15 July Day off SOHO

This morning I met Christina and her family for breakfast and we went to the Bloomsbury Coffee House up the street from the dorm. It is a very nice little place underneath a hotel. It is a narrow stairwell in front that goes down to a charming space with a couple of small tables outside and two small rooms inside. The offering is a typical array of items including an assortment of pastries, coffees, fresh fruit and avocados and eggs.

Since this is the day off, I plan to catch up on my blog which I did but, not enough and then venture out to SOHO to wander and find dinner on my own. I also planned to check some bookstores up above where I am staying in hopes of finding at least one of the plays on Rhoda’s list. I worked in my room until early afternoon and then headed up the five blocks to the first of the bookstores.

The first store was Judd’s Books. It did have a nice collection of books on fashion and some theater books and plays and a book on Thomas Rowlandson that was of interest but, nothing that made me want to add weight to my luggage. Also, nothing on Rhoda’s list. Heading down the street to Shoob Books, I wasn’t optimistic because this store advertised as used academic books. However, it turned out to be a treasure trove of books on theater and a hefty collection of plays. It took some time to browse the shelves and determine there was nothing there. I headed back the way I cam to check out one last store, GAY’S the Word, a small gay bookstore in a seemingly unlikely location. I guess I might have expected this to be in SOHO. It proved to be a small and very friendly place with a few locals. I browsed the shelves for 30-45 minutes and found and interesting title, House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row. I couldn’t resist. It details the life of gay brothers Tommy and David Nutter. Tommy was a designer that dressed a number of celebrities in the 1970’s and 80’s including the Beatles and Elton John.

I returned to the dorm and changed out my pockets and made my way to SOHO. Coming out of the tube on Oxford Circus, I was immediately drawn to music on this Sunday afternoon, pop sixties. On Regent Street the city is having a Summer Shades Festival. The street is closed off and a stage set up with a music group. I stood and watched for a bit and then headed off to look for Carnaby Street. I, of course, went the wrong way and had to find my way back across Regent Street. The crowds were thick. It is a very touristy area of London. Eventually I found my way to Carnaby Street inadvertently crossing Savile Row.

It was a little disappointing. It is a very commercial street with nothing of its sartorial history. Most of the shops are contemporary chains. Moving on I went in search some place to have a drink and found gay London, seemingly tucked in behind the theatres in and around Picadilly Circus. I wandered and soaked up the atmosphere before settling on a bar called Rupert Street Bar on Rupert Street appropriately. It had big open windows, just the right location to watch people walking by. My view faced onto the stage door of the Gielgud Theatre.

I headed back up to the dorm looking for dinner. It was a relaxing and quiet day which I appreciated before we begin the second week of our stay in London.

This is the little dining area of the Bloomsbury Coffee House.

Regent Street bordering SOHO. The music group singing 60’s pop.

Looking down Regents Street the other direction. Big crowds.

As I wandered down toward SOHO, this is the back of St. George’s Church.

Now for the front view, St. George’s church.

Looking down that same street is Sotheby’s. Although this is probably the side entrance. The main entrance is around the corner.

Lost. I inadvertently wandered onto Savile Row.

At last, I found Carnaby Street.

It was a bit of a disappointment but, I still saw it and walked down the length.

This Rupert Street. The bar I stopped at a bit late is next to the building with the Gielgud sign (as in Gielgud Theater). The cross street is Winnett and the stage door is at the corner.

Rupert Street bar. I got a seat in the corner. To my right was a large bank of windows. It was quiet but began to become more lively and fill up as I sat.

My view out the window. of the bar.

As I headed back to the dorm, I crossed Shraftesbury Avenue and walked up Lisle Street to cross Charing Cross Rd to get to the Leicester Square tube station.

One think I haven’t really mentioned is on this day the final game of the World Cup was being played and that made the streets that much more lively. Football is a national pastime unlike just about anything in the states (well, maybe KY basketball when they are in the national championship finals). While sitting there France won and as I was going down the escalator in the Leicester Square tube station, I encountered this youth leading a chant among most of those on the down escalator. It continued once I got back to Tottenham Ct Rd.

Goodge Street Station.