Monday, 27 June 2011

Top Tourist Tip - and it's free!

I like to think of the dazzling One New Change and all its shops and restaurants, slap bang next to St Paul's Cathedral as my local shopping centre. Its not really. Morrisons and CarpetLand at the end of the road are but I like to PRETEND that it is. If I had a flat in the Barbican it would be a pleasant stroll away but on Sunday morning you can fly there in ten minutes in the Volvo and nab the best parking space in town for free.

The gleaming escalators glide you down to a tranquil M & S food hall with more staff than customers. All the other shops are open too, but pretty much deserted on a Sunday; it feels like being a figure in an architects drawing. Ed and I took in some tennis on an enormous TV screen; dozens of pristine striped deck chairs laid out on an Astroturf lawn, we ate strawberries in the cool while centre court sweltered.  
Designed by French architects Jean Nouvel the building is a stunner. Nicknamed The Stealth and with 6,000 shaded, smokey glass panels set at different angles like a huge faceted crystal it almost disappears into the grey London sky and in my opinion (but not Prince Charles's) sits in perfect contrast beside the imposing dome of St Paul's (actually designed by Wren to appear even larger and more dominant than it actually is). 
A ride up to the 6th floor in the glass elevator is the most exciting trip I've made in a long time and on Friday evening, after dinner at Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa for Ed's birthday we had the entire roof to ourselves with the most incredible views over the cathedral and the whole of London. 
Highly recommended.

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