Mark had a lunch meeting in London yesterday so on the pretext of keeping him company on the train, I went up for the day too, for there was an exhibition I quite fancied seeing. Edward graciously accepted my invitation to lunch and immediately booked us a table at the new Terence Conran restaurant Lutyens.
A day in London is an opportunity to get my eyebrows sorted, so a quick call into Blink in Selfridges is required. Yesterday, I stumbled into a dark, glossy black corner of the basement and was greeted by a young man explaining the concept behind The Icecreamists. Sadly, 10.30am wasn't the best time to try one of their signature ice cream cocktails, 'The Sex Pistol': Viagra Ice Cream served as a shot in a pink water pistol, but I'm sure that later in the day, they'd have rather more customers!
The surreal continued, for immediately beyond the ice cream parlour, there was a wall of Christmas decorations - yes, the season has already begun!
As always, I was in plenty of time so hopped off the bus a stop or two early to walk to the restaurant along a street I've only driven along before. I spent some time looking around St Clement Danes , thinking how quiet this little traffic island is, in spite of being on one of the busiest thoroughfares in the capital. Across on one side of the road, there stand the Royal Courts of Justice
whilst on the other side, there's the original Twinings Tea Shop, a listed building currently undergoing renovation (one reference cites this as the "oldest shop in London" but I'm fairly sure that's not correct)
Entering the City of London past Temple Bar, and walking up Fleet Street, I passed the entrance to the Law Courts branch of Lloyds Bank and glimpsed inside through the open door, doing a double take as I did. Stepping inside the foyer, I spent ten minutes enjoying the beautiful Royal Doulton tiles which decorated the entire entrance hall
By now, it was time to step on it a bit and meet Edward, already there waiting amongst the suited and booted bankers enjoying a Friday lunchtime in this fine new restaurant. Lovely to enjoy his company over a pretty good meal, catching up with the goings on and wonder where any signs of a recession are to be found - not here, not now, that's for sure.
He headed back to the office after lunch, I retraced my steps to the Courtauld Institute and the exhibition, which I really enjoyed. Equally fascinating, however, was the discovery of Lord Lee of Fareham's role in this place thanks to a photograph of Old Quarries, Avening, on the wall there. I knew that the property (now a residential home owned by the Home Farm Trust) had been owned by Lord Lee; I knew that artworks from the National Gallery had been stored there during the war, for safe keeping. But I hadn't realised that Lord Lee had been such an influential and powerful figure in his day and finding the familiar photograph in the same gallery as so many treasures was quite a surprise.
To Trafalgar Square then, to meet Mark and take a quick look at what was happening on the fourth plinth (not a lot) and a cup of tea in the National Gallery Cafe before heading back to Paddington for the train home.