In every nook and cranny of London there’s something special, no, something amazing… something magnificent to find and steal your heart. No one knows this better than London blogger, G, who documents all his finds on his blog The Magnificent Something. With the heart of an explorer and a terrible sense of direction, G has stumbled upon some real treats in London town and he’s decided to share five of his favourite spots with us.
A knotted tree bark hangs over a mammoth scull; underneath them, a polecat and a monkey’s head stare back at you with the same look of amazement that your facial muscles have conjured; and this is just one of the cabinets of the Cuming Museum.
The museum houses a selection from the 10,000 artefacts Henry Cuming left to the borough of Southwark. From ticket stubs and dentist’s caps, to eccentric objects from all around the world, the collection evolves into a portrait of the Cuming family, and makes you wonder what a visit to their house would be like.
The Cumings seemed to have an observational approach to life that I can relate to, retaining memories, souvenirs, and cherishing even the fake artefact that represented value rather than worth.
This miniature space has the charm of the Old Man Twichum museum from the Gilmore Girls; things that might or might not belong to famous people, the smell of an old house, and a distinct feeling that you are snooping around someone else’s things, that you are looking at something that is special because it was special to someone; and that makes it unique.
Hobbs Barber and Roasted Pork Shops
I might be the worst customer when it comes to haircuts. Fidgeting, squinting, sharp inhales, stiffled gasps, even full water works; when I sit on a barber’s chair, I just can not control myself.
This is why you should listen to me when I tell you that Hobbs in Borough Market is hands down the best barber shop around. When I go there, I completely relax; I know that I am in safe hands.
Filled with an effortless and authentic old-school charm, the space’s relaxed atmosphere is partly due to the clever layout and quirky interior, but mostly to the presence of the scissor-bearing dynamic duo that cut hair with a friendly attitude and a determined precision.
Even though you can wait in the traditional waiting room at the back, I usually sit on the leather chairs out front (the one with the pink post-it ‘Customers Only’ is the most comfortable). 20 minutes later, my freshly groomed head turns to look across the street, where the Hobbs roasted pork kiosk completes the whole experience. I usually go for the pulled pork with coleslaw, and leave with a stride on my step (and barbecue sauce on my chin).
The moment you walk in Homemade you can feel the air changing; you just know you stepped in something really special. This blink-and-you-miss-it corner of the world is a true culinary gem, which potentially explains why it is one of the best guarded secrets of south-east London.
As I have no sense of direction and am easily distracted, I usually rely on my friend Alex to take me there. We always pass from the colour shop, and weave our way through the Dulwich streets and the Saturday Brockley Market (another good secret) where most of the Homemade products come from, and 5 minutes later we are standing in the entrance of the shop.
Homemade is what it says on the tin: fresh home-made food, with the best of ingredients.
From homemade houmous and relishes to home-cured salt beef and home-roasted ham, your sandwich will taste like heaven; and then add to that a good selection of organic teas, delicious coffees, savoury treats, and mouthwatering cakes. Heaven. (44 Barry Road | East Dulwich, London SE22 OHU)
There are no prostitutes in this address
When I first passed the door at Meard Street, I saw a group of teenagers gathered outside, giggling uncontrollably. I tutted at their juvenile behaviour, and approached to see what was so funny. Moments later I found myself joining the giggle-fest.
It turned out that this is not the desperate plead of a frustrated tenant tired of people mistaking his house for a brothel; instead it is a piece by artist Sebastian Horsley, who stayed in this house until his death on 2010. The sign is still up, and it still generates a lot of confused looks, loud laughter, and Facebook posts captioned LOL. (7 Meard St, London, W1F 0EW)
Sandwiched between an Internet Cafe and a spa, Gay’s the Word looks a little out of place; a little queer. If there ever was a gay version of Harry Potter, this would definitely be the Ollivanders Wand shop.
In GTW, the secret is not necessarily the spot, but the people that make it what it is.
Jim Macsweeney and Uli Lenart are two of the most inspiring Londoners that you will meet, with a sense of strength, optimism and humor that has seen them though the good and the bad.
The store is a literal literary tardis, housing in a relatively small space treasures of LGBT work, from fiction, non-fiction and academic books to the latest copy of Little Joe, and other cultures Zines.
GTW is a sanctuary, a meeting spot, a melting pot, and an unsung national treasure. Next time you are near Russell Square, pop inside.