Tuesday, July 01, 2008

June 24, 2008: London

Hello from surprisingly sunny England! We'll be blogging irregularly from the northern hemisphere over the next few weeks, on a trip that combines small doses of work on Cindy's part with sight-seeing and plenty of vegetarian eating for the both of us.

Due to the vagaries of our ridiculous travel plans (Cindy returns to Australia from the UK via Chattanooga, while I head back through Tokyo), it made sense (financial sense anyway) for the two of us to fly in to London some six hours apart. This meant that I turned up at Heathrow at about 7:30 in the morning; tired, hungry and alone. After finding a place to stash my luggage for the day I headed off to Marylebone Lane for some breakfast, based on the Lonely Planet Guide’s recommendation. After fruitlessly strolling up and down the lane and failing to find Providores (in my sleep deprived state, the street numbering system was utterly incomprehensible), I slumped with some relief into Eat and Two Veg. We’d been quite impressed by the dinners they served up on our visit two years ago, so I was hoping that the brekkies would pass muster. Unfortunately they were pretty ordinary – apparently the UK lags a long way behind Australia when it comes to cooked breakfasts, it’s the stodgy full English or nothing. Mine at least came with some vego sausages (which were fine, but not much better than those you can buy from Safeway). The beans tasted like Heinz, the toast was a little cold and the poached eggs were poached beyond recognition, leaving just hard little balls of yolk. Still, with a big splash of tomato sauce, this was all filling and tolerable enough to fuel me up for some explorations of London.

Without the mental energy to take in galleries or history, I spent most of my day wandering through Regent’s Park checking out the collection of exotic waterbirds (there was even a black swan from Australia).

The park led me up to Primrose Hill – an elevation of about 5 metres that gives you a view across all of London.

I staggered my way back to the tube and found my way to Beatroot for lunch (alas I forgot to take pictures – it’s a buffet style vego place where you fill up a lunch box with a variety of salads, stir-fries and other treats – cheap and delicious). This led me into the depths of West End hell – crowds of people, traffic and noise – it was all too much for me in my fragile state. Luckily, it was time to meet Cindy, so I stumbled down to Holborn station for our 3pm rendezvous. Thanks to slight delays at all stages of her trip, this turned into a 5:30pm rendezvous, meaning that by the time we’d headed out to Kings Cross to pick up my luggage it was time for us to make our way to our temporary home at Emily and Sam’s place. This was a haven from the confusion outside: familiar faces, a comforting home-cooked meal of warmly spiced chickpea stew followed by banana and grapefruit upside-down cake and finally a soft mattress to call our own, at least for three nights.


  1. I wondered where you two were off to...have a great time. If possible, try Ottolenghi (sorry, not sure where it is, but I've been making his grilled broccoli and it's sensational). He writes the (excellent) veg pages in the Guardian online.

    Enjoy! Look forward to hearing about it on your return.

  2. Oh boy, I don't envy you staggering around London in jetlagged/exhausted state. I've done it before too. Killer! Anyway, sounds like you made a good day of it. Your description of the poached eggs sounds par for the course... in fact I'm surprised they weren't just deepfried! Have a great time on your travels M&C.

  3. Happy travels guys!

    xox Sarah

  4. hi there - happy travelling. if you have a chance, i do recommend the Manna restaurant at primrose hill - fabbo veg food (at least it was a couple of years ago). we had the chefs salad there and it was a revelation!

  5. Thanks, WFD!

    Lucy, sadly we are now out of London and missed out on Ottolenghi, though there were a few other excellent food stops along the way - more to come! Recommendations for York, Edinburgh, Plockton (a long shot) and St Andrews are most welcome. :-)

    Duncan, the worst is certainly over - Michael's first 12 hours weren't much fun but I escaped jet-lag almost entirely! However, poorly prepared eggs are a constant threat... we're alert but not alarmed. ;-)

    Thanks, Sarah! :-)

    Thanks, Frances! Unfortunately we missed out on Manna, though it was on our wish list. We had a fine meal at the Gate though.

  6. Oh goodness, have fun! London and UK-visiting in general has been on my internal wish-list for a long time. I'm very envious of Michael's exotic birdwatching and am very tempted to now google for a banana and grapefruit cake, sounds deliciously intriguing!

  7. Thanks Hayley! Michael has since bought a UK field guide so there's gonna be a lot more birdwatching... the squirrels are entertaining me more. :-)