American showing off like a local… at a café in Camberwell

Today I went to do some work in a charming café that’s not too far from my home. It was my first time there – I’d walked by before and it had looked a little bit too nice and I was intimidated to go in, but today I took the plunge.

First, the café is called Love Walk Café (the name already is pretty cool, eh?) and if you’re in south London consider a visit. It was awesome! Incredibly eclectic décor that was almost but not quite distracting, and fantastic coffee (imho – I don’t purport to speak for coffee sauvants everywhere). I didn’t eat, but all the people eating around me seemed to be really happy.

But I had a fantastic moment in the café. A family of four was ploughing their way through four English breakfasts when I arrived. A mum, a dad and two very blond boys who were at that age where they couldn’t sit still. From their accents, it was clear they were English.

As they started to pack up to leave, they called a waitress over, and the father asked, in his crisp English accent, how to get to the London Aquarium. He explained that they were from out of town and they knew it was near Waterloo but weren’t sure how to get there. The waitress, in a very Eastern European accent, apologised, saying that she didn’t know Camberwell either and couldn’t direct him as to the bus routes. She walked away, the dad shrugged, the kids tumbled on the bench.

I’d overheard every word of this conversation from a few tables over. I guess you could say I was all the way across the room, but I still heard every word. So I caught the father’s eye and called out to him, in my dorky (yes, I know that’s what the English think of it) American accent, that if he wanted to get to the Aquarium he could go to Westminster Bridge but that Waterloo wasn’t too far either. If it were me, I’d walk up to Camberwell Green and take the number 12, but he could just check the bus lists at the stop out front because a number of other buses could also go that way.

And he thanked me.

And I smiled, smugly thinking that I felt as local as I’ll ever feel. An American giving a Brit directions in London.

And after that, I think I might have enjoyed the café even more than I already was doing!

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