London was experiencing what residents described as a 'heat wave' when we arrived. Fresh off the plane from Brisbane, Australia, where the average - read, average - summer temperature is 26°C, we dumped our luggage in our Airbnb at Mile End, showered, and headed out for some sustenance.
It was a relief to stumble into The Chesterfield on Roman Road, though I have to say the staff were being somewhat dramatic. 'Oh it's so terribly hot,' one of them said, collapsing into a chair, fanning herself furiously. 'It's just unbearable.' For the record, the mercury had just passed the 30°C mark.
An ever-changing selection of appealing cakes is on offer. Author image.
With plenty of amiable chatter despite their discomfort at what seemed, to us, to be pleasantly balmy weather, the staff bustled about to prepare our lunch. Or dinner. Or breakfast. Or whatever it was given the time difference which had thrown our circadian rhythms wildly out of whack.
We appreciated The Chesterfield's range of healthy salads, sandwiches and wraps, though the stellar coffee simply stole the show. My wrap stuffed with grilled halloumi, hummus, spinach and roasted peppers was delicious and satisfying and, while I was tempted by the array of cakes, I decided that moderation was the key - at least, on this occasion.
The Chesterfield offers a cheerful and casual setting for a bite to eat. Author image.
Once refuelled, we had the energy to explore this interesting and sometimes edgy part of London. Though Mile End sounds thoroughly modern, the name of this little hamlet dates back to the 13th Century. Nearby highlights include Victoria Park, an 86-hectare open space featuring a lake, glorious gardens and The Pavilion Cafe. The Queen Mary University of London containing the second-oldest graveyard in England, as well as the Ragged School Museum and the Chisenhale Gallery, are further drawcards.
The Chesterfield itself is situated on the Roman Road which was a centre of activity featured in the 2015 film Suffragette. The movement's newspaper was reportedly published from offices just down the road. So when you settle into one of the comfortable Chesterfield couches here, be sure to raise a toast to women's right to vote.