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…)
Somerset House, originally a Tudor Palace, has been home to Elizabeth I, the Navy and the Royal Academy of Art. It has seen routs and masquerades, and has fallen into ruin – ‘…the haunt of spectres…magicians and murderers.’
The free tour gives an excellent overview of it’s extraordinary history.
It was fascinating to visit the lightwells – underground alleyways visible from the courtyard – and the ‘Dead Room’, with it’s Catholic gravestones.
Easy to see why Somerset House is used by film crews as an atmospheric London location.
The Courtyard is a fantastic space, unique in London. The East wing is home to an eatery, and very fine place for a cup of tea. (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…)
Sadly tea, is no longer trading from St Paul’s. However you can still buy a fantastic range of award-winning teas at wearetea. The service is great, and I particularly recommend the monkey-picked oolong.
The following is taken from their website:
Unfortunately, due to a number of contributing factors including, the occupation of St. Paul’s Cathedral and an intractable landlord/City of London we no longer have our tea shop at St. Paul’s Cathedral although it lives on in spirit.
I hope they find a more suitable premises one fine day.
tea. is a lovely teashop in the shadow of St Paul’s cathedral with a great range of award-winning teas.
The simple sign with the one word: tea lure you in. The interior is calm and unfussy, in a way that suggests a lot of care. Soothing sage green, grey painted beams, scrubbed oak tables and green glazed tiles. It is obviously a popular spot, but despite being a smallish space, and quite full when I visit, it didn’t feel cramped, the high windows let in lots of light so it feels quite spacious.
I chose a pot of Monkey Picked Oolong. The name comes from a legend that Monkeys were trained to pick the leaves from inaccessible wild bushes (more…)
I do like a railway station so sitting on the platform a mere feet away from the Eurostar train, drinking tea, is really quite exciting.
St Pancras is beautiful, and the upper level is the prime place to sit in the soft light of the wonderful arched roof.
Searcy’s have done a great job of fitting out the Champagne Bar at St Pancras. The quilted red leather banquettes give the impression that you are sitting in an old-fashioned train carriage; you fully expect the whistle to blow and be whisked away to the Continent. The elegant air puts you in mind of a former age, when travelling was a more glamourous and sedate affair.
Camellias Tea House is on the top floor in a prime spot overlooking the central courtyard. Named after Camellia Sinensis – the tea bush – they have a huge range of teas artfully displayed in canisters, and lots of teapots and tea paraphernalia. The tea room is an inviting space, with a warm, intimate feel.
Finding myself in Holborn one evening, caught in a shower without an umbrella. A bit damp, sore feet and slightly peckish. In need of a cuppa and some sustenance. I cut across Sicilian Avenue heading to bus stop, but saw – Orchard – Vegetarian Kitchen and Grocer! The goddess of teatime is smiling on me!
A warm welcome, and minutes later, a pot of green tea! I had intended to stay just (more…)
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.
Arthur Probsthain is an independent family-run bookshop, established in 1903.
Specialising in books from and about, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with a branch at the School of African and Oriental Studies.
My favorite places to visit are India and Turkey, so coming across this bookshop was a very happy discovery indeed. (more…)