London’s Best Coffee Shops

I have a new mission!

A new way to explore London.

So one evening after a long day, Chris and I were thinking about things we could do with our free evening. Free evenings are relatively rare for us at the moment, as both of us are committed to training for our respective roller derby teams. Plus money is pretty tight with Chris now a full-time student.

So I was sat at work, thinking of things we could do and explore that wouldn’t take up a whole evening or be too costly. And then I had a genius idea.

It’s pretty clear from my Instagram and Twitter that I love coffee. I’ve even blogged about it before.

London has a wealth of coffee shops.

Best Coffee Shops in London

Surely some of them out there are the best coffee shops London has to offer, and all this amazing coffee is at my fingertips and because it’s London open late.

So I googled it.

“London’s Best Coffee Shops”

And Timeout answered.

So now I will be working my way through this list in a bid to not only try the best coffee in London but to report and review the experience of it. To take on the task of trying the various coffee blends, accessibility of each location and the coffee’s food accompaniments.

Th list from Timeout, of course, is by no means exhaustive of the best coffee in London. For example, it misses off Leyas in Mornington Crescent, which is a lovely coffee shop and according to the comments there are a lot of West London coffee shops missing. But it’s a good place to start, and suggestions are welcome.

Since committing to this arduous task, I have visited one coffee shop, which I’ll write up for later this week.

Here’s to many caffeinated evenings.

Aurora – Murder Song

It feels like it’s been ages since I blogged about music (because it has). But I feel I can only really write about music when I feel something strongly either way. I hadn’t realised how absent that had been until stumbling across AURORA.

It’s my fault really, as I’ve felt I’ve been juggling many different projects that hadn’t allowed for me to sit and take in what I’m listening too. It’s been much easier to just put on a playlist of songs I already know, letting them pass in the background as I focus on a more important task at hand. And when a new song creeped in whilst I listened to the radio I rarely paid attention.

My usual mission for new music and emotive songs was placed on temporary hiatus.

But it’s back on now.

Because of my hiatus, I don’t remember where I first sourced AURORA. I couldn’t tell you if it was trawling Apple Music, or YouTube or listening to the radio. I can only remember that the first song I heard was the Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) – the acoustic version.

Murder Song

At the time of hearing this song for the first time, I:
Didn’t know it was the acoustic version
Stopped the thing I was working on

It felt like an age since I’d stopped to listen to a beautiful piece of music. Since I’d taken the time to listen to what a lyric was saying. I was at work. So a momentary stop on my typing was probably noticeable but at least I heard it via my own headphones, which meant I could instantly re-listen.

I make no secret of loving a moody guitar and soft voice and that’s exactly what AURORA’s Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) (acoustic) is.

Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) – acoustic

If you didn’t listen to the above, then you probably aren’t sure what I mean. But the acoustic version of the Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) begins with guitar chords and a softly voiced countdown.

It was almost a given I’d be hooked. A guitar and a countdown? Is there a more leading way to get somebody’s attention?

The lyrics journey through a the death of the author (the person singing, not a sung version of Barthes literary thought). It touches upon the idea of mercy killing, being a witness to your own death and the aftermath. It’s emotive in words alone and poetic in its journey.

That alone would be enough for me to listen to this song on repeat, much to Chris’ delight. Yet the song also perfectly spans the highs and lows that music alone has.

It begins soft and leading. Emotive and sad. Short and descriptive. AURORA leads a journey into what is taking place and layers it with a high masculine voice and guitar notes.

The standout piece for me is approximately two minutes 30 into the song where AURORA shows off her vocal ability and pitches high. The lyrics here are much the same than the rest of the song but her vocal reach and the masculine layering within the song really offset and give power to what’s being said.

Some music fans think acoustic music can be samey. I disagree (as my YouTube Work Music playlist is testament too) but this song blows that theory out of the water regardless.

It does not however make for a good driving song. I cannot reach the same pitch. I sound like a cat, regardless of how many times I repeat the song and try.

I soon discovered, after searching Apple Music for more of AURORA’s music that the version of the Murder Song I had first listened to was not the original version. Or at least not the popular version. There are two versions of this song floating about and the original (that I might incorrectly be calling it) is a more upbeat and electronic version of the same song.

This was where I began to question my decision to download all the back catalogue of AURORA’s music.


Upon first hearing the non-acoustic version of the Murder Song I hated it.

Literally didn’t want to listen to it the whole way through. THIS WAS RASH and really unfair.

It’s actually an awesome song, once you distinguish it from the acoustic version. I still think the acoustic version is a more beautiful representation of the song and the lyrics. But the stop in my day that the acoustic version caused meant that the non acoustic version had high expectations to live up to.

However the non-acoustic version is more catchy. And way more likely to be something that gets airplay, especially on popular radio.

Indie Mag, when previewing another song of AURORA’s, described her sound as atmospheric pop music. But I’m not so sure.

Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) reminds me of a tame version of Crystal Castles crossed with Bat For Lashes. It has the same haunting atmosphere of some of my favourite Bat for Lashes songs with the same blatant, attention grabbing singing that Crystal Castles sometimes uses.

I do think there is an element of construction that is common in pop music. But I think Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) explores what depths electro sounds can have in creating an emotive atmosphere. An atmosphere that leads towards sorrow or fear.

Either way I don’t think genre’s should be something to put you off this song, or even to put you off AURORA. The norwegian late teen is super talented and emotive in both renditions of Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1).

My top tip, if you listen to both versions, would be to separate them as different songs and then go and listen to AURORA’s latest EP. I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

I think AURORA will be a name to stay, especially with her release Running with the Wolves. Let me know what you think.

If you liked this review, why not read some of my other music reviews here?

Back to Skating with LRG

Ahhh the gloriousness that is skating. After five weeks of off season and a whole new league member status I am finally on skates!

8 wheels and everything.

Roller derby.

Ahh it is brilliant isn’t it?

What can I say about my first session as a full London Rollergirl skater and Brawl Saints teamie?

Well I can say that I hoped I would return to skating with grace. That all the cross training I’d done throughout the previous five weeks would make me feel fit and ready to play. That my mind would not be mush.

None of the above came true.

Arriving at the Tuesday session I remembered how to tie my skate laces and clip my helmet and that was about where the roller derby knowledge ended.

The only time I’ve ever had five weeks or more off skates was when I injured my knee, and when I returned from that I eased myself back. On Tuesday there was no easing. Training resumed like there had been no break, but my body took a while to adjust.

The biggest thing was my complete lack of balance at the beginning. Thankfully after 30 minutes I seemed to remember where I sit in my skates and how it feels to have wheels on but that wasn’t before I fell over a number of times. Most notably when I landed square on my ass, bruising my coccyx, like a newbie. And also when partnered with two Brawling level skaters.


roller derby

The pressure was self applied.

I also felt ridiculously unfit. My gym routine of three times a week did nothing to ease me back onto skates, despite my added cardio. Neither did the chorizo stew I packed away before training.

Lesson learnt – no giant dinner before training for me.

But seriously I don’t remember being that close to vomming in a long time.

So after 3 sessions last week I’m rolling in the new week with an achey butt (I’m not sure scrimmage on Sunday helped) and an even more motivated outlook to work out.

Gracelessness aside it was amazing to be back on skates and amazing to see my new teammates.

I may feel super lucky to be even a member of London Rollergirls, and even luckier to be on the Brawl Saints charter. But they make me feel like I’m meant to be there and the feeling of playing roller derby again makes me determined to push through my unfit, uncoordinated and fangirl nature to something that loosely looks like I should be there.

Ahh skating.

PS. Yay Brawling! Number one in Jacksonville WFTDA playoffs. Huzzah!