Home to one of London’s oldest street markets, the northern bit of Whitecross Street in EC1 is bustling on a weekday lunch break – especially a sunny one.
It used to be called Squalors’ Market – a nod to the poverty and alcohol that were synonymous with the area in the 19th Century, but now it’s a mix of suits and hipsters and mums with prams queueing for a meal from one of the nearly 50 food trucks that line up to feed the locals.
There’s no lack of choice here. There’s hog roasts, Italian pasta, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Moroccan, Indian and Turkish dishes, crepes, British pies and typical sandwiches and salads not to mention plenty of sweet home-baked goodies for dessert. Best recommendations I’ve heard? Burritos from Luardos, Turkish flatbread stuffed with chicken and the bibimbap wraps.
Unfortunately, this is not my usual lunch break stop and I only wish Earl’s Court had this many options… I was just passing through after a meeting near Old Street, wandering slightly aimlessly in the general direction of home or toward whatever drew me in along the way. It was a beautiful day and, round here, you have to take advantage of the sun when you can.
As you’d expect in East London, there were splashes of street art along the way, sprawling estates and a wonderful mishmash of cultures.
From here, I went to check out The Barbican where I found a few interesting books in the shop and spent some time relaxing in the gardens. For those of you who haven’t been, The Barbican is Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue. It’s also an awesome piece of brutalist architecture. It took over a decade to build and opened in 1982. My grandfather, who worked in demolition, worked on this site.
There are long rows of flats nearby, all decked out with flowers on their balconies, and a huge concrete tower behind. A two bedroom property here will run you nearly £1 million.
From there, I wandered on, passing through the covered Smithfield’s meat market with its Victorian architecture and its golden lion’s heads on intricate peacock-coloured gates. It was closed, of course, by the time I walked through around noon.
Carrying on, I headed toward Fleet Street, home of Sweeney Todd and famous as the old hub of the British national press and the old pub where the journalists used to drink. Around the corner is where Samuel Johnson, probably now best known for the quote “When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life” used to live. I didn’t go inside, but I swung by to take a photo of the sculpture of his cat, Hodge.
Then it was on toward the muddy Thames to have a little look, from afar, at the new addition to Tate Modern that’s opening this weekend.
By this point, I had been walking for quite a while, so I decided to head up toward Piccadilly Circus and catch a bus home from there.
I found the old Aldwych / Strand Station that closed in 1994. Did you know that parts of the station that weren’t used were put to work during both world wars to keep some of London’s famous artworks sheltered from bombings?
I stopped at Somerset house, cut up toward Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Street (a corner I hate) and all the way down to Carnaby Street.
There, I popped into Sacred Cafe for a savoury muffin (which I always get when I’m in the area), stopped to devour it in the sun in Golden Square park and finally made it to Piccadilly where I caught the bus back home to the west.
- Sign me up for this, please! Who’s coming?
- How sweet is this floral smock dress for summer (when it comes between the rainy days, at least!)?
- Love this wine rack!
- This green rolling pin I want is on sale (woot!) and so are these really cool pineapple candle holders.
- There’s a new tree print from the Isabella Plantation in Richmond up in the etsy shop!
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