Today I visit London’s Chelsea to pick up a new leather card holder from Smythson of Bond Street, but their store located on Sloane Street and discover an event in Sloane Square called Chelsea in Bloom. But before I go anywhere or do anything I get a coffee to go from Workshop Coffee.
We have some amazing independent coffee shops here in London – and I always try to use them instead of the huge global chains when possible. And not because of some notion of being patriotic in the face of the global chains tax faux pas, it’s not a sense of community or a belief in their sustainability, although they would be valid reasons. It’s simply because when you find a good one they serve the most delicious coffee.
I’m not snobby about it or knocking the big chains, I use them too manly out of simple convenience and they serve acceptable consistent coffee if you’re looking for a dose of caffeine and their stores although generic are unfortunately often more hospitable. The major chains are often involved in community baby changing & toilet schemes, free Wi-Fi, plug sockets and much more, whereas some independents often go in the opposite direction with signs saying customer use only – there are just seemingly minor details that just show the big guys have a greater understanding of the hospitality industry. They don’t labour under the pretence of being in some special niece, there in the hospitality industry & they are good at it.
And not all independents are equal, it takes real skill, passion & understanding to get the best from what is an ever changing natural crop. Independents that get it right serve the most delicious coffee in town, the ones that get it wrong, well it’s disgusting, far worse than any global chain would make or serve you.
Workshop are one that get it right, they serve delicious coffee, if you want to find out what speciality coffee tastes like I would recommend a trip to one of their stores in London. They roast their own beans & I also buy them for use at home but I have to admit they are far better at making a great cup of coffee than me. Also it certainly doesn’t cost any more to buy from the independents. Come here order a cup the way you normally take it and you will taste the difference, the only thing is once you go down this road your regular ubiquitous chain store cup just won’t taste the same.
I have card holder, it was a Christmas gift from my girlfriend. We tried to figure out when & we think 2012, it’s from Smythson’s and this week the stitching came undone & it started to fall apart. Its lasted almost 2.5 years, 2.5 years of daily use which is amazing & probably the longest a card holder has ever lasted me so I’m going to buy another one to replace it. And Smythson have a store on Sloane Street just off Sloane square.
This week is the Chelsea flower show & it’s just down the road. The RHS Chelsea flower show is probably the most famous flower show in the world & it attracts 1000s of visitors so most of Chelsea’s pretty busy. I’ve only been to it once as a guest and with the hospitality of a large department store here in London & it was amazing. Its actually really good fun but somehow the TV coverage make it look entirely serious, very stuffy & pretty boring, but there is a real buzz in there, it’s basically the most luxurious pop up garden centre you could imagine right in the middle of London with bars & hospitality suites and all sorts going on – but I guess the BBC are not there to have a good time or party in one of the champagne lounges. But if you get the opportunity to go I would, it’s much more fun than it looks.
I’m not going to the flower show this year, and I couldn’t if I wanted to, it’s a sell-out & unfortunately no one has invited me. But it turns out the Cadogan estates and the RHS who organise the flower show are having a floral art show and competition on the streets of Chelsea. So they have turned part of Sloane square into a fairy tale forest which is the information centre for the event complete with a pop up bar.
This is the 10th year this competition has run. Basically a number of retailers in the area adorn their stores with floral displays they have given me a map of the participants. The theme is fairytales and the expert judges pick a winner & the public can choose a winner on line. There is also a pop up in Sloane square and a mad hatters tea party over in duke of York square and its market day today also so I go and take a look at all that.
The Chelsea in bloom 2015 participants included – Agent Provocateur, Basia Zarzycka, Bonpoint, Brora, Brilliant Inc. Browns, Brunello Cucinelli, Cassandra Goad, Club Monaco, Cos, Dubarry of Ireland, Elliot Rhodes, Emma Hope, Escada, Fendi, Hamptons International, Jigsaw, Jo Malone, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Kate Spade New York, Links of London, Liz Earle, L K Bennett, Lulu Guinness, Mark Quant, Monica Vinader, Montblanc, Moyses Stevens, N.Peal, No.11 Cadogan Gardens, Pandora, Peter Jones, Pickett, Rag & Bone, Sarah Chapman, Smythson, T.BA, Tom Davies, The White Company, Yves Delorme.
The winners of Chelsea in Bloom 2015 are:
Sarah Chapman – Best Floral Display
Smythson – Highly Commended
Kate Spade New York – Innovation Award
Kate Spade New York – People’s Champion
Check out our YouTube vlog for a tour of this years entries.