9 Things for Literature Lovers to do in London

Read the whole thing on Bustle.

Passing, glimpsing, everything seems accidentally but miraculously sprinkled with beauty, as if the tide of trade which deposits its burden so punctually and prosaically upon the shores of Oxford Street had this night cast up nothing but treasure.

Virginia Woolf’s wanders through London inspired me last week as I took in the capital, stalking the streets in search of sights a little bit off the beaten track. I went in search of spaces and places linked to literature, and this list covers the handful I managed to get around. If, like me, you love books probably a little too much and maybe sort of irrationally obsess over the people who write them, you might want to take note before your next visit.

Chalcot Square, Sylvia Plath's old stomping ground.

Chalcot Square, Sylvia Plath’s old stomping ground.

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Postcards from 2014

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I sometimes reach a point where I think, actually, what on earth have I spent my time doing? I’m not always great at keeping an up-to-date diary, and when things get busy it seems I’ve let the time pass and just existed through it, floating from day to day. Now there are busy weeks and quiet weeks, but sometimes I feel a little bit like Moss:

moss2

To cure the soggy-crisp feeling, I like to keep a list of events that took place and things that I’ve done, from milestones like turning 21, to smaller actions like learning to take breaks from social media, to show myself just how much I’ve packed in to the past 365 days. Taking stock of things like this is a good reality check, and stops me getting hung up on the (usually tiny) things I think I’ve done wrong. It reminds me that while I might not be sure of where I’ll end up, what I’ve done up to now constitutes a path I want to be on.

Among other things, in 2014 I saw a lot, read a lot, traveled quite a bit, wrote quite a bit, and snapped a load of photos. Below are some of my favourite ‘postcards’ from the year, collected on my travels around Dorset, Great Yarmouth, the Outer Hebrides, Dublin, Fife and good old Aberdeenshire. A wave of calm washes over me when I see these photographs again. I’m transported back to where I was when I took the photo, who I was with, what sort of day it was, what the scene inspired me to write. Here’s hoping 2015 brings more of the same – sometimes unexpected – opportunities and experiences as this past year. My path seems reasonably well-lit until graduation. I don’t know where it’ll lead next, but I do know the steps I take between now and then will take me closer to finding out, and form a new list along the way.

Journey to… Lastbus Works Canteen

In the middle of the north east countryside, scattered with traditional farm houses, sits a retro travel-themed eatery which feels like it’s been transported from some abandoned stretch of US highway. I made a return visit last week for more delicious cooking, just to make sure I hadn’t imagined it.

Bus benches

I’ve eaten at a lot of cafés and restaurants in the north east, and when it comes to decor, there’s often little to shout about. This decor brought tears to my eyes. Everything is recycled, from the bus seats that form booths against the walls to the building itself, constructed by the owner using disused electricity pylons. Vintage posters and record sleeves adorn the bare wood, and oil cans at each table dispense olive oil for dipping bread. It’s ingenious. The room is filled, but not overstuffed, and every item has a purpose – like the bicycle wheel suspended from the roof, home to pots of cutlery.

You can expect a good meal in most places in Aberdeenshire: a hearty soup, standard fillings for sandwiches, home bakes. By and large the offerings are quite similar, allowing for the occasional specialty. In its menu, too, Lastbus stands apart from other eateries.

Lastbus door

On weekdays, soups are accompanied by a selection of cakes and desserts. My first visit brought a flavoursome lentil and bean soup, the second a rich butternut squash and sweet potato soup. The sundaes are not to be missed. Stacked with yoghurt, granola, fresh pineapple, and pomegranate seeds, they’re heavy on indulgence and light on guilt.

For vegetarians fed up of bland, stunted menu offerings, and even someone like myself who is not (more just a cheapskate), Lastbus is a paradise. The menu changes frequently, but you can bet whatever’s on offer is fresh, tasty and totally meat-free.

The singular drawback is that, being nestled atop a hill behind New Pitsligo, Lastbus requires a car (or a walk from a nearby bus stop) to reach. But with fantastic, great value food in dreamy surroundings that you don’t find on just any Scottish hillside, it’s completely worth the journey.

Check out lostcafe.org for more information.