There is something very wrong with the British Museum. On Saturday morning there was a 45 minute-long queue to get through the security check, both at the front and the rear entrances. Since we live in London and the museum is less than half an hour by tube from our house, I didn’t see the point of wasting time. Instead, Mr Gochugaru and I went for a walk to nearby Covent Garden.
My point is that it should not have to take 45 minutes to get past the security check. It will get worse from tomorrow, when their staff go on strike.
It was our wedding anniversary, which we don’t often celebrate. Historically, Summer was when the world descended on London and we had to host multiple visitors. For many years it was also the week of the annual Scout camp, where I would be away helping out with admin and catering (pitching tents is not my forte). After a while I just gave up trying to mark the day. This June and July saw us still receiving a mixture of visiting students and relatives.
I treasure the long years we have put in to our marriage and you know what, we are still happy.
Mr Gochugaru and I met during our first year at university, bonding over our shared wonder of London and the sheer woe of hall food. Hall food meaning the institutional meals at our hall of residence in Brunswick Square. At weekends we would walk down to Covent Garden’s cobbled streets to visit the crafts market, its individual shops and occasionally to catch a theatre performance. Some favourite shops from that time: Covent Garden General Store, Cranks restaurant and (the name escapes me) a spice shop which sold some very delicious samosas in its upstairs cafe.
This is still a popular place to visit and here are a few shops which I took note of during our walk.
The latest Indiana Jones film has just been released, and you can purchase a fedora at Stetson, 58 Neal St, London WC2H 9PA. A fedora = Indy’s hat and a Stetson = cowboy hat
Stanfords Travel Bookshop at 7 Mercer Walk, London WC2H 9FA, around the corner from their original site in Long Acre
Macarons from Pierre Hermé are ideal for any occasion. 38 Monmouth St, London WC2H 9EP
Udderlicious Ice cream was shut when I passed by but one of the flavours I could see on their board was Dragonfruit and Banana, which was what Junior 1 had just eaten in their Islington branch
Following our recent trip to Berlin I discovered the European Coffee Trip App. They recommended WatchHouse, 7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9DL and Grind, 42 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7LJ. There is the ever popular Arôme for pastries and coffee/ tea, 9 Mercer Street, The Yards, London WC2H 9QJ. Photos from a previous visit here.
I came across Fair Shot which is a social enterprise supporting and training adults with learning disabilities to work in cafes. It wasn’t time for lunch but this is definitely on my list the next time I am in Covent Garden. The sandwiches looked appetising and large enough to share between two people. 3 Slingsby Place, London WC2E 9AB.
I was told of the Japanese cafe Katsute 100 on the top floor of Uniqlo Covent Garden, 19-21 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LZ. Given that I much prefer tea to coffee, this was a real find. Full menu here and prices below, in case you need to decide before you reach the cafe. There are cakes as well so I think it would be best to visit with a few friends for a tea and cake testing session.
The shop itself is interesting as it has a glass roof, letting in natural light
We had to return home soon after, as we were having friends over for dinner. I cooked some dishes from the Falastin Cookbook and will write about this later. There was a lot of leftovers which meant I had the Sunday off cooking.
I do not have a photo of St John Bakery but they are located at 3 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP. This is near to Neal’s Yard Dairy,17 Shorts Gardens, London WC2H 9AT, where you can sample and buy fine British cheeses. Seven Dials Market is a food hall with independent food traders. To be honest, I miss some of the shops which have closed due to the dire economic climate we are in, but am encouraged by entrepreneurs who are still willing to open a business nonetheless.
View of Trafalgar Square from the entrance of the National Gallery
I don’t usually write about Art, although I enjoy visiting galleries and exhibitions. There is no category for it in the blog so the post is simply under the heading of Travel or in this case, My London.
Late on Sunday night I had an idea for a jaunt to town on the Bank Holiday, the third one this May. We are headed to Berlin next week and I know very little about German art, save for Hans Holbein’s magnificent The Ambassadors in the National Gallery. I sat through three school trips with the children but the details were now hazy. I only remembered that you have to look at the painting sideways to make sense of the flattened skull in the foreground.
The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger
It turned out to be a really valuable visit and I made a note to read up more on the lives and works of German painters. Below are some of the paintings in the National Gallery. There are other German painters featured on their website and also in their book (see below). For an overview on German Art here is the relevant page on Wikipedia. A shorter article with a personal list of the top 12 most famous German artists is here.
Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan by Hans Holbein the Younger
Portraits of Johann the Steadfast and Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous by Lucas Cranach the Elder
The Trinity and Mystic Pietà by Hans Baldung Grien
Saint Jerome by Albrecht Dürer
Christ taking leave of his Mother by Albrecht Altdorfer
The National Gallery has several food outlets and the gift shop is full of lovely and useful items
For some background reading I would recommend Strange Beauty: German Paintings at the National Gallery by Caroline Bugler, published by Yale University Press, ISBN 978-1857095708. The writing is uncomplicated and it’s easy to finish reading it in one sitting.
After the visit to the National Gallery we wandered north to Chinatown and had some noodles for lunch followed by a matcha soft scoop ice cream at Tsujiri
If I had not eaten the ice cream I might have considered a Black Forest donut from Donutelier. One of my cousins recently sent me a photo of her rather large slice of Black Forest Cake. I might return later in the week to get that donut. Or some donuts….no point stopping at one.
The next post will be a short introduction to Berlin. We have a busy family and community life and Mr Gochugaru still works full time in the City, so I am slightly concerned with the lack of preparation for this trip. I have resigned myself to eat, drink, sleep and see what we can manage, and to make a return trip if we miss too much of what is essential in Germany’s capital.
Sometimes the sky is blue and it is a happy day. Sometimes the sky is blue and you discover an ice cream shop and a happy day turns into a marvellous day.
This morning I had cause to travel to Sloane Square. Leaving Peter Jones by the back door, which I had not planned to do, I stumbled into Pavilion Road. It is a little treasure in this area, as the pavements are wide and car-free. Interesting shops line both sides of the road and my one thought was that I must return with some friends and family in tow.
Then I found an ice cream shop. As this was before my lunch, I skipped dessert and headed straight back here afterwards.
Ice Cream from Ice Cream Union
I remember my first visit to the original branch of Ottolenghi in Notting Hill 20 years ago, and I am still a big fan of their shops and of course, their cookbooks. By coincidence, as I was walking home from the tube station, I spotted Mr Ottolenghi who is often in my area doing the school run.
Food shops include a cheesemonger, coffee roaster, small supermarket and greengrocer. Add to this a butcher and baker. All we need now is a candlestick maker!
Over dinner this evening I tried to work out how best to justify eating a doughnut and ice cream in one sitting. Mr Gochugaru said that we could walk here from home, and that it would take 90 minutes. Junior 2 said I would have to walk home as well. I am working on it.
Other addresses in the area:
I highly recommend David Mellor Kitchen Shop, 4 Sloane Square SW1W 4EE.
Pickett, 149 Sloane Street SW1X 9BZ, carries a wide selection of lined leather gloves, essential for the British cold weather.
You will find all manner of luxury shops up and down the streets here. King’s Road is good for general shopping. Harrods is just up the road. I am asking myself why I don’t come down here more often.