Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Antiquing in Covent Garden
The Covent Garden and "Tottenham Court Road" flower markets of My Fair Lady, where early risers have a chance to horde mass quantities of flowers and produce at wholesale prices (for those American readers, think the original Costco but open air and *much* earlier), has been moved to a place by Vauxhall south of the river.
The old Covent Garden has been transformed into the drinks and reception area of the Royal Opera House - a glorious Victorian glass and wrought iron bit of architecture. A new "market" has been constructed nearby, complete with over-priced shops and an over-picked flea market full of goods made in China for the tourists.
However, there are a few lovely things remaining about Covent Garden which I still very much enjoy. They are as follows:
1) Antique market Mondays. The China-made t-shirts and beaded necklaces are replaced on Monday with stall after stall of antique dealers with low-priced gems, including silver-plated salt spoons, tea sifters, chess sets, rare books (a 1920s beautifully illustrated edition of Aesop's Fables), hand-painted mirrors, vintage trunks and clothes, china, and jewelry from the Victorian era all the way up through the 1970s, including the clocks on necklace chains and Wedgewood brooches pictured above. I purchased a silver-plated (herbal) tea sifter for 5 pounds yesterday.
2) Opera in a hole. There are several free performances at Covent Gardens - all going on at once. The token knife-throwing, unicycling juggler, the odd busker (a very nice name for a traditional amateur street performer), and the opera singer or chamber quartet in a sunken portion of the market, perfect for classical music acoustics. I can do without the juggler who makes you clap every 30 seconds, but many artists are "discovered" by performing in the sunken portion of the market, and they produce what I like to call real music. The have recorded accompaniment, CDs for purchase, and sing lovely favorites in soprano range.
3) Surrounding shops. I am an herbal tea fanatic, and I love coming for my favorite brews at the Tea Palace (wonderful Tisane selection), the Tea House (very cheap, again all loose-leaf), and the standard Whittard in Covent Garden is beginning to make their own brews. I also discovered Cyber Candy on Garrick street yesterday, which provides treats from around the world, and the Australian shop on Henrietta Street (finally got the chicken salt I've been craving since my mission to Sydney). Another favorite is Neal's Yard Dairy, the Neal's Yard cafe (predictably, in and around Neal's Yard), and Scoops, an absolutely amazing ice cream shop straight from the pearly gates, on Shorts Gardens. I'm sure there are more waiting to be discovered on my next outing there.
at 1:41:00 AM