London Life Places

covent garden

April 10, 2012

While snapping pictures of the big egg hunt and realising that the sunny weather was going to disappear for the next few days, i made the most of hanging out in covent garden. An area close to my heart since i studied graphic design at central saint martins college of art & design back in the mid 80’s.

I went on a bit of a nolstalgic tour picking out places that stood the test of time while showing you around the area with some photos for pure inspiration. Let’s go.

This was the building in long acre i studied in, now sadly replaced by an h&m.

When i needed to escape from art college i went to the monmouth coffee shop in monmouth street which still exists and back then was my haven.

I loved nothing best than to go to the arthur beale shop to look for inspiration for college project work. A shop filled with everything nautical and everything that has to do with outfitting a sailing ship, sailboat or yacht. Hooks, cleats, stays and marlin spikes, the only metallurgy used is solid brass. It’s been around for over 100 years. A couple of years ago, when designing my terrace i used some of the yellow rope you see below.

Another favourite was freud, a design shop founded in 1986. They are now best known for their fans and their mackintosh furniture. Attached to the shop is the freud bar, a regular haunt for me back in the 80’s.

Then there’s neal’s yard remedies, a real revelation to me in my 20’s when i started to care about natural and organic products. They started life in 1981, with a focus on using natural herbs for health and beauty. Although i no longer use many of their products, i still turn to them from time to time and then feel transported back to my past.

And of course neal’s yard dairy, the wonderful cheese shop that was founded in 1979.

The following photo series is for inspiration and showcasing the vibrancy and different styles you’ll find in parts of covent garden.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of some parts of covent garden or at least got some colour or composition inspiration out of it.

Going down memory lane filled me with nostalgia. Any of you been recently feeling nostalgic?

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  • Reply Kelly Sparkes April 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

    It must have been fantastic to study at central saint martins.

    I really like the way you have painted a picture of yourself as a student wandering around these fantastic little places. The Arthur Beale shop looks like inspiration heaven.

    Such gorgeous colours combinations too, plenty of reasons to brave the tourists and on head down to Covent Garden!

    • Reply tina April 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Hello Kelly. Yes, enjoyed studying at central saint martins.

      If you get a chance go and visit Arthur Beale. It is rather unique:) Covent Garden is so nice. I never tire of it.

  • Reply Catherine Bedson April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Yes I also enjoyed your student days they were exciting times. Covent Garden is one of my favourite places in London, so vibrant and full of life.

    • Reply tina April 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      I LOVED my student days. Can you imagine my excitement as a 18-21 year old studying in the heart of Covent Garden? I thought I had arrived in life!!

      It is so vibrant that you find inspiration at every corner…. let me know when you’re next over x

      • Reply Catherine Bedson April 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm

        I can so imagine, when I was 21 I lived in London for a year and felt the same way, the last time I was there was the last World Cup and it was so exciting. Sure will let you know when I’m in London next. Catherine x

  • Reply Nicola April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Excellent photos as usual Tina, beautiful colours.

    I used to go to all these places too in the 80s, particularly Freuds, (obviously not the last place pictured as it wasn’t built ) we must have met before!

    Went to see the Conran exhibition at the Design Museum yesterday, that was a definite nostalgia trip, from then to today x

    • Reply tina April 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Maybe we met before? Do you think? I forgot to take a photo of Food for Thought, the other place I frequented regularly and still do… another institution.

      I’m convinced our paths have crossed… hmmm…. interesting.

      Do you know I still haven’t been to see the Conran exhibition but know that I will love the first Habitat catalogue and stuff like that. Will now put it in the diary for this weekend. Thanks for the reminder. x

  • Reply Toni April 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you for taking me down memory lane I really enjoyed it!

    • Reply tina April 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm

      you’re welcome….

  • Reply Holly April 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Oh Tina! This was such a special post – like walking right beside you though Covent Garden. How awesome! (Will have to get done in real life too!) I love seeing London through your eyes. The images are all so fantastic. I can feel you love your city.

    Big hugs! Xx.

    • Reply tina April 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      Can’t wait to show you all kind of cool stuff in London. Your eyes will pop!!

      I’m really in love with London and never tire of it, even after 31 years. That’s true love, right?

      Glad you’re back in Berlin, another fantastic city I’m in love with…. xx

  • Reply Theresa April 11, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I really enjoyed taking a quick trip down memory lane with you. I do love your snapshots of the city. I’m so envious that you and Annie can just step outside your door and have so much amazing architecture around you…Makes for great posts. 🙂 I am curious to know more about your graphic design studies. Were you a graphic designer at any point in your life and then decided to leave the profession and/or channel it in a different way? In hindsight, I wish I would have studied graphic design in school (instead of business).

    • Reply tina April 11, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      I hear you T and I think you have a point. It is much easier to go anywhere in London and have interesting material to blog about as architecture and culture is on every doorstep. However, Paul Smith says that ‘You can find inspiration everywhere” and I agree. I heard him speak once on this and he told the audience how walking in Covent Garden he would look down at the pavement and get inspired. It’s true and I think it’s in the way we look and see things.

      You do a pretty good job my dear and I find your blog truly inspiring!!

      I have a pretty non-traditional background. After my studies I got a job with an entrepreneur and was thrown into launching a product in various countries. That involved everything from design to commissioning illustrators, photographers, copywriters and getting into advertising. After that I felt I couldn’t start at the bottom of a design company so went into business. I suppose I was always torn between business and design and have always been trying to combine both. Throughout my career I’ve offered my services as a graphic designer and still do so to long standing clients only. For many years I’ve also worked as a business consultant specialising in family run businesses and the creative industries. For those clients I also offered my graphic design skills. Then I became more interested in lifestyle and interior design and started ‘colourliving.

      I think graphic design was a brilliant stepping stone into other areas of design and probably the most business orientated out of all design studies.

      It’s never too late for you to go and study. Business studies is a very valuable degree to have but you are very creative so I think you would benefit from a more design orientated course. Try some short courses to start with to see whether it’s right for you. I’ve dabbled in many short courses and that helped me to decide whether I wanted to take something further. Have a nice mini-break lovely. x

      • Reply Theresa April 13, 2012 at 11:27 pm

        Thank you so much for your response! I really do appreciate it. I’ve thrown around the idea of going back to school so much…Then I convince myself I’m too old, which I KNOW is ‘stupid’ thinking! You’re never too old to learn. I definitely like your idea of short courses to see if the discipline really suits me. (I’m going to make this happen.)
        Thank you also for the Paul Smith quote. It’s that little twist of perspective that we’ve talked about.
        I’ve had a nice (much-needed) break and I’m slowly easing myself back in. Have a great weekend, T!

  • Reply ursula (room to bloom) April 11, 2012 at 10:04 am

    A fab trip down memory lane Tina! I used to work on Monmouth street and noticed you missed out the fab kebab shop I used to get my lunch take-outs from ; ) But seriously, a fab area to mooch around. The chandlery makes awesome sails by the way – we have a pair to filter the light in our glass domed bedroom!

    • Reply tina April 11, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      What kebab shop on Monmouth Street? Is it still there? You know I’m a food snob:)

      Where did you work? I’m intrigued!

      I know. When you come on Friday I’ll show you how I used their rope to attach to a fabric on the terrace. Glass domed bedroom, eh???
      Waiting for an invite and to meet Alistair:)

  • Reply annie April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Isn’t it amazing that shops like Arthur Beale still survive in places like Shaftesbury Avenue? Like all those strange old bookshops, you do wonder who buys things in there. Neal’s Yard is so un-covent garden, always feelsl ike it should be in Camden. I love the big cheese outside. What do you think of St Giles’ Piazza? I really like it but I imagine a lot of people hate it. That was such a weird wasteland there though wasn’t it?

    Covent Garden at 9am on a Saturday mroning is one of my favourite places in London. AFter 11am forget it!

    Lovely photos Tina x

    • Reply tina April 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

      Well, talking about bookshops. On Charing Cross Road there were the most brilliant bookshops which have now slowly but surely disappeared. I was devastated how one by one closed down. Have you ever read ’84 Charing Cross Road’ or seen the film with Ann Bancroft? A real gem!

      I prefer Neal’s Yard to Camden but I know what you mean. It’s definitely similar.

      I love the coloured buildings in St G Piazza. I think they really work and enjoyed watching them being build. It was a waste land and at least now it has a little character. What I love most about London is the juxtaposition of areas vs architecture.. it’s a mishmash but somehow it works, a little like the multicultural communities. It’s a hotpot and yet that what makes it exciting and totally unique.

      I’m probably 2-3 times a week in Covent Garden so never need to get there on a Saturday morning when I’m food shopping over at Maltby Street.
      Have you tried Scoop ice cream? My friend Matteo makes it and it’s heaven on earth.


  • Reply Igor April 12, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Oh Tina, what fabulous colours!! Love your eye for detail and colours! Oh and I miss London big time. Think it’s time to plan my next trip:-)

    • Reply tina April 12, 2012 at 12:30 am

      Thanks Igor. You know the Vespa ride is waiting for you:)

  • Reply Sophie April 18, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Lovely photos Tina – it’s great to see London through your eyes, you pick out such interesting details!

    I’m keen to pop into the Freud in London, i’ve never been. The people that own it have one in Oxford too and they put on some really interesting events and exhibitions. It’s in an old Greek Orthodox Church. I was thinking about organising an Oxford bloggers meet-up at some point – if peeps are willing to travel out of London for it and I thought this might be a fun venue.


    • Reply tina April 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks Sophie,

      Freud in London is not that big or great. It’s a drinking hole. The Oxford version sounds much better and as I’m writing this I’m having a deja vue. I’m sure I’ve been there before.

      I think your idea of organising an Oxford Bloggers meet up is excellent. I will certainly try my best to get to it. x

  • Reply Sophie April 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Ah fair enough. The one in Oxford is quite big, being that it’s in quite a large (once grand now a little rough around the edges) old church building. It’s pretty interesting architecture – being Greek orthodox it has a temple facade with huge columns, not something you expect to stumble upon in Oxford. Does that ring any bells?

    I’ll have a think about when and maybe suggest a date for early Summer x

    • Reply tina April 19, 2012 at 12:14 am

      I’m sure I’ve been in there because it was so strange to have coffee and food in a church like that…

      Early summer is good. Weren’t we going on a day away??

      Thank you for not making me reply to the third one xxx

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