A funny kind of nostalgia means that I jump at any excuse to revisit our old haunts in London. On this occasion I had been invited by Crêpe Affaire to try out the new gluten free offering in their Islington restaurant. Now the best part of 2 hours away (once you factor in getting a buggy up and down stairs), I used the opportunity to soak in some of the places I miss from our old neighbourhood.
It was a rushed start for poor A, who had uncharacteristically decided to sleep until 7am, but she was nonetheless delighted to be going on the train she normally just watches and waves to. Delighted for all of 4 stops, every subsequent one was met with “get off now?!”, every new passenger with “what’s the man/lady doing?”. I take secret delight (and occasional embarrassment) in how uninhibited and curious she is at the moment.
There’s something quite disorientating about exploring somewhere at toddler-dawdle speed when your memories are tied up with pacing on the morning commute and dodging tourists. Setting frustration aside, if you make the time (most of a morning to stroll from Highbury & Islington to Angel) there are so many more details to see through the eyes of a two-year-old. The streams of buses and emergency vehicles you’d developed noise-blindness to; the displays in shop after shop after shop. I made a mental note to worry less about organising activities in the future and just go to new places and see what we can see.
Of course when in this neck of the woods, I couldn’t pass by the Artisan Gluten Free Bakery without picking up a few treats – some olive bread for later, and look at those layered pastries!
Molly Meg too have a boutique in Islington. I’ve bought from them many times before online, so had to stop in for some small treats for A and a few presents for friends’ children. Such a gorgeous shop full of fun and whimsy. We had to leave quickly before A’s grabby hands caused chaos.
By now A was chanting “pancake, pancake!” so we headed to Camden Passage for the main event. We were delighted to find the Crêpe Affaire buckwheat galettes were not only gluten free (for me), but dairy & egg free for A too (phew!). We shared a savoury and a sweet one – she picked banana and sultanas and enjoyed making little ‘sandwiches’ with the ingredients whilst chatting away about the other people with heads down over laptops. (“What’s lady doing? What’s the man eating? Where’s the pancake gone?”). The staff were super accommodating – I’d forgotten how few children you see in central London.
In fact, I was generally surprised at how friendly and helpful everyone was on our little trip. At every tube station and bus stop I was offered help with the buggy and our bags despite being determined to soldier on. I’m not sure I would have been so accommodating on my commute!
A was now demanding “swings”, and unfortunately I haven’t a scoobies where to find a playground in Angel! Fortunately she was happy enough to indulge me in playing with my new camera in a few colourful spots in Camden Passage.
She really loved (to the point of separation anxiety) the bag the restaurant had given us with a parcel of fresh coffee beans inside!
If I’d known we’d spend so much time snapping I might have gently guided her outfit choice a little more, although sweet that she chose the camera around her neck to match the one I was carrying for most of the day.
I can’t resist a shot against a good wall, not bad considering it’s from a camera on a strap dangling from the buggy handlebar! A, however, has limited patience for standing still, and I’m learning the best way to capture her being herself is to play games with her as I snap away, so here’s her in a blitz of motion blur running off some energy before the bus and train ride home.
Crêpe Affaire kindly paid for our lunch, but we covered the rest of our little outing ourselves.
You can find my updated guide to eating gluten free in Islington on my other blog here.