Life is gradually starting to return to Bloomsbury; if you’re planning to spend an afternoon pottering round the neighbourhood, here is a partial list of what’s open and what’s changed.
On Marchmont Street, Gay’s the Word has reopened and so has Judd Books. Skoob isn’t open yet, but go past it to read the lovely message from its owner. Gower Street Waterstones is back open (and has a new vinyl record store in its basement). On Great Russell Street, the lively lads at Jarndyce are open by appointment only for viewing requested items, and have two new catalogues. (No info yet on when they are going to release their long-awaited Cypress Hill themed catalogue.) It’s not quite Bloomsbury, but on the Charing Cross Road both Henry Pordes and Any Amount of Books have reopened, with slightly different opening hours.
Excellent Independent Shops
Our next door neighbours, Blade Rubber, are open from today, selling a wide wide range of rubber stamps. Classic Camera in Pied Bull Yard is open, selling classic cameras. The wonderful Marchmont Street institution Moreish is selling deli items and houseplants from tables all round the outside and looks spectacular (plus takeaway food and ritzy veg boxes). The mysterious shop selling scuba gear near Great Ormond Street is still open. The community-run grocery The People’s Supermarket, on Lamb’s Conduit Street, is open.
The Plough is open, but you need to book in advance. The Marquis Cornwallis is open, but you need to take out a mortgage to pay for a pint. The Museum Tavern isn’t open yet but there were signs of activity there on Friday morning. The Lamb on Lamb’s Conduit Street is set to open on the 20th. No word on the Lord John Russell or the Friend in Hand.
Our own London Review Cake Shop is open for takeaway only and better than ever; on Marchmont Street, 49 Cafe is open for takeaway (their £5 pasta of the day is always worth a look); the King of Falafel on Hunter Street is back open (the real king of falafel; the John Street King of Falafel is nothing but an “old pretender”); North Sea Fish is back open. On Museum Street, Fish Plaice is open and now doing very good fried chicken as well; Bibimbap is open (cash only); there’s an incredibly exciting new Korean street food cafe which sprang up where the ramen joint used to be but isn’t open yet. Master Wei is open for takeaway – call in advance, cash only, 20% off menu prices – I had their biang biang noodles the other day and realised after the first bite how much I’d missed them. Our beloved cab stand on the northwest corner of Russell Square is still serving at the hatch – the best bacon butties for miles.
Russell Square is as free and easygoing as ever. St George’s Gardens is open, and still one of the most wonderful green spaces in London, but for heaven’s sake don’t tell everyone about it, at the moment it’s super-quiet. Regent’s Square Gardens is nice at this time of year; for some reason it reminds me of Smiley’s People, even though Smiley definitely and canonically lived in Chelsea. The playground behind the Holy Cross Church is back open and a good thing too.
No word yet on ‘the big one’ (i.e. the BM), but the Foundling Museum has reopened (closed Monday and Tuesday). It’s not in Bloomsbury but the National Gallery is open – you have to book in advance and choose one of three winding paths through the gallery (path 1 the best for my money).