30/08/12 - London Calling! Part Two

When we left off, our intrepid explorers were heading out for a night on the tiles in London town...

Even public transport is fun when you use
it to re-enact musicals!  Ten points to anyone
who can guess which number we were
doing - answers in the comments ;)

Eventually, we made it into central London an awful lot later than we had anticipated - it was midnight by the time we got off the train.  And not being native Londoners, we headed to Covent Garden again under the impression that there would be places open.  After sharing a massive cocktail in Planet Hollywood - I believe it was called an Iron Man Big Boy (the Iron Man meaning a lot of rum and the Big Boy meaning the huge martini glass in which it was served) - we left with the intention of finding a few bars and clubs to go to before heading home.  This did not happen, as everywhere was closed.  Bank Holiday weekend, Friday night, central London and nothing was open.  AT ALL.  Apart from this one place called Roadkill or something that was apparently rubbish despite charging a tenner for entry - needless to say, as skint students, we passed on that one.  We tried to get a taxi to Camden but no one would take us.  So we walked around London for hours in the dark.  It was quite nice actually: the streets were quiet, everything was lit up and fortunately, we had a really nice night for it.  A lot of people would think that this sounds like a wash-out and in terms of a night out drinking and dancing, it was.  But what can be so wrong with walking around an amazing city with some of your favourite people?  And we made lots of friends along the way; namely a gay German man on the Tube who asked to take a photo with us and had never been on a plane before that morning, two men with really thick Yorkshire accents that just proves that we are able to find Northerners wherever we go, two men who thought that my glittery headband was a tiara and were convinced we were on my hen do, and some girls who said that we looked lovely as we were walking through Trafalgar Square looking for the night bus.  We always manage to find people on nights out - part of the Performing Arts charm, clearly!  Unfortunately, Molly couldn't make it out with us for this excursion which was a real shame, a) because she's a babe and I love her, and b) because she knows London better than we do and therefore might have had a better idea about where to go.

The one drink we had all night.
The night bus home was a whole other story.  By the time we made it to Oxford Street where we had to be for the right bus, we had witnessed two arrests in the space of about five minutes and my heeled ankle boots were beginning to feel like the biggest mistake of my life. All that was left was to settle down for the freezing cold hour's journey with the oddballs and reprobates of London - there were some very strange people on the bus.  Then a walk in the cold, then a taxi and then, thankfully and at long last, more olives and the bed.  All in all the cheapest night out anyone has ever had in London - £4 each to split the huge cocktail, less than £2 for the bus and then an eight pound taxi split between five.

Saturday morning passed very quickly.  And by that I mean we didn't wake up until half past 12.  We finally made it into central London at about four o'clock, followed by a massive thunderstorm - exactly what you want when Megan was wearing sandals and I'd left my jacket at the house in favour of a thin cardigan.  So we dashed from Liverpool Street station, which was leaking very disconcertingly to Spitalfields market again.  And that was where we had our second cupcake experience of the trip.  And my God, it was one of the best things I have ever tasted.  No joke.  I would have married that cupcake.  Or the man selling them, so long as he promised to bake for me all the time.

Flavourtown Bakery's stall at Spitalfields.

L to R: Anna, Rosie, Jemma, me and Megs.

The Snickers Champ, a.k.a The Best Cupcake in the World.
Chocolate cake with a liquid caramel centre,
caramel frosting topped with chopped nuts

After this minor cake-gasm, we went on to the amazing vintage shop I mentioned earlier.  I would have taken photos in there, but you weren't allowed to more's the pity.  It's called Absolute Vintage on Hanbury Street and it's a treasure trove of clothes, bags, shoes and accessories.  As with all vintage shops, most things were a little pricey but the sale section was very reasonable with everything costing £5.  For some reason, Rosie seemed to have a knack for finding hidden gems amongst the racks and bins of piles upon piles of stuff - it's probably because she's so tiny and therefore everything fits her.  But I picked myself up a bag that caught my eye as soon as I stepped in the shop and a dress which is a little bit long at the moment, but I really liked the material so I intend to take it up - let's see how that goes, with my zero creative skills!  After that, we made a trip to Rough Trade on Brick Lane.  It's a really cool record shop, with rows and rows of CDs and LPs.  The main attraction, however, is a black and white photo booth.  It's £3 for four prints, and we ended up spending £9 - the first set of shots were a bit of a mess, with no one being ready and then trying to squeeze six people into one booth.  So we went three and three, and they turned out very well, if I do say so myself!

Then it was time for dinner, a little earlier than usual but Jemma and Rosie had trains to catch and we wanted to go for drinks somewhere after eating.  Jemma, little foodie that she is, suggested going to Pho, a family-run Vietnamese restaurant of which there are I believe three branches in London.  I had never eaten Vietnamese food before, so it was an exciting new experience which I thoroughly enjoyed!  I can't remember exactly what it was I had to eat, but it was some combination of noodles, mushrooms, roasted nuts, the best tofu I have ever had and a delicious, freshly-made spring roll all served with ginger soy sauce.  Wonderful.  It was so nice to sit around and eat some interesting delicious food with a group of people that I love and half of whom I won't be seeing for a while - Megan is staying down in London for work placement, and Jemma and Molly are having years abroad as part of their language degrees.  I'm going to miss them so much!

Following Pho, we nipped up Brick Lane for cocktails at - get this - a bowling alley.  Yeah, you read that correctly.  All Star Lanes is a Fifties-style bowling alley with four different locations around London.  There is also a restaurant and bar area, which is the part we experienced.  The drinks weren't too expensive and there was a really impressive cocktail menu.  This was where we got really exotic and decided to sample their range of jam jar cocktails.  I had a Moonshine, which consisted of Jack Daniel's pomegranate molasses, raspberry puree, framboise, fresh lemon and ginger ale (I admit, I may have copied that directly from their website...no way would I have remembered all of that!) and it was truly delicious.  The jam jars were a nice touch as well.  Although, when discussing the possibility of using them to drink from at university, we established that while it may be cool and edgy in a bar, in a student house it would just look like you couldn't afford proper glasses.  An unfortunate truth.

Incredible cocktails - I would definitely recommend!
The photo is proof that Molly was, in fact, with us!
And then it was time for certain ladies to head home via buses and trains and for Anna, Megan and myself to make our way back to the house for an evening of watching Miranda and drinking tea.  It was a little emotional saying goodbye to Molly and Jemma, as this was the last time I'd see them before they emigrate...but I didn't have time to get too sappy as both of them had to dash off pretty quickly.  And Jems would have judged me, because that's what she does.

My journey homewards was uneventful for the most part; it involved a lot of waiting around London Euston and eating a really amazing bagel.  On the train, I sat and skimmed through the few photos I'd taken, lamenting the lack of evidence of this wonderful weekend.  But it just means that I was having too much fun to being snapping away all the time!

All in all, a beautiful weekend that I won't be forgetting in a hurry.  And possibly a new tradition created - we all agreed that cocktail nights in London need to become a regular feature in our lives.  Because we're classy like that. 

Do you have any fun recommendations for next time I go for a weekend in London?  Food, drinks and shopping suggestions always welcomed!

Note: not all photos are mine; those marked *** were stolen from Jemma's Facebook and ###from Anna's.  I don't want to be accused of stealing!