So readers, I’m back in Melbourne now and the holiday is well and truly over (*sigh*) I’m back at work, back into the uni assignments and back in the middle of a grim Melbourne winter. But, it’s still summer in my heart and the tan obtained from 6 beautiful countries in 6 amazing weeks is still hanging on for now albeit under a hundred layers. I’ll be reliving my holiday vicariously through these holiday recaps over the next few weeks. If you’re about to head to Europe – I envy you!
For my second postcard from London we go to afternoon tea and take a walk through the beautiful Hampstead Heath. Come with me….
Before the big trip, I began to excitedly plan a reunion with my friend Lindsey who lives in Bristol. We met in Canada in 1999 working the ski season at Sunshine Village in Banff. After that, I moved to London then Ireland and back to Australia eventually so our last drink was probably around 2003 sometime. So, after 11 years it was amazing to catch up again. Both of us could scarcely believe so much time had passed given we picked right up where we left off – and that’s always a sign of good friendship. Travel friendships really are a special kind and in a league of their own. It’s amazing how tight a bond you can forge with someone over a relatively short amount time especially when you live in each other’s pocket. Anyone who has done a foreign ski season or summer in a US camp will be able to identify with me here.
For our catch up, I wanted to do something shamefully touristy and frightfully English : there’s nothing more English than afternoon tea. I missed out on this last time I was in London so it was great to tick it off the bucket list. As I had no heels and a distinct lack of elegant dresses packed in my backpack ( or in fact any backpack to speak of as it was still missing in action by this time thanks to Singapore Airlines), The Ritz was quite out of the question.
Instead, I found a beautiful tea house called Orange Pekoe , an easy 20 minute train ride from the city centre through Putney and located right by the Thames. Afternoon tea is more casual affair at Orange Pekoe but still with the great service and variety that you’d expect at more upscale venues. There are over 30 types of tea to choose from on the menu and you can also decide to go the ‘cream tea’ instead (just scones & tea) if you’re looking for a lighter tea.
I naturally went for the full afternoon tea with champagne which included plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam (which the ladies will warm up for you when you are ready), cucumber, chicken, cheddar and chutney and smoked salmon finger sandwiches, Victoria sponge cake and fresh fruit. Of course, before we got stuck in, photos were mandatory and waiting- for- the- food- blogger was a new experience for my long time friend.
This platter was deceptively filling and despite my best efforts I wasn’t able to finish off my half but it was oh…so…good. If you’re in London and looking for a alternative afternoon tea, I highly recommend Orange Pekoe. If you’ve fallen into a food coma afterwards, you can walk along the Thames back into the city (though this would be quite a ways) or meander back through leafy Putney then take the train back from there.
Once I’d recovered from afternoon tea and made room in the belly, it was time to revisit Brick Lane at Shoreditch. Brick Lane has gone through a bit of a renaissance since I was there last with local food and fashion markets adding to the mix as well as a plethora of street art around every corner. Just down the road is Boxpark – a pop up shipping container “mall” on the street where you can find cafes, galleries, cool fashion and homewares to pick up before or after you down a curry in Brick Lane.
Another day later and sadly my time in London was coming to an abrupt end but not before stopping for pints and a pub roast at The Spaniards Inn at Hampstead Heath. The Heath was one of my all- time favourite places in London when I lived there. I’d lose endless summer afternoons there with friends amongst the rolling green paddocks, gnarly trees and swimming holes….
It was most lovely to be back and basking in the English sunshine feeling more than a little nostalgic…..
Next stop.. Morocco!