17 December 2015

Christmas lights in London 2105

It's that time of year again when London comes to life with festive lights in all the major shopping areas. I've been out and about checking them out for you and my view on 2015 is that some new ones are great, some areas have kept with old favourites which is no bad thing  but some of the major shops have not made much effort this year and one major street is just not up to our high standards. 

Carnaby Street's 2015 offering wins as usual, it's fun, it suits the street and is new and fresh and even looks good before it's completely dark!

Carnaby Street

A Carnaby Street side street
Carnaby Street 

Trafalgar Square hosts the Christmas tree sent each year by the people of Norway to express their ongoing thanks for our support during the 2nd World War. This year it's been a bit battered by a storm which hit the capital just after it went up, so it's slightly crooked but as lovely as ever, especially when reflected in the fountains. 

Trafalgar Square

Oxford Street has stuck with it's massive baubles which works well for them and I was pleased to see that South Molton Street have kept with their elegant blue arches.
Oxford Street at the Selfridges end

South Molton Street

Covent Garden has gone for enormous mistletoe this year which I liked and had some fun to it and they have kept their enormous Christmas tree and the striking silver reindeer.

Giant mistletoe in Covent Garden

Covent Garden's tree

Covent Garden's silver reindeer

This year's big disappointment is Regent Street where they have replaced their successful reindeer antlers with the 12 days of Christmas with small shiny triangles which are too small to bring much light and large circles with projected video animations which I couldn't quite fathom and the circles are not always lit on both sides.  Apologies for a poor photo to match!

Regent Street 
The Strand has joined in this year with a jolly look in blue which brightens up this part of the city: 

The Strand

Two of our major stores, Selfridges and John Lewis, usually have inventive and playful festive window displays but this year they are unimpressive and so have not made this gallery of the light show of 2015. 

London hosts ice rinks outside many of the famous landmarks such as the Tower of London and Somerset House, and the Natural History's rink is one of my favourite sights especially when the kids have a go. 

Skating a the Natural History Museum

Finally, I visited the posh shopping streets of Mayfair to see their lovely display, again kept from last year, of delicate, feathery lights. 



I hope you enjoyed this visit to London at Christmas, it's a great time of year to come here and even the shorter days are a bonus as you can see the festive lights from late afternoon onwards before enjoying a mulled wine in a cosy bar. 

Bye for now,


11 December 2015

Lunch at .... J Sheekey, London

Where to find a good lunch in London is a fun but possibly daunting challenge. There are said to be over 5,000 restaurants in London ranging from the corner cafe to the best in the world and every price point that goes with that. Then you have the choice of almost any cuisine you can think of and London boasts having many of the world's top chefs to add to your decision making woes. 

So, here's another post in my series of 'lunch at...' to help you.  I usually put my disclaimer at the end but here it is to let you know that this is an independent review and my visit was paid for by me!  Today I'm featuring J Sheekey, a famous London fish restaurant, dating back to the 1890 when it started life as a market stall selling oysters. It is now a London institution, a well loved part of the dining scene here and, in a wonderful nod to its past, has an oyster bar where we took our lunch, alongside a main restaurant room. 

Arriving down the small pedestrian thoroughfare the exterior is impressive and enticing and yet my dining companions claimed to have walked past the red canopies and wooden tables on several occasions without even noticing this fine establishment. The location is really handy for Covent Garden but more importantly for the nearby theatres and galleries. 

Sheekey's impressive entrance 

We met early and were among the first there but very soon the place was packed and it was clear these were regulars, comfortable in their usual seats, tucking into familiar fare. This was our first visit and we had chosen the Oyster Bar section as it's a bit cheaper than their main room but still offers a good choice of dishes.  

The Oyster Bar

My lunch group, a regular bunch of diners, are not easy to please so I was relieved that they finished their plates and reported back in very positive terms. The highlight were the Deep Fried Goujons with tartare sauce, meaty, tasty with a crispy coating. I had the Sheekey's Fish Pie which was a great winter dish with plenty of fish filling including good salmon chunks. 

Sheekey's Fish Pie

The Cornish Fish Stew was another winner and the extra portion of thin chips (Pommes Allumettes) disappeared right away. Our fourth member of the party had the Seared Scallops as she was not so hungry and loved the chilli and garlic sauce they were in. 

Cornish Fish Stew
Irresistible chips 

Sadly we were under time pressures so could not try out any of the desserts but I would definitely go back and indulge myself another time. 

Our dishes cost between £11.25 and £13.75 which we felt was very fair for the quality of the food and the surroundings as well as the good service.

For more information about this restaurant click here.

Bye for now,