If you’re visiting London for the first time, chances are you won’t go much further afield than the attractions in the town centre. Admittedly, London is so huge that nobody can be expected to explore it all during a visit. Even people who live here (me included) probably haven’t seen all that is on offer. This city is so vast, there are so many parts to it, so many hidden gems and places to see that it’s impossible to take it all in unless you make it your life’s mission to explore absolutely every last bit of it – and it probably would take the best part of a lifetime.
So, to narrow things down just a little, I thought I’d invite you to one of my favourite cafés which is off the usual tourist track. This is Canvas & Cream, located in Forest Hill, South East London. There’s nothing overly flashy in this part of town and it is for the most part relatively untouched by tourists despite having some pretty cool shops here. Personally, I quite like it like that.
Canvas & Cream is a little like “my local”. It’s where I might escape to when I’m writing and I don’t want to sit at home. It’s a café, restaurant and – here’s the really cool part – art gallery, all rolled into one. The are even offer complementary therapies like Reiki, Reflexology and Homeopathy by local practitioners and experts! The decor constantly changes, but the character and vintage style cosiness with some quirky details remain throughout.
As a family run business, the emphasis is very much on being inclusive and welcoming to everybody. Out the back of the café/gallery are art studios which open to the public during “open weekends”. It’s like a meeting point for creatives, families and even some “ladies who lunch” which makes it a great and interesting mix.
And here’s another little secret: Nigella Lawson once visited this place and declared the food fabulous. I’m not sure if these were her actual words, but it was a definite “thumbs up” and that’s pretty cool, don’t you think?
Oh, and one last thing. In case you’re short of pretty china for your next tea party, there’s always a lovely selection on offer to buy. All in all, this really is a great place to have a coffee or wine, some food, browse some art and stock up your china cabinet. It doesn’t get much better, does it?
So, maybe one day, on your next visit to London, you might fancy a wander away from Chelsea and Kensington and take the Overground to Forest Hill. It might not be flash, but it’s certainly charming.
Carole Poirot | London, England