A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
£1.5 billion funded by Qatari investors and designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the tallest building in Europe (309.6m / 1016ft), the Shard was inaugurated yesterday. A light and laser show to celebrate the opening started at 10:15pm yesterday night, but they failed to illuminate the skyline as planned and it didn’t seem to impress spectators (independent). We can see a tip of the Shard from our balcony, and I saw some laser light and also the footage on TV, but it was just ordinary and boring, not spectacular as they claimed… →more photo
The Shard houses residences, Shangri-la hotel, restaurants and offices (from the top to the bottom). From the View from The Shard observation platform in the 68th-72nd floors which some 244m (800ft) high, guests are able to see up to 64km (40 miles) away, and even France when is a clear day, according to the Mayor Boris Johnson.
The View from The Shard will be open to the public from February 1 next year, and from today pre-booking tickets are available through the Shard website or via the box office hotline (0844 499 7111). The tickets cost £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children, which is much more expensive than London Eye (Standard Ticket £15), the Eiffel Tower (€14 = about £11), and even the tallest tower in the world, new TOKYO SKY TREE Tembo Galleria at 400m higher from the ground (¥3000 = about £24.15)! Over 17,500 people had already registered to secure tickets in advance of their release today. Wow. If you are a budget traveller or think this is a rip-off, check here for alternative ideas to enjoy London’s skyline.
We found this small café, Printers & Stationers on Ezra Street in Hackney, when we were looking for a motorcycle parking. As its name suggests, this warehouse space started as a printers and stationers workshop. Since June 2011, Printers & Stationers sells French grocery & handpicked wines from small and independent producers mainly in France, as well as antiques during the flower market on nearby Columbia Road on Sundays. They also organize wine tastings. The owner is French from Champagne region, who earned some pocket money by working in the vineyard when he was little. Since coming to London in 1996, he started champagne import business and opened a French grocery shop ‘Degustation‘ in 2007 in Brockley. First I called this place a café, but I read the description on their website, it seems more like a wine shop or an enoteca. Anyway, no one was drinking wine when we were there.
The inside of Printers & Stationers filled with bric-a-brac, looks like an old-style grocery shop with living space on the back in French countryside. A cute family dog was sleeping at the back, comfortably in his cozy bed with layers of blanket. The shop offers a selection of cheeses and charcuterie as well as croques monsieur and some sandwiches. We sat outside as it was warm and sunny. There is also a small bar area and the little patio garden inside. M ordered typical French sandwich with ham & cheese. My croques monsieur (bottom photo) was not what I expected (Wikipedia) but normal toastie, but it is OK as it was good.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday: 12 – 8pm / Saturday: 12 – 7pm / Sunday: during the market
When I was checking the Time Out magazine, I saw an article talking about Pitfield Street, located in between Old Street and Hoxton Square. When we moved in the neighbourhood and started to walk around the area, the Pitfield was nothing more than shabby street with few gloomy pubs, kebab shops, and ethnic grocery shops. However, with this excellent location just next to Hoxton, recently this “stubbornly grotty” (Time Out says. Not me!) street has started to change, and some hip hair salons, bike shop & juice bar (where we brought our bikes for maintenance), and even Japanese tatoo parlor which looks more like modern café than scary tatoo salon (→Time Out article).
Among the places, there was one place we didn’t know, which opened quite recently, I believe. That is “Pitfield“, a stylish lifestyle shop & café, owned by an interior designer who has his office upstairs and his business partner, filled with colourful vintage & modern homewares from UK and abroad (→Time Out article).
We tried out the café on our visit to the shop. Surprisingly there was a queue after lunch time. Flatbread sandwiches occupy top half of the showcases and a variety of good-looking cakes and tarts sit on the bottom . When moving closer to the cashier, voilà, big dishes of deli food such as quiches, salads, and lasagne appeared. Staffs were talking in French and this heightened my expectation for the food. M ordered vegetable lasagne and I got ham and cheese quiche. The dishes were warmed up, which is a plus, but I was a bit disappointed – the shell of my quiche was too hard and couldn’t easily cut with fork (there was no knife in their cutlery box), and the side salad didn’t have any taste without dressing. We were like, “ok, let’s move on and try world-renown ‘French’ cake”. After the meal, we had an almond bar, espresso and tea. Hot drinks are served with vintage? (or looking?) iittala cup & saucer. A little bit of good touch. Almond cake was not bad but not jaw-dropping. I guess my expectation was too high… However, there is no other nice café around, so the café is still useful and won’t fail, I believe.
イッタラのカップに入った紅茶、エスプレッソ、アーモンドケーキ / Tea and espresso, served with iittala cup & saucer, and almond bar
入って右側がカフェ、左側がショップ。ショップは意外に奥行きがあって広い / Café is on the right, and the shop space is on the left half. The shop has a depth, and bigger than I expected
窓から山積みのメレンゲが見える / Mountain of meringues seen through the windows
“The Passion of Joan of Arc ” is a story of Joan of Arc, a national heroine of France and a Catholic saint, who heard the voice of Saint Michael and liberated France from English occupation during the Hundred Years’ War. It summarises the time from the Rehabilitation trial after being captivated by English and Burgundian to imprisonment, torture, and the execution by burning.
A libretto in Latin and antique French from the writings of Joan of Arc, medieval mystics and the Bible, was sang beautifully by soloists and chorus. This minimalistic and solemn score, together with the black and white classic silent masterpiece, was deeply moving and vividly conveyed the fear and emotional suffering of young Joan, who once was a savior of France but whose life was tragically terminated with only an age of 19 by one of the most agonising way.
You can also see this film together with the music on YouTube (link), so check it out if you are interested.
Bodiam castle, 20-minute drive from the Sissinghurst Castle, is located in neighboring East Sussex, not in Kent. This quadrangular-shaped moated castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, as his home to show off his status and wealth and as a defence against French raid during the Hundred Years’ War. Chambers were built around the outer defensive walls and inner courts. After Dalyngrigge family’s line became extinct, the castle passed by marriage to the Lewknor family, who had owned the castle until at least the 16th century. Since then, Bodiam had been on different hands and was dismantled in 1643. It was left as a ruin until its purchase by John Fuller in 1829, but was partially restored by Fuller, George Cubitt, 1st Baron Ashcombe, and then the last owner of the castle, Lord Curzon. It has been owned by the National Trust since 1925, donated by Lord Curzon on his death, and is protected as a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Monument.
Although quite knocked down, towers and some rooms, where you can learn the history of Bodiam on 15-minute DVD as well as exhibition, are open to public. You may want to walk up narrow and steep spiral staircases to the top of the towers, where you will be rewarded with wonderful views. You can enjoy watching dozens of desperate ducks and carps fighting for food thrown by visitors on the bridge which connects the park and the castle. Kids can play on the grass surrounded the castle and around the WWII bunker built in the castle ground against German invasion, which never occurred. Very peaceful and picturesque castle.