I've lived in London for over a decade, but I've never once been to the V and A Museum of Childhood. How bad a Londoner am I?!
What finally convinced me to break my duck was an exhibition dedicated to all things Oliver Postgate. Postgate was the man behind several amazing children's TV shows, including Bagpuss and the Clangers. Despite most of his work first airing in the 1960s and 1970s, they've been repeated ever since and I'm hopeful most kids that grew up in the UK will be familiar with them.
I maintain that Oliver Postgate created some of the most imaginative and enchanting kids programmes ever made, and if you disagree, I'll arm wrestle you until you admit you're wrong. Both Bagpuss and the Clangers still have a warm place in my heart - so much so, I decided to venture out to Bethnal Green and explore the V and A.
The exhibition of all things Postgate is very small - a sort of living room-sized arrangement - but it's got a number of his greatest hits from several shows. Case in point: Bagpuss! Yes, the actual Bagpuss puppet is on show, as well as Professor Yaffle, the marvellous mechanical mouse organ (a highlight for me!) and even Emily's dress from the show.
If you're a Clangers fan, then you can get up close and personal with the Soup Dragon, and a number of the Clangers themselves. (There's also some original scripts - Clangers episodes were written in English first and then translated into the musical Clanger language!) And if that's not enough, there's also a few bits and pieces from Postgate's other programmes, including Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine.
So once you've finished marvelling at Oliver Postgate's genius? Where do you go to get vegan food?
I initially went wandering up and down Cambridge Heath Road several times on the hunt for the G&T Organic Shop and Coffee House, but couldn't find the place anywhere. It turns out there was a very good reason I couldn't find it anywhere: it's now shut.
Instead, I found myself at the Gallery Cafe, practically within spitting distance of The Museum of Childhood (assuming you can spit 100 metres or so). The Gallery Cafe is a veggie place, and most things on its menu are vegan or can be made so.
When I visited, it was a lovely day - all the outside tables were occupied so I decided to get something to takeaway and eat in the nearby park. If you're more of a waiting mood, the vegan jackfruit wrap looks quite appealing, as does the Ethiopian stew, and there's always something good on the specials board. I was more in a rushing-out-and-enjoying-the-sunshine kind of mood, so I grabbed one of the readymade sandwiches on offer. Perplexingly, I didn't grab one of their vegan cakes - I assume I was very unwell or something that day.
The two readymade sarnie choices were hummus and roasted veggies (unexciting) and sausage and mustard (that's more like it).
I have a great deal of respect for any sandwich that's about the size of both of my fists, as this was. It was as generously bread-ed as it was generously mayo-ed, with decent sausage and mustard action too. I even went and got an apple juice to enjoy with it. (Yes, I bought juice, not cake. I'm not sure what happened either.)
Next time you're around Bethnal Green, go check out out the Museum of Childhood and the Gallery Cafe. Just don't forget to buy some cake, OK?