So yesterday, after several weeks of planning our first post-move-to-Sudbury trip to London, Antonia and I managed to miss the 9.30am train. Personally, I was raging because I’d booked an appointment at ‘The Rabbit Hole’ – a vegan hair salon in Shepherd’s Bush – I’d never been before, and I didn’t know where it was, and I wanted to walk around then go for lunch at To-Fu, a vegan Asian-fusion buffet, which was only a few minutes walk from the hair salon.
Antonia, non-chalantly, suggested we go to Waitrose so that she could have her daily cup of free tea, whilst we waited another hour for the next train. (This is typical of her, because she used to spend the Monday afternoons she had off college in IKEA with our friend Sophie Norman aka ‘the original bean cruncher’, just to enjoy unlimited cups of tea) She’d also brought some homemade blueberry muffins with her. Sorry, ‘enchanted bluebell’ muffins. Apparently, they’d been ‘energised with crystal magic and love’. Hmm. So that’s what she was doing in my kitchen the other day when she was dancing round, swinging a quartz pendulum over the cooker, whist making dinging noises.
When we finally arrived, it turned out the Asian-Fusion place had shut down. This was doubly disappointing because a) we only had an hour to eat lunch then find the hair salon and b) the words ‘vegan’ and ‘buffet’ rarely go together. Instead, we found a lovely wee place called ‘The Green Café’, which although not specifically meat-free, did have the best hummus and falafel wraps I’ve ever tasted – everything was homemade; and it was a bonus that the wraps were made from dairy-free naan bread, because naan usually contains yoghurt.
From there, we walked around the market and I commented on how I’d never seen so many women wearing veils. Antonia said it reminded her of the Glasgow Barras. I couldn’t quite see the connection myself: a traditional muslim woman hanging around the East End of Glasgow, in a full body burka, is more likely to receive abuse than a stall to sell her oriental vegetables on.
Dori, the Hungarian hairdresser, who owns The Rabbit Hole messaged to say that the place was ‘hidden’ inside an old barber’s shop with a yellow door – there were in fact two barber’s shops in Goldhawk Road with yellow doors so if it hadn’t been for Antonia, I might have ended up with a Sweeny Todd special.
It was dark inside The the Rabbit Hole, and as I moved through the entrance I had the vaguest feeling that I was floating inches above the ground, because I couldn’t see my feet. I was met by a hat-wearing hairdresser who didn’t actually work there (yet), but she looked like she fitted right in with the tea pot wallpaper, and the white rabbit mosaic, and the beautiful bespoke light fittings with the tea cups on the ends. Neither Dori nor Natalie the hatter seemed phased at all when I said I wanted ‘rising phoenix’ hair.
I had a lovely afternoon. And despite the whimsical backdrop, the weirdest thing that happened – apart from my crazy mane snapping a brush in two – was when two strange men barged in like mafia during my shampoo. (It turned out they were father and son, and the older man was the previous owner who’d apparently come over from Cyprus to reminisce)
It was nice being able able to say ‘yes’ to a cup of coffee with almond milk, and nicer not having to ask what was on the ingredients list at the back of the shampoo bottle. (A visit to the hair dressers’ really shouldn’t have to involve worrying whether the stuff they’re putting on your noggin contains dead prawns or some equally unpleasant animal cadaver but often does for vegans.)
When I emerged over four hours later with my new copper and blonde bonce, I had worked up an appetite. And Antonia was in a brilliant mood because she’d gotten a gorgeous new cut-price ’do because it turned out Natalie was there for a trial at the salon. So we caught the tube to Itadaki Zen at King’s Cross, where we took photos of each other eating a lot of very tasty vegan Japanese food that we couldn’t pronounce. And I dropped my chopsticks thirty or forty times and chased my rice around the plate for an hour before Antonia asked for a spoon on my behalf.
Back at Liverpool Street Station, Antonia still wasn’t completely satisfied until she’d bought a cup of tea to drink on the train whilst eating one of her magic muffins. I couldn’t eat anything else because I’d scoffed her sushi and half of her miso soup as well as my own.
When I got home it was nearly midnight, and I was so tired I didn’t even watch Wentworth.