Slow Travel Diary: 48 Hours in London
London, the city we fell in love with as teenagers and students, and London, the city that currently, in the times of Brexit and austerity, breaks our hearts. It’s a love that certainly runs deep, formed by years of living, of breathing, of being shaped and inspired by this gorgeous monster of a town. Follow us on a trail to our most beloved spots of plant-based food and natural wine, vintage fashion, and British arts and crafts.
Multi-dimensional musings of plant-based food and natural wine,
with Maaike Mekking of RE//STORE
My perfect London day starts early with a Mysore Class. The Mysore style is a particular way of teaching yoga within the Ashtanga Yoga tradition as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the southern Indian city of Mysore. In London, there are many authorised teachers and I love visiting The Shala in West Norwood or The Globe in Bermondsey. When more central, I use the Mysore program in Tri Yoga in Soho, and it’s very convenient that they have recently opened their doors in East London, too.
Searching for a protein rich and plant-based breakfast afterwards, I end up at either Raw Press on Dover Street, where they specialise in nutritionally considered and plant-based food and drink, or when in East London, I opt for East London Juice Co on Shoreditch High Street, who do the best, highly charged smoothies, shots and superfood waffles.
I love to then settle down at the recently opened Benk + Bo, which is desk-surfing friendly, has a wonderful vintage interior and is an indoor plant heaven. They offer amazing coffee by Dark Fluid and have the BEST vegan croissants on offer. Lunch is grand too. On the topic of lunch time, another favourite lunch spot has to be Lyle’s, where each time I have asked for a plant-based option on the spot, magic has been delivered. The natural wine list is equally on point.
I don’t shop for many clothes these days. Instead, I’ve been really getting into clothes swapping or fixing up what I have. But I do love to pay a visit to Nordic Poetry when in East London, where a fine curation of vintage clothing ensures a golden find each time I go.
In the afternoon, I love to wander around the neighbourhood of Bermondsey with the wonderful The White Cube gallery and with Tate Modern nearby. Bermondsey Street has changed so much in recent years with many foodie additions such as José, Giddy Grocer, and St John Bakery. My favourite coffee place is still Black Swan Yard, with its best selection of coffees, reversed osmosis water, a wide variety of plant-based milks and cinnamon buns (unfortunately still not vegan). It is situated at the corner of Bermondsey Street, near the station. If I’m in the area, I also love going to 40 Maltby St. for their effortlessly selected natural wines. Set in the railway arches, it delivers each time. I can’t wait for more plant-based options on the menu as their food comes from the best sources and is always seasonal.
When it comes to the evening, I do love a glass of natural wine as you might have guessed by now. An all time favourite in this field has to be the wine bar P. Franco in Lower Clapton and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the recent news they will be reopening a restaurant in London Fields soon. A hidden gem in South East London is 161 Food + Wine in Sydenham. Great and educational wine tastings, fresh local and seasonal food and an outstanding wine list.
And as finding plant-based food to pair it with is still so hard, I am used to settle with some good sourdough bread and olive oil. Luckily, all the places on my list do provide the best sourdoughs in London, Raw Duck in Hackney Central, Ducksoup in Soho, and its latest baby sister Little Duck in Dalston included.
One of the most exciting recent opening in this field has to be Plates, open on Saturdays only. This new restaurant provides my dream combo: natural wines and plant-based food, a match made in heaven so to speak. Plates is a contemporary, creative dining business influenced by art and inspired by nature. I recently had the pleasure of trying the full menu with fellow vegan / friend / creative / photographer Laura Jean Sargent, and, wow, what a taste sensation it was! Beautifully presented dishes, well... plates, on unique ceramics designed by Kana London, set in an amicable space with an outstanding wall covered with field flowers by Worm London. Each dish was outstanding and paired with natural wine.
I’d love to tell you more about late-night life and dancing in London but, unfortunately, I am out of the loop these days, and early Mysore calls the next day …
On a trail of arts, crafts, and conscious fashion with Dörte de Jesus, founder of Lissome
If the weather allows, I love to start my day with a picturesque walk along Regent Canal and a breakfast at the Towpath Café. Before moving back to Berlin last year, I used to live on a houseboat in London and it’s always a joy to revisit my old neighbourhood and watch the occasional narrowboat or wide beam pass by. From the Towpath Café, you can stroll along the canal to Broadway Market and dive into the hustle and bustle of the local food market that takes over the street every Saturday.
When I am in the area, I always make sure to pop into STRUT Archives, my favourite London consignment store and independent fashion archive founded by Hoana Poland, that has an amazing selection of directional pieces by contemporary designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, Helmut Lang and Raf Simons. And I can spend hours browsing through the well-stocked independent magazine collection at Artworks Bookshop. My obsession for well-designed print publications runs deep and another favourite of mine is the niche magazine haven magCulture in Clerkenwell that also hosts great events and insightful behind-the-scenes talks with independent magazine makers.
For a special treat lunch, I like to head down to either Leila’s or Rochelle’s Canteen on Arnold Circus in Shoreditch, either by food or by bike (London has a great rental bike scheme!). And, a little hidden in the nearby streets, are also some of my favourite London stores, each specialising in British craftsmanship in their own, unique kind of way.
1. S.EH Kelly, 1 Cleve Workshops, Boundary Street
// Highest quality menswear sold in a tucked away workshop. The founders have worked for years on Savile Row in London, all garments are manufactured in old establishments across the country. As a man, I would only buy here, one piece a time, once a year.
2. Toogood, 71 Redchurch Street
// Conceptual clothing by sister duo Erica and Faye Toogood, consciously designed and constructed in the UK.
3. Blue Mountain School / Hostem, 9 Chance Street
// Six floors of curated fashion, dining, music, design and art— modern luxury as a multi-sensory and ever-changing slow fashion retail experience.
4. MHL, 19 Old Nichol Street
// Beautifully crafted basics by British design icon Margaret Howell.
My favourite go-to museum is the Victoria and Albert Museum, across town in South Kensington. Founded in 1852, the V+A is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, and a never-ending source of inspiration. Currently on display is the not-to-be-missed exhibition “Fashioned From Nature”: At once a historical exploration of the fashion industry’s fascination with and growing exploitation of animals, plants, and natural resources, and an outlook to the future, presenting possible future scenarios in co-operation with the Centre of Sustainable Fashion at UAL, and proposing a series of sustainable solutions such as new material innovations, circularity, and shared ownership.
If you are in the mood for further expanding your knowledge of sustainability, fashion tech, and innovation in fashion, London is a great place for evening workshops, meet-ups, and talks. Most events are listed on Eventbrite or Meetup, and occasionally on the events pages of Fashion Revolution, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, and chicmi.
Based between London and Arnhem, Maaike Mekking is a photographer and art director with an extensive design background in fashion and a passion for plant-based food and natural wine. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, she has worked with brands as diverse as Alexander McQueen, Alberta Ferretti and Eudon Choi. Her work embodies a strong independent feminine spirit evoked by all that energises her. You can follow her creative journey via @maaikemekking and @re____store.