19 October 2020

The Oxford Caffeine Chronicles: Bruin Café

I grew up in a small, quiet village east of Oxford, where my parents still live. Up over the aptly named Ladder Hill is Wheatley, a larger village that has a few more shops, pubs and cafes. Among these is a speciality coffee shop with the excellent name of Bruin Café, which my parents told me about some months ago. And I finally managed to visit while I was with my parents at the weekend.

12 October 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: BUSI

If anything was going to cut through the gloom of another grey and rainy Saturday in London, the pastel-hued design and thoughtful speciality coffee offering of BUSI stood a very good chance. The high-concept speciality coffee shop opened up in the summer — I heard about it thanks to Amelia's beautiful photos — on Great Portland Street, just north of Oxford Circus, and combines the respective passions for design and coffee of owners Anna and Emil. The name BUSI is the couple's term of endearment for each other, and in a 2020 world where joy can sometimes feel in short supply, it's hard not to warm to this philosophy.

24 September 2020

Snapshots from a September Staycation in Barmouth

After many cold and rainy visits to Barmouth and Dolgellau, where the mountains of Snowdonia meet the west coast of North Wales, I've been rewarded with rather fine weather on my more recent trips. Last week's staycation was no exception, and it was warm and sunny — often simultaneously — for most of my short trip to join my parents at a cottage overlooking the Mawddach estuary.

21 September 2020

Mid-Week Supper at The Dairy's New Bermondsey Home

Like many people, I was a fan of Robin and Sarah Gill's The Dairy in Clapham, but I didn't make it over there often enough, which filled me with huge regret when it closed permanently this summer. But to my pleasure, it has now reopened in a new location in Bermondsey. I'd actually been running past its new home, inside the attractive new Bermonds Locke aparthotel on Tower Bridge Road, while it was being created and jumped at the chance to take advantage of its soft launch.

7 September 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: Saint Nine Coffee

If you were looking for good coffee while in Bankside, you used to have to head to Borough, but the arrival of branches of Caravan and Origin Coffee has filled in a few Southwark speciality coffee gaps. And the latest addition, Saint Nine Coffee, is rather special too.

4 September 2020

Lockdown Lit: My 5 Favourite Books of August 2020

The Vanishing Half — Brit Bennett

Blame Francine Pascal, whose Sweet Valley High novels I devoured during my tween years, but I've always had a certain fascination with novels featuring twins. Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half, which tells the story of light-skinned Black twin sisters Desiree and Stella. Although parts of it are set in California and although Stella's daughter might not be too out of place in Sweet Valley, it's otherwise worlds apart.

25 August 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: Amoret Coffee, Notting Hill

By all accounts, 2020 has been a terrible year, but one upshot was that I finally got a bike and started cycling around London while the locked-down streets were much quieter than usual. Another positive was that without having to rely on convoluted public transport routes, I was finally able to visit Amoret Coffee's Notting Hill roastery cafe, which had been on my to-visit list for an embarrassingly long time.