Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Where Shall We Go On Our Journey Today?... Selfridges and Covent Garden

To me, London in the rain is the perfect way to see the City.  The stereotypical London scenes of grey, rainy days that so many black and white movies depict.  I would love to stand in a corner with a nice cup of tea and just watch, just like sitting at home with a good old movie on the screen.  The red buses burst into the monochrome and noise levels are high, but to me, this is home.  This is my comfort zone and one that I need to occasionally retreat to from recent rural life.  Maybe I'm a bit topsy turvy and people think I am strange for needing this, but I do notice I need this retreat when my tolerance levels start to take a dive.  After an hour of sitting on the train, stepping onto the platform and joining the hustle and bustle to the ticket barriers, I am back in a happy place and life is good.

Today was going to be a bit touristy, but also with a specific purpose for me.  Selfridge & Co!  I haven't been there for years and with the fantastic drama that has been on TV lately, Mr Selfridge, I thought I owed it to myself to take a look at the place again and also to take Miss Teen and her friend Miss B for lunch there.  Our trip for the day was to go to Covent Garden to see the street entertainers, and then onto Oxford Street/Regent Street and finish off at Piccadilly Circus, however with writing this post, I think I will start with the reason we came... Selfridges!
To the left of Bond Street Tube Station stands this majestic building.  It has been added to over the years, but Harry Gordon Selfridge turned this neglected end of Oxford Street into a shopping paradise with incredible insight.
There are lots of entrances but the main one in the middle with the revolving doors and wood paneling was the one we were going to enter.
Standing above the entrance was the elegant Queen of Time.
And the intricate panelling above our heads at the entrance.
We didn't take photos inside even though we could have, but it really is a typical department store - but on the high end of the spectrum and huge!  The shop assistants are all very smart and well turned out, some of the male assistants even had the Harry Selfridge beard and moustache (and looked amazing with it).  For such an amazing store, none of the assistants were snooty but instead chatty and happy.  I wanted to take the girls for lunch so we visited the top floor's food hall where the choice and taste was exquisite, delicious and again, staff were very friendly and views from the windows were amazing.  Selfridges in my eyes can never do it wrong.
Bond Street Tube Station is a short walk from Selfridges as I have already written, but I just had to show you this dapper chap who has a small stand and acts as an information point for Oxford Street. 
We carried along Oxford Street and joined the crowds, it is never quiet! and then joined Regent Street.
The shops continued but we had one shop in mind... Hamleys!!
Seven floors of sheer toy story delight with assistants not just serving but demonstrating and playing with the merchandise, enticing the children to plead with their parents to buy the latest gadget or must have toy. As usual the place was packed to the rafters with shoppers and outside was just as busy.
However, I wanted to go around the corner to this place...
The infamous Carnaby Street, a bright and vibrant place.
Full of boutique shops with incredible wares and colourful buildings (even in the rain!)
One art shop looked amazing but I am afraid that I did not take a photo due to the naked man inside who was posing with a painting for some press photographs!  Instead you can have this great sign which is all sparkly!
And of course, the quintessential pub on the corner!
We went back on Regent Street and then onto Piccadilly Circus with its incredibly bright screens depicting all sorts of ever changing advertising.
But, how did the day start?  Well, it started very early and our first stop off was the famous Covent Garden to see if we could watch any street entertainment.
Straight away we could hear an opera singer inside this amazing building with people rushing here and there, but stopping for a brief moment.
Stopping to hear this beautiful voice fill the air.
Walking around, there were various stalls and markets taking place.
But we wanted to go to the North Hall and watch some street entertainers.  I thought that this would be a perfect introduction for the girls into the wonder of Covent Garden, and this chappy gave thirty five minutes of the best entertainment I have seen in a long time.  
Yes, those are meat cleavers he was juggling, but that was just the start!  He pulled a man from the audience who would be a major part of his show, but the comedy was brilliant and how he drew the crowds in.  We all had to clap and cheer as loud as possible, with him in the audience, so basically clapping and cheering 'nothing', he then said 'because all the 'stupid' people will come and see what is going on'.  He was right, they started rushing along to his area and stayed to see the show!
He juggled the meat cleavers down the length of the victim's volunteer's body and then started to prepare for his bed of nails finale.  This meant he needed to strip down to his boxers and socks, now ladies, a bit of flag flying for you!
Yes, those are birthday parcel rosettes to hide his modesty!  Spiky as he is known professionally, explained that he was going to become sandwiched by two beds of nails, with the volunteer standing on him for ten seconds.  Those nails were fixed and not retractable... trust me, we touched them.
For ten seconds we counted down as the nails pressed against his skin.
And I am pleased to say that he was fine.  There was a lot of marks on him, some with a tiny bit of blood, but for what he had done, he certainly earned every single coin that was given to him afterwards.  A thoroughly entertaining man - more on the street entertainers, including Spiky can be found here.

And so, with another trip to my lovely London town been and gone, it was time to head back to Kings Cross Station and head back to Lincolnshire.
We can't wait to go back to my old home town again soon.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Take care.

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  1. Oh Thank you for this lovely tour. I really, really enjoyed it. It was nice to see the real Selfridges, as I watch that show every Sunday night here in the USA. We are a bit behind you all. Personally I haven't been to London in over 35 years and it was nice to see how it had changed. Still hoping to see it again some day.
    Wishing you a lovely weekend!

  2. So nice to see the places in London which I have visited during our trip 3 years ago. Covent garden an amazing place I should not like to be that Spiky, he must be very hard. Selfridges a terrific store and the huge toy store, a real paradise for children. Thank you for the tour!

  3. Just one word comes to mind Ouch!

  4. What a fabulous outing you had in London - and so varied too. Great photos and angles. I love the style that Selfridges has and have been watching the Mr Selfridge series too over here. I think the next series will be sad though...
    Covent Garden is a must visit... those nails look horrific. I don't think I could have looked.
    I'll be in London for a long weekend from the 24th of this month. So exciting!

  5. Oooooooooooo... what a wonderful outing. And I just love the idea of seeing London in the rain and fog. Of course, how else?

    And thanks for the glimpse of Selfridge's from the outside. Going there is definitely on my list when hubby and I get to London (we're in the midst of planning our trip to England).

    So glad you shared.... enjoy the rest of your excursions.

    Happy Day!

  6. What a great day. Covent Garden is always brilliant for entertainment. My daughter says it's a good place to go for a 1st date as if you run out of things to say there's always something musical going on to watch instead, :)

  7. I agree, no place better than London in the rain!!! Also one of my favourite spots - Covent Garden, I love the craft market! I haven't ventured into Selfridges for years, but am 'forced' to go into Liberty's every time though! There is a little voice within me shouting 'In, In, In' when I near the top of Regents St!!!! Did you see Chockywockydodah's shop at the top of Carnaby St? Their window is a chocoholics delight!!! Also that fabulous shoe shop with the flowery and way-out shoes!! I was SO nearly tempted, but No.2 son said he would die if I wore them!! Spoil sport!!! What a wonderful day you had and thank you for sharing! Planning my next trip for the autumn!

  8. The pictures are fabulous. I would like to go back to London, we usually just land there and get to see so little of the city. We've toured through but not on our own. My husband is really into Selfrige, it is very popular over here. It may be a little like our Nordstrom's. High end with a darling cafe. Thanks for sharing your outing.

  9. Thanks for sharing your lovely day out to London, your pics are gorgeous. I smiled when I read you need to go back for the hustle and bustle. Like you I feel much more at home in a city. We've lived in a small village for years and its far from picturesque. On a regular basis I hop in the car and go to Liverpool or Manchester. I need to get a fix of city life. Have a lovely weekend and fingers crossed not too long before your back visiting the big smoke.
    Ali xx

  10. Most enjoyable seeing your take on a trip to London. Informative and entertaining too. Nice job!

  11. Thank you, thank you for such lovely reminders of London. I used to visit often as lived in North London, but now in Surrey and don't get the chance to return very often. Wonderful memories - thank you!

  12. What a fun tour. I'd much rather have the sparkly sign than the strange naked man posing for photos. I've not watched the Selfridges drama although I've seen it on Netflix. Perhaps it's something I should begin.
    The hustle and bustle of a city is fun for awhile, that's for certain.

  13. What a fun little virtual trip! The architecture in London is just spectacular! I am always amazed at your photos. The entertainment seems pretty amazing too! Hope you had a fabulous week off...:) Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

    Blessings, Vicky

  14. Glad that you had such a great time, lovely to see your Selfridge's photos. Not sure that I could have coped with seeing Spiky's act though, I am rather squeamish and just seeing your pics made my tummy turn over a little! You must be made of sterner stuff than me! xx

  15. That was quite a colorful tour, Chel! Love seeing Selfridge's and all the lively street scenes. I particularly like the blue scaffolding holding up the roof of the market. You are brave to venture near the toy store - I can imagine the chaos inside! It must have been a wonderful day for you and the girls. Every once in a while a country girl needs a little excitement! Thanks for taking us along to your lovely city. xo Karen

  16. Oh my what a great trip- thank you for sharing the places you visited! I can understand your wanting to get away and visit there! I hope some day to visit London!

  17. But ... but ... but ... my dear girl you missed Liberty's!

  18. To misquote Dr Johnson "When a woman tires of London she's tired of shopping!"

  19. I was a city girl as well, Chel. I love going back to Glasgow and hearing all the noise and feeling the buzz but then I'm always happy to get back to my quiet country lane in East Yorkshire.

  20. Very nice, interesting and great photo series!

  21. I really enjoyed walking the shopping streets with you and on the plus side, I didn't spend a dime!

  22. I just love your posts about London! I hope if I ever get to come back, I can meet up with you and have you show me all your favorite spots. You know all the fun things to see! :) Thanks for sharing!

  23. Even though it is less than an hour by train from where we live I haven't been for many years - other things just seem to get in the way - I would quite like a 'pied a terre' down there to be in easy reach of exhibitions and art galleries - it would certainly make a change from country life. Great post Chel.

  24. Lovely post about London, and lots of unusual shots too! X

  25. Such an entertainment in Covent Garden! Wow! Thank you for taking me to the streets of London ... I enjoy your captures and the atmosphere in the City! The close-ups and the persons ... You truly capture the atmosphere and the feelings!

  26. Hi Chel, thanks so much for sharing your day you spent shopping with the girls. It must of been a fun day and I really miss London so much and it brought back memories of my vacation. I love Selfridges too and Regent Street and Picadilly. I guess you must be used to the rain there. Enjoy your Sunday and next week.

  27. Wonderful impressions!! Thanks for sharing and have a nice Sundy .-)

  28. Makes me want to come back - and when I do I usually pop into Selfridges because it's such a fabulous dept. store - and as you said, very friendly staff always. I'm watching series 2 of the show - missed the first series but will have to go back and rent it because I'm loving it.

    The street scenes were interesting Chel. Having grown up there I can understand you missing the vibrancy, color and people, however I think living in the country and having the chance to come in to the City now and then is probably a much healthier life!

    You make an excellent tour guide dear - thanks for such great pics as always.
    Happy weekend.
    Hugs, Mary

  29. I love going to London, love Regent street, do you know I've never been to Selfidges though!!

  30. Wow that was quite the post. Loads of awesome stuff. The architectural features of those buildings are so beautiful. I must say "Spiky" was a colorful guy and a bit strange too.

  31. I've never been to London, but would love to one day. Your tour was excellent!

  32. I must admit I prefer London now I'm living farther away from it (sorry, Chel!). It's cleaner than it used to be. But we had a wonderful weekend there recently, which gave me plenty of material for A Bit About Britain. All that aside, I do enjoy your little tours and this one was no exception - though Spikey did make my eyes water a little. Fabulous shots, as usual!

  33. Lots of great things to see for sure! Thanks for the shots of Selfridges, as I am so enjoying "Mr. Selfridge" on TV right now. Harry Selfridge sure was a visionary in his time! Thanks for taking us along!

  34. Much as I love Selfridges today, I wish I could go back and see it as it was in its early days. Lovely pics throughout this post.


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