Sunday, July 12, 2015

Out and about in London #5: Museums, Regent's Park, the Grand Union Canal and plenty of vegan food

After their arrival 18 days ago, my parents are now en route back to Australia. They returned to London for their last couple of nights and we enjoyed playing tourist again and seeing some new-to-us places.

Traflagar Square - not new, but delightfully balmy on a summer evening (this was about 7.00pm)

On a rather mammoth day yesterday, we took in the Foundling Museum and Sir John Soane Museum, before browsing in Foyle's bookstore and walking through Regent's Park and along the Grand Union Canal. I don't have pictures of the museums but would highly recommend both. The Foundling Museum tells the story of London's Foundling Hospital, set up in 1739 by Thomas Coram to care for babies at risk of abandonment. It was an impressive effort and similar work continues today through the associated charity Coram. Sir John Soane's museum is an incredible - mind-blowing - collection of art and architecture. The building itself is a delight and the contents span from paintings to scultpures to a full-size Egyptian tomb.

Sunny Regent's Park hedge gardener

After the museums and our time in Foyle's, we walked up through a summery Regent's Park to join the Grand Union Canal towpath. I had previously walked the canal near Camden, but hadn't gone much west of Regent's Park. If you do walk in that direction, you meander along scenic sections of water that are entirely tucked away from London's busy streets. We went up to the 'Little Venice' area near Paddington, which was close to where my parents stayed for their final night.

Grand Union Canal

I really liked the walk and would recommend it as a way to soak up London's character. You can also take in impressive living arrangements, including the tow boats with their quirky character and some enormous mansions around Regent's Park.

Our dinner that night was at a pub, where my Mum and I shared an enjoyable mix of veggie food that I neglected to photograph. The evening before we had met at Tibits, the buffet-style vegetarian restaurant I have raved about previously. It is always reliable and I was glad to manage a repeat visit.


Tibits salad mix

Earlier in June and before this family time, Mr Bite and I had some other outings that seem worth mentioning here. One was to Byron Burger, which we'd been meaning to try for some time. I opted for the Mushroom burger: a grilled portebello mushroom usually served with goat's cheese, roasted red pepper, baby spinach, tomato, red onion and aioli (£7.95). I had it without the cheese and aioli. Mr Bite had another vegetarian option, the bean patty, served with red pepper, baby spinach, tomato, red onion, aioli and 'Byron sauce' (also £7.95).

Byron burgers

We had our burgers in the Byron restaurant at the O2 arena, previously known as the Millenium Dome, which we'd also wanted to visit for some time. We've walked or cycled (or in my case run) past the outside quite a few times, but this was our first venture within the dome. Sadly we didn't love the burgers and probably won't try Byron again, but we did enjoy the dining location and the Byron restaurant interior.

Byron restaurant at the O2 arena
(it was busy when we arrived, but there was a mass exit at the time of an O2 concert starting!)

We were more pleased with a repeat visit to Ruby's of London at the Greenwich markets. Like Tibits, I have raved about Ruby's vegan baking before. This visit was made via bike and we had taken books to read in Greenwich park. I had the vegan red velvet cake with 'cream cheese' icing, which was delicious. Mr Bite had a chocolate cake that was not only vegan but gluten-free - a dangerous choice for a man who is not normally either. Fortunately he loved it, although it seems I was so taken with my own cake that I forgot to photograph his.


From museums to book shops, parks to canals, and vegan buffets to burgers to cakes; London continues to deliver on all fronts.

What have you been enjoying locally of late?

The Foundling Museum is located at 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N1. At the time of writing it is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and 11am to 5pm Monday. Admission is £8.25 per adult, but a 50% discount applies if you are a National Trust member.

Sir John Soane's Museum is located at 12-14 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A . At the time of writing it is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free but a donation is requested, at £5 per adult (it is worth this).

Tibits is located at 12-14 Heddon Street, off Regent Street, London W1B 4DA. They are open daily, from 9am to 10.30pm Monday to Wednesday; 9am to midnight Thursday to Saturday; and 11.30am to 10.30pm Sunday. Bookings are taken for groups of 8 or more.

Ruby's of London caters for online orders, and you can buy products directly through Greenwich Markets on weekends. 

14 comments:

  1. First thing: I must share this with my mom as she is a topiary hobbyist! Second: I loved a vegan tour of london! It's not the town I think of first when I think vegan, so it's great to know there are some healthy and creative veggie foods available there!

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    1. Oh, it has heaps of vegan food, promise! Come and visit and you'll fine all the great spots :-)

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  2. I miss London! I didn't live there but had a few stays when I was living overseas. There was so so so much I never got to see, probably because my husband wanted to spend hours in Forbidden Planet...!

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    1. Bahaha, you definitely need to come back and put your agenda top!

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  3. Tibits is amazing, isn't it. The only problem is that I want to try everything and I fill up my plate so high and spend a fortune.

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    1. I was so worried about doing that the first time we went I got a tiny plate and was surprised how cheap it seems! I've edged up the price range now but still find it nice to have control of the price :-)

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  4. I'm sure it must have been sad farewelling your parents. They certainly did time their visit perfectly with London having such a gorgeous summer. I love the photo taken in the evening at Trafalgar Square - it looks like mid-morning! What a shame about the burgers because they look really good. I don't think there's a more beautiful city in the world than London in a beautiful summer xx

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    1. The evening light here really is amazing at present. And yes, I agree, London has a particular beauty at this time of year (even if I'm a bit biased!) :-)

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  5. That foundling museum sounds really interesting - I have read about Australia's history with 'orphans' which is both sad and fascinating. And I love your photo of trafalgar square which captures that life of the place so nicely. Sounds like you have been enjoying the summer in London and lovely to share some of it with your parents. Those burger buns look a little perfect to me - shame they didn't do the location justice - but I guess people keep coming because it is such an interesting place to eat.

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    1. The location and proximity of concerts do seem to have benefits for the O2 restaurants :-) I think Byron is popular so maybe it just wasn't to our tastes. I think you'd have liked the Foundling museum - really well done and put together history.

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  6. What a lovely weekend! I am so jealous of your sunshine - grey and cold and wet here.

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    1. We'll have that back soon enough :P

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  7. Sounds like your parents visited at the perfect time to enjoy our glorious British summer :D (Let's just hope it isn't over already... been so cloudy & rainy this week in Bath).
    I'd never heard of those museums before but they sound really interesting. Oh and I definitely need to visit Ruby's next time I'm in the city. That red velvet cake looks lush! xx

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    1. I hope you can get to Rubys, it's worth going out of your way for! It's been pretty cloudy here since the weekend too but I confess to preferring it to the heat wave of a fortnight ago...

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