Monday, January 25, 2010

Tone Poem - London Town

Here is a place that I visit fairly often, but usually when the shops are shut. It is a small place with a rarefied air. Especially on a Sunday morning in a light rain or during the holidays when everyone has gone to the country you can imagine that you have drifted back in time.  You would not be very surprised to see posh ladies as in a Jane Austen novel swishing past in carriages in heavy silvery silks or satins of cloudy sky blue with smoky feathers on their heads.

The traffic on the street is usually only moderate and has to slow as the roadway winds a little bit here and there are many small lanes that empty into it.  So it is usually quiet.

This is one of those "if-you-have-to-ask, you-can't-afford-it" places.

It used to be a place of very old school, and quite serious antiques shops.  It is increasingly infiltrated by homewares and accessories shops for ladies (alighting on that little refined something to polish off their "ru-u-ums").  But the big old stuff that endures has that weighty, stately quality

that seems naturally at home with hushed tones, extraordinarily high ceilings, bottomless bank accounts.  Oh and layers and layers of history and the patina of years of careful handling.

A pub has recently re-opened on the street.  It is called The Orange Tree.  It used to be a terribly scruffy pub.  No a pub in an alarming state of decline.  A pub that had thoroughly lost its way and indeed, it's self-respect.

But the old Orange Tree has been swept completely away.  And the new one announces itself like Marie Antoinette at the Hameau.  With scrubbed parquets and limed oak effect washes on its wainscots, pale linen upholsteries, an airy bar with brightly polished brass, cozy downstairs nooks, a little restaurant, and even  a couple of B and B rooms upstairs if you'd like to treat yourself to a night in a London sweet spot - in the midst of it all, but a little on the side too.

In honor perhaps of this auspicious renewal, bittersweet persimmon orange is the flavor of the month in the neighboring shop windows.

 The new Orange Tree plays along with the genteel fantasy: a life absorbed in elegant amusements, traditional-but-not-too- taxing outdoor pursuits,

quiet evenings beside a roaring fire, gathering the accretions of the ages around us like a cloak.

Discreet conviviality.

Noblesse oblige.

And lots of dressing up.

These pictures were taken by Mr. Paradis and his I-Phone.  Art-directed by the Ma'am with the Plan (moi-meme, yours truly).  Some of the shop windows featured were Joanna Woods, Appley Hoare, Daylesford Organic.  And the little neighborhood is "Pimlico Road".

But shhhhhhhh!!!!!!  We DON'T want EVERYBODY TO KNOW!


  1. lovely lovely post! always enjoy them. how is the cooking going? Kenza

  2. thanks for your kind wishes. have a lovely day! kenza

  3. hahaha i know exactly the road!
    bestfoods the corner shop charges 80p for a cadbury dairy milk, it's ridiculous! plus the farmers market on pimlico rd has the best bacon in SW1! and if you're lucky you may even see nicky haslam himself

    sorry, this post excited me a little bit. xxx

  4. I count on you to lend me legitimacy Barbara! I also heard that N. Lawson shops at the Sat. Farmers Market.