Standing at busy Ludgate Circus, with St Paul’s Cathedral behind you, it would be hard to imagine that you are just steps away from a pot of Monkey-picked Oolong plus a choice of some thirty-odd types of tea.
However behind a somewhat faceless office block facade, a few steps to your right is To A Tea.
Pushing open the doors, one expects to step into the lobby of some faceless company.
It is a pleasant surprise therefore to find this rather nice tea room, with an excellent choice of brews.
With the weekend upon us, a quick mention for Gail’s Bakery, Soho in appreciation of them opening till 10pm in the evening and 7pm on Sunday.
Most cafés close at 6pm, so this is a great if you are in the West End in the evening and, instead of a crowded pub, what you really fancy is a nice cup of tea.
Gail’s has a smart, clean urban interior. White-washed brick work, herringbone parquet floor, white lacquer counter-top contrast with pillar-box red stools and teapots. Set on a corner, there is seating around a large table at the rear and adjacent to the high windows.
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.
The Fleet River is one of London’s lost rivers. Running underground from Hampstead via Kentish Town, Kings Cross and Clekenwell into the Thames at Blackfriars; it was once a major waterway with healing wells along it’s course.
With the industrial revolution, the once clear waters became polluted and the Fleet was gradually bricked over. There are some extraordinary photos and a brief history of the river here.
The Fleet River Bakery is in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, behind Holborn Station. A welcome independent cafe in this area of chains, they bake everything on site from scratch. Emphasis is on the (more…)
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…)
Damson is perched on the corner of New Compton Street and St Giles High Street. The hand-painted sign and soft grey-green painted woodwork make a refreshing, almost defiant, contrast to the branding in the imposing Stickle Brick fortress of Central St Giles in whose shadow it sits.
I received a friendly welcome and chose a pot Silver Tips White Tea from a list that included Jasmine Pearls, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Chai and Rooibos. My pot of tea, which was brought to my table, was lovely, light and refreshing.
The pleasant interior is fresh and airy with high-shuttered windows. Recycled wood and stained-glass (more…)