I am staying at Lee Abbey London, it is a great residence – not only is it pretty close to Imperial College, there are a whole lot of social activities and programmes as well. I cannot imagine how my life in London would be if I were to stay somewhere else. In just a month, I have made enough friends here to make this place feel like a home away from home. Hopefully the friendships will last!
Anyway, Lee Abbey London organizes social outings on some Saturdays. Last Saturday, I went for a coffee crawl event at Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane. Although the event was titled as “coffee crawl”, we actually only visited one coffee shop – Nude Espresso. Honestly, I was quite surprised by how Nude Espresso looks like. In Singapore, cafes tend to look quite fancy so much so that cafe-hopping seems to be more about seeing the aesthetics of the cafes rather than tasting their coffee. On the other hand, Nude Espresso does not seem to be quite bothered about how it looks (or is its appearance intentional?) but the people working there are pretty serious about the coffee beans and the roasting process. I wonder whether a cafe like this would be popular in Singapore. I had the cappuccino and I must say it is pretty tasty! I wish I knew a little bit more about coffee..
After drinking some coffee, we headed off to the Old Spitalfields Market. The Old Spitalfields Market is a covered market and it has been around for over 350 years! The stalls in the market are determined by the day of the week, i.e. the stalls at Saturday Market are different from those at Sunday Market. The stalls recur on a weekly basis so every Saturday, you should be able to see the same stalls. There are just too many different things in the market, e.g. soap bar, clothes, shoes, food and cute souvenirs. I find the items interesting but a bit too expensive. I like the atmosphere quite a lot, the traders don’t really harass you to buy their items so it is pretty relaxing.
After seeing the Old Spitalfields Market, we took a walk around Brick Lane. Once associated with poor slums and the scene of murders committed by the infamous Jack the Ripper, Brick Lane is now “a microcosm of London’s shifting ethnic diversity”. Today the area is quite well-known for its overflowing street art (or graffiti depending on which name you prefer). I am impressed by some of the graffiti (oops sorry for the choice of word), I really wonder how those artists manage to paint the artwork on the walls of the buildings. They must also have a pretty good sense of space as well.
Beside graffiti, there are many food vendors and smaller markets selling a whole array of things in Brick Lane too. Apparently, Brick Lane is the hub for the Bangladeshi community in London so it is quite famous for its authentic curry shops – many of which claimed to have won some kind of culinary award. I would love to try the curry here one day. I miss curry.
After walking for some time in Brick Lane, we stopped by Kahaila which is a life community cafe. It is a social enterprise so any profit that is made goes into supporting local community projects and other charitable causes. Just like any social enterprises, I wonder how much of the money earned goes to charity and how much goes into keeping the cafe profitable to some degree. Anyhow, the cakes in Kahaila are really quite delicious! 🙂