I am going to miss the emptier streets in a way, currently 2020 has seen me lose faith in humanity more and more with every month that passes. More reasons to hate each other and less willingness for conversation. So a lonely walk without human interaction is therapeutic.
But then again the lockdown has seen us online more than usual, and this is where trolls and their toxic thoughts reside more than anywhere. At least people are rarely as toxic in person as they are behind a keyboard. We need real life conversations again as talking behind a username is a recipe for disaster.
I have enjoyed the lack of interaction on my walks at times, but then again realise face to face interaction is usually much more pleasant than it is online. So the jam packed tube rides that we all label as ‘unfriendly’ in London will be welcomed with open arms… if I had that much room to do so. The commutes crammed but silent sound like heaven right now.
At this current moment, silence is like gold.
I hope you are managing to avoid the negativity, and more importantly, avoid being sucked into to it. It is contagious and sticks to you like glue. And once in that negative headspace it is hard to make that shift towards happiness again.
Stay motivated, stay optimistic and we will get through this, whatever it is that you are personally fighting for.
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.
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!
The last few days here have been great. Cold, but great. And I don’t mind a cold snap as long as it stays dry. At the end of the day the cold weather doesn’t affect the photographs, but a cloudy day does.
I am still flat hunting, which is why I haven’t been able to focus a lot of my time to blogging. Sorry for this, but a bunch of posts will be flying your way once I find one. I am on my way and have a couple of viewings this week so I am feeling optimistic.
I am really trying to stay as central as I can, as I HATE busy public transport. The few times I have had to get the tube at rush hour can only be described as traumatic. And there is no way I am driving to work everyday in Old Street.
Which is an update for you…
So up until the 19th of this month I was working here. Southwark Street.
This is a great location and I will miss working here, being up close to the Shard every day and the flow of visitors in and around Borough Market.
And there’s this interesting new billboard..
I’ve never tried this drink, but my friend living in Sweden said its good. I haven’t figured out what is mind blowing about the ad, it is build into the wall as you can see however the wall itself is just a 2d disguise for the scaffolding behind it. But I trust them. That’s all we can do huh?
And as I say goodbye to Southwark I say hello to Old Street.
Old Street is located north of the river, in the Borough of Islington. The area itself seems to be thriving , with new buildings rising and the area of Shoreditch (the wider area Old Street is located in) being a hub for bars, restaurants, street food and art. I am looking forward to working in this area as it seems to give off a really good vibe and despite hitting 30, I am still far from retired from having a good time. I did get asked for ID the other day I have to mention. The shop keeper is now my best friend.
I want to stay central so I can go about my exploring without having too much time spent on public transport. It is frightening how much time I have spent in my life sitting on a train or bus, forced to do nothing but look out the window and do the same route day in day out. I do feel this is a chunk of time we all waste, endlessly scrolling through social media or depressing newspaper headlines in the hope of a momentary distraction. I now try to spend this time wisely, drafting up a post or writing down ideas as these small windows of time can really add up in the long term. If the commute is 30 minutes to work that’s an hour of our day… and five hours of the week! FIVE HOURS!!! That’s not far off a whole day shift. We spend a lot of time working for someone else, it is important that we do the same and be productive for ourselves too.
But yes, I want to be fairly central. One reason being a shorter commute to work, the other being I want quicker access to many of the cities sights to have more frequent and consistent uploads. And this brings me to my next section. Recently I posted a poll to Instagram, allowing followers to choose where my first trip would be in London. The vote was between Borough Market and Covent Garden.
Now I had no idea what the result would be (or what was more popular to those outside of London and the UK), and it was pretty one sided from the start.
The result was…
Borough Market started to make a late comeback however the result was still clear. So my first proper travel blog post will from Covent Garden, I am hoping next week. If I can add a blog post or two in the meantime I will, and by next week I might have a new home. Who knows!
I hope you are all having a great week, and I hope you enjoy my Covent Garden post when it comes. Thank you if you voted and if not, which one would you have chosen?
Goodbye from Southwark but hello to an exciting year ahead!
*update* The poll is finally up on Instagram, sorry it is a day late however I went from work yesterday and straight out to my works Christmas party in the city and didn’t get any time in between. I work in hotels… so Christmas parties tend to be in January when we have stopped hosting them and it is quiet enough to have our own.
Covent Garden has so far taken 100% of the votes… let’s see if it can hold the lead!
It’s the weekend! I wanted to do a post that will start the New Year as I hope to end it. With blogging. Lots of blogging.
But in particular this update will focus on another platform, the beast that is Instagram. Don’t worry if you don’t use it as I will remain on WordPress when documenting my adventures, however I wanted to venture a little further outside of it this year and make the most of the social media platforms we have. Not everyone uses WP, such as my close family and friends (is that correct English, ‘not everyone uses WP?!) so blogging on these other channels will reach out to new audiences and will be more accessible to some of my nearest and dearest.
As I have mentioned a couple of times in recent posts, from now I will be putting where I visit in London to a vote on Instagram. I think this is a fun way to let those on Instagram engage with my blog (and I would love to see you over there!) and an exciting way to find out where to explore. In a way it may help keep me motivated to travel… I won’t be crippled with indecision so much if I put a couple of choices out there every week or so, I will see the result and know exactly where to go. To keep somewhat to a plan I will ensure the two options I choose are of a fairly similar nature or distance, helping me plan in advance what to pack, what to wear and what kind of shots I will be taking once I’m there.
My Insta story will look like this. A page giving you the option to click on your choice, and the results shown 24 hours later.
As you can see, Borough Market and Covent Garden are going to be my first choices. Admittedly I have been through both, but I have not had a real thorough look around either of these famous London markets. As they aren’t paid attractions I will be free to spend much more time there and ensure I get the best shots, especially as I will be using a new camera. I am really, really excited to be using a new camera!
I wanted to let you all know of this plan first, for being so good to me over the years and it would only be right. And I would love to know, what would your choice be in London?
Or Covent Garden?
Let me know, and I hope to see some of you vote on Sunday when I put this vote live on Instagram!
Have a great weekend, I am out tonight to see Theo Von, a comedian I really like from Louisiana. He is performing at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire here in London and I had to grab a ticket. I will probably add some pictures to my Insta story and I may add a post or at least a picture here on my blog. Gang Gang!