I found a hidden gem in London’s Covent Garden, on my umpteenth visit there.
Setting Out to Explore, But Starting Out Tired
Tired from a week of international travel and meetings in several countries, and with a week more ahead of me, I was determined to make the most of the in-between weekend in London, but I didn’t have a very big helping of get-up-and-go.
It was cold. It was damp. It was December. But it was London. I had to get out and about.
Despite the urge to have high tea somewhere and just read a book and people-watch, I walked to the nearest London Underground station, and took the Tube toward Westminster and Central London.
Christmas Shopping at Jubilee Market
By late afternoon, my trek had taken me to Jubilee Market at Covent Garden. Jubilee Market is fabulous, with rotating daily markets and highly curated wares from carefully selected vendors. The Monday market is antiques and collectibles, Tuesday – Friday is a general market, and weekends are reserved for the arts and crafts market.
My favorite market at Jubilee Hall is the arts and crafts market, and in years that have had a London trip, Christmas at Glover Gardens always includes a few gifts from the Jubilee Market artisans.
I spent a couple of hours at the market that chilly afternoon, talking to the vendors (some of whom recognize me these days) and combing through their wares to find perfect presents for my peeps—lovingly selected treasures that were small enough to fit into my already-overstuffed suitcase.
I Needed a Break
As I left Jubilee Market and merged into the dense crowd in the more touristy part of Covent Garden that was jam-packed with shoppers and merry-makers, I was hit by a wave of weary so strong that I just wanted to sit down, right there in the middle of the holiday mayhem.
I needed a break from the crowds and the louds, and I needed it right away.
I left Covent Garden, not wanting to walk far, not wanting to be in a trendy, touristy place, just wanting to sit and regroup. I found an unexpected haven after only a few moments of trudging.
It was magical courtyard with fairy lights and potted greenery.
There were well-behaved people chatting quietly, mapping their next route through the foggy London night or taking Instagram-worthy photos of this incongruously peaceful place.
I felt like I had entered another dimension, Harry Potter-style. The courtyard was enclosed by buildings and yet had a feeling of openness. I found a bench and tucked in, my purchases snuggled up next to me, and my mindfulness game slowly came back online. What was this place? I didn’t find out until I got back home and did my research.
It’s Called Floral Court
Here’s what I found out when I got home (thank you, Google!):
Covent Garden may have changed since its humble beginnings of being the oldest square in London and Westminster Abbey’s original orchard garden but what has always remained is the greenery that surrounds the area. From over 100 flowers crates to the Instagram worthy floral swing, through to the iconic flower seller Eliza Doolittle, Covent Garden has always remained true to its roots.
A welcome addition to Covent Garden is the newly opened Floral Court. Connecting Floral Street to King Street, the courtyard is a tranquil space in the heart of London. Currently home to The Petersham, La Goccia, The Delicatessen and more coming soon, the courtyard is a space to dine al fresco, find a respite on a tree bench and obviously snap an insta-worthy image.
Covent Garden’s own Petersham Nurseries has lovingly designed the court to be green all year round with the addition of Magnolia grandiflora in hand-crafted terracotta pots.From DISCOVER FLORAL COURT, OUR URBAN GARDEN
So the magical courtyard is associated with the nursery and restaurants that border it, but open to the public just for hanging out. What a great concept!
A Twinkle-Lightness of Being
As I sat, the feelings of over-stimulation, weariness and wariness from the Covent Gardens crowds slipped away, replaced by a twinkle-lightness of being. I had my happy back!
Where to Next? I’m Hungry!
After a time, I had a growing awareness of the cold—and the damp—and hunger. Where could I go to eat, nearby, to preserve the feelings of calm and well-being that I had recaptured in the courtyard? A place that wasn’t crowded or fancy, but just right, Goldilocks-style?
That’s tomorrow’s post, my friends, already drafted, with a working title of Another Restaurant Find in London: Com Viet, the Best Vietnamese Food I’ve Had in the UK, or Maybe Anywhere.
It had turned into a great night.
National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo)
It’s NaHaiWriMo again, and while I haven’t been creating one per day, I certainly want to participate as much as I can, because I LOVE haiku. Two poems wrote themselves from this experience:
the crowds and the louds
floral court respite,
twinkle-lightness of being-
got my happy back!