We went to visit our daughter Nina at the weekend. She lives at the southern tip of St John's Wood in north London. After lunch at her flat, a short hop across Maida Vale took us into 'Little Venice'. What a great area - grand stuccoed terraces nestled along wide tree lined avenues - a sprinkling of deli's and restaurants. Gordon Ramsey's pub The Warrington is here with its splendid baroque interior, which is more than I can say for the food. (Did you hear about the scandal of food being cooked off premises and then brought in by van? But at least the van had four Michelin tyres.) The area is better still in the summer when your ears are not icing up from the arctic breeze we encountered. We passed along the canal full of houseboats down as far as The Waterway, a trendy restaurant where in high season you have to scramble for table on the outdoor terrace that overlooks the canal (as we were leaving the first time we went there we realised Kelly Osbourne and friend were waiting for our table).
Turned into Clifton Villas for a visit to Clifton Nurseries, established in 1815. Tucked between and behind more stuccoed houses. You walk in through a passage lined with big topiary bushes to a nursery stuffed with plants, a café, and shops full of fashionable gardeny bits. A real hidden gem. Metal chairs at Clifton Nurseries:
Turned again into Clifton Road up to Raoul's, a terrific little independent café where you can get have lovely European style pastry to go with your coffee, or they'll whip you up a full English Breakfast. In the cosy interior we sat beneath a large framed black & white photo of the artist Francis Bacon joshing with the Beat Generation writer William Burroughs (author of The Naked Lunch). Now that's my type of coffee shop.
To end with, here are two quotes from William Burroughs I rather like:
"I'm getting so far out one day I won't come back at all."
"After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager'."