Fitzrovia foodie and heatwave
We’re having a heatwave again in London. I write about the weather here because perhaps someone will read this around the time that they are planning to travel and get a feel for what to pack. Maybe you are reading this and wishing you where here, but cannot be. Maybe you are here and reading this, and nodding profusely in agreement. It doesn’t matter, I’m just happy someone is reading this at all!
Each year, London is timid about warm weather. It hangs on to the cold and the grey and the miserable winter for as long as possible. When April comes and goes and we haven’t had a burst of sunshine for longer than a day or so, the people get annoyed. We complain about the weather. This year, May was no better as it decided to delay Spring completely. While we had dipped the toe in for a warm day or afternoon, it was still a little timid. But June is here, and London has jumped full force into summer. Temperatures this weekend went up to almost 29 C, which is 85F. That might not sound very high, but remember WE DON’T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING.
In our flat, we had a new mission: setting up the air conditioners. Ok, I said earlier that London doesn’t have air conditioning, and that is true. Homes and flats don’t have air conditioning as a standard part of “central heat & air” like the do in Texas or other states. We have purchased two very bulky but necessary air conditioners that we use in order to sleep and work during the toughest days of summer. They require so much attention to prepare.
You have a large hose going out the window to expel the warm air from the unit. This means either finding a way to seal off the rest of the window or just allowing whatever air comes in to be counterbalanced by the cold air you are creating. Then, you have to place the unit on a table or stool or something tall so that there is space for a bucket below and behind. You have a hose that runs from the back bottom of the unit into a bucket to catch the water that comes from the unit. It is tedious. Does it work? Most of the time.
Still, it was wonderful to be out in the sun again. Being a London tour guide has the perks of being in the sun and getting a tan so that it looks like I have been on holiday, too! My Saturday morning tour in the Kensington area is always great because I get to talk about the modern royals. There are so many royals throughout history, and I love talking about Henry and his wives, or the Edwards or Georges. But of course, everyone loves Diana and they are fascinated with her children, so a bit of Kensington royal history and present talk is good fun!
I arrived early and sat in the park. There is a child’s football (aka soccer) practice that sets up right in front of Kensington Palace and young kids were getting instruction from coaches. It reminded me of my very brief moment as a kid in soccer practice. One of the coaches had a drill to teach them and asked for a volunteer to be goalie. Several kids raised their hands. I remember being goalie. No one ever made it near the goal, so I just stood there for an hour. It was so boring. The next year I got to take dance classes and the rest is history.
After my tour, I hung around Kensington and grabbed a lovely breakfast at Guillam Coffee House, where you can pick your own coffee beans from a huge selection. I opted for the Brazilian roast for my oat milk flat white, to accompany a glass of fresh apple juice and a sourdough toast with roasted vegetables and olive tapenade. We used to live in this area, and I loved seeing all of the new shops that are now open. This cafe is conveniently located near three charity shops, and with all the thrifting videos I’ve been vicariously living through on
social media, I popped in to do some hunting of my own. Thrifting in a posh area is always a good bet, but I guess the Shopping Gods were not smiling because I couldn’t find anything to warrant a purchase.
I then grabbed a rental bike from the nearby Santander Bike stall and made my way to the park entrance. Cycling through Kensington Gardens and then Hyde Park, it was so nice to see a bit of normality again. People were picnicking, walking around, standing in the way of the cycle path. Normal! Yay!
I met up with my husband for our appointment with a chair shop. We have learned quite a bit about ergonomic working over the last year, what with all the aches and pains that come with having to adapt living and dining room furniture to office furniture. A new chair was needed. After that, we enjoyed a drink in the sun at Backyard, the ground floor cocktail pop up at Treehouse. Treehouse is a new rooftop restaurant that was fully booked, so we opted for our first Aperol Spritz of 2021 on terrafirma.
Next we strolled to Fitzrovia, where so many new restaurants have popped up over the past year. Flower Burger offers vegan burgers with buns that come in all colours of the rainbow. We weren’t in a burger mood, having had one a few days prior. Then we noticed Six by Nico. Upon inspecting the menu, we saw it was a tasting menu. I love tasting menus, but they are normally not an every day event. The last tasting menu we had was many years ago at the Savoy Hotel for a birthday (or anniversary?) and it was about £125 per person. We didn’t eat out for a long while after that.
Six by Nico does a new tasting menu every six weeks based on a theme, and today’s theme was Circus. Plus, it was £37 a person. That is a massive bargain! We grabbed a seat outside and began what can only be described as a culinary adventure. We kind of were celebrating, as my husband had just marked 25 years with his company. They didn’t acknowledge the milestone, so this was our way of making it a moment to remember. I make no apologies for wanting to splash out and enjoy posh food to celebrate his success.
Of course, the hot weather didn’t match well with the vegan cheese making class I have been taking online. This week was supposed to be camembert. I wasn’t really in the mood for a baked gooey cheese, instead I wanted fresh, cold fruit. I ordered a watermelon and a cantaloupe from the store. (online grocery delivery is essential in the heat!) The watermelon was tiny, the size of the cantaloupe. But sliced up in the cold fridge, it tasted perfect. The cantaloupe was another story. I noticed there was juice on the counter where it had been sitting for a day or two. Then I noticed there was something small, foamy-looking on the skin. I thought that maybe when I had last washed my hands, the foam soap had flung across the room and landed on the fruit.
I grabbed a knife and a cutting board, and prepared to slice it up for the fridge. My knife had barely pierced the skin when “BAM!” the cantaloupe exploded like a bomb! I was in shock. I made a kind of yell/scream/whelp sound and my husband came running. “What happened? I heard something!” He had heard the cantaloupe explode. There was juice on cabinet doors and on the floor. My mission now was to clean everything!
(important note: I write about places I eat. This isn't a review. I didn't get paid for it. If I DID get paid to review -- I would totally boast about it)