Saturday, September 24, 2011

Seven Dials

Not far from St. Martin's Lane which I showed you in my last blog, is the village of Seven Dials. I really just explored it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and found it fascinating.

First designed by Thomas Neale in the 17th century, and located near Covent Garden, the Seven Dials area is star-shaped, spreading out in 7 directions from the central point where a sundial pillar is erected.

The home of many types of food from around the world, including a few pubs of course, the area is especially known for its eclectic mix of shopping. It's fun to stroll the streets and alleys, some of them cobbled, to see what you discover.

One shop was selling anything you would need should you have a movie or TV debut--or if you wanted a new look for Halloween.

One of my favorite finds was the Grosvenor Prints shop which boasts the largest selection in London of prints from the 17th-20th century. We spent a lot of time there, and could plan a whole afternoon just at this shop on our next visit. Good place for Christmas shopping, and they have a catalogue selection  online. Pulling ourselves away, we also stumbled upon all sorts of shops, including  several vintage boutiques, jewelry shops, clothing boutiques,

and specialty shops like this one, which carry everything you need for your boxing passion--even a place to get in a little practice on a punching bag.

Down a little alley off of Monmouth Street is Neal's Yard

where you can stop in for some local

and regional cheese from London's "foremost cheese seller."

Neal's Yard courtyard is the home to several restaurants,

new age shops and homeopathic remedy stores.

The Little Shop of Funkiness is there, but 

they don't hold a corner on the market of funkiness

in this colorful and playful area.

For grooming needs, you can stop in at Hair by Fairy, 

or rush right over to Murdock's, the Times "recommended barber shop" where gentleman can find their own spa like treatments.

Our visit took place during National Cupcake Week, so a visit to Candy Cakes

seemed appropriate as the day would down. Look at that selection of cupcakes

and iced muffins.

All in all, a day full of treats and surprises which I can heartily recommend to you as a little excursion when you're in the area.

And if London is not in your immediate travel plans, perhaps you would like to pick up a copy of Agatha Christie's book, The Seven Dials Mystery, printed in 1929. I hope to find a copy myself for one of those long trans-Atlantic flights in my very near future!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A View from the Office

Every day that my husband is working in London, he finds himself in the heart of the city. This is St. Martin's Lane which leads to the beautiful St. Martin in the Fields church across from Trafalgar Square, and his route to work involves a walk from our house to the tube, a short ride on the underground, and then another walk down this street to his office. On some days, he takes an alternative route--he catches a boat which takes him to the Embankment pier, and then it's just a quick walk to his office.

Once he arrives, this is the view from his window.

Classical art a stone throw away from where he sits each day.

The building is the London Coliseum, and in the far right corner of this picture you can see the London Eye ferris wheel in the distance,

with a modern curved building that stands in front of it (actually across the river from it.) This is where my son works in the offices of Price Waterhouse. The close proximity of the two offices allows them to lunch together often, or commute on the way in and out of town each day.

The London Coliseum is the home of the English National Opera, and is a performance venue for both opera and ballet troupes. The very first performance was in 1904, the year it opened, and today it remains one of the largest theaters in London.

I keep thinking it would be hard to work with something this pretty right outside your window, but I'm sure he manages. Don't you think it's rather fascinating?

Hope you find some beauty outside your window today!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Duke of York Market Colors

We headed out to the Sloane Square tube stop this morning, but took a quick detour around the weekly Saturday market that is held near us at the Duke of York square. 

Cristen got us some Honey Cinnamon cashews for our excursion that day. It is London Open House weekend, and we saw some beautiful buildings today which I'll share with you later.

I just thought the market was particularly colorful today, so my camera just begged to be released from my purse, and I captured a few sights for you. 


Packing up my suitcase tonight to head back to Houston, and I wish I could bring you one of everything!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Street food

Last weekend at the Thames River Festival, there were scores of great options for meals and snacks. We could have eaten ourselves silly through it all.  It seems that interest in "street food" is soaring, as folks in Britain and the US alike experience some amazing flavors when the food prep and servers go on the road. I snapped a few photos along the way, not knowing I would be writing a blog about this subject, but from what little research I've done about the London street food scene, I realize there is so much more I need to get out and eat research.

Part of the fun of street food is the vehicle which hosts the selections. More and more elaborate and interesting "restaurants on the run" are being spotted. I loved The Candy Camper, a 1975 VW camper van that sells vintage candies.

Or how about the Westonbirt Ice Cream Airstream trailer selling homemade ice creams and frozen treats?

Luardo's pink van was getting a lot of attention, and selling a lot of burritos and nachos, the ingredients for which were prepared that very morning before hitting the road.

The interesting thing about London being such a melting pot of people, is that there are so many different flavors from around the world here to taste: Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Polish, American, Japanese, Portugese, Indian, and the list goes on and on. Read more here about some of the best street food options around London. Houston read here about some of your choices.
I found myself leaning towards the Mexican options, probably since I crave Tex-Mex cooking when I'm here in London, away from Houston. Here is the L.A Taco Truck, which "celebrates the taco lifestyle" of Los Angeles.

And the Flaming Cactus taqueria in an Airstream trailer, also selling burritos and nachos. 

But one of the booths that really caught my attention was Anna Mae's Mac Shack. It seems that Anna Mae's Smoke House with its Southern US style pulled pork sandwiches have been a big hit around town (got to find them) but Saturday, they were selling only mac 'n' cheese.

Their Facebook page boasts about their "pimped mac 'n' cheese with toppings." 

You can read the options for yourself. I've heard that Mac 'n' cheese stations are a popular choice for even wedding receptions now, with several options for toppings to mix in. Houston even has its own Mac 'n' cheese restaurant now: Jus' Mac with 18 different preparations of macaroni and cheese and those yummy fried mac 'n' cheese balls that tend to be popping up on a lot of menus. Their menu here.

So I hope you can see that there's a lot of unfinished homework yet . The more I google, the more places I find, so there's a whole lot of tasting yet to be done.

Just wondering now, how would you like your mac 'n' cheese topped??