This morning I was up bright and early and off to Hyde Park Corner on my Cloud Blue Brompton. Of late I have been using my other two orange Brompton bicycles and thought it only fair I took it for an outing.
I arrived before the agreed 09:30 meeting time, the sun was shining and it was going to be a lovely day for it!
After saying hello to some of the usual suspects we followed Nick, our ride leader, for another of his themed London rides. I particularly like them as it is in London naturally but also because we cycle to locations I might have passed by and yet know nothing about
#1. John Simons. 46, Chiltern Street.
Our first location was an upmarket gentlemans outfitters. The window display offered a peek into what sort of clothing was on offer. My eyes were drawn to a rather expensive pair of suede shoes - offered in two colours - that screamed 1970's Geography Teacher. Now there is of course nothing wrong with this or that look but I personally wouldn't want to pay large sums of money to achieve it. Having a good look through the window (as you can probably guess) I took the view that I would not care for any of the the items offered for sale.
#2. Niwaki. 38, Chiltern Street.
Almost next door was our second shop, this one offering various Japanese tools for your home and garden. Certainly more upmarket than Homebase!
#3. V V Rouleaux. 102, Marylebone Lane.
As you can see in the photos, this shop is a supplier of all things ribbon. Dresses, no problem. Decorating your party, no problem. Pagan Maypole ribbon, probably no problem.
#4. John Bell and Croyden. 54, Wigmore Street.
This shop is essentially a rather posh version of Boots or Superdrug and has been around since 1798. I have only ever stepped inside there once. I had collected a newly strung tennis racket from Wigmore Sports across the road and sliced my finger open on one of the ends of a very sharp spring. I went inside to buy a plaster or two but the lady on the counter took charge and cleaned and bandaged my finger quite beautifully. Before I left she gave me a supply of bandages, just in case.
#5. Pollock's Toy Museum. 1, Scala Street.
This has been in its current location since 1969. I do remember going there when I was little, enjoying the James Bond, Aston Martin toy car from Goldfinger.
#6. Treadwell's. 33, Store Street.
This quite the bookshop, selling books on magic, the occult, spiritualism and witchcraft.
#7. Hobgoblin. 24, Rathbone Place.
This shop is another I have been to over the years. It sells a wide variety of musical instruments from around the world. I have bought a ukulele from them that I still own to this day.
Natalia in the photo below went inside (upon my insistence) to see what this instrument was.
#8. Reckless Records. 30 Brewer Street.
It was not that long ago that some of us who went on Charlie's album covers ride were at this very location. Reckless Records has been buying and selling vinyl and CDs since the early 1980s.
#9. I Camisa and Son. 61, Old Compton Street.
This billed as the first real Italian food store in London and goes as far back as 1929. I have to say that I am not 100% about that as I think, Terroni's in Clerkenwell goes back further.
# 10. Algerian Coffee. 52 Old Compton Street l00.
If you like coffee and tea (tea being my favourite) this is a rather good place to go if you want something a little different to the genetic high street outlets or supermarkets.
#11. Paxton and Whitfield. 93, Jermyn Street.
This rather fine establishment has been around for ages - in fact from 1894 in this location, They are the oldest cheesemongers in England and have two Royal Warrants. This is another shop I have used quite a bit and remember going there as a youngster with my mum. Well worth a visit and you can try before you buy and sample all sorts using their expert knowledge.
#12. Floris. 86, Jermyn Street.
Floris is the oldest perfumery in England and still family owned and run. In addition to being perfumers to the current Queen, past customer include Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming and Marilyn Monroe. There is little chance of buying a bottle of 'Brut 33' however I am sure they could make something that came close!
It was outside this shop that our ride leader Nick stoically carried on providing a history of Floris whilst competing with the sounding of a nearby church bell and shouts of 'louder' from certain participants.
#13. Farlows. 9 Pall Mall.
This is another shop I have been to in the past. In what seems like a former life, just before university, I worked in a bank not far away on Pall Mall East. The bank job was horrid and instead of lasting more or less up to the point I started university, I could only stomach it for five months. I remember nipping into Farlows as I wanted a replacement Barbour jacket for the one that I had had for years. They didn't have the one I wanted but I do remember them having a fly fishing display that I comically caught my trousers on and almost toppled over!
#14. Cecil Court.
Cecil Court is just off Charing Cross Road and is a rather interesting place to go to if you like books that are themselves interesting. Here you will find specialist bookshops that cater for one specific genre. Some cost less than £1 while others a fortune. In recent times I have to say that it has always given a Harry Potter vibe.
#15. Stanfords. 7, Mercer Walk.
Stanfords is a specialist travel and maps bookshop. Dating from 1854 is sells one of the largest quantity of maps and globes in the world. Another shop I have been to several times and I do remember going in there many years ago to get a few maps of Europe for an interrailing trip - does anyone still do that - and the lady in their was so helpful she pretty much planned out an incredible route on a main map for me.
#16. Ede & Ravenscroft. 93, Chancery Lane.
If you have ever graduated from a university in the past, you might have obtained your robes and motor board hat from this establishment. My daughter recently graduated and she got her robes about two hours before the ceremony. It was all really well organised and rather slick. I recall having to go to this establishment to get a fitting and take with me all wrapped up in brown paper. It was a bit of a chore, equally so taking it back!
#17. Amazon Web Services. 60, High Holborn.
This particular building had us all stumped and not a single person guessed what company might be based here.
#18. Coppermill Ltd. 118-122, Cheshire Street.
A very unassuming shopfront for a company that sells industrial cleaning rags and holds a royal warrant. Established in 1920 it has remained a family-run business.
#19. Blackman's Shoes. 46, Cheshire Street.
A family business that was the first shop in London to sell Dr Marten boots.
#20. Labour and Wait. 85, Redchurch Street.
This isn't an old shop but is of the rather hip and trendy variety. Inside you can buy all sorts of household items.
#21. Gleave and Co. 111-113 St. John Street.
A rather unique shop selling every part the discerning horologist might need. Established in 1948 is is still in the same family.
#22. Condor Cycles. 49-53 Grays Inn Road.
First opening its doors in 1948, Condor have been making some wonderful bicycles ever since. I own a Condor road bike and have visited the shop many times. It is a wonderful shop and once you buy one of their bicycles you are part of the club. It still stands as perhaps the most pleasurable buying experience I have ever had.
With our shop stops completed we headed back to Russell Square where some participants enjoyed some refreshments. I made my goodbyes and headed back. Another really interesting and enjoyable ride. I do like these London rides as they always provide locations that I might otherwise not know existed. Many thanks to Nick for leading the ride and providing a great route.
Until next time, stay safe out there people.