“‘Searching for Scones in London’?” you ask. “What kind of a name for a blog is that?” Excellent question!
I like scones. Who doesn’t? What’s not to like about scones? And if you, like me, were given a chance to spend one year living in this amazing, crazy, infuriating, beautiful city, you might expect to find nice, fresh scones at nearly every bakery or cafe you stumble across. Because scones are quintessentially British, right? And London is the capital of Britain, right? So how hard can it be?
It’s hard. It’s a lot easier to find a croissant. But those originated somewhere else, I think. Oh, sure, you can go for £30-a-head cream tea at a ritzy cafe and get scones. Or you can buy hockey pucks that resemble scones by the bagful from a grocery store. But to pick up a scone with your coffee on the way to work? At a real live British café or bakery? Not so easy.
My wife and I have been living in Vienna, Austria, for a number of years. It is a beautiful city in which we feel comfortable and at home, even though neither of us are from Austria (I’m from the U.S., she’s from Germany). Yet we found ourselves visiting London on a regular basis, drawn by the diversity of life, food, art, architecture, and people, by the astounding beauty and the big-city ugliness, by the energy, by the history, by the Britishness. So when I was offered a one-year post at a London university, we decided that I should take a sabbatical year from my job in Vienna so that we could revel in the London vibe for a year.
We have discovered that “the quintessential London” doesn’t exist, at least not at the surface level of daily life when you want a scone but end up with a croissant. London is a dynamic, fast-moving city where what’s “in” today will be gone by tomorrow. I have indeed found more than one source for my morning scones, but I had to look, be curious, expect the unexpected, and be persistent. That’s how I found scones, and I suspect that’s how one needs to understand London.
Our year in London began in September 2016. Soon after I arrived, I started writing brief snippets about our adventures here. I’ve decided that working them into a blog is a good way of sharing them.
London, April, 2017