Tag Archives: the french house


Boris, I sincerely hope that you never succeed in your attempts to rebrand Bloomsbury as ‘Midtown’.

It’s February.  My body, mind and spirit have all felt a bit miserable and undernourished lately.  I waited at the top of the steps at the British Museum for Jane on this bright Saturday morning, sipping on my Pret capuccino, and when she arrived we spent the better part of an hour wandering through the Grayson Perry exhibition.

We tend to part ways when at exhibitions; quietly taking in whatever it is we’re looking at and then regroup for a chat afterwards over a meal or a glass of wine – on this occasion over espresso & cake at the London Review Bookshop.  We’ve both been there more than a few times now, and while Jane ordered her usual Lemon, Rosemary and Olive Oil cake, I had the Chocolate Almond torte I always order.  But they don’t know how to make a bad cake – which is why it usually takes 20 minutes to get a seat.

The London Review Book Shop

The London Review Book Shop

Caffeinated and refueled, we wandered down Great Russell Street and then onto Lambs Conduit Street.  While I managed to restrain myself from buying some beautiful linen cushions and a set of etched champagne glasses at The French House, and we deftly avoided the parmesan & pomodoro wafts from the Italian restaurant at the end of the street (that has inspired many a late boozy lunch, I’m led to understand), we did go into Cornelissen & Sons and spent a small fortune on yet more art supplies for our already overstocked and far too under-used artist kits.  I could buy pastels enough to fill a whole house and admit to compulsively buying them whenever I see them – the rich pigments and beautiful labels, crafted into elegant sticks and packed in expensive boxes – I’m sure its an illness.  But today I didn’t buy pastels.  I bought a new watercolour kit (though I already have two more of the same ones somewhere in storage), a good supply of watercolour and pastel papers, new brushes and a stick of a rather fabulously unusual colour of blue sealing wax.  (Nope, no idea why either…)

A little bit poorer and a little bit fatter, but much happier, I came home with my bags full of books & art supplies, and I knew that I remembered just why I love London.

I need to go see if something needs sealing now…