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Thursday, 24 January 2013

London Part III: Stoke Newington


Do you ever have those times when you avoid doing the one productive thing that must be done? I have just spent two whole hours watching Sophia Grace and Rosie videos on YouTube and my whole night is down the tube. The YouYube, so to speak. But seriously, it's easy to lose a night to those little gals - they suck you in with their mad singing skillz and before you know it you're watching a video of them sharing tea with Reese Witherspoon. Seriously, this is my life.

So I meant to tell you about my time in London with my super sister Sarah and her boyf James. Sarah is a seriously talented lady and I'm openly boastful of her. She hosts a radio show called Mix-Tape on NTS with perfect hours for Melbourne listening (11am Fridays). She also created an amazing show, Storytellers' Club, where some pretty fabulous comedians, musicians and artists tell original tales. It's pretty magical. So, as I was saying, I like to boast about my sister.

Sarah's radio home. That's not her bike, btw

Sarah and Jimmy met us at Kings Cross station (like on the Monopoly board, right?), returning from their stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I could be kind and say they were tired, but if I'm honest, they more accurate description would be broken. They took us back to their giant house in Stoke Newington  to unpack, unwind and loose their lunches. That last part was unplanned, but the power had been accidentally switched off for the entire six weeks they were away and the fridge looked like a crime scene. Matty and I decided it was beer o'clock and took a walk up the road while they cleaned up and made wretching noises.

First stop was their buddy's cafe, Tina: We Salute You for coffee and cake - my affection for salted caramel was taken up a few notches here with the most amazing chocolate caramel slice. Wowee. We made a couple more stops for beers and some pretty sweet pulled pork sandwiches at Duke's Brew and Que.

Sarah then led us down to the canals to a little joint called Towpath. They were all but closed and still rustled up some wine and glasses for us. We sat by the water and drank in perfect weather and perfect company. I'm sorry we missed it, but the place is meant to have some really beautiful simple food - no matter, their hospitality was amazing. Some cool dudes passed by and saw us struggling with our camera and gave us an impromptu photograph lesson. I could have stayed there all night but it was time to move - Sarah had grand plans for the evening.

She'd mentioned a couple of times she was a member of some club in London. In Melbourne, that doesn't mean much - it's either some archaic old gentlemen's club or the ladies are dancing with nipple-tassles - neither of which I find that appealing. This was something else entirely. Shoreditch House was, without exaggerating one inch, the coolest place in the history of the world. I dare you to look through the history books and try to prove me wrong. Go on. I dare you.

This was 4 (or 5?) floors of indulgence. First stop, arcade games. We sat down and played Pacman for a little while, but I pretty much forget everything after I found the lolly wall. Free lollies as far as the eye could see - like a kid in a candy store. We played some pool and wandered about just checking out the many areas to drink, eat, play and relax. When it came time for dinner, we decided the rooftop was the only viable option.

We enjoyed an amazing dinner with wine and cocktails and retired to the pool deck to finish our evening. It quickly descended into silliness for Sarah and I, practising army rolls off the banana lounges. You can't take us anywhere (and I'm pretty sure they're not called banana lounges at Shoreditch House, but if it looks like a banana lounge and quacks like a banana lounge...) We managed to take one sneaky pic that night:

Photo by Sarah Bennetto

The bad news from this story? I'm afraid you can't go to the place without a friend with a membership. Super secret. Heck, I'm not even sure I'm meant to be telling you this story. Keep it hush hush, yeah?

The next day we mooched around Stoke Newington for a little longer, taking in a few cafes before dashing off for the train to Paris.

It's so weird: every time I plan a trip to Europe, I get so excited about cities on the continent, but London always feels like an afterthought. Then, after I've been I am consistently overwhelmed by how exciting it was and, more importantly, how at home I feel. Seeing my peeps after a long time away will do that. I miss them so much.


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