A tea room for everyone at the top end of Brick Lane – The Hawkhurst Vault

The way to spend a rainy afternoon - in a cafe that replicates your dream living room...

The way to spend a rainy afternoon – in a cafe that replicates your dream living room…

I’m meant to be on holiday at the moment but couldn’t resist telling you about a little find on this one. Yes, Mr Man and I are on staycation, leaving BLC in her normal childcare routine while we have some quality time remembering the city we fell in love with once again – it’s easy to forget in my normal life of running back and forth from day-job to home to pick up the odd bit of freelancing and entertain a toddler after hours why one lives in the best city on earth and these two weeks are reminding us just of that. It is also flippin brilliant to actually have some solid days of hanging out with Mr Man, who I have remembered is rather awesome.

BLC & I enjoying the marriage of F&B...

BLC & I enjoying the marriage of F&B…

I hadn’t planned to write anything about our staycation – this was all about not thinking about the next blog post and not instagramming every meal but then BLC was a flower-girl at this amazing wedding on Friday and somehow in there, in this crowd of ultra creative people, my blogging mojo returned. The wedding was everything I love about East London, all down to Frank and Bonny who are two of the funniest and happiest people I know – and very much in the know about everything in the area due to the sheer gravity their personalities hold.

Much of the day was spent at Bow Town Hall and Hackney City Farm where the dinner was, but also included in there was the Hawkhurst Vault, a relative newcomer to Shoreditch, opened by F&B’s friends James and Theodore – two impeccably groomed and very nice gentlemen who quit their day-jobs to set up a teashop that displayed their love of tea, craft beer and art, along with decor that is for everyone, no pink or daintyness (apart from the blue china teacups) in sight. Apparently when they set up shop, all their friends got involved, F&B doing the wallpaper, others like the adorable Aggie scrubbing away, completely overhauling what was once a hairdressers and making it their own. I love it when you hear stories about friends and family really getting behind someone to help them stick it to the man so they can work for themselves.

Buzzy but chilled atmosphere

Buzzy but chilled atmosphere

The reception at the Hawkhurst Vault was so much fun that we decided we needed to come back and relax one day this week. So we did that today, headed downstairs and almost fell asleep on their supremely comfortable furniture. I said to Mr Man that when we eventually move, this is exactly how I want our living room to be – displaying collections from our travels, great music playing in the background, a rather distinguished globe on a shelf and furniture you can just sink into.

We chilled for a bit, caught up on some life planning and drank gorgeous tea that the guys brought down for us in fantastic cups, Mr Man drinking Wuyi Cassia Oolong, me going for my favourite White Peony, both by one of my all time favourite tea companies, Jing Tea.

A very nice tea which came with a timer to say when to take the bag out.

A very nice tea which came with a timer to say when to take the bag out.

I like everything about this place and so does Mr Man (he usually objects to the girliness of the places I take him to). I loved the records playing in the background (Neil Young was on at the time but on Friday they had a brilliant selection of Motown hits), the decor that came from family homes and Brick Lane junk shops, the antique-ey smell of it and the delicious tea.

Can I move in please?

Can I move in please?

One to head to if you’re feeling like a chilled out afternoon or want a good tea stop on your way to the Sunday markets. This won’t be the last time we go there. I’m in love.

List of upcoming evening events

List of upcoming evening events

The Cornershop

Lucy Sparrow and her cornershop

Lucy Sparrow and her cornershop

So cool

So cool

Too much cute! I loved this!

Too much cute! I loved this!

Afterwards, we continued walking around Shoreditch, stopping at The Cornershop – an exhibition near Columbia Road where artist Lucy Sparrow has created everything out of felt. We couldn’t resist buying a box of cornflakes – these ones definitely won’t be expiring anytime soon. I love the creativity of the East End, oh-so-very-much.

Hawkhurst Vault can be found at 240 Brick Lane, London E2 7EB. Nearest tube is Shoreditch High Street and they are open Mon-Sun 8am-8pm.

The Cornershop can be found at 19 Wellington Row, London E2 7BB. Open 10am-7pm until 31 August. Again, nearest tube is Hoxton but easily got to from Shoreditch High Street too. 




Filed under Eating, Experiences, Food, Life in general, London, London cafes, Mr Man, Secret London, Shoreditch, Tea, The East End

Competition time – Afternoon Tea Week

Fancy winning some afternoon tea vouchers?

Fancy winning some afternoon tea vouchers?

Good afternoon my friends. Here’s a little something for you that I’ve managed to organise in conjunction with www.afternoontea.co.ukIf you live in the UK and fancy a piece of cake somewhere fancy, a nice quiet kettle plus a couple of extra goodies, then this one is for you.

I’m hosting this competition because it is the UK’s National Afternoon Tea Week. Loads of places UK wide are offering 25% off afternoon tea this week as a way to showcase the huge variety of places you can enjoy this quintessentially British pastime.

Cup of tea my dear?

Cup of tea my dear?

And this is where I leave my blog up to you: tell me about your “most memorable” afternoon tea experience in the comments section below – it could be the best afternoon tea you’ve ever had in your life, perhaps the most comical (or even disastrous) service, a unique location, something just adorable or ridiculous, so long as it has a fantastic memory of afternoon tea for you.

As much as my head wants me to use a random number generator I’m going to get personal here: the story that makes me laugh, go “oooooh” or “aaaaaaah” “uh oh” or “Oh-Em-Gee” the most in a fairly short and sweet manner will win. Sound like a plan?

Probably the only time I'll ever take a baby to afternoon tea but it certainly was memorable!

Probably the only time I’ll ever take a baby to afternoon tea but it certainly was memorable!

You have until Friday morning at 7am. Usually I’d make the time later but I’m off to a friend’s East End wedding that day as BLC will be a flower girl (everyone go “aaaaaaahhh”)…

This competition is thanks to www.afternoontea.co.uk. The prize includes the following:

  • A Russell Hobbs Buckingham Kettle worth £39.99 – this super sleek stainless steel kettle is 75% quieter than a standard kettle, perfect for that sneaky cuppa… 
  • A £25 afternoontea.co.uk voucher – the website features 510 afternoon tea venues across the country to choose from
  • A Vintage Tea Party three-tier cardboard cake stand – perfect for hosting afternoon tea at home
  • A BB Bakery London bus travel mug – perfect for tea addicts on the go
The competition is for UK residents and is to run by afternoontea.co.uk during Afternoon Tea Week (August 11-17). Afternoontea.co.uk offer 25% off afternoon teas around the country for the duration of the week.
I will announce the winner on Friday or Saturday morning. 
Friday morning (15/8/2014): After an hour or so umming and ahhing over some brilliant afternoon tea stories – ranging from the Dorchester pretending they didn’t notice the adults looked like drowned rats while the toddler played princess to a horrendous powercut in Delhi being made so much better by a luxury hotel welcoming in two backpackers who’d just come off an overnight train, to some gorgeous home made afternoon teas with a twist and Rabmouse being dragged all over the Scottish highlands to end up at High Tea – I have picked a winner. Congratulations to Lynn Savage who had me in stitches cringing at the Savoy calling her to ask when she planned to pay her bill. So easily done, so very embarrassing at the same time.
Unique afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Westminster

Unique afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Westminster


Filed under Afternoon tea, Afternoon tea London, Cake, Eating, Experiences, Food, London, Tea

Afternoon Tea in Greenwich: The Queen’s House

The Queen's House, Greenwich

The Queen’s House, Greenwich

Usually I would wait a few weeks after sending my review to the High Tea Society to publish my own blog’s review of said tea, but I felt that as many of you should know about this as possible as it’s only on for a short time and we all know how far in advance Londoners’ diaries fill up (guilty).

On Sunday, Mandy and I had the pleasure of sitting on the balcony of the Queen’s House in Greenwich, in the sunshine overlooking Greenwich Park and the observatory. For the view alone it was worth my mad dash across London given that I’d been giving a friend’s sister a tour of St James only to find that my planned ferry ride to Greenwich would have meant waiting an hour…

I arrived hot and sticky, but to an always chilled and smiling Mandy who was waiting for me. We had the best seat on the balcony. Look at that view!!

Our view

Our view

There was a steampunk festival happening at the time – meaning that a sitar player was our live music which just added to this surreal experience given that to get to Mandy I walked up the most magnificent spiral staircase (pretending I was in a big boofy ball gown and glass slippers rather than my Topshop pregnancy skinny trousers and flat sandals), through the most amazing art gallery, around a few corners and welcomed to quite the view.

Wonderful staircase

Wonderful staircase

I thought that the dramatic entrance would be the highlight of that afternoon but that was just the beginning. The food was excellent – like having tea at your really awesome cook of an aunt’s house, great homemade sandwiches, not bad Dammann Freres Tea, a perfect set of petit fours and a very very nice Bakewell slice.

Our session was 1 hour and 15 minutes which to be honest was actually enough. We then took in the amazing art (worth visiting the Queen’s House for that collection alone) and learned all about steampunk from the friendly festival goers – is it weird that I am suddenly all about steampunk? Must be that the engineers I represent in my day-job have actually rubbed off on me a little bit…

Art and a steampunk machine

Art and a steampunk machine

I’m going to leave you to discover the rest of this fantastic experience on your own now – you have until the end of September but they are only hosting this pop-up on certain dates and people were being turned away at the door unfortunately. This is a must, for the view alone, and maybe that lovely bit of Bakewell…

Afternoon tea at the Queen’s House is available from now until the end of September. Without Prosecco it costs £22 per person, tea and curators tour £30, afternoon tea with Prosecco £27.50, afternoon tea, Prosecco and curators tour £35.50. We were guests of the Queen’s House. 

The Queens House can be found at Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF next to the National Maritime Museum. Nearest tube is Cutty Sark DLR station. Map can be found here as I’m having embedding issues at the moment: 


Loved these two - they look like inventors.

Loved these two – they look like inventors.


Filed under Afternoon tea, Afternoon tea London, Cake, Experiences, London

The perfect bun at Hotel Cafe Royal

Hotel Cafe Royal

Hotel Cafe Royal

Some of you know how much I love a good bun. I’ve raved and raved about Fitzbillies in Cambridge and the Nordic Bakery, believing that their buns are unbeatable, but I have found yet another one on par with them – Hotel Cafe Royal’s Piccadilly Bun. Think fresly gooey, laced with piscachio nuts and served slightly warm… Have I sold you? I hope so – these buns deserve a place up there in the International Bun Hall of Fame.

Said bun

Said bun

Mr Man and I stopped by Regent Street’s Hotel Cafe Royal on the way to an appointment he had in Knightsbridge. Unfortunately upon arrival he realised his appointment was actually at 10:30am, not 11 as originally planned and he had 10 minutes to order a coffee and run. So I was left with a sleeping BLC and a copy of the Times as my date. Not a bad way to start a Friday morning off work.

I went to town really. Not content with just ordering a perfectly smooth and awakening matcha tea, I also ordered their deepest darkest hot chocolate, laced with maple syrup along with said bun above. I may have been a bit too ambitious – the hot chocolate would have been perfect for a dessert date or with what I am sure would be a buttery and delightful brioche or croissant if done by Cafe Royal, but with my bun I may have overdosed on the sweets.

My dates - hot chocolate, the paper and a gooey bun...

My dates – hot chocolate, the paper and a gooey bun…

Mr Man said that he enjoyed his coffee and the amiable staff were very happy to host the sleeping beauty we had in tow with us, though importantly to note here, there is another room through the door that was uber calm and likely an ideal location for afternoon tea. I’d definitely like to go back and explore that room’s potential!



If I hadn’t been so bun happy I may have considered getting one of their amazing looking cakes to take with BLC and I into Hyde Park where we were to spend the rest of our day but I was content and given that Hotel Cafe Royal is just five minutes walk from my day-job, this morning was probably not the last time I eat a Piccadilly bun.

Mr Man and I were guests of Hotel Cafe Royal. They are currently running a promotion from now until the end of September whereby if you spend £5 or more on cake they will give you a free coffee of your choice. My Piccadilly Bun would have cost £3.50; add on a macaron and you’re sorted. 

My apologies - I should have taken more pictures of their amazing looking cakes - this is nothing compared to the stunning red velvet cake next to it...

My apologies – I should have taken more pictures of their amazing looking cakes – this is nothing compared to the stunning red velvet cake next to it…

Hotel Cafe Royal can be found at 68 Regent Street, London W1B 4DY. Nearest tube is Piccadilly Circus. 

Nice atmosphere with comfy chairs - Hotel Cafe Royal would be a great spot after an afternoon's shopping.

Nice atmosphere with comfy chairs – Hotel Cafe Royal would be a great spot after an afternoon’s shopping.


Filed under Brunch, Brunch in London, Cake, Dessert, Eating, Food, London, London cafes, Restaurants, Tea, The West End

I actually ride the Afternoon Tea Bus for the launch of Afternoon Tea Week

Oh Hai!

Oh Hai!

Hello readers!

This is not to say I’m back for good – but I couldn’t resist letting you know about a few things over the summer, so you may see me here and there a few times over the next month or so. It feels fabulous to be writing about London and cake again.

First up – I couldn’t NOT let you know about (UK) National Afternoon Tea Week which is coming up in two weeks time. It is offering 25% off afternoon tea at more than 50 venues across the UK if you visit from 11-17 August. Worth stopping my summer break to inform you of this wasn’t it?

For more details see www.afternoontea.co.uk.

Rodney, that handsome afternoon tea bus~

Rodney, that handsome afternoon tea bus~

Now, I know all about the above because they invited me to the press launch of afternoon tea week – on BB Bakery’s afternoon tea bus – something I have been going on about to everyone I know (including all of you, see BB Bakery review on that link) for ages but had yet to actually experience. Needless to say, I absolutely jumped at the chance and was one of the first to run to the top floor as soon as we were allowed in – hello to my fellow tabellites Rachel, Edd and Dom!

The spread

The spread

The non-spill tea cup - that is how they keep you from scalding yourself while drinking tea on a moving bus...

The non-spill tea cup – that is how they keep you from scalding yourself while drinking lovely tea on a moving bus made in the 60’s…

Yum savouries

Yum savouries

Because no one ever tires of looking at pictures of cake... (or is that just me?)

Because no one ever tires of looking at pictures of cake… (or is that just me?)

The bus is fun. It takes in loads of the good sights and the cakes are just as delicious as one would expect from BB Bakery. My one little qualm? The scones were served last so I was full and they had gone a bit hard by this point, and all that moving while eating doesn’t do wonders for one’s balance at the end. However, I was impressed at the lovely tea served in cups that didn’t spill (hurrah!) and one of the best lemon tarts I have ever eaten. Also the French waiters were gorgeous.

So, go forth. Take your girls and have a fun afternoon scoffing cakes and seeing sights, and book you and your mum in for that long overdue afternoon tea in a couple of weeks.

Until next time…

The Lady who just loves cake.

P.S. My full review of the afternoon tea experience will feature in more detail on the High Tea Society in due course, I just wanted to avoid duplication. I forgot to say though – Rodney makes excellent savouries too.

I was a guest of www.afternoontea.co.uk and BB Bakery. Afternoon Tea Week will take place from 11-17 August with a host of venues across the UK offering 25% off – book now to ensure you get a table at one of your favourites. 


Filed under Afternoon tea, Afternoon tea London, Cake, Eating, Experiences, Food, Hen parties, London, London cafes, Tea, The West End, Travel

Dancing like no one’s watching through a London Bucket List

One is no ballerina, but who cares - dancing is for everyone!

One is no ballerina, but who cares – dancing is for everyone!

Part of the reason why I’m not the size of a house (even though it feels like it sometimes) is that I try my best to keep fit or at least enjoy myself through a decent run-around. Until my knee failed me after having BLC I was all about the running and as you know, swimming is still part of my regular work-out schedule, but also in there has been boxing (which is awesome and I really recommend it if you need to get your fitness back quickly) at Left Hook Boxing Gym in Shadwell and then there is dance.


Dancing away at Hackney Weekend 2012

Dancing away at Hackney Weekend 2012

I can’t dance.

But I don’t care. I just let myself dance like no one’s watching, whether that be at a wedding, a Zumba class, out with my friends or just hanging out with BLC on our weekends together. The louder and cheesier the pop music, the more I’m there. It seems fitting that I write about dancing my way around London as my last post before I take a break from blogging for a while (I say the summer, but we’re in England, that summer may only be a few weeks, it may be longer).

Friend's wedding

Friend’s wedding

So when I discovered that Frame does antenatal fitness classes (BLC is going to be a big sister later this year~) and they don’t freak out when faced with a bump in the room at their other classes, I was all over it like a bad rash.

For about six weeks now I’ve been attending Frame’s 80’s Aerobics, Get Leggy, Beyonce Music Video and Frame Bumps classes. I generally only make it there once or twice a week but it has made a difference to my life. It makes me happy but also, I ache for days after so it must be good for toning those muscles, ridding one of the dreaded summer chub rub (some of you will understand what I’m referring to here, apologies for TMI~).

I love it. Get down there. It’s not full of hipsters like you’d expect a gym in the heart of Shoreditch to be; it’s full of people of all shapes and sizes/fitness levels who enjoy their fitness classes taught by world class instructors with amazing taste in music.

Here’s a tiny snippet of Frame’s Dance Fit classes:

But I just wanna dance like this…

Frame was actually on my London Bucket List. I am determined to make it to some more classes taught by West End dancers before we pack the family up and leave the UK some time in the next year or so. Frame hits that spot every week but I wasn’t expecting to also be taught by a former West End actress the art of burlesque at a recent blogger evening.

Though not something I’d ever considered doing, I was too curious not to attend a class taught by The Cheek of It at Cafe de Paris, especially after I saw the infamous West End institution (celebrating 90 years of operation this year) on, ahem, Made in Chelsea a few weeks ago. Out of sheer curiosity and bribed to attend with the promise of delicious House of Cuckoo cupcakes (they were amazing, I may or may not have have eaten three~), I walked on down to Leicester Square (still my least favourite part of London) and learned all about the history of this art form born out of satire.

First of all, I didn’t know that burlesque is actually satire. It started with the ancient Greeks and the Victorians took it on in their own form (it was a regular part of the East End’s Wilton’s Music Hall‘s line up back in Wilton’s heyday) – all using it as social commentary. It then moved to the States where it became somewhat raunchy, then Playboy turned it into an extension of it’s genre – hence you find American and British styles of burlesque are very different.

I found The Cheek of It’s class funny, sassy and quite enjoyable. I didn’t leave as a seductress or wanting to do more but I learned loads and totally applaud those who use it as a form of female empowerment. I actually found it quite a workout and finally know how Beyonce gets some of her moves.

I must admit, I wasn’t overly impressed by Cafe de Paris – especially after I heard the host of the evening swearing away on his way out cursing the mobs of people wanting his picture, almost shoving the poor pregnant girl (that was me) to the wall on his way to the dressing rooms, then being forced to leave the premises to hail a cab (basically thrown out by the bouncer while trying to get my 3G to load as they don’t like customers waiting at the front entrance, CHEERS FOR THAT CAFE DE PARIS, if you’re going to do that then at least allow free wifi inside). Cabaret just isn’t my style or sense of humour and as I said, Leicester Square on a Friday night is my idea of hell on earth – but I do think it would be a fun ending to a hen night.

However, I’d recommend The Cheek of It if you’re interested in learning another form of dance from a West End performer and ending an eight week course of it in front of an audience at Madame Jo Jo’s. The teacher was ace. She was really funny, a fantastic teacher and it was a highly entertaining class. Speaking of Madame Jo Jo’s, Lorde performed there last year and when I saw her at the Brixton Academy last month, I realised she also loves to dance like no one’s watching.

There’s something for everyone in this city. You won’t find such a range of options anywhere else on earth. I love that I can attend an 80’s aerobics class and get Cindy Lauper stuck in my head for days, or learn the art of something new in the West End.

And on that note my friends, I am going to dance my way into a summer vacation away from blogging (which I need after 10 years of blogging weekly in various guises) and spend the extra hours gained to hang out with Mr Man and BLC, my two favourite beings in the entire world.

Here’s Christopher Walkin dancing like a legend.



Frame can be found at 29 New Inn Yard, Shoreditch EC2A 3EY. They also have a branch in Queen’s Park. I pay around £10 per class and it is worth every penny. 

The Cheek of It has a range of classes that take place all over London. I was a guest of The Cheek of It for their blogger evening and also received £20 cab fare for the ride home with Hailo‘s black cab taxi service. 


Filed under Dance, Experiences, Fitness, Life in general, London, Secret London, The East End, The West End

A bloggers’ outing to Kerb

One of the traders at KERB - she sold amazing iced tea.

One of the traders at KERB – they sold amazing iced tea.

What do you get when you mix up a bunch of food trucks, bloggers, a photography class and an absolute cracker of a Saturday afternoon in London? A magnificent day out would be the answer.

Just this weekend I was lucky enough to participate in Simply Health’s Healthy Smile campaign which involved a food photography class and ways to capture the perfect smile. The team behind Simply Health managed to identify some of the UK’s London’s most camera happy bloggers and invite them to show off their gnashers and learn how to take a picture of someone’s face along with some of the dishes they were eating.

Cameras - none of these are my teeny tiny Canon...

Cameras – none of these are my teeny tiny Canon…

Spot the bloggers

Spot the bloggers

I have been meaning to go to KERB for years. Thankfully the main part of Saturday’s class involved a trip to this fantastic array of food trucks scattered around Granary Square, just behind King’s Cross Station.

The photography class was great even if I did feel major camera envy for my handbag-sized Canon being dwarfed by other bloggers’ amazing DSLRs (oh hai Father Christmas, it isn’t too early to start saving for one~). I learned a lot from award winning photographer Paul Hames about where I’ve been going wrong (exposure, exposure, exposure) and a few things on what I’ve been doing right (not always following the rules). Also – girls blink way more than men. Check out his workshops if you’re keen to learn about your camera and also have a bit of fun while you’re at it. However, the highlight for me had to be a trip to the broke foodie’s mothership, KERB.

KERB Saturdays (a handy list of dates there~)

KERB Saturdays (a handy list of dates there~)

KERB is everything I hoped it would be and somewhat more.

There were people out enjoying the sun, their kids splashing in the fountains, most enjoying fantastic portions for around a fiver each from a range of food vendors.

As someone said to me on the DLR yesterday "when you're that age, life is so simple."

As someone said to me on the DLR yesterday “when you’re that age, life is so simple.”

You doughnut!

You doughnut!

Some of the places on site had crab or lobster burgers, there were beautiful spring rolls plus wraps from all cultures galore. The Bowler meatball truck was around, as were Kooky Bakes but the main feature of the day for Mandy and I (my partner in crime who I got to split £20 with and share goodies from four trucks) were Eton mess You Doughnut, a melt in your mouth katsu curry from Yu Kyu a phenomenal ox cheek Korean burrito from the Kimchinary and a splendid iced-tea from Good and Proper Tea.

Kooky Bakes

Kooky Bakes

The Kimchinary

The Kimchinary

Mandy and I took our findings to Granary Square’s grassy knoll (turf) by the canal and sat down in the sun to eat what was a truly great lunch after hurriedly photographing the food (tip, burritos aren’t that photogenic!).

My attempt at taking a good food photo - we didn't pick the most photogenic of dishes, but my god were they delicious...

My attempt at taking a good food photo – we didn’t pick the most photogenic of dishes, but my god were they delicious…

Mandy took probably the best picture of me ever - thanks Mandy! And thanks Mum and Dad for spending a fortune on braces~

Mandy took probably the best picture of me ever – thanks Mandy! And thanks Mum and Dad for spending a fortune on braces~

It was gorgeous. I want to go back to KERB every day for the rest of my life.

The Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts

This guy had an amazing smile.

This guy had an amazing smile.

Afterwards I met one of my oldest friends for an evening of culture at the Royal Academy of Arts. While it was a lot of fun and very pretty, it just didn’t compare to my awesome lunch. This girl’s heart lies with her cheap-eats. The girl in the painting below clearly didn’t get the memo about our outfits the day she posed for her picture did she?

Ahem... I've had my top for ages...

Ahem… I’ve had my top for ages…

I was a guest of Simply Health, an insurance company that specialise in affordable dental plans. They held the workshop to show bloggers how to capture a perfect smile which was awesome of them. Tip from them – the best way to get someone to smile for a photo isn’t to say “smile” but say something that will make them grin from ear to ear – in Mandy’s case this was “Michael Fassbender!”

KERB can be found at Granary Square once a month but their city markets are on all over the place on various days of the week – it pays to check out their website. The next KERB Saturday will be on Saturday 19 July – you’ll find me there being really indecisive somewhere between the Korean burritos and crab burgers… 


Filed under Cheap Eats, Eating, Experiences, Food, Life in general, London, Market stalls, Secret London