I had been back in England for two weeks and it was time to visit the last of my nearest and dearest, my girlfriends in London. I have missed these girls so much and although I saw KK and Swills in Gili T, a catch up and cocktails was long overdue. I was excited to get a taste of my old life in London so we had planned to visit some of our favourite hangouts and indulge in our usual pastime; eating and drinking.
I arrived in London on Thursday morning and headed straight to Lantana cafe where I often used to come to blog as both the food and coffee are incredible. It seemed silly going to an Australian cafe when I was only in England a short while before moving to Australia, but I couldn’t resist a chai tea latte and their toasted banana bread. I also noticed they had cold brew coffee which my mum enjoys at Southsea Coffe Co in Portsmouth so I ordered that too! After a couple of hours writing I headed to recently opened Andina in Shoreditch to meet KK for a spot of lunch. I had previously visited their sister restaurant Lima which was nice, but nothing to write home about. To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with Andina either and my chicken thighs and cassava chips were a little disappointing.
A trip to London isn’t complete without a spot of shopping so I stopped off at Oxford Street to treat myself to some new underwear. After wearing the same pants (washed of course!) during the eight months I have been travelling it was time for some new additions. As always Oxford Street stressed me out so I was relieved when it was time to meet the girls from work at Gordon’s Wine Bar at Embankment.
Three bottles of wine and a cheeseboard later and it was as if we’d never been apart. Kate had taken over my role as chief organiser of the group, as this is also one of her strengths (she helped organise our awesome holiday in Rio!) and had booked a table at Basement Sate, a new cocktail and dessert bar which has just opened up in Soho. We enjoyed a couple of delicious cocktails and a dessert each in the Basement’s snug – the perfect place to share gossip.
With so much choice on where to eat and drink in London (< check out my previous post on this) we wanted to visit as many places as possible, so we moved swiftly on for another round of cocktails at Opium, a secret cocktail club in Chinatown. KK and I stayed for another round before catching the night bus home. On our way to the bus stop I had an unusual craving for chicken balls. Now I have to admit, I am pretty sick of Asian food, but not once did I come across battered chicken balls with sweet and sour sauce during my time in Asia. I’m not actually sure this can be classed as authentic Chinese food, but it was a good end to a perfect night.
Thank God for the last night’s Chinese which obliterated any signs of a hangover the next day which ended up starting with two bottles of fizz. Well, it’s not everyday I get to hangout with my besties and relive the days when I wasn’t living off a backpacker budget and could kind of afford to wine and dine at the nicest of places. Breakfast, now lunch, was spent in Dishroom which was surprisingly tasty, even though the Indian menu isn’t really my kind of thing. The cheese naan is to die for and the atmosphere in the Covent Garden branch felt fairly upmarket yet comfortable. After breakfast/brunch/lunch, whatever you wish to call it, we headed to Radio Bar on the roof of the ME Hotel.
I’ve been so lucky with the weather since being home in England and the sun was shining bright on the roof-top terrace enabling us to enjoy fantastic views over London. I was in my element sipping on refreshing cocktails while being waited on by the attentive staff. Oh boy, have I missed splashing the cash like this. It was an extremely hot afternoon so after a couple of hours we moved to the roof garden on Southbank and enjoyed a bottle of red on a picnic bench next to some tomato plants. Sadly Jill and Kate had plans for the weekend so come evening five became three.
We headed to Hay’s Galleria, another nice spot for eating and drinking, and ended up in Cafe Rouge as this was one of the quietest places to talk as being a Friday evening, everywhere was heaving with those who had escaped the office. Now on our second bottle of red between the three of us we thought it was wise to order some nibbles, although the choice of garlic butter dip which I requested more of, wasn’t so wise. Considering the amount we had drank during the day we weren’t at all drunk, which was a good thing of course and meant we were able to travel north to Camden to meet up with Swills. “Just one more” bottle of red in Brew Dog turned in to three and the rest is history…….
Looking at the statistics of the last 24 hours in London, which includes 11 bottles of wine and 45 cocktails between us, is enough to put Johnny Vegas off drink, not to mention the money I spent, quiet possibly more than a month in Asia. However, this is by far the best 24 hours since leaving London in January and it’s not just because I wined and dined at the most lavish of places, but because I was surrounded by good friends.
Travelling is one big learning experience and this trip to London has taught me that it’s in the company of family and friends that I am my most happiest. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll be sticking around (sorry girls!) as there’s too big a world out there left to explore, but it did make me think about maybe one day returning to a “proper career” so I can prance around with my handbag and heels and at least feel a million dollars even if I don’t look it. The girls tried to tempt me back to the big smoke, but the beeping of Blackberry’s and talk of late nights at the office just reminded me why I left my life in London for a much simpler life abroad. That’s not to say I won’t ever return, for as long as these ladies are sticking around, London will always be one of my favourite places to live.
Living life, loving friends