James recently finished his first long school placement (he now has a few weeks back in lectures until the final one) and I finished writing a paper, so we decided to celebrate by staying over in London and having a day out together.
I was at UCL working until 5, when James took the train down to London. We dropped our things off at our hotel in Liverpool Street - we stayed at a great hotel, part of the expanding Tune chain. Their business plan is a really good quality, clean, compact room with no frills - so you don't pay for TV, wifi, soap, towels etc unless you want to. This means that you can stay in a stylish central London hotel for the price of a scruffy B&B. Book in advance and you can stay for as little as £40 for a double room.
So, once we had checked in and dropped off the bags, we were free to wander about London and explore the East End to our heart's content. First, we stopped off in Brick Lane for a cheap and cheerful curry then wandered south towards the river. We emerged from residential Wapping onto the river just near the Hermitage moorings downstream of Tower Bridge. We sat on a bench just there for a while, dreaming of one day owning a historic sea-going barge, and how lovely it would be to moor on the Thames. They even get a residential address - 16 Wapping High Street! They sometime hold open days there, which might be interesting to visit.
Next stop, a few minutes down the Thames Path, at Fish Wharf, are the stone benches designed by my friend Priscilla. We always stop there if we are in the area. Three years after their unveiling they still look wonderful, a tribute both to her design and the work of the apprentice stonemasons who made them. I had also been reading the book James bought me for Valentine's Day: Just My Type, about fonts, so I was on a bit of a font-hunt. Having learned that the City of London uses Albertus on all its signs I set out to photograph one.
Then we headed into central London to wander around Theatreland and Soho. We stopped to look in the window of Arthur Beale's incongruous chandlery on Shaftsbury Avenue, mostly frequented by those looking for ropes to use in theatre sets. We stopped to get some treats in Patisserie Valerie - an eclair for James and a cup of mandarin sorbet for me. After that, our feet were tired so it was back to the hotel to get some rest ready for another day of exploration.
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