Ate brunch in a record shop

After a good night’s sleep in those comfy Premier Inn beds, we head out for the day. It’s drizzling. We seek shelter and brunch. In either order. An apparently empty Breakfast Club in Hoxton requires a reservation, so instead we find ourselves at Old Street Records Cafe. This turns out to be a great choice. We are surrounded by vinyl and trailing house plants (a staple of all good brunch establishments). Mr Fletche has the Bronx breakfast sandwich, positively oozing sausage, bacon, egg, cheese and chipotle. I go all hipster and have the smashed avocado on sourdough. With added bacon of course. The hazelnuts are a pleasurable addition. We’re set up for a day exploring.

Breakfast sandwich; Old Street Records Cafe, Shoreditch

Meandered around Shoreditch. And Spitalfields. And The City.

We spend the morning meandering around the back streets of Hoxton and Shoreditch. Every so often we’ll come across an interesting storefront or piece of street art, but mainly it’s just piled up rubbish and industrial units. I’m not sure we’re really seeing the best of the area. I’ve pondered booking a street art tour around the area before, and perhaps this is something to do in the future as I always feel that I’m missing something epic. I even miss the Banksy. Although we have one now in Brum. It’s also raining. So for once, I don’t feel any enthusiasm about posing in front of a brightly-coloured wall. My feet are hurting. And I need a wee. We pop into the Owl & Pussycat for a much needed  beer and a sit-down. And a wee.

Festive Street Art; Shoreditch; Santa in a bauble

From Shoreditch we head through various markets, Spitalfields, Petticoat Lane and Leadenhall included. By the time we head back into The City – mainly to indulge Mr Fletche’s love of the Lloyd’s Building – I’m growing a little tired and moody. And I need another wee. I battle the finished-for-Christmas-at-lunchtime crowds outside a Leadenhall Market pub. I manage to slip in one door and out another, using the facilities on the way.

Visited a Christmas market on the banks of the Thames

We planned to re-visit Winter Wonderland on this trip but were rapidly running out of time. Instead, we headed to the South Bank, and to the “Christmas By The River” market located between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Traditional wooden cabins line the waterside, and there’s a good mix of food and drink stalls, handcrafted gifts, and souvenirs. We hunker down at the bar just as the heavens open. A mug of mulled wine goes down very nicely, with a soundtrack of festive hits to get us into the Christmas spirit. The sudden emergence of the sun means a pretty rainbow over the Tower of London. I refuse to walk all the way back, and this time I successfully negotiate the barriers at London Bridge station.

Rainbow over Tower Bridge, London

Photo Credit: CPF Photography

Hit the West End for a show, Chinese Food and the Christmas lights

We throw on a few sequins, a bit of lippie and head back out. Well, I do. No more long hikes planned, we take the Underground from Old Street to Tottenham Court Road. No matter how many times I walk around London, I always feel like the West End is a separate city all of its own. The busyness, the vibrancy, the blinking neon lights. We locate the Phoenix Theatre and head off to grab a pre-show drink nearby. We end up in The Cambridge. Again. This seems to be our go-to pub in the West End.

I’ve written about Come From Away here – it doesn’t take a genius to work out that I absolutely loved the show. Still buzzing afterwards, we head for Chinatown for post-show grub. Gerrard’s Corner may not offer the best or most authentic Chinese in town but the set menu is considerably cheaper than others around, the food is plentiful, and the service is quick.

Finally, we take a stroll along Regent Street to catch the angels keeping their watchful eye on the London traffic, before peeling off towards Carnaby Street. Their festive lights are always a sight to behold, and this year they depict an ocean scene, with recycled materials and sustainability at the heart of the theme.

Carnaby Street, Christmas Lights, Ocean Theme

Regent Street Christmas Lights, Angels, Spirit of Christmas, London by night

Stayed out drinking past midnight in a craft beer bar

We leave the blinking West End behind. We’re familiar with the area around Old Street Station so we decide to pop into The Craft Beer Co for a final drink of the night. There’s an impressive number of taps, and a great selection of keg and cask ales, as well as a fridge full of bottles and cans. It may be a gaudy red outside but inside is industrial minimalism. Of course, it’s pricey. It’s craft beer. In Shoreditch. We sensibly just have the one. After all, it’s well past midnight and the Fletches can’t party like they used to.

Is Festive London worth a visit?

London is always worth a visit. But Christmas in London is always a little bit special. The storefronts are beautifully decked out, the christmas markets are aplenty and there’s always somewhere great to eat and drink. Some areas are  busy and crowded and crazy, so it’s always worth doing a bit of research to try and find a spot a little off the beaten track. I love festive London, and hopefully we’ll book another trip in the diary for Christmas 2020.

Well that was an unexpectedly long post! I hope I’ve given you some ideas about your next visit – a trip to London doesn’t have to be about the big tourist attraction sights. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw Buckingham Palace, or Trafalgar Square, and this was my first time exploring the Tower Bridge area for a long time. What are your favourite London spots that might be off the tourist radar?

A Festive London City Break