After almost two years exactly to the date, on the 27th of November 2016, Kandi travelled from Toronto to London to stay.
Having met many people throughout my travels, saying that we will see one other again is usually a thrown around phrase. Plans are roughly sketched out, destinations discussed and rarely they manifest into anything. But, sometimes you are lucky enough to meet somebody on the other side of the world who will always be a big part of your life. In my case, this was my partner in crime Kandi who I met in Tanzania. Having spent two solid months together that consisted of crazy adventures, near-death experiences and making memories to last a lifetime, I knew that she would forever be a best friend of mine, no doubt about it. So, after many a letter, Skype call and Facebook message, the time came for Kandi to travel those 3,000 miles and travel around Europe.
The first stop being in London.
After patiently awaiting her arrival at London Bridge, we were united once more. Carrying a large back pack that outweighed her own body, she hadn’t changed a single bit. Within moments it felt like we had never been apart, picking up from where we left off in a destination 6,000 miles North East of Tanzania. Dusting off the jet lag, she and I were ready to explore London in the short time that we had together. After dropping off the monster of a bag at Kings Cross, we jumped on the Northern Line to Camden Market.
As Kandi had already seen many of the London attractions just 5 years previous, I was lucky to find a place that she hadn’t explored nor heard of. Camden always feels like a home away from home to me so I was ecstatic to say the least. Walking down the high street, an ever changing canvas, painted with new statues, garish murals and littered with punks and rockers alike. We ventured into the Lock and gazed at the many stalls full of quirky nicknacks, Moroccan lights and London paraphernalia. Although chilly, the bright colours and smiling faces made it feel a lot warmer.
There is no visit to Camden without venturing into the home of futuristic fashion; Cyber Dog. The loud music, alternative dancers and flashing neon lights guide you in and down the escalators to three floors of Neon madness. We headed to the UV section, trying on glow in the dark hats and eyeing up the eccentric clothing. The most eye-opening section is the Over-18 only floor in the basement that isn’t for the faint hearted shall we say!
We soon felt the hunger pangs and headed to West Yard, Camden Lock’s place for an array of street food. The selection never fails to amaze me, full of Vegan, Veggie and meaty choices to suit everyone. We chose to try Makatcha, an Indonesian Street Kitchen where I tried a chickpea and mushroom rendang, a dish cooked in coconut cream, served with rice and a sweet and sour pickle. The flavours were incredible, warm, rich and very moorish. Kandi chose a Chicken rendang, with similar ingredients that I am sure were melt-in-the-mouth delicious!
After lunch we hit the Photobooth to remember our exciting day out and gazed endlessly at the array of sweet treats on offer that we couldn’t quite manage to stomach. Cookies and Scream’s Vegan desserts will always seem appealing even if you are stuffed!
After a quick coffee break in Costa, we jumped back on tube to Oxford Circus to see the christmas lights. This year they were truly spectacular, the streets lined with giant angels and trails of blue sparkling bulbs trailing behind.
We then wandered along to Carnaby street to see their alternative Light display, showcasing the words ‘Love’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Joy’ above our heads. Very festive to say the least at the end of November!
We soon got tired and headed out of London from platform 10A or should I say 10’i’, into the depths of Essex to have dinner and settle down for the night. We made Vegan Tacos that went down a treat, topped with Violife and shredded lettuce for me and cheddar and sour cream for Kandi & Chris. The evening was topped off with numerous showings of very British TV shows such as Jezza Kyle, TOWIE and Made in Chelsea. Oh England.
As there isn’t much to do in Essex, heading to the coast is always a great option. On Monday morning, day two, we wrapped up warm, jumped on the bus and ended up in Southend-On-Sea an hour later.
You cannot visit the East Anglian coast without having a go on the penny machines. After changing up our coins for an abundance of 2p’s, we began playing to our hearts content until the coins eventually ran out. Our chances of winning a prize were extremely low however Kandi’s determination was impressive. As it was out of peak season, the prizes had magically moved away from the edge and coaxing them over deemed too difficult. We left behind the neon lights of the arcade and ventured along the sea front for something a little more traditional: Fish & Chips.
The British coast is known for it’s great fish and chips, and what better place to try it than in Southend. To get the full experience, we went to Neptune’s Restaurant, the most traditional chippy in the whole town. With canteen furniture, outdated decor and drinks served in paper cups, we knew we had come to the right place. Kandi ordered plaice and chips with a side of mushy peas lathered in vinegar and tartare sauce; she’s a Brit at heart! I had a Veggie burger with fries, laden in cheap tomato sauce and vinegar also. The mushy peas didn’t go down too well for the Canadian, nor for this Brit for that matter however the chips were spot on for the seaside.
We walked off our food with a visit to the local shops by picking up some Dairy Milk chocolate in Poundland for Kandi to take back to Canada. You cannot get much more British than that! After another latte in Costa, we headed back into the depths of Essex for Kandi’s last evening in the UK. We chose to go out for a meal as a celebration and ended up in Bill’s. With prosecco, beer and a cider in our hands, we cheers’ed for the last time. We tucked into delicious food, reminisced on past adventures and talked about the future.
With little sleep under our belts, before I knew it, Kandi was out of the door, catching the coach to the airport. Until next time, I can cherish these British memories and begin planning the next adventure somewhere warmer!