London Again!

© Jackie Parsons Photography

London really is a love of mine. With endless amounts to see and do, Samuel Johnson’s summation was spot on IMHO. I don’t think I will ever get tired of visiting this fantastic city and two visits a year is just not enough so we’re making it three this year, with a visit to the Chelsea flower show in May!  More about that later….So on New Years Day, we jumped on the train and headed South arriving in Clerkenwell via Kings Cross where we set up camp at a friends flat which is often empty at weekends and holidays.

© Jackie Parsons Photography

We arrived early afternoon on New Years day and being pleasntly surprised to hear that many of the shops were open late, we jumped on the tube to Oxford St. At about 8pm, peckish and desperate for a cold beer we headed to a little place called Busaba Eathai where they serve excellent South East Asian food and Tiger beer. Actually this place is very similar to Newcastle’s very own Electric East.

© Jackie Parsons Photography

We were greeted on Saturday by a gorgeous Winter’s morning, sunshine, blue skies and temperatures in the low single figures. Armed with my camera we set off on a short walk to Somerset House, via  Hatton Garden and Fleet Street. Alistair’s in charge of itinerary today and we are starting off with an exhibition of Chris Stein’s Photography. Iconic images alongside rarely seen prints meant this was well worth the visit. By the way, the originals can be yours for just over £5k should you be interested. The whole set-up at Somerset House was wonderful. The place was buzzing, helped in no small way by a very busy ice skating rink in the courtyard and no one seemed to mind that the huge Fortnum and Mason Christmas tree had lost its needles long ago!

© Jackie Parsons Photography

From here we walked on to Waterloo Bridge for the evening sunset The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset. It was still freezing but I managed to get a couple of decent shots as the sun disappeared behind the Houses of Parliament. After crossing the Thames and heading onto the South Bank we stopped at The National Theatre for a warming coffee.  There’s a cool red building here called The Shed which is a temporary venue for the National whilst their Costello Auditorum is closed for 12 months.  I think they should keep it…I love contemporary structures like this that almost stop you in your tracks.  It’s so dramatic,vibrant and refreshing and looks great against the clear blue sky. Apparently, Denys Lasdun’s building (the original National Theatre) is in the top five of both the most hated and the most loved British buildings. I’d probably be part of the latter category.

© Jackie Parsons Photography© Jackie Parsons Photography

After taking some nighttime snaps of St Paul’s we popped into the Tate Modern for another quick defrost before arriving suitably famished at Borough Market to eat at Wright Brothers.  This place is so fantastic! It has been described as being atmospheric in an old-fashioned Dickensian way and it plays up to this with a long oyster bar, high tables and the day’s offerings chalked up on big blackboards. There is a slightly chaotic (in a good way) feel to proceedings but it works. Have to come back here I think…

© Jackie Parsons Photography© Jackie Parsons Photography

Saturday was a shitty day, weatherwise, but we’re in London so it’s ok… Went to a matinee performance of The Scottsboro Boys at the Garrick theatre before heading to The Met Bar for a pre dinner cocktail. This place was synonymous with celebrities in the nineties but I presume the A-list regulars have moved on as the place is now without its original member’s only policy. We actually had the place to ourselves for a short period, not something that would have been possible 15 years ago!  Chatting to the friendly barman, I look around thinking about all the famous people that have passed through here and the stories that these four walls could tell.  It’s a still a classy place to enjoy a cocktail.

We finished off the evening at Coya, a Peruvian restuarant that my friend Hilary (another Londonophile from the North East) recommended. It is an achingly hip bar/restaurant/club in Mayfair and as we just have aching hips we probably felt a little conspicuous. However we ended up having a remarkably good meal, one of the best we’ve had in a long while alongside some fantastic people watching.