast Columbian white drip*.

I took my coffee away from the shop’s mania and sprawled across a bit of nearby sun-soaked sidewalk.

I’m an urban warrior.**

About this time, I realised my hunger had subsided, if only as a result of the caffeine I’d consumed. But with Borough Market’s delicacies so close by, it would have been negligent of me to leave without eating. Problem is, at 10.30am a Kappacasein grilled cheese sandwich – as mind-blowing as it may be – simply doesn’t appeal. Nor does les pâtisseries de sucre that Borough Market has in abundance. I dunno. Maybe I was feeling really healthy after my 90 minutes of yoga this morning. Because sugar-filled pastries usually find themselves at the top of the list of Things Larissa Really Likes Eating.

I got a box from the Veggie Table instead.

It was kind of disappointing.

So as I walked by De Gustibus, some fresh hot cross buns beckoned me with the promise of better things.

I was met by a jolly old baker. A chatty chap.

JOB: Hello, my dear. What can I get you?

Me: I’d like some hot cross buns, please.

JOB: [packaging buns] And how are you today?

Me: Pretty good, actually. And you?

JOB: Getting better. Was a bit rough earlier.

Me: …oh yeah?

JOB: You American girls, you’re trouble. Just last night, you insisted on taking me out to the pub down there [pointing] and getting me drunk.

Me: Sounds about right.

I took my hot cross buns and my veggie breakfast Southwark-bound. Southwark Street was desolate, just what I needed after leaving London Bridge. The sun was beginning to beat down as I headed toward the Cut. Approaching Waterloo but not quite ready to go back to Wandsworth, I bought myself May’s Monocle and moved towards Lower Marsh.

I ran into one of my colleagues, Gillian, serendipitously and had a chat with her in the sunshine. We started off talking about not-work, but the compulsion to have a whinge about our workplace was just too great and we ended up venting a bit about some goings-on the day before. That was cathartic.

Anyway.

After parting ways with Gill, I continued down Lower Marsh, hoping upon hope that Scootercaffè would be open to welcome me with its backstreet, downbeat arms.

And it did.

*I am a twat – I know.

**Really twatty