Hola! Hope you're smiling :)
Since I had always only walked up and down Piccadilly and we were getting late for the lunch recital at 1.10 pm, Catharine and I thought it’s best to take a bus. I thought of Feroze and the countless times we wanted to take a bus but decided to walk.
Here was one thing in London that Catharine didn’t know about but I did and I guided her to. The St James Church at Piccadilly is interesting, there’s often a mood of a carnival at the Church with a variety of stalls on its campus – summer had vintage clothing and jewellery stalls and it seemed like there was now a Christmas market.
From the Church’s website I learnt that the Piccadilly market is always held in the courtyard of St. James Church. From the website: “The market runs from Monday to Saturday each week, selling a diverse range of food, gifts and other treasures. Many of our regular traders travel abroad to source their goods direct from as far afield as Tibet, India, Egypt and Africa.”
While on the bus, I pointed to the Church and told Catharine that we must get off. Catharine couldn’t see out of the bus so I assured her that that was St James Church.
We reached just in time for the recital.
For a huge admirer of Western Classical Music, for someone wakes up to Vivaldi every mornings and goes to bed listening to Brahms, Chopin and Beethoven and during the day doesn’t miss reading the Composer’s Datebook – going to a concert in London, with music students from the Royal College of Music is a very special experience.
This lunchtime concert was free but there was a suggested donation of three pounds. The musicians Benjamin Carré and Francesco Ionascu played Beethoven’s compositions beautifully. I was overwhelmed with the moment of beautiful music in a historical church that first opened its gates in 1684. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren who rebuilt all of London’s 52 churches after the great fire of 1666 destroyed them all, and who also designed the St.Paul’s Cathedral. William Blake was baptized here!
Listening to Beethoven’s notes brought to life by these young musicians, I noticed the pin-drop silence and intense attention from the largely elderly crowd, Catharine and I were perhaps the youngest of the audience. The church was warm, sun rays breaking in through its old, high windows. The church was directly bombed in the war in October 1940, pictures of which are on the website.
After the recital, we checked out the church’s merchandise shop inside the church – it’s lovely cards and Christmas gifts. Next, my friend and I went around the Piccadilly Christmas Market in courtyard. I bought a small bar of fruit nougat from a nougat seller who had at least a 100 varieties of sweets, mostly nougat and fudge. There were stalls of lovely, interesting jewellery. I was very happy to find a tea stall at the market from where I bought ‘Christmas Tea’ for my hosts in Belgium.
I would be in Brussels in ten days. When I asked my Couchsurfing host if I could bring him anything from India, he said some tea would be nice in the cold Belgian winter. I couldn’t get any tea from India as I was already in Jeddah by the time I got Wannes’ message. So I got a bag of ‘Christmas Tea’ with spices and chocolate, the aroma of the tea was quintessentially Christmassy.
After the purchase, we decided to walk around Piccadilly and take a picture outside Selfridges for a friend, another lover of London who loves this shopping mall as her hero Shah Rukh Khan calls it his favourite place in London.
Before reaching Selfridges, Catharine spotted a huge toy store which she said I must check out. It truly was a wonderland, a very happy place with kids and grown-ups all busy with their Christmas shopping. I bought nothing from the store only because it was hard to pick one. The store was like a live circus ring with clowns, jugglers, over grown stuffed animals and the store staff whose energy levels peaked through the roof. I loved the demo of ‘Magic Colours’ by a young man who seemed to be in great love with the product, these magic pens that give different colours, it was a pleasure watching him play with these pens. I remember being very impressed with the Lego royalty.
The streets of London around Piccadilly are always full of life but December must be really special with Christmas discounts and decorations in every corner, people with large and full shopping bags, and men and women in their most fashionable winter clothing. The Christmas lights! It was only December 05 yet the Christmas lights had already set in the festive mood. It was all just as I had imagined – bright, lovely and festive.
Soon we were at Selfridges, we just needed a picture. This one.
Right after, we hopped on a bug – I couldn’t contain my excitement and can’t describe the thrill – we were going to find Charles Lamb’s bust on Giltspur Street.