The coffee carriers in lockdown two

This weekend, we went out for a long walk, as is the national habit during lockdown2 here in the UK. We avoided the busy parks of Greenwich and headed into central London, which is more sparely populated these days than the countryside and coast.

You can spend more time examining the architecture and finding all the little figures in niches, admiring the sculptures. Reading the plaques instead of rushing by them – they become the focus, rather than a distraction on the way to something else. As we were looking at St George’s of Bloomsbury (who is that on top of the spire?), one wag riding by on a bicycle yelled, it’s shut, luv! St George’s also houses the Museum of Comedy, so that was almost expected.

The pubs, department stores, theatres and restaurants were also shut. The security staff in the large, empty offices looked quite bored. The British Museum is shut, and looking like it’s getting some building work done on the roof.

But, like little beacons throughout the land, the coffee shops and bakeries were open, and all doing takeaway. We popped into a small one on High Holborn and brought away milky coffees and buns – I enjoyed a cardamom one while the boys both ate cinnamon buns.

We noted the many closed Itsu shops and the still-open Pret a Manger. Got out the way of the cyclists with their Deliveroo bags, crisscrossing the city. My husband went in and got a Pret Christmas Lunch sandwich – much to my son’s horror, as it is too early for Christmas, in his opinion. Ignore the fact that he has already submitted his Christmas list, numbered in order of preference.

In Chinatown, they had chairs blocking the doors, but people milled about in masks outside, awaiting their takeaway orders. We bought a milky mango bubble tea with black tapioca pearls, and got pork buns from one of the bakeries.

So, a day of much walking, from Cannon Street, through the city, to Oxford Street and then home via Charing Cross, through a weirdly unpopulated Leicester Square.

And wherever anything was open, dairy was there, propping up the foam in the coffees and delivering the creamy mouthfeel of the bobas. Offering comfort and taste during a rainy walk around town, during the second wave of a pandemic.

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