A Day Trip to Soho

Although life in Cambridge is wonderful, and I am equally in love with my friends and my work, sometimes I have to leave the bubble. So after hearing about a secret cocktail bar in Soho with a children’s literature inspired menu, my partner and I figured we might as well go for a cheeky day trip.

Lucky for us, the connection between Cambridge and London is very good, so as soon as we decided to go we found ourselves on a train. After a cold walk through London town, we made it to Poland Street, Soho.

And walked straight past the entrance.

We looked up the address again, and walked past the entrance once more.

Finally, after feeling awfully uncool and trying to look inconspicuous whilst checking every single door on the street, we knew we made it when we found this:

Slightly creepy, but pretty cool!

We then went up several steps, both definitely oozing sophistication, looking suave, and not nervous at all, and arrived in a very swanky, very crowded bar. We were told there was only a standing space for us at the moment (turned out this really was 1 standing place for 2), but we’d be seated soon. Oh, and did I mention that this was at 3 in the afternoon?

All of the nerves, the waiting, and people were instantly worth it when we were handed the menu. The menu is just as classy and cool as the place itself, beautifully illustrated in the style of a children’s novel. The lining is reminiscent of a primary school journal, and although this was all obviously focus grouped and highly stylized, it strangely felt organic and natural.

A fun menu mini game was to find all the references to the Blind Pig

Two things worked against us here: firstly, we are by no means cocktail experts and had not heard of a lot of these ingredients. Secondly, all of the cocktails sounded adorable and were illustrated appealingly beautifully. Making a decision was difficult.

After eyeing up what the people around us were drinking, we managed to make a decision. I went for the Hunny Pot, and my partner for the Half a Pint o’Buttah.  (This was most definitely a difficult choice, as the Jar of Dreams is served with light-up ice cubes.)

The presentation killed it and the drinks were delicious.

Was it ridiculously expensive? Yes. Then again, this is Soho we’re talking about, so considering the costs of running the place I suppose we aren’t talking about extortionate pricing here. The strange thing to us was that while we were comfortably seated and taking our time to enjoy our drinks, the people around us appeared to come there to smash in one drink – within 10 minutes most of them would be gone.

Because of the great connection to London it is so easy for a Cambridge student to escape the bubble, if only for an afternoon. To all who have the same option, or who happen to be in London anyway, I highly recommend stopping by the Blind Pig. If you’re worried about spending that much on only a drink, I say to you: save money by walking from the station to Soho instead of taking the underground. You’ll be able to explore the city a bit, feel refreshed by a doable walk, and feel less guilty about treating yourself to a fancy, delicious drink!

Come Monday, it’s back to the bubble and work again. Especially in stressful environments like Cambridge it’s so important to relax and unwind, and it’s so hard to justify it to yourself. Feel free to treat yourself every once in a while and remember to take time to be delightfully unproductive. In the words of Milne,

Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

It’s okay to go on day trips too, though!

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Peacock’s Tearoom – Ely

When life in a Cambridge college gets too claustrophobic, chances are high that you are going to go on a day trip to the nearby village of Ely. (Pro-tip: Saturday return tickets are only £2!)

Ely is an adorable, pictoresque little village. It’s very small and very, very English. After doing the prerequisite touristic wander from the water through the cathedral, there’s not much to do….besides a traditional afternoon tea!

Enter Peacock’s Tearoom.

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The interior is cute, albeit crammed: here’s one too many tables in the room! That said, it’s still quite doable.

The food is pretty yummy, a classic afternoon tea comes with four finger sandwiches, two scones with real clotted cream and jam, and a slice of cake of your choice. The sandwiches are fine, nothing too exciting. The scones are really nice, and the real clotted cream is so, so appreciated! After having had one too many teas with either butter or whipped cream, this was a very warm welcome back to afternoon teas, let me tell you.

The star of the show was the cake.
Oooh boy, this cake-  let me tell you. A coffee cake, layered with Baileys cream icing? All the yes! It was perfectly moist, the coffee flavours were subtle and yet obviously present, and the Baileys cream was the stuff dreams are made of.

Behold the tower of food:

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They have many exciting teas to choose from, and it was a tough choice to make indeed! My partner went for a classic vanilla tea, which tasted like buttery biscuits when drank with milk. I opted instead for the Black Witch tea, from Bohea Teehandlung in Berlin. In the menu it is described as “A splendid and memorable spicy blend from Berlin; with star anise, ginger, apple, cinnamon and more”. What is the “and more”? I have no clue. Was it spicy? No, not really. That said, it was delicious! Strangely, it has all the flavours I link to Chai, but doesn’t taste like it. It has a vaguely festive thing about it, but is very autumnal. Simply yummy.

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Overall, Peacock’s Tearoom is highly recommended – as is Ely in general! Both are quaint, traditional, and incredibly English.

Let me finish this off with a picture from inside the cathedral after Evensong. Enjoy!

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A Glorious Return

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

Wow, has it really been nearly half a year since I last posted on this blog??
After being so consistent with posting twice a week, I must admit I feel more than slightly embarrassed about being gone for so long, but no worries my friends, I have returned!

Yes, the glorious return of this vaguely literature oriented, vaguely tea oriented blog has finally come, and it’s come with some changes.

The reason of this long stretch of silence essentially boils down to lots of moving house, cross city, cross country, cross continent. Also I worked a lot. I may post about that some time (as one of my jobs was literature related and actually very cool).

Also I started a PhD in children’s literature at the university of Cambridge, which is incredibly time consuming – but also loads of fun!
Now, to keep myself sane and to spend time thinking about my favourite ‘genre’ of literature; children’s literature, in a non-academic setting, the blog is back baby!

Get strapped in for a whole new take on this ride, featuring:

  • Fewer postings!
    I’m lucky enough to now be a very busy woman, and will therefore have to limit my postings. That said, the posts that will come out will be of a more …consistent quality, let’s say, and be less formulaic.
  • Talk/rants about my academic struggles!
    I’ll relate it to children’s literature, I swear.
  • Recipes using tea!
    After thinking about it for, well, half a year, I’ve decided that I do really enjoy the thought of using tea in baking and sharing these experiments with you guys, my lovely readers.

Now I went on a lovely little day trip to Ely a little while ago, and to try and revive this blog slowly I’ve set myself the goal to have that post up by this Monday, so I’ll see you guys then!

Cafe Savoy (Prague)

Wait – Prague?
Yes Prague!

Last week has been awfully quiet on this blog (but not on our Instagram or Facebook *hint hint*), because my lovely partner whisked me away to lovely, wonderful Prague.

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This city y’all. It’s so gorgeous and romantic, and the cultural history is just such a quintessential aspect of it all that you feel smarter just looking up at the buildings you’re walking past.
We spent 3 wonderful nights there, and being back in grey Bonnie Scotland I already miss it so much (being back at work doesn’t help).

One of the things we did, of course, was sit down for a cup of tea and a cake. Now Prague is full of places where you can get tea and cake, and lots of it looked absolutely delicious. However, as it was the day that we were going to go to the opera, my partner and I decided to live it up and go to the Cafe Savoy.

Cafe Savoy

This place was fancy you guys. I spent quite some time staring at the gorgeous ceiling and the chandeliers, and my dressed up boyfriend, and the cake display and ooh it was beautiful.There is also lots of staff around, and the display of cakes, and wine on their winewall, was very impressive.

One thing to note though, about Prague rather than Cafe Savoy specifically, is that the service is horrid. I always felt like I had done something to offend the staff – even though there is no way, as often I’d just walked in when this feeling hit me – and they would be loath to come over to help out. At Cafe Savoy we sat upstairs, and saw 3 out 6 staff members just hanging around, not doing anything. There was one man who was wonderful though, and I’m so sorry that I didn’t catch his name. But you know who you are, and hats off to you! You provide service that is outshining your entire city.

Cafe Savoy Prague

It all looked very yummy – the only issue being that the names were all in Czech. As my Czech is not the best, I based my judgement on looks alone. After debating for a while I decided to go for the strawberry cup, also because we decided to have a glass of Prosecco with our tea (because we’re fancy that way).

After somehow managing to get a waitress to give us a tea menu, and then to take our order (it took a while), our table ended up as beautiful and enticing as anything:

Cafe Savoy Prague

Sorry for the blurry pic, I was just too excited to dig in!

The strawberry cup was very yummy, a refreshing combination of fresh strawberries, vanilla cake and some kind of thick, vanilla cream. It was also a wonderful match for the tea I went for: the Marco Polo. This tea is a velvety black tea infusion. All the information you get on the menu is that it has “Chinese and Tibetan flowers”, and whatever these flowers are – they mix beautifully.

This tea was wonderful, absolutely amazing, and made very well. It also went pretty well with the strawberry cup and Prosecco!

Bottom line is – go to Prague. This city is definitely worth the visit, it looks fantastic, the food and drink are cheap and delicious, and there is so much to see and do!

If When you go to Prague, should you go to Cafe Savoy? You can, depending on if you want something very Czech, or more silly posh. It’s quite expensive for Prague standards, at around UK prices, but the over-the-topness of it all is quite worth it!

I loved it, and now I’m back with new books to review – hurrah!

Whoops, I went away

Oh dear reader, there’s a little bit of a gap on the blog here, and I’m sorry. The thing is that the previously mentioned exciting developments are still…developing, I went to the first SYP Scotland conference, and we went on a wee trip down south.

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I won some books!

The conference was wonderful; I went to talks on publishing, bookselling, and the interplay between word and image in (children’s) picture books. I met up with some lovely people (you know who you are), ate some amazing food (best vegetarian and vegan conference food ever), and just had a great time!
After the conference I had to rush to catch the train down to Cambridge – feeling rather fancy (and almost important) I must admit – where we met up with a friend and had a graduation to attend. My partner became a Senior Member of King’s College! Hurrah!

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Dinner at King's College

It was all hilariously pompous and intensely enjoyable, and we basically spent the weekend partying. We met up with friends, spent many hours playing Avalon (we’re that cool), and did a bit of sightseeing and punting.

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Homerton College

We had a wonderful time and I quite frankly forgot to blog..so I’m hoping this blatant filler travel blog can fill the gap adequately! I hope you all had a great weekend as well, and I promise the final Diana Wynne Jones review will come out properly this Friday, and that I will provide updates on the mysterious developments as soon as I can okay Mum??

See you all here on Friday!

To the Road Ahead

So here we stand, at the eve of a new year. With all its promises and uncertainties.

I have taken some time off from the blog and will be back in action in the new year. And just in case you were worried that I’d somehow fallen off of the giant turtle’s earth disc, I’ve got photo evidence of my travels these past weeks:

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As I seem to have found myself in love with a German, I’ve been seeing friends and family in that area as well as home. Lots of Christmas markets were involved. Probably the cutest and prettiest of them all was Sint Nikolaus Dorf in Köln.

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There was maybe a bit too much food and Glühwein involved, and we had an absolutely lovely time.
We also visited a monastery called Mariawald, known for its delicious pea soup.

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It is also very pretty!

We also visited my friends and family in the Netherlands, and we’re only flying back home next week. I will be starting with the tea room reviews again on the 11th of January. Book reviews start again next Friday, when I’ll be starting my first series review: the Ender’s Game quartet by Orson Scott Card. In honour of the new Star Wars movie (have you seen it? You should) January will be sci-fi month.

After sci-fi month I’ll review Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci series. Because I love it.

2016 will be the year I dedicate to the things I love and I will take you, the reader, with me. Because happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.

So thank you for reading, and here’s to the road ahead!

Happy 2016!

Café Reichard (Cologne)

Boom!
We’re now a travel blog!

My partner and I went home for the holidays and after all the Christmas market bacchanal we decided to get a nice cup of calming tea. Since we were at the centre of Köln one of the main places to visit would be Café Reichard, so we decided to go.

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I am very easily tempted by sweets, and upon entering the cafe you are immediately in front of a gorgeous display of cakes, cookies and chocolates. Very dangerous indeed! You can’t purchase them at the counter though if you’re sitting in, so that is safe enough. When you finally manage to tear yourself away from the cakes you enter the seating area.

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This place is very big and very busy. You can just seat yourself, and we got a nice little booth.
The seating is also where the problems arise with this place: it’s not very relaxing. There is a constant flux of people coming in and leaving, and because the hall is quite large the noise level gets a bit oppressive.

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They did have a pianist and violinist who were very good, and live music always creates a nice atmosphere.
Afternoon tea is not really a part of German culture, where instead you would have Tee (or Kaffee) und Kuchen, or tea and cakes. Also Germans are very good at baking, so Tee und Kuchen is definitely recommended!

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After lots of Christmas markets and other tourist stuff had kept us busy, I decided to go for a nice soothing white tea. Their selection is not very large, so they had only one – but it was delicious. Their Sachertorte was also very yummy.

All in all, this is quite a touristic place, and coming here expecting a relaxing tea experience would be wrong. That said, their teas and cakes are good, and the whole interior combined with the live music makes it deliciously tongue-in-cheek pompous. One thing I would definitely recommend is to go to the bathrooms, they’re very classy and high tech. For example, the stall doors are see-through – until you lock the door, when they turn opaque. An odd thing to point out in a cafe review I imagine, but someone put a lot of effort and money in it and that person deserves a raise. Or at least cake.