Sorry for no blog last week. We still had no internet in Dorset. I can’t tell you what a joy that is. And we had no car, for various reasons, a long story. If we had had a power cut too it would have felt positively Amish. As it was, we felt very very cut off and isolated, more so that I’ve ever felt in Dorset, and it was total bliss.
This weekend, at the end of a busy old week, we’ve been in London. We had friends staying on Friday and Saturday. On Saturday evening we found ourselves wandering down to Somerset House. There is nothing as enticing as a freshly polished skating rink.
You didn’t think for one second that I’d be getting on the ice did you? But I adore watching.
The cool easy perfection of the ice marshalls contrasted with the timid, barrier-clutching public making their way onto the rink. I would have been last.
Some people instantly got into the swing.
Others did not…
Mental, and beautiful.
Now THIS would have been me:
Some people waited their turn with anticipation….
Completely brilliant. I cannot say how much I love the fact that the courtyard of Somerset House is no longer a car park for tax inspectors… although the nonchalance of that former use is almost magnificent. (I searched for an image online but could find nothing).
This morning, everyone left after breakfast. Charlie and I pottered up Rugby Street. I think on a previous blog I may have promised a photo or two of Charlie’s beautiful shop window for our Christmas display on the street. He has made a remarkable winter woodland, complete with ivy climbing up the walls. Do pop in if you can – but I know that many readers are abroad… so here is a little hint:
The shop is looking rather lovely at the moment. The Lambs Conduit Street party was a triumphant success for all the traders. It’s been a great Christmas for us all so far. While none of us forget what Christmas is really about, it is still rather heartening, in the days of AMAZON delivery drones and Black Friday internet madness, that a tiny street in a hidden backwater in the middle of London filled with small independent retailers should be catching people’s imagination. For that, I suppose, is what it’s all really about for Bridie and me, and for many of our neighbouring traders. Making people imagine.
Our friends over at Thornback & Peel seemed particularly well-guarded. Fluorescent.
Here comes Charlie bringing the coffee:
McGonigles is back in the pop-up, and their beautiful collection of old books is flying off the shelves…
And then we made our way to Kentish Town for a pub crawl with our friend Ruth.
We started at the Pineapple.
The Pineapple is a perfect sort of Victorian Pub. Nearly threatened with closure, some years ago the locals rallied around, fought off the developers, and left it exactly as it is. Ideal.
Kentish Town is a good place. Nothing too much feels like it’s changed.
Ruth drives like a mad woman but luckily her car is protected by every god going:
Next stop was the Southampton Arms. Even more perfect. I had lunch number two, having enjoyed a delicous thai green curry at the Pineapple (the Pineapple must be the last pub in London which has a thai menu, a combination of Thai food and Pub which is now only found in lonely north of England towns). The Southampton Arms serves a small but delicious selection of pies and rolls, and a changing roster of small brewery beer. Cash only. It is a dream.
We put away more pints than you may imagine, and put the world to rights. Is there anything, anything better to do on a Sunday afternoon when it starts getting dark at 3.30pm?
No. There is not.
As we left, I wondered if things were getting a little blurry, but it was thankfully the camera, not me.
Great streets are to be found off the beaten track here.
And outside the oriental rug shops, an ageing camel that reminded us all of the wedding.
What is the name of this blossom tree? which normally flowers in January or February? Something is seriously strange just now (note also, if you will, the white roses still flowering).
Ruth dropped us home, and suddenly it was dark. The lights of Lambs Conduit Street glowed.Our neighbour Maggie Owen is I think responsible single handed for getting the lights up. She somehow managed to wangle the bureaucracy of Camden Council to achieve a fully and beautifully lit street with every tree shining away. A first. Incredible.
But then again, Maggie has a thing for christmas lights and shiny things:
We had a sudden sugar low and dashed to Soho to buy doughnuts, passing what is possibly my favourite building in the whole of London (save, perhaps for the Post Office tower). The British Museum was disgorging late afternoon visitors. It too, glowed.
On our return, we wandered back up Lambs Conduit Street. The crib is up again in France’s the funeral directors, one of the oldest and most historic funeral parlours in the whole of London.
And it felt like Christmas was not too far around the corner at all. If only it would get cold.