Any way the wind blows

A frantic two days came to a stunning conclusion last night.

We’ve covered a fair bit of London and seen two shows; The Phantom of The Opera and We Will Rock You. and like the teas we have enjoyed over those two days, they have been at opposite ends of any measure you care to use.

Yester-yesterday had a simple plan – Camden Markets and three tea shops. We got to Camden High Street about midday.

And then things got hectic. Camden Town is ALIVE! It’s a massive conglomeration of markets of all different types and has some really unique stuff; as well as the usual tourist rubbish.

Having had a few cups of good tea before we left; we decided to just wander around. I could put a description in here of what we saw, but it would add two thousand words, so it’s easier for you all to just pop on over and see the place. Unmissable.

It got to mid-afternoon and we had not stumbled across the planned first stop – YummChaa , right at the markets- so we asked the way, and after a few people lied to us we found it.

We had some great tea there and they were lovely. As they only had cakes and we needed lunch, we skipped the food. I had a blend called Wanderlust with cinnamon, apple and vanilla – Nice. Lady D had one called “A Walk in The Woods” full of berries and flowers. Also nice, and the staff were friendly. It is tiny, but they do it well and score 88 Caj from me.

Flaky old walls, the place seeps history and has an alternative edge. I like that.

We decided to move immediately to a place called Lanka for lunch.

We walked through one of the most incredible food courts in the world. Amazing.

I felt it was a ten minute walk to our destination. Halfway there I got unsure, use Google Maps, and as a result, became convinced we were heading the wrong way. Forty hot minutes later, we arrived at our destination. Mainly as Google maps had defaulted to “car ” mode.I had been right all along. Damn.

Lanka turned out to be Japanese/French Patisserie with Sri Lankan Tea ( 3 of them). Since the source book we are using was published it has become more cake and less about tea.

So having skipped the food court and the food at Yummchaa, it was going to be cake for 3pm brunch anyway. I ordered the green tea and strawberry cake, Lady D the Green Tea and Chocolate Tart, and I settled on Adawatte tea – Lady D went for juice.

To be fair, the cakes were amazing, but I just nibbled. As I am rating tea shops as an experience, there was nothing wrong at all at Lanka, but it wasn’t the right place for us at that time. But adjusting for that, it must rate an 82, as it was excellent.

We decided to skip the station at Camden and stroll back through the length of Regent’s Park, and it was a delight. On a sunny afternoon it is an incredible place.

We enjoyed the wooden sculptures, loved the squirrels and water birds and soaked it all in.

Racing back to our apartment, I was increasingly feeling unwell and took a short nap whilst Lady D refreshed herself for The Phantom. We’d been given free tickets – great tickets at that – so after an adequate and quick meal of English Style Spaghetti Bolognese (same as the Italian version but without flavour) for me and Cod & Chips for Lady D, we found ourselves six rows from the front at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

I loved the special effects; I don’t deny the quality of the singing; the orchestra was amazing. But by early in the second half I was attempting to drown myself in my water bottle. The score E..N..D…L..E…SS…L….Y-Y-Y repeats the same few musical phrases. It could have been written by my High School Music teacher, except Mr Wilkie had more taste. The words were made to fit the music- really poorly-; and basically you could distill all the explosions and effects into a two minute extravaganza and then leave it at that.

Once we detheatered (I just did that to excite my American readers) we went on to our post-detheatering experience (and again) which consisted of wandering around wondering why all the coffee shops were shut and returning to our abode, to pull some more stickers off the map and plan the next day, which was yesterday.

Yesterday was another lovely sunny day, and this time we headed to Posh area of Belgravia to sample some tea. We alighted at Sloan Square station where we saw the Westbourne River, which now lives in an iron tube passing over the heads of blissfully ignorant commuters. Pausing to look as a few bits in historical Sloane Square including the Arts and Craft Church with window by William Morris, we headed to Peggy Porschens. We decided we would not start the day with cake, so we ducked into the Tom Tom Coffee House opposite for a shared toasted sandwich – Lady D actually had a coffee – and then we crossed back for our tea and cake. We took the photos alongside from each location looking at the other.

There are a lot of police in Belgravia. Must be a hotbed of crime…

The cake at Peggy Porschens was incredibly good
(Red Velvet and Banoffee cupcakes) although the uppity twat at the counter seemed unimpressed by Lady D’s request for the cupcake specified in the book. In fact he, was a right pain; though he was slaveringly pleasant to the guy in the expensive suit at the next table. I guess we weren’t dressed richly enough.

Their gingerbread tea was pretty bland, insipid, one-dimensional. The shop was picture postcard pretty, the one other staff member I spoke to was delightful; they did things very well, but if you are going to trust your front counter to someone like that, you are either stupid or you support the idea of being rude to the riff-raff that darken your doorstep without a string of pearls and a  Jaguar parkd nearby.

Either way, this place receives the lowest score a bona fide tea shop selling loose leaf pots can get – 1 . I shall never be back.

Next up – shopping on Oxford Street.

Now, a quick word about Postcard Teas, on Dering off Oxford Street. We found it. We had some tea. We spoke to Tim the owner. It’s a very special place.

We shall be going back later this visit, so I will write it up then. But if you are ever in London, go and see how Tim does things.

As this is a tea blog, I shall not detail the next few hours of shopping; nor the dinner at Carom in Wardour Street, Soho, except to say that I can’t recommend Carom enough. Wonderful service, really quite incredible. And good food and drinks.

And then, a highlight: We Will Rock You. For the third time.  It just gets better every time we see it. It’s been five years and it was wonderfully refreshed.

Again, we strolled after the theatre, but this time, not in search of hot drinks but to let the euphoria dissipate after such a wonderful show.

We walked for a while and then caught the tube home to a nice cup of Yumchaa’s Assam.

Is it me? Do the high and mighty places* and events leave me cold, and the bohemian gems feel like home? Or is it down to the individual place?

I should find some answers today. Either down Portobello Road, or at The Dorchester.

* Note “high and mighty places” does not include the Edgware Road Gentleman’s  Outfitter for the larger gentlemen actually called “High and Mighty”, were I obtained some excellent trousers with great service and very reasonable pricing.


3 thoughts on “Any way the wind blows

  1. Aaaaaah, Camden Town. I remember it well. It’s a swarm of of people occasionally interspersed with buildings. Also had the worst haircut of my life from a Russian barber there. Not his fault, I’m the one who requested it.

  2. I’m amazed how you and Lady D are still standing, even able to walk. London is an incredibly vibrant but exhausting city, especially to newcomers. It takes stamina to walk your way from tea shop to market to cafe to tube stop to the parks. If it weren’t for the cakes you’re scoffing on the way, I’d say you must be dropping the pounds en masse. Will we be seeing a new Twiggy version of you soon?

  3. I am quite surprised by the high differences in terms of quality/products of your selected tea houses/salons.
    How do you explain it?

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