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Dr John Hawkins

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Gentleman's Day Out

Posted on 2010/05/23 10:09:55 (May 2010).

[Saturday 15th May 2010]
I was in the mood for a very Gentlemanly day out today, so I donned my tweed jacket - hopefully the last time this would be warranted before the summer started in earnest (it had certainly seemed like it was still a way off this week) - and headed for St. James's. I took a leisurely stroll through St. James's Park to get there, which was all very nice.

Started off with a spot of shopping on my favourite Jermyn Street, and bought some new shirts at Harvie and Hudson. It's probably my favourite shop for shirts - wonderfully traditional.

Then lunch beckoned, and I chose to dine at the Fountain Restaurant at Fortnum and Mason - which, being at the back of F&M, conveniently faces out onto Jermyn Street. Surprisingly enough they had a copy of the Guardian to hand there, so I sat and read that whilst waiting for my food to arrive - a notion which rather appealed to me given what I assume to be the typical political leanings of the regular clientele here. That said, given that the Guardian had been backing the Lib Dems in the run up to the election, and what with the new coalition, perhaps the Guardian is suddenly no longer considered the preserve of the loony left?

Anyway, I started lunch with a spring salad (including sprouting broccoli - an interesting salad ingredient - and the excellent Berkswell cheese), then for a main had a mushroom and chestnut risotto. I was willing to forgive the slightly unimaginative vegetarian option as the addition of chestnuts was an interesting touch. Finished with an espresso - in addition to their famous teas, Fortnum and Mason also sell very good coffee - and whilst consistency-wise this may not have been the best espresso I've ever had, it was certainly very fragrant.

I didn't really have anything planned after that: went for a brief wander around the Food Hall in Fortnum and Mason, and then headed out onto Piccadilly. Luckily just over the road was the Royal Academy of Arts, and one of their posters caught my eye - an exhibit called "Relics of old London: Photography and the spirit of the city". This was a small exhibition of early photographs (1870s and 1880s) of London, taken of buildings which at the time were already considered to be of historical importance and/or in danger of being lost. I found it absolutely enthralling, and spent several minutes on every image. I really like the notion that the idea of "harkening back to a simpler time" is in itself nothing new, the Victorians had the same warm sense of nostalgia for things from earlier eras that we now have for all things Victorian.

Did a bit more wandering about and shopping after that - bought some chocolate for Chie at Jef de Bruges, which I'd heard was supposed to be good - before eventually heading back home.

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