Today was spent in Camden Town, Hampstead and Euston. We started late, having had a lie-in. By the time we set out it was a little late for breakfast and a little early for lunch, perfect timing for brunch, in other words.
We took the 214 bus to Camden Town and got off near the tube station. This provided an opportunity to explore a couple of the Camden Town markets, which is always fun to do. We then walked along to Inverness Street. This street doubles as the Inverness Street Market and contains a number of eating places, among them the Bar Solo. They do a very acceptable vegetarian breakfast consisting of eggs, beaked beans, vegetarian sausage, mushrooms and, unusually, spinach. There are also two slices of toast cut into triangles.
Tigger wanted to look at the charity shops in Camden High Street, so we did just that, finding ourselves at last at Mornington Crescent where it seemed a good idea to have a rest over hot chocolate in Costa Coffee.
The day was still young, so we hopped on a bus and travelled up the long hill to Hampstead. Hampstead is a pleasant place to spend an hour or two, enjoying its special character. You wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a house there unless you won the Lotto. Hampstead could be described as exclusive or, in more familiar language, posh. The secret of its character is that in the days when London was expanding and workers were flooding into London, colonizing the suburbs in the quest of places to live, the horse buses couldn’t make it up the hill to Hampstead, so the workers never managed to invade the area. By the time motor buses and the tube opened it up, it was too late. They were by then priced out.
After a quick visit to the Hampstead antiques arcade (more new tat than genuine antiques these days, unfortunately), we went straight to the Hampstead Community Market. This is a nice quiet little market with a nice quiet little cafe. For reasons to be explained, we may go there for breakfast or brunch tomorrow. We explored the stalls, looking for things of interest, especially “tiger rings”*, leaving to the last the stall where we bought Tigger’s Christmas present to me, the silver and onyx ring.
The lady who runs the stall is very pleasant. She remembered us and we chatted about rings and various other topics such as my socks (I buy girls’ socks because they are prettier and more colourful than men’s socks which a usually pretty boring). She had no rings big enough for my pork sausage fingers but said she had some at home and as she would be at her stall again tomorrow, she would bring some in. This is why we are planning to go back there tomorrow.
While in Hampstead, we popped into Burgh House which also has a nice cafe in the basement. Afterwards, we took a couple of buses and had to change again in the Euston area. As we walked to the next stop, Tigger casually asked what thoughts I had about dinner. “How about the ‘giraffe’?” she asked. So we went to the “giraffe” for our evening meal.
The “giraffe” is actually the African Kitchen Gallery at 102 Drummond Street. We call it the “giraffe” because there is a large wooden giraffe outside it. If you live in London, then you really should go to this restaurant. The Gallery part of the name comes from the fact that they sell African artifacts as well as serving food. It is a one-man business and is very small. I think there are about four tables, though there is a diminutive terrace that can be used in fine weather.
You may have had African or Caribbean food before but you won’t have had anything as good as you will find at this restaurant. The owner cooks all the food and is an enthusiast. He is more than willing to explain the ingredients and how the food is prepared. We don’t bother with the menu. We ask him to put together a vegetarian selection and he produces a laden dish full of tasty foods on a bed of rice. It was delicious. We had banana smoothies to drink and these were good as well.
We walked through Euston Station to the buses and caught the 30 to Angel. We made tea, listened to another CD of Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale and then Tigger listened to another episode of Tony Benn’s autobiography (a book I would described as “better than I expected”) while I settled down to write this post.
*“Tiger rings” are only loosely defined. They may be any silver ring with a tiger theme, such as a a ring with a tiger’s eye stone or an engraved or sculpted tiger, or any ring that takes my fancy. That is the key quality of a “tiger ring”: that it stands out and calls to me.