May Fair


Incessant rain had hammered down for 24 hours after the family left yesterday. It was not until mid afternoon that we could go outside to survey the damage and stake up the taller plants like


these nicotiana sylvestris that had been beaten and weighed down.

Gladioli Priscilla

Some, such as the Priscilla gladioli, had been broken off completely. Becky made their  vase  more than 20 years ago.

In the meantime, I scanned another dozen slides from May 2004 in my Streets of London Series.

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During that time I regularly walked past Murray Road NW1 on my way to visit a foster home in North London. The maroon concrete planters were part of the London Borough of Camden’s efforts to brighten up the streets.

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Essie Carpets, at 64 Piccadilly, on the corner of Albemarle Street, W1, sells Persian and Oriental rugs of allegedly superior quality. Never having been able to contemplate such luxuries I am unable to confirm this from my own experience.

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Crossing Piccadilly and walking through Piccadilly Arcade, one comes face face with Beau Brummell, that famous Regency dandy about whom Wikipedia has this entry:

The sculpture was made by Irene Sedlecka in 2002.

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The next three photographs were made in a district which came to National consciousness in the 1980s when ‘the deputy Conservative Party chairman and author Jeffrey Archer met the prostitute Monica Coghlan‘ This last phrase and the next three paragraphs are slightly edited extracts from Wikipedia.

‘Shepherd Market is a small square in the Mayfair area of central London, developed in 1735-46 by Edward Shepherd on the open ground then used for the annual May fair from which Mayfair gets its name. It is located between Piccadilly and Curzon Street and has a village-like atmosphere. The area was called Brook Field, through which flowed the Tyburn. It contained paved alleys, a duck pond, and a two-storey market topped by a theatre.[3]

During the 1920s, Shepherd Market was a run down area, popular with writers and artists such as Michael Arlen and Sophie Fedorovitch.[4] Arlen rented rooms opposite The Grapes public house and used Shepherd Market as the setting for his best-selling 1924 novel The Green Hat, which prompted Anthony Powell to move into the area in 1926.[5]

It has been associated with upmarket prostitutes since the eighteenth century.[2] When Olivia Manning and her husband Reggie Smith lived at 50a, she found the prostitutes “fascinating”.[6]

Jeffrey Archer once cajoled thousands of pounds from guests at a Charity Dinner auction on behalf of Parents for Children Adoption Society during my period of Chairmanship.

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I assume the driver of this police car alongside Chesterfield Street, still in Mayfair, was seeking directions from a colleague.

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Hay’s Mews still contains some of the original converted stable buildings.

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Around one corner is Waverton Street;

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 Balfour Mews

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and Rex Place run into S. Audley Street where services are still held in the 18th century Anglican Grosvenor Chapel.

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This young man must have taken his life in his hands as he crossed Park Lane and straddled the stride-stretching barrier to reach this strip of grass. And he could manage to sit cross-legged afterwards.

This evening Jackie collected our dinner from the garrulous Mr Chatty Man Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away. Dessert was treacle tart and ice cream. We both drank Kingfisher


  1. To those who dedicate themselves to public service (including ladies of the evening): Thank you. You are the reason there is still light left in this world. 🙂

  2. I note the elegant bronze statue cast in honour of Beau Brummell – who would likely have been most pleased that his contribution to a better world has been recognised appropriately. 🙂

  3. Glad to see our national flower, Dame Edna’s gladies (it’s a word, an Australian word, spell check!). I love Becky’s vase; here I am still trying to get past the pinched pot.

    Thanks for the time travel – I would say more but as often happens, I am having a “mot failure”.

    1. I was eyeing them off (the gladies) at my local street market a couple of Fridays back, but I haven’t a vase tall enough to do them justice. Perhaps we should call on Becky’s design creations? I settled on lilies and daisies, which turned out not to be a good visual mix. But the daisies are still going two (and a half) weeks later. Meantime, I have replaced the lilies. $4.99 at Aldi for three stems!!! Seriously, at that price – would you be bothered growing them yourself? BTW Mary, I wish to grow some geraniums in a planter box for my 5 floor up, ocean facing and very windy balcony, location Wollongong. Possible? When should I plant? Seeds or small plants? Any advice welcome. I am SO NOT a green thumb!
      cheers Gwen

      1. Hi Gwen, Wind is a challenge for many plants but anything is possible 🙂 Geraniums are hardy but they tend to be a bit leggy so you may need to mass plant them fairly tightly so they can support each other. I favour smaller plants – geraniums are easy to strike from cuttings so if you can ask around for them. If you were in Sydney I would be happy to give you some 🙂 Here’s an article that you may find useful:

        1. Thanks Mary. I’ve printed that article as there seems to be some good tips in there. I’ll put the word out for cuttings. Alternatively, I could buy one plant at a nursery and take cuttings from that. I’m not much of a gardener – I have seen your ABC TV feature by the way! – but where there’s a will . . .

  4. Again an informative and inspirational stroll through the streets. Did Le Boudin Blanc also serve boudin noir? I always think of the latter as France’s answer to English black pudding. Priscilla and Becky do each other proud….

  5. I hope the rain has stopped there. Thank you for the fascinating tour, including the Beau Brummel statue. He does look quite the dandy.
    Hope you enjoyed Mr. Chatty Man Chan’s creations. 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Merril. I remember Beau Brummel being installed – only a couple of years before I photographed him. The meal was as good as ever, and there is enough for tonight, too. 🙂

  6. Having only just visited London this month, it was nice to catch these additional views. I covet the beautiful and interesting architecture of almost every building. It’s so boring when we returned home as our city is merely one century old.

  7. That’s an astonishing looking building near Waverton Street. Is it a school? Amazing architecture.
    I approve heartily of your dessert. 🙂

  8. Love the Glads Derrick and the walk through the city. It didn’t look like the rains did too much damage, we are back in the cycle of no rain and temps in the 100’s – too hot for even the toughest plants.

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