Thursday was another miserably ghastly London day! -:) I took the circle line to Green Park, and on my way past, dropped in at the Ritz, pushing through the front door with all the confidence of a regular guest. Except it was actually the street door to the high rollers private club in the basement.
This bemused doorman very kindly explained the difference and gave me a Ritz map of London so I might avoid similar mistakes in future. He's only been in this job for a couple of months and he said he loves it. I loved him too.
He sent me off in the right direction so I started again. Nice foyer but my mind was still back in the high rollers room.
Just down the street is the Assouline bookshop - what fabulous books they publish! - make sure you go upstairs to the curio room...
If you're into cutting edge fashion, you must go to Dover Street Market.
Think Lee Lin Chin on steroids.
Then Burlington Arcade - natch - most of the shops were not quite open, but the Lalique man saw me taking this photo, switched on his lights and came out to give me a booklet. The day was getting better!
I stumbled on Brunello Cucinelli outside the far end of the arcade. They're coming into winter so the new stock is a bit heavy for an Oz summer. Loved the cotton pullover the assistant was wearing - a knit from summer - taupe with a couple of thick grey and white bands on the sleeve. None left of course. At the end of summer they send their stock back to Italy. Which I suppose goes on to the southern hemisphere for our winter!
She gave me a Brunello Cucinelli biro! Yayyyy. I get such a kick out of small things!
Savile Row, still full of typically English bespoke menswear shops.
I popped into Loro Piana (very nice cashmere scarf for a few thousand pounds - would look a treat with red wine spilled on it), then Hermès. I'm loving the Eau de Rhubarbe handwash in the kitchen at the moment.
The man behind the perfume counter suggested I try Citron Noir and Le Jardin de Monsieur Li. I preferred M Li who has a great garden apparently, and is a friend of its creator Jean-Claude Ellena. I was given a refillable bottle of M Li so that I can use the container again for my handbag. The day was definitely looking up!
I adored this dappled Hermès rug!
Ottonlenghi Nopi seemed a good choice for a late morning juice, so I sat up at the bar and talked to the barman. I was the lone customer. It gets frenetic later.
While I was drinking my carrot apple and ginger, Gerard was mixing a new cocktail.
Carrot, mascarpone, calvados, cointreau, lemon juice, cinammon and cloves. I was appointed chief taste tester. I voted it a great heart starter!
I wandered past St Martins in the Fields, but the National Portrait Gallery was calling me. With evil intent as it turned out. As soon as I arrived I went downstairs to the loo, then up to the restaurant on the third floor. When I went to take a photo, I discovered that my phone was no longer in my handbag. And I haven't seen it since.
The rest of the day was spent as you can imagine first waiting at the Information Desk, then the police, then at Apple and a Telco shop. Models that work in the UK don't always work on 4G in Australia so it was complicated. Anyway it's all too boring for words. I have a new phone, and it works.
Sketch photo courtesy of Sketch restaurant
I was feeling very depressed by this stage. I hadn't had any lunch and I was nearly going to forego my late afternoon tea booking at Sketch. And of course the phone wasn't set up so I had no camera anyway to take photos for you.
But I told myself to get over it. I went to Sketch. Imagine my surprise when I saw at the bottom of my plain white teacup, the words "FORGET ABOUT IT". Truly!
That night was spent restoring the new phone.
NEXT DAY: But Friday I was off out of the barrier! Straight to Liverpool Station, where I thought I'd visit Dennis Severs house, but it only opens at night on Fridays.
I wandered down to the Thames, passing all the amazing high rise buildings on the way.
And into St Dunstans in the East. What a charming, peaceful, teeny oasis in the middle of a busy city! The church was bombed in World War II, and a decision taken to plant a garden in the ruins. Office workers were sitting on the wooden benches, eating takeaway lunches.
Saw Tower Bridge in the distance - I don't know why that colour looks so weird - it looks normal on the phone! It looks a bit Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds doesn't it?
There's 311 steps up to the top of the Monument - it was built in 1677 as a memorial to the Great Fire of London.
Great view though.
Long way down!
It was time for my late lunch at Galvin la Chapelle, owned by brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin. Half an hour's walk back there after the monument climb, and I was ready to drop into the comfy leather seat.
From the restaurant's website I learned that the building was constructed in 1890 as a girls' school.
It was a café in the 70's and was about to be demolished when a group of local residents led by historian Dan Cruickshank staged a sit-in protest and chained themselves to the front door gates to stop the bulldozers and the building was saved.
This is the maitre d' Franco, with the softest most beautiful Italian accent you have ever heard. The man matches the voice. Twenty years at the Savoy, then the Langham and a couple of other 5 star hotels in between, and now here. He loves it.
His father said to him once, and we've all heard it, but it bears repeating 'Son, if you don't want to do a day's work in your life, make sure you work at something you love.' Isn't that so true?
I had two entrées - the pea velouté first. With those little deep fried ham hock beignets in it, a few fresh peas, and a little créme fraîche.
Out of this world.
Then the signature dish - lasagne of Dorset crab, beurre Nantais & pea shoots. The nice resistance of the pasta top and bottom, with the most delicate crab filling.
Honestly, you had to just sit and sigh in between mouthfuls.
I sat for ages and ages just enjoying the surroundings, with the staff coming up for more chats now and then. I'd had an entire afternoon's entertainment out of a meal! Eventually I felt I had to come home.....
My waiter was Francesco and another was Julia. All so nice. Julia said to me, 'Despite your name (Dark - I booked this from at home before I left) you have a wonderful light and energy within you.' Of course I puffed up like a frog.
I think this was Leadenhall Market. Was it?
Liverpool Street Station on my way home - like many of these iron buildings from the late 1800's has the most amazing glass roof!
And so my travelling buddies, au revoir. I'm in Oireland already and I still haven't told you about the Biennale and lunch at Spring.
Not sure of the timing of the next post but you're sure to hear from me again soon!
I wait you always,