I do enjoy a brief flirtation with Bethnal Green - some charity shop steals and a perfect vegan lunch. An old friend lives in Woodford, and they do excellent chips over that way. I avoid Stratford whenever possible - too many shoppers, too much stress, no thank you. Shepherd's Bush will hold a special place in my heart, after seeing several of my favourite artists play in the Empire there. Notting Hill is next level posh, and their streets are so damn Instagrammable. For some reason I utterly adore Liverpool St Station, it's so lovely and buzzing. And of course Ealing, up the other end, will always have the best coffee.
I've never been to Leyton, or Leytonstone, though. This was new territory, when I found my way there the other day. It was an adventure!
The totally beautiful Stevie Finegan, my crazy-dedicated colleague and gorgeous friend, let me crash with her Monday night, after a day traipsing around central London (getting a bit swept up in all the magic of 80 Strand and the whole Penguin publishing magic). I plan on staying with her again very soon, so much so she will regret the whole 'any time you want' promise...sorry in advance, angelic Stevie.
Anyway, she had to shoot off to work first thing Tuesday morning, and I had to crack on with some work of my own (actual legit writing work and marketing business, guys). I thought about just hanging in her lovely pad, but the urge to get out and get experiences (/coffee) was too great. Stevie, being a gem as always, suggested I check out a cute cafe in Leytonstone town, called All You Read is Love. Right from the name, I was intrigued and excited.
Nothing could have prepared me for the next level quirkiness of decor and general rad atmosphere I felt when I walked into this place, though.
This place is crammed with only the coolest books (their graphic novel collection is especially on point); they play their own vinyl, and they serve an excellent cuppa. I had two black americanos while I sat working hard (stopping periodically to stare at the artwork on the walls) (resisting the delightful cakes on offer on the bar, reminding myself that I had a whole pizza to myself the night before and could expect cocktails at the event that evening, too) (still, cake though...).
I LOVED the fact that when I went up and asked sheepishly if they 'had wifi', the lovely barista (and I think owner...?) pointed to my table and told me I could find the name of the network and the password on the tag around the neck of the bottle that sat in the centre of my table and acted as a vase for a couple of lovely daffodils. That's genius, right there. Invaluable trick for us bloggers!
Oh also, as a part-time barista myself, I really enjoy when regular customers come in and are greeted - whether that's with a simple 'hiya', their usual beverage already prepared for them, or a full-on hug in some cases. That's bloody nice. If I ever were to open my own bookshop/cafe/music venue (that's the dream, guys) I would make friends with every one of my customers and make them feel welcome and happy when they visited me each day (y'know, unless they were arseholes of course).
Plus my friend Stevie had told me the most exciting thing about their toilet...not only is it unisex, but also they have a stash of makeup available to customers in a cute little box, AND a candy jar of free FHPs! Pads and tampons (the good, branded ones, ladies!) for free. Very bloody handy, that. Excuse the word play.
Ooh and I wanna come back in the evening sometime. Thursday - Saturday they're open until 10pm! They have an alcohol licence and serve local brewery beers, plus wine, plus eccentric cocktails! Amazing, right?
They also do live events! This Friday 26th February there's a Literary Quiz happening (which I would try and go to, obvs, but it's my Dad's bday. How dare he!) and then there are some arts and crafts workshops with local designers on the 15th March and 10th May.
877 High Road, Leytonstone, E11 1HR.