Table? Booth? Bench beneath winding staircase with tiny desk-like surface for placing tea?
Guess which one I chose. Perhaps the lifelong Harry Potter fan in me subconsciously seeks secret micro-spaces beneath stairs. In fact, anything secret. Secret cinema. Secret theatre, with its location revealed at the last minute. Pop-up shops, exclusive to a small stretch of time. Hidden gems. Tiny, secret things – each like a fairy, invisible to the mundane human eye, but perhaps we’ll catch a glimpse of glittering fairy dust as it rushes past.
This is the magic I seek when I enter a new space. I wander the narrow back streets for tucked-away pubs, and scrutinise the main streets for the little places dwarfed by mega-stores surrounding them. [This is, after all, how The Leaky Cauldron is hidden, and that reveals an entire Diagon Alley]. I search for The Perfect Coffee Shop with just the right cups and tables and soundtrack, and – most importantly – the best conversations with baristas [or, in Oxford’s case, The Perfect Ice Cream Café]. I search for the best place for dinner, with a scrumptious menu, the friendliest people, and the most welcoming and calming atmosphere. I search for the place where I know I can find carefully curated collections of Things, where I will always return for new pens or pans or presents. I search for the bookstore that is actually another world, a maze of waiting adventures.
London, my new home, is a Candyland for these places [including, need I mention again, Diagon Alley], which makes the search delightfully overwhelming.
Off to find more secrets,
P.S. While I do love to wander, if you have a treasure map you would like to share, I would eagerly accept as well :)