While I usually spend most of my free time or ‘gaps’ in the library catching up on readings and assessments, I also try to spend some time off-campus. I too often find myself being drawn to the library, not necessarily because of the workload but because I don’t really think to spend my free time doing anything else. A couple of weeks ago, I impulsively decided to escape the library and explore some of London on my own and, because I naturally tend to take photos wherever I go, I took the opportunity to take some nice pictures along my journey – making it my own London ‘photo walk’ (though food is very much involved).
Everyone knows that Covent Garden is a really obvious area to visit, given that it is such a short walk away from Kingsway, however, I like to walk around its vicinity. For instance, I particularly enjoy wandering around Neal’s Yard because there are some really nice spots to eat or drink coffee, like the Wild Food Café and Homeslice. I would also recommend having a look inside the Neal’s Yard Remedies store because it is really refreshing and energising to smell all the herbs, flowers, and essential oils – especially after a long day in the library.
With my mind set on eating somewhere in SoHo, and using my mental itinerary, I made my way along Shaftesbury Avenue towards Leicester Square/Chinatown, where I decided to scavenge around for a bubble milk tea or a treat from a Chinese bakery. Mainly characterised by its red lanterns and bustling restaurants, Chinatown is a hotspot for tourists, however – if you are not looking to eat a meal – I would recommend that you try out a bakery or dessert café. A personal favourite of mine is Tsujiri Matcha House, which is a very famous and popular Japanese chain that specialises in making the most delicious matcha (green tea) desserts and drinks.
After walking around and food shopping in Chinatown, it is only natural to make your way to SoHo. I personally like to just wander around and see what suits my fancy, but there are so many cafés, restaurants, and little bakeries. One particularly unique place that I recently discovered, was the Algerian Coffee Store which is located on Compton Street. Established in 1887, the store has an eye-catching bright-red shop front and has a very impressive collection of coffee-making gadgets in the window display.
Inside, the shop proudly boasts a huge range of speciality coffee beans from all over the world, but also sells freshly-made espressos and cappuccinos for a pound! It is a really quirky place to check out, especially if you are a coffee lover. Even if you don’t go inside the store, it is definitely worth having a look at the impressive vintage shop front, which displays a magnificent collection of coffee-related items.
Lastly, whenever I am in SoHo, there is one specific place that I go to eat. I am a big fan of poke bowls, and SoHo leaves us spoilt for choice, but I have to admit that my favourite lunch spot is Honi Poke. Not only are the bowls quite reasonably sized and priced, they are really delicious, healthy, and refreshing (they also have several impressive vegan options).
I have found ‘photowalking’ to be a very refreshing thing to do for the mind and body; additionally, it can be an enlightening experience, as you learn to familiarize yourself with London and discover new places for future explorations. I would definitely invite anyone who wants to have a refreshing break during the exam revision reason to do activities like ‘photowalking’, especially as a university student because it is a genuinely enjoyable way of procrastinating – without feeling too bad about it!