Saturday, December 3rd 2016
The weather continues cold and miserable. But then, it is the winter and in England winters are known for being cold, dark, damp and, in a word, miserable. Perhaps that’s why we like Christmas so much: the lights, the bright colours and the self-indulgence, all these help cheer us up and distract us from the dank conditions.
We set off on today’s ramble with only the vaguest ideas of where we were going. As we walked to the bus stop, I pulled out my geotagger to switch it on and found that it was already switched on and its battery was flat. That meant I could not record our track and explains why I will be rather vague about where exactly we went. It was interesting how ‘lost’ I felt without the geotagger, having become accustomed to using it on all our trips, at home and abroad, over the last few years.
We got off the bus in Oxford Street and I took a quick photo of the street and its Christmas decorations. Oxford Street is not a favourite haunt of mine at the best of times and at Christmas even less so because of the crowds. As it was still fairly early, it wasn’t too busy but I was glad to branch off into the side roads.
In Argyll Street, we came upon this decorated doorway. It belongs to the London Palladium which resides in this street.
Looking down Argyll Street, you can see part of the massive ‘Tudor Revival’ style building that houses Liberty’s department store. It certainly stands out and I don’t think there is any other London store like it.
It was built in the 1920s to a design by Edwin Thomas Hall. It’s a fascinating store to visit but we did not go in it today.
This is Carnaby Street, once an unknown backstreet but famous since the 1960s as a centre for avant guard fashion. It was originally laid out in the late 17th century and took its name from the first house built in it, called Karnaby House. The derivation of that name is uncertain though I have seen a suggestion that it may refer to the village of Carnaby (near Bridlington) in Yorkshire.
Despite the archway bearing the motto ‘Carnaby Carnaby’, the name of this street in Ganton Street. It is one of those that lead off Carnaby Street. It doesn’t seem particularly interesting but I photographed it because of the Christmas decorations which look rather like pink light bulbs. If memory serves, they had the same ones last year.
We had not breakfasted so far and so, when we found ourselves in Kingly Street, in front of an establishment called Cafe Pomodoro, it seemed opportune to rectify the lack. Inside we found warmth and a typical English cafe menu, just as I like it. If the name suggests that the cafe is run by Italians, there is nothing odd about that because the Italians have for generations been running fine English cafes.
In the late 17th century, the street became known as King Street but was renamed at a later date to Kingly Street. I don’t know when the change occurred or why the street was renamed. Perhaps it was to avoid confusion with the other two London streets called King Street, though that seems unlikely.
Continuing on, we eventually came to Leicester Square where the annual Christmas Market was being held. Stalls were displaying goods and food from the UK and other countries, quite an impressive sight if you like that sort of thing and don’t mind the jostling crowds.
We spotted this stall run by French chefs selling French crêpes made to order and I gloomily wondered whether Brexit will mean fewer such sightings in future. (In crowded conditions like this it is virtually impossible to take a photo without someone walking into the frame as you press the shutter release.)
In this photo, the tower of the 1930s Leicester Square Odeon cinema is seen peering over the market stalls.
We next went to Peckham Rye and here we explored an area that we hadn’t visited before. It was in the area of Rye Lane and that is as much as I can say without my geotagger to help me. Perhaps we’ll go back another time and I can locate it better.
We encountered this unusual pizza restaurant. Called Crust Conductor, it is housed in double-decker London bus. I believe it can move to other locations though it seems quite comfortably installed here. (No, we didn’t sample their wares!)
What attracted my attention here was the face on the wall and then the chimney. The face is a nice piece of street art but I have no idea who the artist is or when it was painted. The chimney intrigued me because the name on it – RONS – seemed unusual for the name of a firm or factory. It turns out that the chimney has in fact been truncated, as suggested by the relative newness of the brickwork at the top. Originally, it belonged to a store called Holdron’s which closed in 1949, though I do not know for what purpose they would have had a tall chimney. Today the building in the photo is occupied by what seem to be a set of lock-up shops.
We arrived at what I believe is called the Bussey Building. We had for a while been thinking that it would be nice to sit down and have a cup of tea and so we were pleased to find a venue that could meet our needs. It is called the CLF Arts Cafe and describes itself as a ‘Versatile, multi-level warehouse space, staging innovative theatre, art, cabaret and music events’ but it was serving tea and cake and that was good enough for us!
On our way to the main road to catch a bus home, we passed in front of Peckham Rye Station. These days it is in the middle of a built-up shopping area and you reach it through a covered passage between shops in Rye Lane. It is invisible from the street and when you reach it, it surprises you with its size. Built in the 1860s, it was obviously intended to be an important station but these days seems oddly out of proportion to its reduced staus. The handsome three-storey building is Grade II listed, I am glad to say.