Tea makes a wonderful gift, and Kusmi Teas exotic and colourful packaging means you don’t even need wrapping paper.
With its fashionable Gallic style and visual flair, I had assumed that Kusmi was originally a Parisian company.
But as I discovered on their website, Kusmi was started 140 years ago by a P.M. Kousmichoff, the son of a Russian peasant. There is a London connection as his son came here in 1907 to hone his tea blending skills.
After a long history involving escaping from the Reds and surviving being run by arty-types, Kusmi now have a branch on Marylebone High Street. (more…)
The exterior of The Tea House Covent Garden is reminiscence of a Japanese screen.
Black lacquer window frames form a grid on four levels – each square containing a display of teapots, cups and tea. Vermilion lettering enhances the oriental feel.
The shop has been on the same spot in Neal Street since 1982. It is good to see an independent still trading amongst the larger stores.
What I like best about The Tea House is their range of unusual (more…)
Earl Grey was Prime Minister of the British Isles from 1830-34. Famous for having a type of tea named after him, he lived at number 13 Carlton House Terrace.
Next door, at number 12, the Institute of Contemporary Arts has a lovely café, that serves a good cup of tea all these years later.
The ICA was formed in the 1940’s by Surrealist Roland Penrose and anarchist Herbert Read as a meeting place for artists and intellectuals. It has been in the Mall since the sixties.
Today, there is an art house cinema, gallery space, and art bookshop. They stock an impressive range of art theory books with zippy titles (more…)
Newburgh St. is a pleasant cobbled side street running parallel to Carnaby street – a handy cut-through from Oxford Circus to Soho. I was doing just this, when I noticed a handsome shop on the corner of Foubert’s Place which seemed to be glowing red from inside.
“That’s very curious!” she thought. “But everything’s curious to-day. I think I may as well go in at once.” And in she went.
London has had a pretty good summer, with the Queen doing us proud, and the running thing.
We have even had rubbish weather – how else to make idle conversation? – rain to sunshine in a matter of minutes.
I experienced this when, walking along Wigmore street, I stepped into Comptoir Libanais to escape a shower and enjoy a cup of tea.
The interior was bright and joyous in contrast to the grey skies outside. A welcome bit of North African vibrancy. The shelves are packed to the ceiling with tins of harissa, huge jars of pickles, packets of tea, henna, olives, chillies, wine, rose-water and coffee.
You can buy colourful baskets and (more…)
The rooms are laid out as they would have been in Dr Johnson’s time.
Great care has been taken to restore the wood-panelling to the original muted paint colours.
The house is peaceful and atmospheric, the library is my favorite room with its soft yellow paintwork and light flooding in from high windows. You can also leaf over a facsimile of the famous dictionary. (more…)
Opposite the British Museum among the postcard shops and a few uninspiring looking cafes is Aperture Camera shop.
Glass cabinets display an amazing array of lenses and photographic paraphernalia.
Go to the back of the shop, and, as if walking through the looking-glass, it transmutes into a delightful little cafe!
Camera Cafe is small and cosy, with a laid-back, jazzy, bohemian feel. There are shelves of photography books, boards games and National Geographic Magazines.
At the King Cross end of ‘the Cally’, you are invited to DRINK; from a choice of teas, wines and cocktails; SHOP for quirky retro treasures; and DO a range of crafty courses.
The cafe space is bright and airy – the former chill-out zone of a Victorian Turkish bathhouse – with a lovely skylight. The furnishings (all for sale) are a delightful and colourful hotch-potch of junk shop finds – 1950’s formica and grandma’s best china. The atmosphere is warm and informal. Girly but not prissy, art school-cool but not pretentious.