We started our trail in the Market Hall of Covent Garden. This is always a favourite haunt of ours when we come to
. Although I cannot profess to be a keen shopper, even I am interested in the shops here as it is possible to find things that you wouldn’t otherwise see anywhere. I even profess to finding things I never knew I needed! The market was, as usual, buzzing with people looking around the market stalls and enjoying the street entertainment. Most attention was on a magician and these types of act do seem to be particularly popular on the street. London
Inside the hall the most delicious smells were wafting past our noses as the food vendors vied for our business. Despite the aromas of German sausages, paella and deep fried delicacies we stayed strong and began our mission to find the 13 mascots on this particular route. Lunch would have to wait, at least until we had made some progress as after all, it was still only 11am!
We didn’t have to venture far to find the first two mascots (see the entry for the
Green Route for a full explanation of what they are and why they are here). We had one of each mascot in the Market Hall at each end of the building. Mandeville was a flower seller (which used to proliferate here, but which seem to be fewer in number these days), while Wenlock was painted up as a tourist (which seem to have increased in number).
Our route took us east of the Market Hall towards the Theatre Royal in
Drury Lane and we passed the third mascot, which was equally appropriate for the area – the busker. By now my girls had got themselves into posing mode already and their favourite game was to try and emulate the pose of the mascot statues. Despite the limited number of poses this would be a game they never tired of!
|Cleopatra's Needle Wenlock|
As well as the busker statue the show at the Theatre Royal caught their eye as it was Shrek The Musical. I am sure at some stage we might have to go an watch it, as both girls are big fans of Shrek. I was rather more interested in the building, although compared to some of the theatres around this was rather a plain looking building. Further down the road on the edge of Aldwych, the Novello Theatre (showing the Abba Musical Mamma Mia) was a much more elaborate looking building. In both cases though, the buildings were far more ornate than any current one would be. It made me speculate about the approximate time that we lost this decorativeness from our architecture. Personally I blame World War I – architecture has never really been the same since.
Our next Wenlock was the standard mascot – no extra decoration. The kids didn't seem to mind - they still posed by it. We walked down Aldwych and crossed the road when we reached The Strand, heading down towards the Embankment.
|Patriotic Flower Basket|
The next mascot was by Somerset House, an old Georgian building that has had a multitude of uses over the years but which now hosts the science stuff. Outside was a statue of Michael Faraday, gleaming in the sunshine. My older daughter was thrilled to be photographed by him – she is a big science fan despite her tender years. I’m not sure she knew who Michael Faraday was, but she definitely knew he was important otherwise why would he have a statue there?
Outside Somerset House was the very pink Somerset House Wenlock. He was particularly striking in the sunshine, although ominously overhead a very large black cloud came across and blocked further sunshine for the next half an hour or so. It was a shame for the next part of our walk was through the unsung and yet lovely gardens of Victoria Embankment. This is a green space I had never previously been to but was pleasantly surprised by the wonderfully cheerful planting (yellow and red/white/blue seemed to be popular colour schemes) and the range of statues of predominantly famous Victorians. I guess many of them were the celebrities of their day and included Robert Raice (founder of Sunday Schools), Robert Burns and Sir Wilfred Lawson (prominent politician).
At the far end of the gardens we passed a big area of deckchairs, laid out we assumed for some future show rather than for musical chairs, and a couple of pin pong tables that were well used (perhaps this will be part of the legacy of the Olympics?). From the relative calm of the garden we were plunged into the more frenetic environment of the street running down the side of Charing Cross Station. This too seemed to be something of a hotbed of eating establishments and many were already doing a brisk trade despite the early hour. I guess that the proximity of
Charing Cross station helps in that regard.
We passed by the front of the station (said to be the very centre of
London) and crossed to St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, so called because it was once literally in the fields, between what was once the twin cities of London and . It is hard to imagine there being any green space in this part of Westminster now, so built up is it. At the back of the church was Novel Wenlock and round to the front was Trafalgar Square Wenlock, although this was actually sited in a secluded corner of the famous Square. London
Our onward route took us past the National Gallery and into
Leicester Square. I hadn’t really appreciated how close to Trafalgar Square it really was before – it’s amazing how little you can appreciate the layout of a city when you travel underneath it by Tube. Perhaps this was the best part about walking the trails – putting the city into context.
By now, we had worked up something of an appetite and took a relaxed and lengthy lunch break. On resumption of our walk we passed by the Hippodrome and Haymarket, finding the Spotlight Mandeville lurking behind another theatre. It was perhaps the hardest one to find on the whole route.
The route continued up through the streets to the west of Covent Garden and skirted
Chinatown, where we would find a Mandeville done up in the blue associated with Chinese pottery. It was perhaps one of the classiest designs on the route. Finally we made our way back towards Covent Garden and found the last Wenlock (Performer) just along from the Underground Station. All along the way we looked in some of the windows of shops selling delicious chocolates and cakes. Although tempting, it was a bit hot for such delicacies and we sadly left them in the windows for others to purchase.
This was a good appetiser for the day. Only modest in length (2.6km), the walk actually seemed an awful lot longer such was the amount packed into the route. We completed quickly and still with lots of energy in the tank for the next route, starting nearby at Picadilly Circus. For a full view of all the pictures on the route please take a look at my Flickr set at Pink Trail Set