1 February 2014

Dipping in to Fitzrovia, Soho and St James

My day in London was built around two theatre performances, at the Soho Theatre in the afternoon and then the Jermyn Street Theatre in the evening. There was an exhibition in the area that I wanted to go to and just before I set off I found another. The third was a late discovery on the day.

I've written about the two theatres and the three galleries separately. This article is about some of the things that I saw when walking through London to get to them.

My first stop was in Little Portland Street in Fitzrovia and walking down the road I was presented with this utterly charming building in Great Titchfield Street.

The first gallery done, I headed the short distance to the second. That meant going south down Great Titchfield Street to cross Oxford Street. My destination was in Ramillies Place which begins its life as a set of steps down from Oxford Street in the gap to the right of Boots.

The upper floors of Boots were so unexpected and so unusual that I had to photograph it to prove to myself that it really did look like that.

Many moons ago I worked in Great Marlborough Street and so I knew the area reasonable well, including the little passage that connects Sheraton Street with Carlisle Street.

What I did not know was that the building at the end of Carlisle Street had become the Nadler Soho Hotel. It obviously wanted to draw attention to itself and it succeeded thanks to this statue above the front door.

Later in the afternoon, after the first theatre, I found myself walking down Carnaby Street in Soho. The street itself was mostly full of clothes shops that did not interest me and was packed with tourists who have read about Carnaby Street in their guide books. When I was working locally I was often stopped in the street by tourists asking for directions there.

While Carnaby Street did not interest me at all, this mural, Spirit of Soho, on the junction with Broadwick Street did. It shows Soho life and is dedicated to the people of Soho.

It was late in the day when I decided to go to the White Cube gallery in Mason's Yard, just south of Jermyn Street in St. James, having only just learnt about the place thanks to the Art Fund app on my phone.

The setting was surreal. Mason's Yard is historical and pretty and somehow a solid block was allowed to be built in the middle of it. I think that I approve but I am still not sure how it happened.

As I was in the area I had to go to Fortnum & Mason.

I even thought about going to one of their restaurants to eat but that is best left for a treat rather than a hurried pre-theatre snack.

I did, of course, buy some team. Just as I did on my last visit there in October 2012 - I like FourSquare because it tells me things like that.

The tea zone was busy, as always, with tourists buying souvenirs and gifts while taking photos of each other doing so. Unfortunately there had been a run on Ceylon Orange Pekoe so I had to settle for just the Royal Blend and Assam Superb.

The variety, brashness and history shown here are just some of the main features of a walk that was full of such things. And all that in little more than 1km.

It all adds up to yet another reason for loving London and for walking through it with eyes wide open.

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