I've just spent a few days in London with my old friend Brian, whom I've known since I lived there several decades ago.  So - just for a change - I thought I'd take some pictures while I was there and post them here, so you know what I get up to...

 Whenever I'm in London, I always make a point of visiting the Covent Garden area.
This photo was taken just east of Leicester Square Underground station.  The street ahead is Long Acre, which leads to old Covent Garden market.  The revitalised area known as Seven Dials (see later) is just to the left.  St Martin's Lane leads off to the right towards Edith Cavell's statue (which also see later) and Trafalgar Square.
The crowd of people on the right are loitering outside a very trendy burger bar called Five Guys.  We've tried their burgers.  They're awful.

 This is the emporium that constantly tempts me to Covent Garden:  Stanford's - probably the biggest travel book shop on Earth.  Three floors of total, unalloyed bliss for the likes of me.  Most of my journeys - including my next one to Scandinavia - started life during an idle browse of Stanford's heaving bookshelves.  It has a great deal to answer for.

The gates of heaven...

..and yours truly, about to enter in...

A little further east up Long Acre, at Covent Garden Underground station.
The market itself is down the street to the right.
The imposing building at the end is the HQ of British Freemasonry.

 Inside Covent Garden market.
The church just outside is St James', known as 'the actors' church' or 'the church with its back at the front'.  It was designed 'the wrong way round' by Inigo Jones.

Inside the other 'arm' of the market.
The string quartet in the centre of the photo perform the classics in a highly entertaining, 'relaxed' kind of way.  They're wonderful.

This is another reason I make a beeline for this area - the London Transport Museum.  I'm old enough for it to bring back many memories of my time working on London's buses in the early 70s.

Exhausted - and enjoying a well-deserved ice-cream after my pilgrimage to Standford's.
 The Royal Opera House
Because Brian is a balletmaster, I've seen many world-class performances here.  But I have an uneasy relationship with it.  It sucks in millions of pounds of arts subsidies whilst remaining well out of the reach of ordinary people.  Only the wealthy can afford to go...

Taken with Brian's 'candid camera' at the Edith Cavell statue.
The building in the background is the National Portrait Gallery.  Trafalgar Square is just off to the left.

Edith Cavell - 'patriotism is not enough...'

The amazing and flamboyant George Skeggs, whom I (literally) bumped into in Covent Garden Tesco's.
He was born and bred in the area, speaks with a wonderful London accent, works as an artist and is still very much a ladies' man.  If you don't believe me, Google him.

Slightly to the north-west of Covent Garden is Seven Dials.  For generations, it was a neglected and unsightly part of central London.  Not now, though.  It's become an atmospheric and very lively maze of courtyards and alleyways devoted to whole foods and craft-made perfumes and beauty products.  The photos above and below are of yer actual Neal's Yard.

The north side of Trafalgar Square after dark.
The National Gallery is on the left.  Beyond it is the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Part of London's awesome transport infrastructure are its riverbus catamarans - every 20 minutes from 0600 to midnight.  We took a trip downstream from Westminster to Greenwich.  This view looks north from Blackfriars Bridge.  The office block in the middle is the 'Cellphone Building', to its left is the top of the 'Gherkin' and further left is the 'Cheesegrater'.
Overshadowed by the Cellphone Building is the gold-topped column known as The Monument.  It's a memorial to the Great Fire of 1666 and stands 202ft (61.5m) high, being exactly that distance from the bakehouse in Puddling Lane where the fire started.

Me - nithered - at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.

The princely Tower Bridge.
The Cellphone Building is visible to the right and the 'Shard' to the left.

And so homeward, beginning at Brian's local Underground station - Northfields.
During the refurbishment of the system in the 1920s and 1930s, architect Charles Holden designed many station buildings in this startling, 'utilitarian' style.  Londoners love them and all of them are now listed buildings.

The wonderfully-restored facade of King's Cross.
It stands cheek-by-jowl with St Pancras, next door (below) and, even though the stations differ markedly in style, they were built within a couple of years of each other.  Fairytale Victorian gothic splendour and down-to-earth utilitarian design hand-in-hand.
The King's Cross clock was taken from the Crystal Palace when it was moved to Sydenham.

This - and the topmost photo - are of Brian's taste in exotic Venetian masks.
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1 comment:

Val said...

We'd probably bump into each other if we were in London at the same time. Not just at King's Cross - such a pleasure to catch the train there now and mooch about St Pancras too.

Stanford's is like the exciting first step on a journey. When I met my husband in 1977 he was in his final year of his geography degree at LSE so I first went to Stanford's with him [hot date eh?]
It seemed more of a map shop than travel shop then. [Just realised how many maps we have on our walls]

Covent Garden wasn't as touristy as it is now, more arty/crafty in those days. Covent Garden Market opened in 1980. In 1982 we had our final year exhibition of Croydon College 3 year Ceramics course at the Seven Dials Gallery - maybe a trendy wine bar now.
Setting up our exhibition we ate at Neal's Yard. On the way got soaked by the Water Clock in Short's Gardens. https://youtu.be/wHPU_6TIL7c
It seems to have stopped working a couple of years back. Used to buy beads and things from a nearby shop to make our own earrings.

There's always something interesting to see at the National Portrait Gallery. Might have a cuppa there but I'd recommend the Crypt Cafe in St Martin-in-the-Fields. Lovely affordable food, profits help the homeless. A couple of years ago we met our daughter for lunch when she worked nearby. The Crypt Cafe was full but she didn't fancy it as it was full of 'old people'!! Our sort of place!