I paid a flying visit to the smoke last weekend, to check in on my aunt and catch up with my cousin, whose own, literal, flying visit involved significantly more miles than mine. She flew in from New York to stay with her mum on Friday before heading home again on Tuesday.
Three highlights of any trip to my aunt's little corner of London are;
1) Newham Bookshop. A glorious indie on the Barking Road. Enter this place at your own risk. The last things I need at this stage of my life are yet more books to add to the never-ending pile, but once through the door I lose any sense of self control - resistance is absolutely futile. It's a wonderful Aladdin's Cave of a place.
2) Central Park Café. The park itself is a fabulous local resource, but the café at its heart is a real community hub, welcoming families and their canine pals into its generous space. In addition to a friendly welcome and a decent brew, they bake a fresh rack of delicious sourdough every morning, seven days a week. I nipped in to pick up a warm loaf before leaving on Monday and demolished half of it at home that very evening.
3) The Boleyn Tavern. Following a lengthy and much needed refurbishment, The Boleyn welcomed thirsty punters back into the historic pub in June 2021, since when it's been my local whenever I'm in town. The food is great, the beer selection is ever-evolving and the contents of the free jukebox are seemingly purloined from my own record collection. I couldn't ask for anything more.
Dave Bartholomew, who died in 2019 at the ripe old age of 100, was no slouch in the songwriting department, co-penning such r&b staples as 'I'm Walking', 'Ain't That a Shame', 'Walking to New Orleans' and 'I Hear You Knocking'. Here he is in 1952 though, performing a cleverly written Billy Austin song.
You'd never find these kind of shenanigans going on at The Boleyn.