I went to London, United Kingdom, 11 – 15 April 2022. I visited several bookshops, met up with nice people, ate good food, and had in general a lovely time.
Friday was to be another sunny day in London, but it was also my last day and the day I went home. I thought I would make the best of it, but I can say it as it was: It did not at all go as planned!
I decided I wanted a really nice breakfast, and headed to Mildreds again. As it was a public holiday, they had the Weekend Bunch Menu, with several yummy options. Unfortunately, many of them included the scrambled tofu. “But you love scrambled tofu?” you might think, and the answer to that is yes. I absolutely love scrambled tofu. But I’m also very intolerant/allergic to bell peppers, and Midreds’ scrambled tofu contains lots of bell peppers. I don’t know why they don’t make their food from scratch, or if there’s some sort of prep that makes it impossible for them to make scrambled tofu without the bell peppers, but it is what it is. So instead I went for the gunpowder toastie, with pea spinach & potato, green chilli, smoked cheez, and mango pickle yoghurt. It was very hot, but very yummy and filling. I also had a glass for fresh juice (pineapple, apple, ginger, and turmeric) and a cup of oat latte. Indulging myself before going back to the hotel to relax, just felt like the right thing to do!
Before I left for London, and also while I was there, the British news told us that the airports were all chaos with huge queues. With that in mind, I checked Heathrow’s webpage, to see what information there was on fast track at the airport. The webpage was a bit weird, and from what I could tell, they didn’t have any, due to Covid-19. Having lived in the UK, and been to the UK many, many times, I knew that this information might actually be outdated. They had lifted all restrictions in England not long before, so I thought that maybe they hadn’t gotten around to update the information on the webpage. (They tend to be rather slow at such things in England). I contacted SAS customer service, and asked if London Heathrow had fast track. They told me they would need to check with colleagues, so I just assumed that meant they had to get in touch with employees at Heathrow (especially when they made me wait for over 30 minutes). When they finally came back to me, they confirmed that no, no fast track at Heathrow. In addition to this, there was work on the Piccadilly Line, which is the tube line that takes you from the centre of London to Heathrow.
After checking out of the hotel, I decided to take the tube to Paddington, and then a train from Paddington to Heathrow. The train wasn’t the Heathrow Express, but a regular train, and it didn’t take as a much time as I thought it would. To my surprise, there wasn’t a lot of people on the train, and hardly any queue at the checking (though travelling SAS Plus helps). When i checked in, I was told “the lounge is after fast track security”. I was surprised, to say the leased, and replied “There’s a fast track?” to which they replied “of course!” Turns out Star Alliance have their own fast track. Needless to say, going through fast track took no time at all, and then all of a sudden I had six hours to kill at the airport. No queueing, no waiting, just everything going very smoothly.
Having so much time at the airport meant I could go to the lounge that is pretty far from my gate. Singapore Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, and since I had lounge access, I headed to their lounge at Heathrow. That was the right choice! Often Asian airlines are better at vegan food, and I picked up a poké bowl with veggies and edamame beans, as well as some egg free noodles. There were plenty of snacks and drinks as well. The hummus tasted great, so I must admit I had plenty of it. It was nice to just relax and read while waiting for my plane’s departure.
After spending a few hours in the lounge, I headed back to “my” part of the terminal. It was kind of walking in the wrong direction, so it took quite a while to walk there. And then it was time to board the plane and head back to Norway. I spent most my flight reading and drinking white wine.
It was fairly late when we landed, and I picked up my bags and got the train back to Oslo. London was lovely, and I’m already looking forward to my next trip.
Thursday turned out to be a very sunny and warm day in London, and I decided to have breakfast at O’Neill’s King’s Cross. The main reason for heading here, was because it was close to the hotel. Though the pub claims to be “The original Irish Bar in Kings Cross”, it came across as an American Irish pub rather than a proper Irish one to me. The only vegan option on the menu was the Plant Life Breakfast (toasted muffin with vegan sausages, spinach hash, guacamole, flat mushroom, Heinz® baked beans and cherry tomatoes), so that’s what I went for, along with some sparkling soda water on tap (basically free fizzy water). They didn’t have any plant milks, so for me tea or coffee were out of the question (I’ll drink my coffee black at a place with good coffee, but not at a place like this).
When the breakfast arrived, I was a bit disappointed, but not really surprised. The spinach was dry, the mushrooms were dry, the bap wasn’t great, and the whole thing was rather sad. Fortunately, it did its job, and filled me up, so that I was ready to meet the day. I would not recommend this as a breakfast place, though, there are far better places to eat, and thinking back, I kind of wish I’d gone to a supermarket and just bought a sandwich and a bottle of sparkling water there.
After breakfast, I decided to go back to the hotel. On my way I stopped by one of the many food stalls outside King’s Cross station: Crosstown. Crosstown makes handcrafted fresh doughnuts, and you can get vegan doughnuts from them all over London. I bought the Vegan Coconut & Lime doughnut, and it was really really nice! I brought the doughnut back to my hotel room, and enjoyed it there, in peace and quiet.
Relaxing in my room with a nice tread did wonders, and I decided to take the tube to Tower Hill. This meant that I arrived at the Tower of London, where I started my walk. I then walked along the River Thames, and passed a few bridges, Tower Bridge being one of them. When I first visited London in 1988 (the year I turned 14), I remember staying at a hotel where we could see Tower Bridge from our hotel room.
As it was a very sunny day, I wasn’t the only one out for a walk. Not only were there lots of people walking along the river, but the benches along the foot path were filled with people relaxing and smiling. Every time you passed by a pub or an outdoor restaurant, they were filled with people. I’m certain the lovely weather and the fact that the next day was a bank holiday were the reasons everywhere were filled with happy people.
There was one thing I wanted to do before going to the bookcrossing meetup I was going to attend at 4 pm: I wanted to visit Daunt Books. I have visited Daunt Books previously, but it’s always worth a visit if you love books and have the time. I think it’s one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world! I didn’t buy anything, but just being there, browsing the shelves, was nice. They have a really good non-fiction selection, for being such a small bookshop. Because it really isn’t all that big, once you get into it.
On my way to Allsop Arms, where I was supposed to meet up with the bookcrossers, I pretty much stumbled over a small coffee shop called Hagen. Hagen is a Danish espresso bar concept born out of Copenhagen and founded in London. They serve specialty coffee, and to my delight their pour over was absolutely top notch! As far as I can tell from their homepage, they have five branches across London. A perfect place for a break, if you have the time and need a nice cup of coffee.
At the bookcrossing meetup, we ended up being a total of three people. I think it probably was because a lot of people left the city due to Easter. It ended up being a really nice meetup, though, and it was lovely to see people I hadn’t seen in real life in a few years. I think last time I met Poodlesister was at the convention in Oxford in 2015.
It was pretty much dinner time for me, so I had pie and chips, and I also had a couple of ciders in the pub. One of the ciders I’d had before, the other one not. It’s always fun to try new beers and ciders, especially if I’m in the UK. Though I do with the IPA trend would soon be over!
After the meetup I went back to the hotel, where I had a lovely bath. Having a bath tub in the hotel room always feels like luxury, and I try to use it if I can. It was so nice and relaxing, having a bath and reading. I decided to stay in the hotel room for the rest of the evening, and was honestly pretty exhausted. It was nice to creep under the duvet after a long, but nice, day.
When I woke up Wednesday morning, I was pleased I had managed to sleep a bit longer. I knew I wanted a proper breakfast, though, and headed to one of my favourite cafés in London. Mildreds used to be a vegetarian café, but since I was there last time three years ago, it has turned all plant based. I originally wanted to have scrambled tofu, but it turned out it contained lots of bell peppers, which make me ill. Instead I went for the sausage bap, with tomato chilli chutney, and a pot of tea. It tasted really good!
After being fed, I wanted some coffee. I went back to Origins, as it was close to Mildreds (and the hotel), to relax with my book.
I decided I wanted to go to Camden. There are always lots to look at there, it being shops, people, or just even street art.
Walking around in Camden Town was pretty exhausting (I’m still struggling with tiredness after Covid), so I decided that relaxing in Green Park would be nice. Wednesday was the least sunny and warm day in London during my visit, but at least it didn’t rain. And the park was surprisingly quiet, even though there was lots of people there. Green Park was not far from the Dukes, so that was also a good reason to pick that park to spend some time before heading for afternoon tea.
As I said in a previous post, I had booked at table at the Dukes. The hotel was in one of those small streets, hidden away from the city’s hustle and bustle. It felt rather posh, and I had to wait in the entrance hall to be seated. The Drawing Room, where the afternoon tea was to be had, was decorated with blue colours, and had a small winter garden in the middle. There were plenty of big windows, that let the sun in.
I had the vegan afternoon tea, and I went for a tea called Royal Flush. Like at many restaurants and cafés in London, I was asked about allergies, and due to the cinnamon and bell pepper allergies I have, my menu looked like this:
A Selection of Traditional Sandwiches:
Avocado hummus, pickled cucumber on beetroot bread
Vegan cheese, fig relish on white bread
Shredded cabbage, carrot & apple on granary bread
Grilled courgette, tomato tapenade on rye & onion bread
Pistachio & polenta cake
Beetroot and blackberry financier
Mango & cashew cheesecake
Raisin scones & plain scones served with strawberry preserve & vegan clotted cream
The tea was really good, but I was slightly disappointed by the food. You would think a place like the dukes would put more effort into their vegan afternoon tea, but I wasn’t impressed. A couple of the sandwiches were massively over salted, and out of the four, the vegan cheese and fig relish one was the absolute best. I didn’t care too much for the cakes, except for the pistachio & polenta cake, which was lovely. The mango and cashew cheesecake was OK, but in my opinion, it should have tasted more of mango. The scones, on the other had, were lovely, even though it felt as if I was snowed down with icing sugar when eating them.
After having had the afternoon tea, I headed to Waterstones Piccadilly, where I were to meet up with Olivia-Savannah from the YouTube channel Olivia’s Catastrophe. On my way there, I stopped by Hatchards Bookshop, where I just walked around. It’s a pretty nice bookshop, and I even found some books translated from the Norwegian to the English there. (I didn’t buy them, of course, I’d rather read them in Norwegian).
When I arrived at Waterstones Piccadilly, I felt really tired, and went up to the café on the top floor, where I had a glass of cider and read my book while waiting for Olivia-Savannah. I finished my cider after she arrived, and we headed to do a bit of book browsing. So many tempting books. And I didn’t buy a single one!
We went to Shoryu Ramen for dinner, and had some really good food. I hardly ever find good vegan ramen, so I was very pleased. I had such a lovely time, and it was great to talk about books, food, and other random things you talk about. Time just flew by, and all of a sudden it was time to head back to the hotel. I got back by far later than planned, but it wasabsolutely worth it!
Tuesday greeted me with sunshine! From experience, sunny April spring days with +19⁰C isn’t exactly common in London. And I must say, it was really pleasant.
My first stop was one of my favourite coffee shops in London, Origins. They serve high quality coffee, of a light roast. I had a pour over, i.e. made with a V60. Sitting inside, looking out the window and reading was really nice.
After having had some coffee, I picked up a light breakfast at a grocery shop, that I had outside on a bench at Bloomsbury. It was nice and relaxing, and a nice way to get ready for some book shopping. The bookshops I was planning on visiting were all close by.
The first bookshop to visit was Skoob Books, where I spent quite a bit of time. I love second hand books, and if you’re lucky you might find some really nice books. Not only did I end up buying two books that look pretty much brand new, but I also found some cheap postcards I’m planning on using for postcrossing. Score!
Next bookshop on my list was Gays the Word, an LGBTQ+ bookshop. It was quite small, and the selection was quite good, but they didn’t have the books I was looking for. I did end up buying some other books, though, as well as a couple of postcards.
I had just one more bookshop to browse before I wanted to head back to the hotel: Judd Books. This bookshop unfortunately came across as a bit chaotic to me. Also it was hard to navigate around, as there wasn’t much room for movement. I didn’t end up buying anything there, nor did I spend much time. When I left the shop, I headed back to the hotel for a rest.
In the afternoon/evening I met up with @lovedreadingthis and @always_need_more_books, bookstagrammers I’ve been following for a long time on Instagram. It was really nice to meet them, and having a wonderful conversation of books and more. We had a meal at Art Yard Bar & Kitchen, which turned out to be more of a hotel restaurant than any of us expected, I think, but that’s OK. The vegan burger I had, though, wasn’t great. A bit bland and dense. The chips were lovely, though, so I kind of wish I just had chips.
After dinner I went back to the hotel. I was shattered tired, and just wanted to relax and get some blogging done. I stopped at Tesco on my way, though, and got some sweets and a strawberry beer that actually tasted OK. It was nice to have a quiet night, and very much needed. I think I pretty much passed out when my head hit the pillow.
It’s really good to be in London again! The journey here went surprisingly smooth. Since my tickets are SAS plus, paid for with bonus points, I had access to fast track. No queueing at all.
When I arrived at the airport in Oslo, and had checked in, I headed to the lounge. I had plenty of time before my flight to Copenhagen, so I enjoyed some refrehments.
The reason I flew via Copenhagen, rather than getting a direct fliggt, was that I got my flights on sale. SAS had a bonus point sale, and I was a tad bit late to the ball, so it was either flying via Copenhagen or getting up ungodly early. The choise was easy.
Arriving in Copenhagen I started hunting for food. I wanted a warm meal. I ended up buying wokked tofu and vegetables with rice, which was supposed to have ginger. I with it had more ginger and less salt, but all in all ot was a totally OK meal.
In Copenhagen I had to go through passport control, and was surprised there was no queue at all. Since I expected it to take a long time, I ended up having plenty of time before my next flight. Fortunately we got to board early, and soon enough I was on my way.
Boarder control at Heathrow was busy, but that’s normal. I think it took maybe 30 minutes before I was out and able to pick up my bag.
Having picked up my bag, I headed to the underground station. I was happy to see my Oystercard was still working, and still containing money. I topped it up, though, just in case, and headed to King’s Cross where my hotel is.
I checked into to hotel, and had the choice of having a room in the ground floor or fourth floor. I definitively prefer it to be higher up, so fourth it was. The room was quite nice, and it didn’t take long before I was under the duvet sleeping.
London is such a great place for book lovers. There are so many bookshops and other book related places to visit. Some I visit pretty much every time I’m there, like Waterstone’s Picadilly (which is huge!), some I’ve only visited a handful of times, while others remain to discover. Of course I’m planning on visiting a few this time around as well. There are some shops that aren’t around any longer, like Silver Moon, and that’s sad. Fortunately, there are still a bunch of good ones still around.
One bookshop I’ve been to a couple of times, is Daunt Books in Marylebone. It’s an independent book seller, and the address is 83-84 Marylebone High Street, London. It’s such a beautiful shop.
I love second hand bookshops, and one of my favourites in London is Skoob Books. Every time I’m there it feels like I’m in a treasure chamber. Books from floor to ceiling. Of course, visiting Skoob in a hurry, is a bad plan. You need enough time to browse the shelves, and take your time. If you do, you might fine something really cool. I once found an annotated edition of Alice in Wonderland. I’m always excited to visit! What will I stumble upon this time?
A shop I can’t remember ever visiting is Gay’s the Word in 66 Marchmont Street. Which I find really odd. Not the shop, that is, but that I haven’t been there. I have a feeling I might be a tad bit poorer money wise after visiting them (but richer for books). I think they have both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ books, though it’s the LGBTQ+ ones I’m more interested in, especially if they’re YA. On the same street (82 Marchmont Street) there’s a book shop called Judd Books, that looks really interesting. They have both new and used books. It would make sense to visit that as well.
Another bookshop I stumbled upon googling, was Bookmarks. They’re the largest socialist bookshop in Britain, and have books on politics, economics, trade unionism, labour history, the environment, black struggle, women, culture, fiction, and more. That sounds really interesting to me, and their address is 1 Bloomsbury Street. Also, they seem to have some cool merchandise that I might interested in getting my paws on.
Do you have some favourite bookshops in London? If you do, which ones?
The vegan scene in London has pretty much exploded. Even a few years back it was pretty good, but I know it has gotten even better. The last few times I’ve been to London, I’ve visited several places I’ve loved, but I know some of them are now sadly gone. That being said, I’m looking forward to check out some new places I haven’t tried before!
One of the places I want to try out is Copperhouse Chocolate, a 100% vegan chocolate café and artisan hot-chocolatier. They’re not open every day, so I will have to aim for a visit either Wednesday or Thursday, as I’m going home on Friday (as mentioned in my previous blog post).
A place that I’ve heard a lot about, but for some unknown reason never tried out, is Temple of Seitan. It was a big deal when they opened up their first shop back in 2015, and today they have a few branches in London. The food is mostly fast food/junk food, but that’s OK with me. It’s still on my list of places to eat, as long as I’m in the mood for that sort of food.
It’s no secret I love tofu and noodles. One place that has those exact things on the menu is Vegan Fusion, a predominantly Asian fusion vegan restaurant. I haven’t been able to find a webpage for them, which really is a pity, but they’re address is 71 Chapel Market.
Something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, is to have afternoon tea in London. The Savoy has a long tradition of serving afternoon tea, and they’re now offering vegan afternoon tea, and I hope I’ll be able to book a table for afternoon tea there one day, but you’ll have to book well in advance. There were no openings when I’m in London, so I simply had to look for somewhere else. After some searching the Internet, I finally ended up booking a table at Dukes, which has a vegan afternoon tea menu. The afternoon tea is served in the Drawing Room at Dukes hotel, which is only a short walk from Waterstones Piccadilly, one of my favourite bookshops.
I’m sure I’ll not have any problems finding vegan food in London, there are plenty of places I’d love to go back to.
London has had a very special place in my heart ever since I first visited in 1988. It was the summer before I turned 14, and I remember how magical it felt like visiting. Since then I have been there so many times I lost count years ago. Actually, I used to visit several times every year.
Due to the time we’ve been through, I haven’t been there since 2019. I was supposed to go in May 2020, but we all know the world shut down shortly before that, and needless to say, the trip got cancelled.
I’m thrilled to know that I now have booked a trip, and am finally going to visit my beloved London again! I’m arriving fairly late on 11 April, and am leaving again on 15 April. That means four nights! It will be my first trip outside of Norway since my partner and I visited family in Ireland for Christmas in 2019.
I am super excited! Now I just need to make plans for things I want to do and places I want to eat at!
Have you ever been to London? Do you have any favourite things there?
The first weekend of February we went to London to visit the exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library. The decition of going was made in January, and we booked the trip before checking if there were aviable tickets. When checking the website it turned out it was all sold out. Needless to say, we were disappointed, but decided that a weekend in London would be nice even without visiting the exhibition.
We arrived in London Friday night, and stayed at a hotel near the British Library called Pullman St Pancras, that I got a really good deal on. When we got there, we got upgraded to a DeLuxe room, which was really good. The view from the room was great, and at the end of the hall on our floor, we could see The British Library. The location was great, and the room brilliant!
Saturday morning we met up with a friend of mine for breakfast. I had been given the suggestion of a place called Vx, which is a shop that prouds itself to be a vegan junk food shop. It was a really small place, but they had a good selection of food and cakes. I went for the Marinara Meatballs Sub, and it was really very good! I also had a chocolate doughnut for dessert.
After breakfast we headed to the Bristish Library to tey our luck. Going to London for the exhibition and not asking if there were any free tickets would be silly, we thought. And we were in luck! There were tickets, and we could enter the exhibition pretty much straight away.
It was a fantastic exhibition! There were rare books, manuscripts and magical objects from the British Library’s collection, as well as original drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, and objects from The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall.
On Sunday we went to have breakfast at one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in London: mildreds Kings Cross. On weekends they serve brunch in the mornings, and we went for the scrambled tofu, slow roasted tomato, oak smoked house beans, roasted mushroom, sausage and toasted sourdough. Now, that’s what I call a breakfast! Or brunch, if you prefer… It was a perfect way to start the Sunday.
After breakfast we went back to Vx, to end our weekend in London with cake! This time I had a piece of the Unicorn cake. It was delicious, but very sweet, so I didn’t manage to eat the whole thing. However, I would love to go back and try more items from their menu at some point. Anyhow, a great way to end a great weekend!