From the busy intersection of Regent & Oxford street, we took the tube from Oxford Circus to Aldgate East headed to Brick Lane for lunch in one of the many halal cafes.
Brick Lane is a well-known street in East London. It is the hub of London’s Bangladeshi community and is known to some as ‘Banglatown’. It is also famous for it’s authentic curry restaurants.
In the yesteryear’s, ‘Jack the Ripper’ is known to have operated on the side streets of Hanbury and Fournier Streets, off Brick Lane.
A simple metal arch welcomes you to Brick Lane.
The narrow street of Brick Lane only caters for one way traffic.
A typical stretch of Brick Lane.
A supermarket along Brick Lane. Note the license plate of the Range Rover.
‘Banglatown’ cash & carry caters for the 30% of Brick Lane Bangladeshi community.
Brick Lane is world-renowned for its street arts. The side streets create an extensive gallery of eye-popping street art to explore. The area is alive with art.
Street art in one of the back lane.
An art work along ‘Fournier Street’.
Followings are street art captured along Hanbury Street where you’ll find plenty of them. These art aren’t permanent as it may be whitewashed and painted over with a new one. A work seen today may not be there when you come again. Thus what you see in Google streetview may not survive for your future planned visit.
At the intersection of Brick Lane & Hanbury, a wall gets a new artwork over the old.
Just beside the wall undergoing repainting above.
A much photographed street art along ‘Hanbury Street’. Due to it’s large-scale and being off the ground, it has survived for a long time.
Take a few steps backwards and another work (gorilla) comes into frame.
Another work along Hanbury Street, across ‘Banglatown’ cash & carry.
An art work at an entrance gate.
Street art on the walls of ‘Banglatown’ cash & carry.
To the right, another work on the walls of ‘Banglatown’ cash & carry.
Art on the shutters of a restaurant.
Agreed, what the sign says.
Attractive colored door and windows along ‘Princelet Street’ heading towards Old Spitafields Market.
Several markets are in Brick Lane namely the ‘Old Spitafields Market’, ‘Boiler House Food Hall’, ‘Tea Rooms’, ‘Backyard Market’, ‘Sunday UpMarket’, and the ‘Vintage Market’. The best day to visit Brick Lane markets is on Sundays where there will be a large flea market with people hawking their second-hand wares selling everything from antiques, handmade clothing, accessories, jewellery, music, arts and crafts along with street food.
Old Spitalfields Market is a covered market built in 1876. It is one of the surviving Victorian Market Halls in London and you’ll find daily fashion and vintage stalls with restaurants and boutiques. Having had lunch, we just strolled around for a look-see before exiting.
One of the several entrances to Old Spitalfields Market.
The interior with plenty of cafes.
Modern facilities around.
The Brick Lane Jamme Masjid (Brick Lane Mosque) built in 1743, has functioned as a chapel, a church, a Synagogue and as a mosque since 1976. We took the opportunity to perform our midday prayers at the Brick Lane Mosque. The mosque is well maintained, with modern ablution facility and fully carpeted prayer hall.
Visiting London 3 years in a row, we’ve covered many of the main attractions in our must visit list. This year, we’ll visit some of the attractions we’ve listed previous years but never got to see. First place on our list today is a visit north of Trafalgar Square, to Brydges Place an alley that is supposedly to be London’s narrowest.
An alley is a narrow lane, path, or passageway, often for pedestrian use, running behind or between buildings typically used as a rear access or service road. Brydges Place runs for 200 yards and connects St Martin’s Lane to Bedfordbury end-to-end and becomes a handy shortcut for those who know. Although it has been said that the narrowest part of the alley is 15″ apart, I can attest that it isn’t. The narrowest point is the entrance via St Martin’s Lane and one can comfortably walk through with inches to spare on each side.
The entrance to ‘Brydges Place’ on Bedfordbury sandwiched between ‘The Marquis’ pub and ‘Thai Pot’ cafe.
The street sign confirms.
Looking towards the other end (St Martin’s Lane) 200 yards away.
The narrowest alley is a public highway.
Approaching the end looking towards St Martin’s Lane. Around this point, the stench of urine is present.
The western entrance fronting St Martin’s Lane is sandwiched between the ‘Coliseum Theatre’ and ‘Notes’ coffee shop.
So where is Brydges Place ?
You’ll pass by ‘Harp’ pub if you approach Brydges Place via Bedfordbury.
Exiting Brydges Place at Coliseum theatre, turn left and walk a short distance to Trafalgar Square. As we were early, crowds were building outside the National Gallery waiting for it’s door to open. Across the Gallery is Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s Column at the far end and across the roundabout you’ll see Admiralty Arch and walking along the Mall, will take you to Buckingham Palace. To complement London’s narrowest alley, Britain’s smallest police station is at one end of Trafalgar Square. Read our earlier post to find where.
The National Gallery. Visitors waiting for the doors to open.
Nelson’s Column rises above Trafalgar Square.
Admiralty Arch across Trafalgar Square. The archway entrance to the Mall will lead to Buckingham Palace at the other end.
Traffic congestion in-front of Trafalgar Square requiring ‘bobbies’ to control.
From Trafalgar Square we took a bus headed towards Regent Street. Passing Piccadilly Circus, we noticed the electronic advertising board was still out of commission for upgrading works. Piccadilly Circus whether night or day is busy with hives of activities.
Piccadilly Circus with the electronic advertising board still switched off for upgrades. It should be on by the time you read this.
Regent Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London that connects Piccadilly Circus with Oxford Street. Regent street is packed full of shops and is more upscale than Oxford Street. It is one of the world’s most prestigious shopping and lifestyle destinations, home to more than 75 international flagship stores as well as British brands. Hamleys, the toy store and Liberty, the fashion brand, are two British examples. It is a busy place with an estimate of more than 70 million visitors coming to shop, relax and dine along Regent Street annually.
On the eve of the Wembley contest between the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus becomes a traffic-free street for American football fans. It hosts football festival, features interactive games, on-stage performances and appearances, merchandise and much more, hence the NFL buntings along Regent Street.
The NFL buntings up on Regents Street.
British & American flags along Regent Street.
High end shopping along Regent Street.
The intersection of Regent Street & Oxford Street. The stairs to Oxford Circus underground on the right. This is early October, no where near Christmas yet.
Right on Regent Street is Hamleys, established in 1760, is the oldest and largest toy store in the world. This flagship store is set over seven floors covering 54,000 square feet with more than 50,000 lines of toys including computer games, plush toys, gadgets, classic games and specialist collector areas on sale. Each floor caters for different categories of toy. Hamleys provides the ultimate play experience for children and took an hour of our adult time just browsing the store. It is considered one of London’s prominent tourist attractions, receiving around five million visitors a year.
Hamleys, London. Credit: thesun.co.uk
Display in Hamleys.
‘Hornby’ train set display.
Stacks of ‘Hot Wheels’ to choose from.
The Queen constructed of ‘Lego’.
Carnaby Street is a pedestrian shopping street located behind Hamleys. It is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers including large numbers of independent fashion boutiques catering more to the taste of youngsters. It’s a short 3 minute walk from Oxford Circus underground station. The 14 streets at Carnaby accommodate over 100 shops with 60 places to eat and drink. Carnaby was once famous for it’s history of the mod and hippie followers during the swinging 60s and became the epicenter of London’s counterculture scene.
Welcome to Carnaby Street.
Shopping street for hipsters.
Busy, busy Carnaby Street.
Off Regent Street, on Great Marlborough Street, is Liberty London. This is a beautiful Tudor building department store with wooden paneling inside. Liberty spreads over 5 floors selling luxury women’s, men’s and children’s attire, cosmetics, fragrances, jewellery, accessories, among others. Liberty is also particularly well-known for their floral and graphic prints. Prices at liberty are rather steep but did not dither my wife from acquiring 4 metres of fabric.
Start of our 2nd day in London, we are off to Primark at 499, Oxford Street. What’s peculiar is Primark opens for business as early as 8.00 a.m. We’re not shopaholic to come early but to beat the maddening crowd during the later hours as what we had experienced the previous years.
Nice to note Primark has a return or refund policy within 28 days of purchase. The return or refund can be made from any of their branches. This means, purchase made in Edinburgh can be returned or refunded in London. Foreigners who are entitled for VAT refund, bundle all your purchase receipts and get it done from any of Primark’s branches irrespective of which branch the purchase has been made.
Primark at the ever ‘busy’ Oxford Street at 8 a.m. Try photographing this location at 4.00 p.m.
Once shopping done, we took a bus in-front of Primark and headed to Italian Water Gardens located within Kensington Gardens. We got off at the bus stop on Bayswater Road opposite Lancaster Gate tube station. One of the entrance gates into the garden, is just by the bus stop. Unlike Hyde Park, the Italian Water Gardens is gated and opens at 6.00 a.m. and closes at varying times according to the season.
Entrance into Italian Water Gardens via Bayswater Road. The Lancaster Gate tube station is directly opposite.
Park map of Kensington Gardens.
The Kensington Gardens where the Italian Water Gardens is located, was part of Kensington Palace in the past. It was built 150 years ago as a gift to Queen Victoria from Prince Albert. The park covers an area of 270 acres and is located to the west of Hyde Park. The main attraction is the fountains and its quiet surrounding even though Bayswater Road is a stone’s throw away. From here, we can see from a distance, the Speke Monument.
The Italian Water Gardens with it’s fountains running.
The fountain pump house and In the background, the ‘Royal Lancaster London Hotel’.
The white marble Tazza Fountain.
The pump house viewed from across the garden.
Autumn leaves evident at Kensington Gardens.
Speke Monument in the distance.
Back on the bus heading towards Shepherd’s Bush, we got off at Notting Hill Gate (stop N, about 4 stops away) just before the tube station. Walk ahead and turn left for Kensington Church street. About 80 metres to your right across the road, you’ll find ‘The Churchill Arms’. The whole building is almost entirely covered with colourful flowers, even in Autumn. This is a favorite photo spot not to be missed.
A London bus passing by ‘The Churchill Arms’.
Entrance fronting Kensington Church street.
Closer view of the entrance.
Blooming flowers in Autumn. It would be a riot of bright colours in spring. This entrance is fronting Campden Street.
The dual frontage at the junction of Kensington Church street and Campden street.
Winston Churchill intensely looking at you.
Back again on the bus, we headed to Shepherd’s Bush getting off at Shepherd’s Bush Road bus stop ‘J’ on Goldhawk Road. Along this road, there are tons of textile stores if you are looking for fabric. A little further up is Goldhawk Road tube station and across the road is Shepherd’s Bush market. We’ve been here in 2016 and as written in our previous post, it’s just an everyday market. If you are short of time, you would not miss much if this market is not in your itinerary. Our main intention getting here is to have lunch at one of the restaurants at the other end of the market besides Shepherd’s Bush market tube station and to perform our midday prayers at a nearby mosque.
Welcome to Shepherd’s Bush market.
Begs & children clothings.
Pillows & kitchen utensils.
Purses, begs, luggages & in between.
Varieties of souvenirs.
London begs @ £1.50 each.
Cheap fridge magnets @ £1 each.
After lunch, it’s a 300 metres walk from the other end of the market to Shepherd’s Bush mosque. The mosque is located in between shop lots at 302, Uxbridge Road. The female prayer hall is upstairs whilst the male downstairs. There was a big congregation for the midday ‘Zohor’ prayers full to the brim at the male prayer hall.
Main entrance into Shepherd’s Bush mosque.
Women prayer hall upstairs.
Male prayer hall. Main entrance at the far end.
Male prayer hall.
After prayers it’s back on the bus heading to Westfield London, a huge shopping mall close to Shepherd’s Bush tube station. Don’t be confused with Shepherd’s Bush Market tube station which is ½ mile away. At Westfield, you’ll find all the big brand names. Westfield is where most Londoners shop, not at Oxford Street where it’s flooded with tourist. Although you can find big brand names along Regent’s Street, Westfield offers the convenience of everything under one roof.
Westfield London located close-by Shepherd’s Bush tube station & bus stop.
Westfield London shopping mall.
Overview of a section of Westfield.
A favorite store for the youngsters.
A small section inside Debenhams with items on sale brought in the crowds.
For the sports addicts, Sports Direct.
Multi floors House of Fraser.
.Penang!, a halal Malaysian restaurant outside Westfield opposite House of Fraser.