I spend more time in cafés than in my own home. That’s not because my life is sad or I don’t know what to do with my time, but because I can’t quite work or even relax as efficiently anywhere else. My personal Google map is filled with yellow stars that will give you a slight idea of how much I love those little worlds of newspapers, the smell of coffee that’s being ground, cakes fresh from the oven and a whole lot of other people who decided their day would need a little creative break.
The Vintage Emporium, Bacon St, E1 6LF
The Vintage Emporium is the most beautiful café I’ve ever been to. Downstairs is a little vintage boutique, upstairs is a spacious living room with wildly mixed furniture, dried roses and country music. On Monday and Thursday nights, they do live gigs. Admittedly, I’ve had better coffees in the city but nothing can beat that retro and homely environment, I promise!
E5 Bakehouse, Railway Arches, E8 3PH
I used to work in a bakery which was not exactly the time of my life. However, entering The Bakehouse in Hackney only brings back the most postitive memories: The smell of fresh bread and the energetic buzz of a coming and going crowd, all united by the craving for a change from pre-packed supermarket toast. If you pop in (it’s right next to the London Fields rail station), make sure to have some of their mushroom bread, it is to die for!
Candid Café, Torrens St, EC1V 1NQ
The Candid Café is near the Angel/Islington tube and part of the Candid Arts Trust which is known for offering brilliant life drawing classes. So it comes as no surprise that this environment is among the most inspiring and productive in London. Laptops, notebooks and headphones are all over the place… Again, their coffee beans aren’t life-changing, but some good ol’ English Breakfast tea and a slice of cake will certainly get those grey cells going!
Cakehole, Columbia Rd, E2 7QB
Cakehole is the quirkiest and cutest little … hole that I’ve come across in London so far. Being the extension of a vintage china shop, it will make you feel as if taking a very delicious trip to the 50s. It was always crowded when I was there but that’s because it’s on Columbia Rd, meaning it’s packed on Sundays during the Flower Market. One downside is that it’s quite tiny (but cosy!) so it might get hard to extensively work on your essay without having sharing your table with a bunch of chatty, elderly ladies who can’t wait to share their collection of anecdotes from their golden years. Bye bye, productivity!
The Lily Vanilli Bakery, Ezra St, E2 7RH
This bakery in Hackney, a few metres away from the Cakehole, is life-changing and an absolute legend. Everything is perfect: From their famous hangover veggie-on-homemade-bread dish to beautiful cakes, freshly roasted coffee and their large communal tables, both inside and on the terrace. A must-visit during spring and summer!
But now… let’s move on to the actual reading. The first one isn’t a book but the most exciting thing e v e r ! Some cool kids from uni and I put this magazine together, Thoughts & Recreation, and it’s now printed and looking all smokin.’ Print shall never die because there’s just nothing like holding your own words in your hands. Thankfully, holding that thing in my hands also means I’ve finished another year of uni and can now work on the pile of books under my bed that’s been growing and growing.
First up, The Sea Change by the talented Joanna Rossiter. This absolutely compelling debut novel is not my usual read because it involves a lot of history and fiction but I’m so glad I started reading. It’s a page-turner. Here’s a summary of the plot: “Yesterday was Alice’s wedding day. She wakes in the morning to see a wave on the horizon, taller than the height of her guest house on Kanyakumari beach. Her husband is nowhere to be seen. On the other side of the world, unhappily estranged from her daughter, is Alice’s mother, Violet. Forced to leave the idyllic Wiltshire village in which she grew up after it was requisitioned by the army during World War Two, Violet is haunted by the shadow of the man she loved and the wilderness of a home that lies in ruins.”
And then there’s Quiet. I picked it up while waiting for a train in London Bridge that just. wouldn’t. come but it made waiting so much easier. The introvert topic is not a new read and I might well be the last person on this planet to get my hands on one, but that doesn’t matter since it’s the most fascinating, colourful and clever academic insight I’ve had for ages. The book is about the ‘power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking,’ and although I’m sometimes one of those annoying people that can’t be quiet, I’m somehow an introvert most of the time. Susan Cain gives an authentic and absolutely necessary account on why this world – especially the financial sector – could sometimes do with less words and more substance.