Hello, it’s Sam. The guy that has been pretty AWOL so far in 2020, however I can proudly say that I have finally got my sh*t together and found a flat in the process. That and a lot more stability as I am located close to where I work in Old Street and that is certainly a blessing. No tube or buses to work, a simple five minute walk to blow away the cobwebs. I did try to find a place in close proximity however I didn’t expect to find somewhere this close.
I really don’t like spending time on transport.
So no more of these frustrated faces in Pret as I buy yet another coffee to kill the time and avoid going back to my roomshare.
I do like Pret though.
But anyway, less of my rambling. I have a new adventure to share with you.
In January I put two of London’s most popular market destinations up on Instagram and allowed those that follow me the chance to choose which one I would visit. The votes came in, and it was big victory for Covent Garden. Poor Borough Market didn’t stand a chance, but I will definitely be doing a blog post from there at some point due to it being such a historic market in London. Anything 1000 years old is worth a visit.
Now I have to say, after doing some research on IG stories it seems like I may have made a rookie mistake. I placed the vote box right in the middle of the screen, and some of you may know that to swipe through stories, you press the right hand side of the screen. This means that some of the votes for Covent Garden may have been accidents by those simply wanting to skip through my story, I am not sure. It would explain why CG received way more votes, but it could simply be a more popular choice.
Regardless I had a great day there, soaking up the great sunshine we were blessed with.
Here is my visit, as chosen by you, of Covent Garden.
Admittedly I didn’t know Covent Garden was a district, located between St Martin’s Lane and Drury Lane*. I thought the central square and market within was Covent Garden, however it is much larger than that containing many streets, pretty courtyards and hidden gems. It has had a long and interesting history- being a very popular fruit and veg market and even a red light district at one point- to the entertainment hub it is today full of bars and restaurants with Leicester Square right on its doorstep.
To get there, I took the Northern Line northbound to Kings Cross before switching to the Piccadilly Line westbound. Total journey time of 14 minutes, not bad at all.
Taking a right out of the exit barriers I found myself right in the heart of it all. Immediately I was walking on a cobbled street surrounded by beautiful buildings decorated with plants that bring colour, the White Lion pub on the corner immediately tempting me in before I even start to explore. I do come back to this spot later and take a left, for now I will continue down the street (Covent Garden’s main square can be seen in the background) to see what I can find.
What I was not expecting was a restaurant that Mark Wahlberg and his brother opened here in May 2019, the first of the chain to be opened outside of North America. This is the first time I had heard of Wahlburgers and as much as I wanted to go in, I refrained as I was meeting family in Camden Market for lunch later on.
It didn’t look particularly busy, there were many passers by taking a closer look after seeing the Wahlberg cutout outside, but not enough to get them through the doors. I guess it isn’t very well known here yet, I hope it picks up. I would like to pay a visit when I am next around the area, unexpected but a pleasant surprise for sure.
Heading down to the square, the market building is beautiful. I made sure to do a full 360 walk of this before peering inside. A timelapse around the building will be up on my Instagram story soon, so keep an eye out for that!
I am not sure if the tourists above were posing for the camera, there was no one behind me that’s for sure. But soon enough they headed inside and I followed suit through Central Avenue, or ‘Central Ave ue’ as it now appears. Whether the ‘N’ fell on someones head or was stolen for whatever reason I do not know. But this avenue is full of stores selling food, clothing and accessories and for those that spotted it, a famous pub called ‘Punch and Judy’.
Speaking of Punch and Judy, the show was mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his famous diary on May 9th, 1662. On this date it reads:
Up and to my office, and so to dinner at home, and then to several places to pay my debts, and then to Westminster to Dr. Castle, who discoursed with me about Privy Seal business, which I do not much mind, it being little worth, but by Watkins’s —[clerk of the Privy Seal]— late sudden death we are like to lose money. Thence to Mr. de Cretz, and there saw some good pieces that he hath copyed of the King’s pieces, some of Raphael and Michael Angelo; and I have borrowed an Elizabeth of his copying to hang up in my house, and sent it home by Will. Thence with Mr. Salisbury, who I met there, into Covent Garden to an alehouse, to see a picture that hangs there, which is offered for 20s., and I offered fourteen — but it is worth much more money — but did not buy it, I having no mind to break my oath. Thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw, and great resort of gallants. So to the Temple and by water home, and so walk upon the leads, and in the dark there played upon my flageolette, it being a fine still evening, and so to supper and to bed.
Samuel Pepys diary, Friday 9th May 1662
It is referred to as ‘an Italian puppet play‘, and this is the first Punch and Judy play on record in England.
Covent Garden has a very old worldy feel to it. The architecture, the lighting… I feel frozen in time walking around and it helps me to imagine those like Pepys walking around enjoying the shows that we still see today. There is a basement level in the square, opening to two smaller seating areas for the bars and pie shops and the occasional singer/ musician performing to onlookers.
As I arrived a singer was performing a beautiful cover of ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, casually sitting on the flat bit of the banister at the bottom of the stairs. This was shortly after getting down from a chair of which he climbed onto to sing to the one businessman alone there having lunch. He quickly gained attention not just from his great singing but his entertaining nature, walking up to those passing by and taking photos of the crowds themselves.
There were two acts I caught whilst here, and I regret not getting either of their names. Maybe I will find them online, and I am going to put some clips into a story in IG for you to check out, maybe someone knows who they are.
Crossing the road south we have Jubilee Market selling foods and typical tourist gifts.
And just a block behind this is a store with a really cool feature that I needed to share.
Ellis Brigham is a store for those into mountain sports, and inside is an ice climbing wall for those wanting to try out their new gear. It is hidden away at the back of the store and was such a cool find!
The wall stretches two floors, perfect for a little practice without even having to leave London.
But back into the warmth(?), walking north takes us back to the Underground, past the iconic red phone booths that were very popular with tourists taking shots.
I do love these phone boxes and hope they never leave us (not that this is likely), it is interesting to think what they could be turned into now the demand for such telephones has diminished. I once heard they could store defibrillators and other opportunities are endless really. It would certainly make use of a great space whilst allowing London to keep a part of its identity for decades and hopefully centuries to come.
This has got to be one of the prettiest streets in all of London. Located further north of the Underground (taking a left as you come out of the station) you will find this little hidden corner of bright and colourful buildings. On the morning I was pretty much alone to take all the shots I wanted, businesses slowly opening up and waiting for the afternoon rush.
Below, a man reading his newspaper making the most of the calm in a dreamy corner or Covent Garden. I would recommend Neal’s Yard to anyone visiting London and a must for photographers.
Got myself some inspiration on the way out…
The first selfie of the day!
The guy behind doesn’t look best pleased though, probably has to deal with tourists everyday. But that is what you get for living and working in London.
Now for any of you Harry Potter fans and/or collectors, this store is for you. I found it walking back from Neal’s Yard and the enthusiastic guy at the door won me over.
I am not sure what wand he was using, however you are absolutely spoiled for choice inside. Replica wands from the movies lined the walls and they looked great.
At first I tried to take pictures when the employees weren’t looking, in case for whatever reason I couldn’t take photos. I don’t know why I thought this, I guess it was because some items were very pricey. However they later told me it was fine to take shots on any type of camera.
I am in love with this Batman mask. Would love to have bought it!
This store was easy to find, take a left out of Covent Garden Station, cross the road and keep heading north past the pub on the corner and you are there. With the variety across two floors there is definitely a gift to take back to wherever you call home, or for that crazed Harry Potter fan we all know.
What’s that, that crazed fan is you?! I knew it.
I kept heading back to the station to not get lost, and it was a good base as most of the things I wanted to see led back here. Another is Floral Court, on the same street as the White Lion and again very beautiful.
Designer handbags with arms sticking out of them could be found, as well as a nice looking cafe named Arket, although the lack of ‘M’ was throwing me off a little. Same thief that stole the ‘N’ earlier? Possibly.
The Lamb and Flag is a very old pub and was a favourite watering hole of Charles Dickens. It has had a long and fascinating history, the pub was once known for its bare knuckle fights earning the nickname ‘The Bucket of Blood’ and the alleyway you can see below was the location of an attack on John Dryden in 1679 arranged by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester.
Floral Court is another lovely courtyard very close to the Lamb and Flag. I visited day and night and again it wasn’t too busy during the morning. I have learned that if I want to beat the tourists, get up for sunrise.
And how welcoming is this tree house, Dominique Ansel is an award winning pastry chef and I have linked the website below as the venue looks great.
Looking past the treehouse sign, a bright tunnel caught my attention. The Infinity Chamber is made up of thousands of LED’s that at the time was decorated for the Dominque Ansel Treehouse. This design and colour scheme is constantly changing so the chances are you will have a different sight to behold on your visit.
And the sun sets… if anything Covent Garden comes to life even more, the lights come on, people are finishing work and the vibes are good. This was after I went to see my family from the Isle of Wight for lunch in Camden Town, I recharged my camera batteries and started to revisit the places I had been during the day.
The courtyards looked great. The slideshow below highlights some of my views as I walked.
This is one for the foodies. A great place to socialise, Seven Dials Market was once a handful of small food stalls outside, they now take up a large indoor venue that was once a banana warehouse.
It was almost 9pm by the time I got done seeing everything I wanted to see, and decided to head back to the main square to soak up the atmosphere around there. This was the time I first noticed the Punch and Judy pub despite mentioning it quite early in this post, it stated on the window that it is ‘World Famous’ so for that reason I had to head down the stairs to the basement level and grab a drink.
It was cosy, built in 1787 and believed to be named after the performances in the area. I decided due to lack of room inside to sit in the oudoor-yet-still-indoor area, a little cold but fine with a jacket on. I am still not used to paying over £5 for a beer though, this one costing me £6.25.
That’s right, £6.25. I drank it quickly to forget the price.
And as I did a group of people came over to me, recognising the now worn Texas flag on my laptop.
It turns out that they were from Dallas and on holiday in London, Kenneth in the group being very kind and offering me a beer if I ever go back to TX and pay his restaurant a visit. Texans have always been friendly and a big reason as to why I would love to go back there someday.
But for now, I will remain in the UK. I am all traveled out and despite maybe taking a weekend break somewhere in the near future, anything longer than that probably won’t be on the cards for a while. I mean I don’t need to rush anywhere as I have so much to do here so I am okay with that.
And this is it! My first of many travel plans in London, chosen by you on Instagram. I will very shortly add this to my story on Insta, as well as my other social media pages with some video clips to go with them.
I had great fun in Covent Garden and like many places I will be visiting, I couldn’t do it all in one day. But I hope that I have given some inspiration for anyone planning a visit to London, Covent Garden is a must.
Thank you for reading, thank you for voting and I will see you in the comments!
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