Monthly Archives: January 2010

Bridge Cafe, London

Lady Lamp and Bex

Who did I take for cake? Bex, Intrepid Journalist (above right)

What did we talk about? Friends in far places, poetry, crushes, exams, operations, being fed spaghetti, Brighton

The damage? £10.10 (round 1) £7.00 (round 2)

‘I wish I lived here’ was the first thing to pirouette through my mind as I stepped into the Bridge Café and to be honest, I can’t report much let up from these five little words since. The only difference now is that a letter ‘t’ has nestled in and the yearning that swoops restlessly about my grey matter is ‘I wish I lived there. I wish I lived there’.

There is no let up when I sleep. TV presenter and pasta sauce oligarch, Loyd Grossman has hijacked my subconscious wanderings and regardless of whether I am dreaming about embarrassed ponies or bears riding mobility scooters, he will rock up brandishing an oversized keyhole.

We will stand and leer at one another Through The Keyhole for a while and then just when it’s getting a bit voyeuristic and weird and I start wondering if Loyd’s been working out, he will suddenly bellow, ‘ Now whoooo lives in a cahfaay loik this?’ his transatlantic tones stretching out the syllables as if they are made of elastic or taste of trifle, or both (mmmmm stretchy trifle). This then seems to be my cue to start jumping around like a ferret in need of a wee, squealing ‘me, me! That would be me Lloyd!’ whilst shoving Chelsea buns in my face.

None of this is my fault. The Bridge Café really is very special. At just 7 weeks young, the new kid on the Dalston block is a bohemian wet dream, especially upstairs. Warm and cosy, its walls are lined with old film posters, the chairs are rococo, the music wonderful and every spare surface is adorned with curious objects such as old clocks and phrenology hands. Each table is different, light comes courtesy of jewel coloured Tiffany-style lamps, brass eagles perch atop coffee machines, the vintage till is sublime, the food and drink excellent value, and the staff already know nearly every customer by name. Oh sorry. Would somebody be so kind as to mop up my drool? I appear to be salivating everywhere again.

What’s got me hooked is that the adoration was instant. There is little more lovely than stepping into some place new or laying eyes on some face new and things just feeling right. More than right. When we stumble across a new home away from home, soulmate or great friend to be, things just begin to make sense.

Having polished off a mille feuille pastry and tea (me) and a cheese and spinach slice with couscous salad and coffee (Bex), all of which was delicious, we slipped off into the night for poetry and dancing. A wonderful evening but one which did see my camera stolen and all of my Bridge Café snaps, lost.

Three days later, Bex and I returned to re-shoot, this time using her camera. Exam revision (Bex) and a long journey home (me) meant this was to be an in and out job. Time was of the essence, until… well, until we stepped through the door and fell in love all over again. Two bowls of steaming soup and a mountain of cloud-like foccacia were ordered as, smiling, we re-climbed the stairs. Time still of the essence but in a different way now, we sat and talked and slurped and talked and slurped some more. Happy, content, home.

Till and Cakes

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Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park

Pembroke and Dolf

Who did I take for cake? Dolf, Project Coordinator of a solar power events company and my boyfriend (above right)

What did we talk about? Ducks, porridge, shoes, snoring, Bristol

The damage? £4.20

I like to think I do more than I do. To my mind, I’m the sort who regularly goes for wholesome walks, knocks up mango chutneys, knows her times tables and brushes her hair. In truth I rarely do any of these things and more often than not my weekends pass by in a haze. But last Sunday was different. Call it 2010 madness or guilt that my New Years celebrating had spanned five days (excessive? Moi?), but I woke up, brushed my barnet and promptly took myself off to Richmond Park for a ramble. Ok, so I didn’t bash out any chutneys, discover what lies beyond 2 x 2 or consider suitable footwear but…BABY STEPS PEOPLE.

It would be nice to say that I was won over instantly by the vast landscape afore me, its pastoral poetry so pure that it spoke to my very bones, but that would be a lie. I don’t mean the landscape was unworthy of a drum roll (or even of an eternal drum roll – it really is enchanting) but in truth, the first thing that struck me was the park map and its deliciously eccentric place names.

Hopping evermore excitedly from foot to foot, my finger fell upon Leg-Of-Mutton Pond, Killcat Corner and Spankers Hill Wood. It was as if I had stepped into an Enid Blyton wonderland and Dick and Fanny would be appearing any mo with lashings of ginger beer and more scotch eggs than you could shake a stick at. I would probably still be stood there now, gabbling, had Dolf not led me gently away to see the REAL nature, the stuff which exists beyond the signboard, and what we had got out of bed for…

Turns out the best thing about walking, aside from the views, exercise and sense of overall wellbeing, is that it gives you an appetite. And if one happs to be walking in Richmond Park, it is Georgian mansion, Pembroke Lodge where one goes to sate one’s bellybox (dahling).

While the Lodge may be very pretty to look at and have very pretty views to look out at, when it comes to the crunch or more precisely, the cake, one cannot afford to be whimsical, and my baked pecan and caramel cheesecake, with limp crust and complete lack of bite to its base, tasted, well it tasted a bit (hold the drum roll here)…shop bought. A good nosey at the other cakes (including lemon, and baileys and ameretto gateau) did nothing to convince me the same would not be true of these also.

I’d love it if Pembroke Lodge started serving homemade cakes, ripped out the dodgy carpets, replaced the plastic tables and offered more choice of tea, giving itself the chance to become a celebrated foodie destination, instead of just a park pit-stop inside a charming building. But as the place was absolutely heaving – thanks to its location, location, location, I’ll be surprised if this ever occurs.

Making our way happily out of the Royal Park, I looked up to see the sun was also going out on a high, leaving a dreamy tangle of sherbert oranges, dusky pinks and mellow violets, her dying rays dancing across the dark Thames. I hadn’t seen a sunset like it in a long time. Too long.

Who knows? Perhaps 2010 will be the year for wholesome walks, mango chutneys, times tables and best of all, sunsets. Although you can keep your hair brushing, I remain unconvinced about that.

Cheesecake and Sun