As much as I love being in the countryside or by the sea when the sun is out, there’s something really special about London in Summer. It’s like being on a city break; wandering around the landmarks, eating and drinking outdoors, lounging in the parks. Yes, it’s hectic and busy and full of tourists who have no idea where they’re going, but it’s the time I feel most at home in London.
Two weekends ago I had one of these picture perfect days with one of my best friends. We had one intention for the day: go and get bubbletea, but aside from that, we completely played it by ear. We met in Covent Garden and decided to grab lunch on-the-go, and swung past the Jamaican Patty Company tucked down New Row. Being half Jamaican myself, I was pretty keen to give these a go and weigh them up against my mum’s homemade ones! The shop is set out just like a Cornish Pasty shop you’d find in a train station and didn’t really give off the friendly Caribbean vibe, but as we weren’t staying in it was all about the food anyway. I had a curried goat patty and Claire went for jerk chicken, and they were pretty good, and perfect for eating whilst perched on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields church overlooking Trafalgar Square.
On a total whim (like most of the day!), we headed into the David Bailey ‘Stardust’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which was on its last day of being open. I am always fascinated by portrait photography, regardless of whether it’s a celebrity or not. Every person looks so honest and real, there’s nothing to hide behind, it’s just a snapshot of the here-and-now. Bailey has shot some of the most famous people in the world and there were photos there that I didn’t even realise were his, including some iconic ones of The Beatles. There was also a whole room dedicated to the photos of his wife, who has been his most inspirational muse. The photos were intimate and so full of love and included the birth of their children – a side to his photography that is definitely less well known.
We eventually made to our original destination of Bubbleology on Rupert Street to try their bubbletea. The traditional Taiwanese drink is essentially iced tea (either juice or milk based) with small balls of tapioca in the bottom that shoot up through your straw and allow you to eat your drink. It’s a pretty bizarre concept, even more so when you add ‘boba’, small balls of juice that explode in your mouth! I went for cocoa tea with strawberry boba; a pretty safe bet as I figured it would just taste like chocolate milk and I wouldn’t risk not liking it! It was delicious and surprisingly filling, I couldn’t actually finish my whole drink. I also tasted Claire’s which was lychee and strawberry and it really was just like an iced tea, very refreshing for the hot day.
Our day took us wandering deeper into Soho and we emerged by Beyond Retro for some vintage perusing and onwards to Carnaby Street where I introduced Claire to the joys of Monki. Needless to say she’s a definite fan and picked up a good few items to take with her when she moves to Abu Dhabi (we don’t mention this though as I’m not happy about her going!). It’s then that we realised it was 5pm and that all the food shops would be closed by the time we got home, practically FORCING us to have dinner out and about. We grabbed a table at The Breakfast Club and settled down with proper mugs of tea and massive stacks of pancakes with maple syrup and bacon and a big side helping of gossip and catching up.
I love those unplanned days; the ones where you discover new things and let the day take you on a different curse to the one you’d planned. It’s only really possible when the sun is out though, but it really makes London seems shiny and new again, and reminds me why I love living here.