The London Files: Free Cake?

A couple of days ago I discovered that it was my new roommate’s birthday, and I decided that a small birthday cake was in order.

Since I now live in the “cool” part of town – packed with independent bakeries and coffee shops, I decided to forego the typical grocery store and funfetti cakes. A little google searching led me to a bakery called Lily Vanilli. It was allegedly hidden in a courtyard off of Columbia Road, just a few blocks from my house on a street that turns into a massive flower market on Sundays.

The best kind of cake: delicious and free.

As I walked down Columbia Road on a Monday afternoon, every single store was closed. It was like a ghost town. I made it to the alleyway that was the alleged location of the bakery, but it was equally as empty. After standing dumbfounded for a few moments, I turned around and made my way back. It was then that I noticed a nondescript door with a buzzer labeled “bakery.” Assuming it was some kind of crazy-hidden hipster bakery, I rang the bell.

A few moments later, the door buzzed and I pulled it open. I walked through a courtyard and into the bakery, where I was greeted by a heavily-tattooed mutton-chop-wearing gentleman. As I looked around, it seemed as if the place had been hit by a flour bomb. Bowls and spatulas lay haphazardly on the counters, and there was not a cake in sight.

“Um….I take it this isn’t a bakery where you can just walk in and buy cakes?” I glanced at the gentleman. He apologised for the mess, explaining that they were only open on Sundays during the flower market and spent the rest of the week baking. “Oh, sorry!” I murmured as I sheepishly backed up towards the door.

“Wait there!” he said, as he disappeared from view. As I stood awkwardly, I began explaining that it was my new roommate’s birthday  and I didn’t really know where to score a cake round’ these parts. A few minutes later he emerged with a white box. “This will be perfect!” When I asked how much I owed him, he said not to worry about it. When I got home I opened the box to discover a beautiful strawberry cake, perfect for 3-4 people. We devoured the whole thing that night, and a week later I am still alive to tell the story – so it clearly wasn’t poisoned or packed full of razor blades.

I don’t really get it. Fox says it’s because I had a “cute and lost foreigner” thing going on, but I’m going to generalise and blame it on British people being really nice. Or maybe British hipsters are just really nice? Regardless, it was a really cool gesture and I will definitely be patronising that bakery during their more open hours.

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