Before we get into the igloos (literally and proverbially) and before I wax lyrical all about how I treated Pumpkin to a sporadic weekday breakfast one frosty November morning, I must ‘fess up as to why. (I should probably keep schtum about the truth to preserve what is left of my reputation but where is the fun in that? Your lives are too busy for a dull read after all.)
You see, the truth is, I might be a grown up and a professional entrusted to look after the health and welfare of the public but I also happen to be the woman who locked herself between her own two front doors, requiring a valiant knight in shining armour to come and rescue her.
I may even be the woman, who managed to do this twice.
Most recently was last month, when in a mad dash to work, I pulled my inner front door shut. With one assertive, ferocious slam, the wooden gate to my familiar world was locked, my fate for the next hour sealed in that one fleeting moment. Grabbing what I thought were the spare keys (my originals were later to be found inexplicably in my make up bag,) I reached to unlock the outer door with an efficiency and haste that I had become all too familiar with.
Three to four progressively panic-laden turns later and I could convince myself no longer – the wrong keys were in my hand. The right ones were anywhere but and the staff at work were waiting on me.
I honed in on the lessons I had gleaned the last time this happened and well-meaning loved ones always reassure you it’s honourable to learn from a mistake (regardless of how many times you keep making said mistake.)
I etched out my silver linings first and foremost – my mobile phone was charged and in my possession, the signal was strong, which ironically isn’t always the case inside the house and although the temperatures were advancing towards zero, the gap between the doors was where we store our coats; granted, mostly the coats I wouldn’t usually be seen wearing in public but this was no time for fashion angst.
On went the oversized, navy and wine-red, polka dot Cath Kidston waterproof that had been gathering dust for the last couple of years, itself a product of a moment of last-minute mayhem, purchased at Heathrow airport en route to Borneo when we were anticipating tropical rains and I’d forgotten my raincoat.
Flustered between the doors (not a phrase I imagined I’d be saying for a second time,) Pumpkin was the first one I dialled, mostly seeking the verbal reassurance I needed to call an emergency locksmith. He was already half way to work, his own job just as important in terms of dealing with the public.
Seven years with this man and even now, his instantaneous, unquestionable drive to support and help me, whatever the world throws at me (or whatever I throw myself in this instance) catches me by surprise, like an overwhelming, protective, radiator-warm hug.
“Hold on a sec,” he whispered calmly, as the loudspeaker announcements of the train guards bellowed in the background. “I’m coming back but it’ll take me about 45 minutes still so you’ll need to let work know.”
Not an ounce of anger laced his words, not a sliver of irritation concealed within his characteristic, calm voice. There were no interrogations, no questions about why I had reached for the spare keys in the first place, just a promise to help, when I hadn’t even asked and a delivery on every element of that promise. But Pumpkin is not a man to waste time on setniments and so no sooner had the dippy wife been rescued from the porch than the hero husband headed swiftly back to work.
Breakfast in an Igloo at Coppa Club, London
And therein lay the reason why it seemed an Eggs Benedict in a charming, wintery igloo was sincerely the least I could do to begin to express my gratitude. Bagging a spot in an igloo was an entirely different ball game, however. The popularity of these endearing, transparent egg shells popping up across the city is proving exponential in relation to the actual capacity that lies within them. Coppa Club is a classic example with dinner reservations in these igloos selling faster than the ill-fated Michael Jackson tour of 2009 (not a fact I can verify but you catch my drift.)
I went online to book an igloo for dinner within hours of them going on sale. All that was available was a Monday evening in January at 5.45pm and ten minutes later, even this had gone. One couldn’t help but wonder whether it would be logistically less challenging to head up to Lapland and book an actual igloo to eat in than it was these pop up spoofs in the city where just about everything needs advanced booking or a two hour long queue.
Breakfast, it was but to see blazing sunshine of Factor 50 proportions at 10am on a November day is, in itself, a blessing so I deployed those silver linings again and off we went. If you can spare the time and weather permits, the walk from London Bridge across to Coppa Club is one of those London riverside ones that leaves even us seasoned Londoners falling that little bit more in love with our city.
After being greeted by staff members, aptly dressed in padded coats for a day spent outdoors by the river, we walked past two or three filled igloos, snooping in with wonder, despite being seconds away from our own.
Unless your party has hired the entire igloo, once inside, diners will enjoy their own table but fellow guests will be accompanying you inside the igloo. Ours contained two tables aside from ours but we all enjoyed a magnificent viewpoint, looking out over Tower Bridge, people-watching intently as clusters of city traders walked beside zealous tourists, who had headed out early to catch the rays of sunshine glistening across the typically grey River Thames.
Some spaces are reserved for walk ins so even if you weren’t on your laptop in good time to make an igloo reservation, you can knock yourself out trying the old-fashioned way, particularly on a weekday morning when the odds of grabbing a table without booking are likely to be highest. If all else fails, the interiors of Coppa Club themselves looked most inviting with a stylish but welcoming, almost-NYC style vibe about them but for us, the all-encompassing warmth of the heated pods was just what we needed after our chilly morning walk.
As someone who with a tendency towards cold intolerance, the conservatory feel of the igloos served me well but with the sun shining so intensely above us, Pumpkin and several fellow guests in our igloo appeared to be struggling with the greenhouse effect inside.
Seated comfortably against fluffy, cream, faux-fur chair covers and toasty throws, we perused the adequate but not overly-flooded menus, as our waitress came over and took our drinks menus. It was only ever going to be a pot of herbal tea for me but the range on offer beat the average supermarket and I decided to begin my festive foray early this year, selecting the hot cinamon spice tea.
Despite the breakfast date intended to be a treat for Pumpkin, it was me, 9 inches inferior in stature and a reasonable fraction lighter, who ended up wiping clean my plate of Eggs Benedict, trading English muffins for savoury waffles and salmon for ham but retaining the same perfectly poached egg that is simply a must in any such egg concoction.
Pumpkin, meanwhile, shamed me something silly with his healthy bowl of porridge but any health advantage he had soon got wiped away by the pain au chocolat that followed. I’d have loved my waffles a touch fluffier but let’s face it, no one was booking an igloo for the waffle batter.
At times, we found the service to be a little inefficient, the wrong drinks brought to the wrong tables, the timings occasionally hit and miss and a long delay in trying to pay but in my view, such trivial hiccups are entirely forgivable if (and much gravitas lies with that if) the staff are friendly, the antithesis of snooty and well-meaning; and I am pleased to report that the staff at Coppa Club were all of the above.
Portion sizes were adequate rather than enormous and had there been the option of a little something sweet on the menu for afters, I suspect I may well have indulged. Thankfully for my dress size though, no such offerings existed as this was very much a mid-week breakfast menu and in reality, no one (not even me) really needs dessert at breakfast.
Without any rushing from the staff but courteously aware ourselves of the turnaround times on tables, the crisp, winter air that we inhaled as we escaped from the igloo juxtaposed starkly with the unanticipated tropical warmth we had experienced within. Another long walk led us back in the direction of home and I think our impromptu date went some way towards making up for my earlier faux pas, though I suspect it would soon be forgotten should there be a Take 3 of the “locking myself in” incident.
Have you ever been in an igloo, real or fake?!