My last day in London is always fraught. It’s when I invariably rush around trying to buy an extra suitcase because I realize I have done way too big a Tesco’s shop (angmoh version of Fairprice but better value) but this time my panic was arrested – or maybe amplified – mid hand flap by the chance to meet the legendary illustrator (and latterly, author) that is Sir Quentin Blake. Where to buy a squashy overflow suitcase was pushed momentarily to one side.
I threw myself on the train to get from Barnes where I was staying with Sis, to Chris Beetles Gallery, tucked away just behind Jermyn Street where QB was busy signing books to support his current exhibition there.
Having grown up on Roald Dahl books as a child I vicariously devoured Quentin Blake’s quirky accompanying illustrations. He’s mainstream now, predominantly thanks to Dahl’s success, but has held on to his jagged, spiky, one-of-a kind-integrity, usually softened with messy sploshes of watercolour.
Needless to say, he was charming and didn’t look at all like one of his drawings – I had imagined a pointy nose and wilder eyes.
There was then a burst of the sort of practical shopping I hate doing; shopping for skiwear. We are off in January to the most low-key resort I think there is (Serre Chevalier in France) and it made sense to spend a few hours kitting out whilst in London; I haven’t been skiing for about eight years.
Ellis Brigham in Covent Garden to the rescue who have excellent service and seem to carry every conceivable brand. You can even get ski boot moulds made to fit your feet perfectly (above having my fitting) which can then be put into your own boots or into a pair of rental ones to ensure an almost perfect fit.
Dinner was at the London private member’s club Home House, where I also spent the night. On the way there we caught a glimpse of Selfridges decked out in all its Christmas glory
I loved their biscuit-based Tate & Lyle window showing a vision of London’s lost and un-built architecture, all entirely reconstructed from gingerbread. A testament to design, baking and Christmases past and future.
Home House was idiosyncratic elegance personified. Occupying two discrete adjoining Georgian townhouses (main picture at the very top of the page) on the corner of Portman Square, I loved its blend of OTT trad, clubby stuffiness; just look at the architecture and stucco mouldings, not to mention the cantilever staircase right down to the lace-clad lamps in the drawing room…
…all of which contrasted beautifully with the hip vibe that permeates the place. There’s a part of Home House set up for DJ decks and proper partying; here’s the main bar (below) and I loved the glittering suspended drum set that you pass en-route
Food was incredible. I ate lobster linguine in the formal dining room with its floor-to-ceiling windows swathed in swags of mustard yellow silk. It was in fact so good it’s somewhere I’d come back to in a heart beat, even if I wasn’t staying, just so I could order it all over again.
I also particularly liked their view of what a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary is:
Next stop: Singapore
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory illustration by Quentin Blake is courtesy of the BBC
Exterior shot of Home House courtesy of Dolce Sposa