Sunday 24 January 2016


Back in November, me and The Boy spent a few days in London to celebrate my 30th Birthday.

We took a Virgin Train from Wigan North Western, which is a lot cheaper than getting a train from Manchester, as they seem to have a lot more reduced fairs available on that route, and its a lot closer for us. I was pleased to see that Virgin had soya milk on the train, however vegan food options were still lacking, well apart from crisps of course. I tweeted Virgin to give them a piece of my mind, and they did get back to say that they would pass on my comments to the catering department- so fingers crossed!

The Boy didn't fancy getting a super early train, and since we were staying a few days we arrived at Euston around lunch time so headed to Chutneys, and vegetarian Indian buffet near Euston for lunch.  It was a good sign that a member of staff found it easier to point out what wasn't vegan compared to what was!

It was sooo good, to be honest, I didn't quite know what it all was, as long as it was vegan it went on my plate! I loved the things that I think was globe artichoke, but whatever it was I got a second helping of it.  I was also excited about the fresh (steamed?) broccoli, maybe its just me getting old, getting excited about veg?!

After a wander around London, we checked into our hotel, the Travelodge in West Hounslow (very near the underground- which was handy!) and headed back out for tea.  After such a huge lunch, we wanted something a bit lighter for tea and I'd heard there was a Maoz Falafel in Soho, which when we went to their branch in Barcelona The Boy declared it as the best falafel he'd ever tasted.

Unfortunately, I was really disappointed by the London branch, the Barcelona branch was dirt cheap whereas the one in London was quite pricey, but then I guess that's because its in London! Also, since visiting the one in Barcelona, I've also been to the two falafel places in central Manchester where for £3.50(ish) you can get a decent size falafel wrap plus every topping, including fried potato cubes. The picture I took is so underwhelming I've decided not to include it.  Instead, here is a picture of a random plaque we found walking around London. What a random claim to fame!

On our second day, I wanted to grab a decent vegan breakfast and after doing a bit of research using this article by Fat Gay Vegan we decided to go to The Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green.

I took the advice in the article and went for the 'signature' breakfast- scrambled tofu on sourdough with spinach and garlic mushrooms. It was tasty, but not as tasty as my breakfast dessert.  Ms Cupcake's Ambassador cupcake, which is basically a vegan Ferrero Rocher in cupcake form.

OMG this was good, you know how sometimes something tastes so good, it makes your toes curl in delight? Well, it was that good.  Ferrero Rocher was one of my favorite chocolates before going vegan, and this was my favorite thing I ate all weekend.

We wandered round London some more, visiting Tower Bridge, the cable car and Waterloo Station (which resulted in me singing Waterloo in my head all afternoon) before heading to Camden. After walking around Camden taking in it all in (really one of my favorite areas of London) we headed for some lunch. I noticed an Italian place, Mr Piandina's advertising vegan flatbreads, which turned out to be flatbreads filled to the brink, with everything that was vegan. It was HUGE!

I loved that they put cashew nuts in, and this was really good value.  However, I was soon to regret this when I went to get dessert at Cookies n Scream.  I went on a salted caramel shake.

This was so good. But I'd made a rookie mistake in opting to sensible and have something 'proper' for lunch and couldn't manage to finish it all, which broke my heart :-(

Afterwards we went to a pub nearby and did a bit more exploring, probably involving visiting more underground stations as The Boy is a massive public transport nerd. After working up a bit of an appetite we headed for tea at Norman's Coach and Horses, a vegetarian pub in Soho.  I went for the Tofush and Chip and The Boy went for the burger.

The portions were generous and it was very nice, however what the hell is with the garden peas with fish and chips?! Have Southerners never heard of mushy peas??! I feel so sorry for them- deprived of mushy peas AND Vimto!

After another drink or two, we headed back, fit to burst and slipped into a food coma until the next day.

On the last day, we decided just to have breakfast in the hotel as Travelodge now offer Linda McCartney sausages at breakfast. However, on arriving in the restaurant, they hadn't got any Linda McCartney sausages out however they said they could cook me some up.  I was expecting one or two, three at the most. So I was a little surprised when then they came out with a TRAY full of them!  It wouldn't have been so bad, but it was coming to the end of the breakfast time and there was us, and two other people and I don't think any of them were vegetarian or vegan. I managed to eat quite a few, but there was still a few left. I had them with beans, granary toast and hash browns. I was disappointed they didn't offer to fry a few mushroom in oil instead of butter and when I asked about soya milk, their response was "we don't have any, but we have skimmed milk". Not the same thing. So not perfect, and they have some way to go, but the chain are obviously getting some things right.

After checking out, we went to Bayswater, where I stayed the only other time I visited London and saw the fake houses at Leinster Gardens, which was featured on Sherlock. Which I was very excited about having become a massive Sherlock fan.

We also visited Paddington Station and bought our own Paddington bear from the Paddington bear shop at the station, before visiting the Paddington Bear statue and going for a Paddington Bear themed walk that was in a free booklet we got free in the shop.  Along the way, we saw the new Bourne film being filmed, although we didn't see Matt Damon!

Before we left London, I was determined to visit VX, so we incorporated a trip with a visit to Kings Cross and St Pancras Station.  I'd heard about the cream cakes, so I was very excited that I managed to get a cream finger donut from there.

However the shop itself was a bit of a let down, I'd heard SO much about it and I was expecting it to be quite a big shop with lots of interesting things that I'd never seen before.  However it was tiny, and apart from the Secret Society of Vegans clothing, there wasn't much I couldn't get back in Manchester. That sounds quite negative, but I guess if you didn't live somewhere with so many vegan/vegetarian stores VX would be amazing- I'm just spoilt!

Along the way, we spotted a little food market and one of the stalls was advertising vegan wrap type things- there were a few choices, I can't remember what I went for, or where about this market was, but it was good!

After lunch, we headed towards Brixton, to visit Ms Cupcake.  I wasn't expecting much from Brixton, but it turned out to be amazing. We found a lovely little area of restaurants, shops and bars held within storage containers. It was just stunning.

We managed to find the MsCupcake shop, and had a lovely little chat with the assistant behind the counter before choosing a red velvet cookie sandwich and a tiramisu cupcake (another of my favorites before going vegan) which we ate at the station waiting for our train home.

I really enjoyed our trip to London, although it made me realise how lucky I am to live in Manchester, as I already have a lot of amazing places on my doorstep and I no longer feel like I'm missing out- with the exception of cookies and scream and Ms Cupcake.  However, this hasn't stopped me booking another day trip to London in February.

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