So all of the flatmates decided that I should refer to them by “super secret code names.” I have a feeling this is probably more for novelty than security, nevertheless, spending a bright sunny morning in a London flat, passing around a sheet of paper and trying to figure out a witty name for the person sitting next to you is not at all a bad way to start the day.
It is very easy to spend a lot of money in London. Luckily it is also very easy to spend next to nothing while having the time of your life. Many days my total expenditure does not exceed 50p for a cup of tea at Rock Steady Eddies, a small diner much like Wimpy’s in Lexington. A few of us from the group went to a show the other night, not knowing if we would have to pay a cover. Upon arriving we were stopped at the door and each given a wristband, good for free admission and up to 5 free drinks. We spent the first ten minutes awestruck and perplexed, simply trying to comprehend the serendipity of the situation.
Gordon’s Wine Bar is a must-visit for any oenophile who happens to be in London (Scott & Chris, you would love this place). I had the extreme pleasure of sipping a couple glasses here a few nights ago. A narrow stairway in a side ally leads down to a barely lit doorway, the only evidence hinting at nightlife is a sign about a square foot in size, stating simply: Gordon’s Wine Bar. I recently learned that this may be one of the oldest wine bars in London, if not the world, check out the history at: gordonswinebar.com. Upon opening the door, I was quite surprised to find nearly one-hundred vivacious, candle-lit faces chatting amongst themselves and sipping all kinds of vino. The space has arching stone ceilings and a cold dampness in the air; the 17th century vault is now reminiscent of an old catacomb. A helpful and cute staff, as well as a fantastic wine list (including several wines and fortified wines made on site and kept in large casks behind the bar) top off the astonishing atmosphere. Gordon’s amontillado is highly recommended.
Continuing on the theme of secret niches beneath the streets of London, Shunt is possibly the most romantic space I have ever experienced. Last night some of the flatmates brought me to the London Bridge Underground station. Here is once again an unassuming brick entranceway. Stepping in is like passing through a portal from the hustling London underground station back in time to a world of chamber music, art installations, and nooks of artistic performances. Echoes of stringed instruments and performers are amplified by labyrinth of cobblestone and brick, the exoskeleton of a now dormant Tube corridor, seemingly designed for its acoustic luster.
Shunt is more than a special place; it adds a quality and diversity to the character of London that is inimitable. Sadly, in about a month it will be demolished for the construction of another strip-mall and supermarket.
The flatmates and I shared several glasses of wine and exchanged conversation until just before closing time. Several times throughout the night I found myself asking how I am so lucky to have found this group. Their individual personalities, as well as the group dynamic as a whole, are becoming increasingly apparent as I have been spending more and more time with them. I am looking forward to introducing them soon (through super secret code names of course).
Oh yes, and we have electricity now! We are now able to do such fancy things as make tea without the use of an alcohol stove, see eachother's faces at night, we even used a projector on the wall to watch a film last night... and (ghasp) I was able to take my first hot shower today!
I have also managed to find a good coffee shop: Flat White. I will need to sample more to determine if their spro is up to par with espresso news, but their latte art is world class. They have traditional drinks, and on the menu board give you the option of a ristretto shot vs. standard: something I have never seen another shop do. They don't roast their own beans however, that may be a fragrance I will either have to either create myself or wait until I return to Boone to enjoy. There are one or two other shops I need to check out, but for now this seems like a winner.
Pictures will be coming soon, I have been out of batteries but will be picking some up tonight. There are a lot of wonderful things planned for the next few days, but I do not want to give anything away. Check back in a few days; in the meantime, happy Friday the thirteenth, and I hope your Valentine's is looking as good as mine!