a little cafe in the south of kensington

Welcomed by rows of lavender brimming on the edge of a wooden bench. A friendly smile greets me, I hear a hint of native French. It’s obvious I’m not from here, but I do my best to act local.

I pull out my stool and struggle to squeeze between the people aside me. They look. They know too.

I drop my bag on the floor and it falls underneath the stool of the lady sitting next to me. Her smile assures me she didn’t mind. I look around- is it table service? Eventually a waitress approaches and I order.

She brings over a frothy cup of coffee in a perfectly white ceramic mug. The vanilla froth greets my lips gently. Finally, quality coffee.

Small pots of little red flowers sit on various tables and benches. Bronzed tin lights hang above us, I see cutlery hangers on the warm white walls. Branches twinned into the shapes of hearts fill the bare spaces. Behind me, a higher wooden bench holds watering cans and French decor.

A wooden ledge gently holds upside down white pots of lavender above the heads of talking couples. The warm yellow glow of lights keeps you warm inside. In the shop front window I spotted french sweets proudly displayed.

In the glass bench near the counter, fresh salmon with lime is carefully stacked. Funny quotes on white and pastel blue canvases hang on the walls. One reads- If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen.

Old school upbeat jazz music lightly plays under the chatter of English folk. Everyone walks in wearing coats, scarves and beanies.

I watch amongst the streets guarded by white aligned houses. I see a stylish 20 something in a trench coat walk past, smoking. A lady wears a black trench whilst holding her grocery bags. A man in his late 20’s rides past on a bicycle. An older lady in a grey trench with a purple scarf proudly walks past. I see a man in his late 20’s wears a jacket with a hoodie underneath, smoking whilst on the phone. An older man walks past wearing a brown hat, brown coat, brown shoes. He mixes it with a red, green and white scarf- surely an Italian.

Many ponder alone. Crossing the street, entering stores. Another older lady walks past. She wears a grey coat, grey hat and boots, and a grey dog proudly struts beside her. They look the same.

The waitress brings me over a card. I open it. The receipt lays inside.

A lady walks in. She looks foreign. Like me. She struggles to pull her seat in like I did. I smile to her. She asks the waitress wear the bathrooms are, where the salt is, is it table service.

I feel like the insider now. I look outside the window. A taxi happens to pass by. I spot writing on the side of the car door: London’s Calling.

Muriel's Kitchen

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