Today I want to share a lovely day Alex and I spent meandering around east London a while back. The day started as every day should: with a hearty brunch at Ozone Coffee Roasters, a very cool little joint just off Old Street that I would definitely choose as my regular if I lived on Silicon Roundabout.
We went for the usual suspects - a flat white for him, a wonderfully smooth chai latte for me.
As usual, I ordered with eyes bigger than my stomach and was presented with cassoulet baked eggs with beans, confit duck, Toulouse sausage, pork belly and gremolata - and toasted sourdough. It was delicious, but as you can imagine, incredibly heavy; I barely scratched the surface.
Alex went for pork belly eggs benedict on winter bubble 'n' squeak cakes with hollandaise, with a side of avocado. It was a mistake for him to let me have a forkful: serious food envy waves emanated across the table from that moment on.
All fuelled up and ready for a bit of culture, we walked across town to Bethnal Green to rediscover the toys that shaped our lives at....
Though the V&A Museum of Childhood may be linked in name with the Victoria & Albert Museum, it's an entirely different beast. The V&A is all marble floors and chandeliers, gilded objets d'art, housed in a jawdropping mid-19th century building in swanky South Kensington that boasts its own courtyard and modern fountain. The Museum of Childhood, meanwhile, is dedicated to toys - objects that have been pawed and loved by countless generations of children, crowded into cabinets in a slightly hodge-podge manner and identifiable by paper labels printed out on Word. It's pretty obvious that it doesn't have the funding of its sister (parent?) museum. Yet the place has a certain charm, and the building, an airy 19th-century hangar, is really lovely.
The museum's mission statement is "To enable everyone, especially the young, to explore and enjoy the designed world, in particular objects made for and made by children". Although the last time I visited was probably over a decade and a half ago, I still have good memories of its exhibits - so on a personal level, I think the museum succeeds in this respect!
Alex had to endure my yelps of excitement as I ran around the museum, occasionally spotting toys I'd played with as a child. I was always very jealous of friends who had robot dogs or cats - does anyone else remember the Poo-chi?
The Museum has an amazing collection of dolls' houses. The second one down was designed in the Arts & Crafts style in the late 19th century and later bought and carefully decorated by Queen Mary. The houses all brought back memories of visiting a quaint little shop dedicated to dolls' house furniture and bits and bobs in Camden to furnish the Georgian dolls' house Bri got for Christmas one year.
There's a few slightly creepy objects in the Museum - as well as a fascinating insight into Victorian psyche, in which children were treated like little adults. And interestingly, to this day, we continue to sometimes give small children toys that prepare them for adult life - like plastic stoves, little replica hoovers, tea sets, dolls' houses to furnish, toy microscopes and so on.
I remembered this little guy from the early days of my childhood, trailing along behind my little sister.
Playtime at an end, it was time to pay attention to our bellies (yes, again). And what better childhood treat to indulge in than doughnuts? Alex and I stopped off at Dum Dum outside Shoreditch High Street to grab a couple of these bad boys for the train ride home. Baked rather than fried, they didn't feel too naughty - just the ticket.
I hope you enjoyed this post - it's always nice to get back in touch with one's inner child and remember how important it is to relax and allow yourself to have a little fun in your life. I know I'm pretty tempted to pick up my old GameBoy Colour now and reacquaint myself with my Pokémon dream team, I don't know about you...
And lastly, I just wanted to say thank you all for bearing with me over the past few weeks - it's been a heartbreaking time and those of you who follow me on Instagram may know that this is down to the fact that I lost my granny at the end of May. I'm sure I'll be back to blogging on a more regular basis soon but hopefully you'll understand if it continues to be a bit quiet around here.