Thursday, 18 November 2010

Lizzie’s Guide to London–Part Three (at last!)

Hello again, all Blog Friends – old and new!

Well, a bit of an interruption – of the nicest kind – for the Blog Hop Party in aid of the Bloggiversary celebrations…

But I thought I would post about the rest of our family trip to London over the half-term holiday. 

There’s not a lot left to tell you though – we had big plans for the Monday and Tuesday, which were somewhat curtailed…

Lizzie's Guide to London - Part Three

Monday 25th October
A Trip into London Town

We’d been down the river to Greenwich and we’d explored the area round about our youth hostel, in the City; so it was time we went up to Town and had a look around.

The Boys had a Plan for their morning and I also had a Plan for mine… they didn’t quite match, so it seemed to make sense for us to separate at a certain point and meet up later.

We took the Tube (underground train for those who don’t know our funny language!) from St. Paul’s …
Actually, that’s not quite true, since we were prevented from getting on the train at St. Paul’s – it was closed and the area cordoned off by the police.  We don’t know why, but it did mean we had to walk down to Blackfriars instead. 

We all went as far as Holburn, then we separated – the Boys heading for Oxford Street and a particular Shop they wanted to visit (Warhammer related.. yawn.. zzz).  I headed to Russell Square, in Bloomsbury, with shopping of an altogether different sort in mind…

Bloomsbury, London – Map courtesy of Wikipedia

I love that name – “Bloomsbury” – it sounds like flowers and little city squares of old houses, with trees and green grass… it reminds me of “The Bloomsbury Set” and makes me think of poetry, Victorian novels, a certain age of elegance and exploration…

Of course, the Bloomsbury area of London does have some lovely old houses, still in great condition, many in those squares with grassy little parks in the centre. 

Bedford Gardens, Bloomsbury, London (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Other parts are more modernised and more filled with traffic.  In Bloomsbury you will find many great buildings, including the British Museum, where we went on our last trip to London about 3 years ago (another stay in the St. Pauls YHA and plenty of exploring). 
The British Museum

There are also a number of businesses that have been there since Victorian times (or even before) and plenty of reminders of its Victorian hey-day.

I was searching for a Particular Shop, on Southampton Row, right in the heart of Bloomsbury… I got off the Tube at Russell Square, feeling a bit excited… this was my own little expedition; for the first time in years, I was all on my own in London, going somewhere just for me! 

First Mistake (if you don’t count the extra walk because of St. Pauls station being closed).  Russell Square is one of the oldest Underground Stations in London; it’s also one of the deepest underground. 
There are two lifts to the surface, also a staircase.   The station was very busy and it was taking a long time for everyone to get a space in the lifts, so I thought I’d be clever and take the stairs.  After all, it was only 165 steps and I could do with some exercise…

So, ignoring the notice that warned me about the 165 steps, I started off up the old, winding staircase…. and took rest-stops at the various little landings on the way… and started to wonder if it had been such a good idea after all… especially when younger, fitter people started to pass me on the stairs and were complaining about the walk… and I started to feel a bit worn out and breathless… and after all, maybe 165 steps is too much for an unfit woman with asthma… but I’m further up than down, so I may as well continue… I must be nearly there… well, now I must be… now? … whew, 165 steps is a lot…
(photo courtesy of jonathan percy on flikr)

At last, the Top of the Stairs!  I won’t dwell too long on how I was feeling. It wasn’t elegant or pretty to be hot and exhausted at the top of Russell Square Station staircase.  I headed across the road and into a coffee shop… A hot chocolate and a sit-down later, I began to feel a bit better.  Well, that would teach me not to take the stairs next time! 

I set off along Southampton Row, looking for No.76.  The numbering started at this end… so it must be a little bit further down… a bit further, on this side of the road… what number is that? Oh, twenty-six… hmmm, a bit further then… Good thing I had that hot chocolate and a rest… Number fifty… good I’m almost there… Seventy – oh good.  But what about all this scaffolding across this row of buildings – it must be one of those… Ah, relief, it’s not closed! 
Falkiner’s.  Well, Shepherd Falkiners, to give it its full title, since Shepherd’s and Falkiners merged in recent years. 

Who?  Falkiner’s.  The Holy Grail of Bookbinding Supplies… well for me anyway.  Shepherd’s and Falkiners have been around for years and years.  They make wonderful, traditional hand-bound books and sell all manner of fabulous supplies for us lesser mortals, who are trying to learn our bookbinding as we go, at home in our little studios….
(photo from Falkiner’s website)

And Paper, don’t forget the Paper!  Their supply of paper, on their internet site, makes my eyes go fuzzy… there is so much choice!   They sell a variety of plain papers, for the pages of books; then there is a huge choice of decorated papers, from all over the world, for use as covers, linings and end-papers. 
(photo from Falkiner’s website)

Japanese washi, chiyogami etc… lovely designs, elegant and beautifully printed;  A variety of mulberry papers, from the finest Tibetan tissues, to lovely heavy-weight Khadi papers in jewel-like colours;  Italian prints in traditional designs – like that popular Florentine Paisley-like pattern – and some more modern; French papers, elegant, stylish and richly coloured; local English papers, with copies of story-book illustrations, Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs, British designers’ work; hand-made marbled papers, from Italy, Germany, France…

It’s hard to describe the variety of papers available.  I would have liked to buy a huge amount… but I didn’t want to over-spend and also knew I would have to get it all home safely, so I stuck to a few sheets of special paper, chose the fine tissue I needed to make silk bookcloth for my Diary/Planner project – it’s a sort-of mulberry-style paper, not like the tissue that you’d use for gift wrapping etc.

Then I paid a visit to the Basement…The Bindery
(Poster available from Falkiner’s)

Bookbinding supplies, leather and tools… ahhhh…

They had printing presses, nipping presses, book presses, book-binding frames, knives, cutters, leather-working tools, embossing tools, bone folders, scissors, rulers;  there was a supply of binding tapes, mull (a form of muslin, used to line the spine of a traditional binding, to support the book-block and give it strength), needles, linen threads, gold leaf, heading tapes, glues, tapes, bookcloths in cotton, linen and silks…. and leather!  They had rolls and rolls of coloured leather, also boxes filled with leather offcuts of various sizes.  There were also ready-made book blocks, in various sizes, plus ready-to-bind diaries for 2011…

I could have spent all day there.

I could have spent a FORTUNE there!

I didn’t do either of those things… I did buy some lovely Italian papers, the mulberry tissue I needed, a great little bone folder, a copy of the fabby poster you see above, a roll of kraft paper, overprinted with a design of zig-zags, in magenta (they also had red, green, blue and orange… can’t have all of them, had to choose!).
I spent a modest amount and came away smiling even more than when I went in, ready to meet the Boys for lunch.

Who? Oh, yeah, them… the Boys… mmmm… almost forgot about them while I rummaged blissfully in one of the most wonderful shops in the whole of London… (but I didn’t forget them completely and sent a text message to say I was leaving soon, to meet them). 

I thought it would take so long to walk to the Tube, get the train and then walk up Oxford Street, that I may as well walk.  The distance was relatively short – along Bloomsbury Way, down New Oxford Street and into Oxford Street itself, to a little shopping mall, about half way down.  The Games Workshop (Warhammer shop) was there, also a food hall, where there are various food stalls with a central sitting area they all share.  We were going to meet there for lunch. Off I set...

Along Bloomsbury Way…. into New Oxford Street… a bit tired…. legs ache… sore feet… it isn’t much further though….

Down New Oxford Street – which was a lot longer than I remember… sore feet…. why did I wear my brown boots anyway? They are at least 6 years old…. they’re getting too old for much walking, even if they are flat…. tired legs…

Now Oxford Street. Very full of people… busy shops… could fancy a day shopping here… no, I have to meet the boys… besides, if I don’t sit down soon, I’ll fall down…

Got to the Mall.  D. took one look at me and said, “Lunch time!  You sit over there and I’ll get lunch.”  Phew!  Such a relief to sit down.   One baked potato and coffee later, I thought I was ready to carry on to Regent Street, where we hoped to visit Hamleys Toy Shop, then Covent Garden and perhaps the Rainforest Cafe (if they could find us a table).

Nope, once I was on my feet, it was clear that I couldn’t cope with much more.  We headed for the Tube.   End of shopping trip.  I kind-of staggered my way back to the hostel and spent a couple of hours resting on my bed.  On the way back from St. Paul’s underground station, D. bought me a new pair of shoes – some comfy trainers.  (It’s not that my boots weren’t comfortable, I just think they have got old and stretched, so there was no support for my feet).

Not quite the exciting afternoon we’d planned, but there you are.  Maybe we were a bit ambitious with our plans, considering how much walking we had done on Saturday and Sunday. 

D. went to the M&S food shop round the corner and bought a posh picnic for our tea (yummy!).  Once we’d eaten, it was about 6pm and we all felt rested.  Put on the new trainers (bliss!) and headed out…

Leicester Square

A fairground in Leicester Square – Fun!
A couple of likely lads…

VIEWTY2 251010_005_Leicester_Square_by_Night4
A couple of blokes we met… Mr. Shakespeare, Mr. Chaplin, Sirs!

Trafalgar Square

The famous Fountains were all lit up…

National Gallery by night…

A certain famous Admiral, atop his Column
(Admiral Lord Nelson, for those who don’t know)

After exploring Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, we wandered into China Town and strolled around.  It was a pity we’d had our dinner – the smells from the numerous restaurants were wonderful – I did so wish I was hungry!!

Tired but happy… on the Tube back to St.Pauls

My pillow was a very welcome sight that Monday evening!

* * *

Just to finish, I’ll tell you about Tuesday.  The original plan was that we’d spend the day in London and come home mid-afternoon, which is what we had done the last time.  The hostel has luggage lockers, so although we had to check out of our room, we could leave our bags. 

We were going to go to St. Pauls Cathedral, then on to a tour of the Globe Theatre, across the river. 
But we were just too tired.  All the walking and busy sight-seeing had caught us all up and we just wanted to go Home!  So, we did!

A train journey from Blackfriars to Bedford Station.  A short taxi-ride to our village… home in time for our Lunch!

It was disappointing to miss our chance to see the Cathedral and the Globe.  However, it was such a relief to be home again – I think we had done enough for one trip.  There can be a Next Time, as we are lucky enough to live reasonably close to London.  Maybe next year…




The End!


  1. Oh Lizzie, I love the story of you taking the stairs! Reminds me of the year DH & I were in the Canadian Rockies and decided to walk back UP THE MOUNTAIN to the resort. Let's just say there were lots of stops to catch our breath, not only was it a long way, the altitude there is quite different than here in Texas! Loved visiting Hamley's Toy Shop when we were in London.

  2. Lovely to hear about the end of your trip to London. The stairs are like that at Covent Garden and I made the same mistake as you when Penny and I came out of the theatre, only we were walking down - it's not really any easier! Anyway, really pleased that you had such a great time and hope you get to go back and finish off your trip some time soon.

  3. That was a great trip and at least you have something to look forward to next time Lizzie!

  4. When I saw the direction you were going in I guessed you were going to end up in a bookbinding place!

    I love that feeling of being on your own and being able to explore somewhere new completely alone - I can completely relate to it. And I hope you get to the Globe next time :)

  5. This is such a fun post, Lizzie. :o) My favorite part? The paper.

    I really want to visit London (for more reasons than the paper...)! xo

  6. I can see we need to have a Bloggers' Meet in London! Start putting pennies in a jar, people - Deb let me know when you've saved the fare and I'll tidy up the studio for you - you can have the sofa-bed! We'll organise a trip to London and book beds there for a night - all will be welcome!

  7. This sounds like a great trip,Lizzie....even if it did tire you all out!!
    I'll remember never to take those stairs!

  8. It looks like you were in bookbinding heaven Lizzie! What a great trip to document and I love your christmassy blog, I like visiting the secret corridor too :)

  9. Thanks for letting us tag along.

  10. Hi, me again! Just wanted to say that the stamps have arrived and I love the little notebook you included too :) That has gone straight into my handbag to use as a notebook for all my Christmas shopping. Thank you once again xx

  11. Oh I just love london! Looks like you had such a fab time! Abi xxx

  12. I know I should say something about all these fabulous places and the beautiful papers you got...but honestly, my favorite part of these posts was seeing you smiling in your totally cute red coat!

  13. Karleigh-Jae, I love my coat! My wonderful husband bought it for me and I wore it every day, until this cold snap forced me to wear my heavy coat instead. Come the Spring-time, it'll be back!

  14. Oh how fun - found you through Storytelling Sunday and saw your post link to London. Thought I should tell you about my local paper shop and see that you've been - Bloomsbury is my regular stamping ground and Falkiner's is a great place to spend some creative dreaming time. I've got some Japanese paper sitting my desk at the moment ready for a class I'm teaching on making mini albums :)


I love to read your comments!


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