Birthdays Exploring Family

When in London


While Elma and I soaked up BritMums day 2, H and Kitty toured London, taking in the London Aquarium and all the singing and dancing a little girl could want at the Trafalgar Square extravaganza before ending up back at the hotel for a desperately needed nap.

Brick Lane

And on Sunday morning, before heading home, we loaded up and set off for Brick Lane for H to have a little birthday spree in an art materials warehouse. I’m not a painter, but even as a mere mortal I thought it was amazing; aisle upon aisle of beautiful colours, all ever so slightly different and in every medium you could ask for; racks of canvases, piles of stretcher bars and all along one wall, giant rolls of cotton duck, linen, jute and anything else you could ever think of wanting to paint on. It’s H’s equivalent of a really good yarn shop.

Brick Lane art

I’d been pretty parsimonious with the packing but even so, bits and bobs for four people, plus BritMums¬†goodie bags adds up to a decent load. Every inch of space in that buggy basket had a little something squirreled away into it, all tucked in with my waterproof and Elma’s baby quilt to stop it escaping, the nappy bag strained at the handlebar and my Warner Bros bag, carrying the vital cargo of Cinderella, half a bunch of bananas and a big green and yellow dinosaur, was slung from the cross bar from where it handily impeded the foot brake.

But we like a challenge, and I always did enjoy Tetris. So of course naturally we added metre long stretcher bars, canvas and a handful of paints.

I have no idea quite where we found that extra space, but you can start to see why people were quite keen to get out of our way. I mean I know we call it the chariot, and I know London crowds can be a bit much some times, but I wasn’t actually planning on mounting shin height spears as a solution.

It totally worked though.

And I don’t think we hit anyone!

Brick Lane itself is a real treat from a photography perspective. When we arrived it was still quite early and only the pervading smell of spices gave a clue as to what could emerge from behind those shutters. But they’re worth seeing in themselves; there’s street art everywhere, much of it really beautifully done on spare walls.

Brick Lane art

Brick Lane art


And as we made our way out of the art warehouse we found it had started to come to life. The shops and stalls were open, the masses were gathering and the Truman Brewery markets were in full swing in a riot of colour and enticing smells.

Brick Lane

Brick Lane

Brick Lane


We resisted manfully until we found this little ice-cream cart,

Brick Lane ice cream

and when I read the list of flavours I knew that if they even tasted half as good as they sounded we were sunk:

Salted Caramel

Basil and Chili

Dark Chocolate Sorbet


Honey and Rosemary


Kitty chose a scoop of Salted Caramel and the lovely guy running the cart was sweet enough to replace it when it met the gutter rather sooner than its tiny owner had intended, and I devoted my attention to a scoop of Pistachio nestling on a scoop of Honey and Rosemary.

Brick Lane ice cream

The first was the most pistachioey pistachio gelato I’ve tasted; no food colouring here, this is the colour of a gazillion nuts in each scoop. And then to follow, creamy sweetness with a little spike of rosemary to balance out the honey.

Mmm, ice cream heaven; the perfect note on which to end a great weekend.

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