You can find the map for today’s 4.30-mile walk here. 115 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
Good news! My laptop’s hard drive is dead BUT I was able to get the photos for Day 32 back so, once I catch up from the problems last week, I can finally get those up. I’m still hobbling along with a somewhat decent kludge until I can get my new hard drive up and running. Exciting times. Anyway, onto Day 34.
It took me a bizarrely long time to get to two small sections of the map I finished off today. I planned to see them on five different walks but I was rained out, distracted by a birthday do, given a free haircut, too ambitious and too slow respectively. Although I didn’t cover much ground and I didn’t find a whole lot of new stuff, it felt good to finally have it off the agenda.
Like I mentioned on Day 33, I like finding relaxing, quiet places just around the corner from loud, busy ones. Somerset House is another one for the list. There’s loads to see inside with the constantly rotating collections and exhibitions. There’s also a really cute cafe with some mouthwatering food.
I’m very much an outdoor person, though. On a gorgeous, sunny day I am much happier sitting in a warm part of the courtyard, watching people go by and listening to the water from the fountain splash around. When the weather gets warmer, it’s even more fun to see kids running through the water, having a blast (and to do the same yourself). It’s one of my London happy places.
The area around here is kind of mysterious. When Somerset House was an actual manor, the building stretched all the way across to include what is now King’s College. The two are still tied together architecturally and academically in a lot of ways. Below these two institutions is the old Aldwych/Strand underground station which is now closed but accessible for private viewings. Despite being out of use as a train line, the station is kept in perfect working order with a Northern line carriage permanently present for the movies that are regularly filmed down there.
Just behind one of the entrances to the closed station is Strand Lane, a narrow passage with the ruins of Roman Baths. So many layers are stacked on each other here it’s probably a place you could write a whole book about. Personally, I just want someone to take me on a private tour to show me all the secret passages that have to be scattered throughout the place.
You might be happy to hear that (even though it only covered half of Covent Garden) the post for Day 33 sums up the area enough that there’s not a whole lot more to add today. I meandered through a few more streets but a lot of them were back roads that didn’t have much going on.
Like I said last time, Covent Garden Market is still one of my top places. If you’re feeling uninspired, you can come here to wander around and let your curiosity guide you. It usually leads to a very pleasant day out. I like to check out what the artists are up to and listen to the music in the south hall (especially when they give a musical nod to everyone who pitches in).
Today, I was most excited to walk around the corner and see the food market in action. It happens every Thursday and I was really happy to accidentally end up there on the right day. One of the best things you can do is get street food from these stalls and take it to eat in the courtyard of St. Paul’s just around the corner. I recommend the pulled pork or duck confit. Both are meaty and drippy and crispy and amazing.
Speaking of meat, I hadn’t noticed this place before, but today I found Big Easy which claims to be a crabshack and Southern-style BBQ joint. I love good BBQ. As a loyal fan of Bodean’s and Pitt Cue, I am curious (and eager) to see if they live up to the challenge. Today wasn’t the time but I will be back here soon to test it out.
Just across the street from that is Rules, London’s oldest restaurant (opened in 1798). Along with Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, this is now on my list of classically British restaurants to visit. Like Simpson’s, they take pride in their ingredients being fully British, going so far as to own an estate in the High Pennines which supplies the wild game they are famous for.
In 200 years (the reign of nine monarchs), it has only been run by three different families. The stories of how they literally traded hands are quite cool. You can find more about that and the requisite list of famous patrons on their site.
Lastly, for anyone who has been following the challenge I set out to read Boswell’s London journal, you can pay tribute to your new friend (and his idol, Samuel Johnson) at 8 Russell Street, just outside the market area. It was in a home here that the two met and their long friendship began. Awwww.
See you next time!
115 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.