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14 June 2009

All the Fun of the Fayre

Today was Marylebone's annual summer fayre. Being Marylebone, of course, it was pretty extravagant--so big that it has to be divided into seven different "zones" and with all of the High Street and many of the side streets closed to traffic so that the local shops, restaurants, bars, gyms and even estate agents could set up stalls in the road to tempt in the punters (and it was all in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust). One of the estate agents with whom I have dealt with extensively over the past year proved more amiable when offering free glasses of Pimm's in exchange for a donation to the charity; this was certainly a better bargain than the "pint of Pimm's for £6" being offered by one of the pubs--given that I didn't want a whole pint.

Many of the shops and food places were giving away free samples, offering discounts on their wares and encouraging the fayre-goers to enter their competitions (fingers crossed, then, that I win a night at the newly tarted up Langham Hotel or the £150 voucher for Apartment C; having entered the latter today for the first time, I was pleased to be intimidated by neither the staff nor the prices and was amused by the selection of erotic fiction on offer to peruse while "sipping a gin cocktail from a giant teacup").

Of course, with such a variety of food on offer, just like at the May Balls, it made sense to do a reccy first and then return to one's preferred stalls to avoid peaking too soon. I sampled an oyster from Maldon Oysters, which was delicious, and then avoided Le Pain Quotidien's poncey BBQ in favour of the Natural Kitchen's barbecued burger in a poncey bun, which was also tasty. Having pinched posh chocolate samples from Rococo and indulged in a few mini macaroons from the people outside the Conran Shop, I didn't quite have room for churros but as they cost £4 for a cupful and seem to be available at every outdoor London festival, I don't feel I missed out too much.

The atmosphere at the fayre was really good, although there were a few too many Small Irritating People with wayward balloons (and too many people with buggies and dogs (this being le quartier) pushing through the busy crowd) for my irritation radar not to go off a little bit. However, the vibe was a lot more chilled in the Paddington Street Gardens, where a range of acoustic acts were playing--some of them were pretty good although I don't remember any names. There are certainly worse ways to spend a hot, sunny afternoon in the quartier, anyway (I did have to top it all off with a visit A la recherche d'Eric at the Screen on Baker Street; quand on est au quartier...).


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