Monday, 13 September 2010

West end and beyond

On Saturday morning at 8.15, Pete and I set off for a day in London.  We hadn't intended going that early, but we were awake and decided to get the 8.30 train.

After a coffee at St Pancras station (worth a visit in its own right), we went to the Magnificent Maps exhibition at the British Library as it is ending soon.  It is a fascinating exhibition with maps from all over the world, some 500 years old.  Once finished there, we looked at the Magna Carta and original lyrics by Lennon and McCartney.  Both worthy inclusions at the British Library I am sure!

I noted a creased poster for Wonderland magazine featuring Zac Efron on the cover.  I swear that he is getting sexier as he gets older.

After that we got a bus to Oxford street for a very quick look in some specific shops then another bus to Sloane Square. We ambled down the King's Road, taking in the new Saatchi Gallery (that must have cost millions to set up).  Pete was particularly impressed by the 'Cher Guevara' image. 

After the trendy shops and Conran restaurant is a cafe called the Mona Lisa.  Pete and I have been there many times, though I haven't been for a while.  It's a clever cafe that transforms itself from 'greasy spoon' to value-for-money restaurant during the day.  Before Chelsea home games, you cant get a table but today just had local posh types and possibly the most camp guy I have ever seen, who Pete found very annoying.

I tried an app on my new iphone that has a stock of old photographs that you can use to compare to the current buildings and street layout using the GPS system.  It sort of worked, but I didn't get a good overlapping image to share with you.

We had a look around the posh charity shops before heading back to the west end via St James's park, Jermyn Street and Fopp in Covent Garden.  We sat in the sunshine with a coffee for quite a while before walking slowly to Kings Cross for a train home.  We arrived back exhausted around 8pm.

Although there were plenty of people around, the areas we visited didn't seem as busy as you would expect and the traffic was also flowing well.  Strange.

One final thing. Some place and road names in London are interesting with their own convoluted history.  One that I have seen a number of times and never considered is the street called Petty France.

I have found out that, during the 15th century a load of French traders would visit London and camp in the fields that are now the streets next to St James's Park.  The area was so packed with French people that it became known as Little France or... Petit France.  A corruption over time has meant that SW1 features a street called Petty France.


  1. Thanks for reminding me about the exhibition in the British Library. I'll probably go this weekend. Thanks...
    You seem like you had a really nice in London...

  2. Ah, there's a Little France in Edinburgh too which is where the court of Mary, Queen of Scots took up residence.

  3. There is a Petty Curry in Cambridge for the same reason. Sorry I was too late to take part in the 5 on the 5th picture contest this time. Next time, hopefully!