Persistence has paid off! I've discovered a really neat fish and chips place - doesn't do takeaways, alas, but it's roomy, moderately priced for the area, and the service is quick - within a seven minute stroll of work.
Let me introduce you to the excellent Golden Hind on Marylebone Lane.
Judging by the number of tourists in there - 'what is this had-dog?!!' - it's well featured in the guide books, But it also very obviously has a loyal clientele as well, and by 12:30 it was filling up.
The haddock was fresh and firm (I reckon that fried fish has a half-life of fifteen minutes, meaning cooked fish that's been left hanging around for that time delivers only half the pleasure of the 'straight to plate') and the chips slightly modest in number but highly palatable. And yes, it does mushy peas ... and a decent cuppa.
So that's my New Year's resolution blown before the old year is out.
Hidden away in the heart of Marylebone, along the wonderfully named Grotto Passage (there's a really narrow entrance off Paddingon Street) is what was once a Ragged School. It survives among the spartan splendour of the Howard de Walden estate, an early exercise in social housing - and indeed Octavia Hill began her work on housing for the poor in an adjoining street.
The Grotto was - all this courtesy of Caroline's Miscellany - a landmark in eighteenth century London, a sea shell feature and pleasure ground on what was then the edges of the city.
Nothing survives of it but the name. But what a wonderful name!
The ragged school is the white building on the left here - with the passage on to Paddington Street just visible as that dark hole at the end.
It seems, and again this comes from Caroline's Miscellany, that the school - a reformatory really - made quite a habit of shipping out its young charges, particularly to Australia and Canada.
You get a wonderful view of the courtyard and signage from the Italian snack bar next door - that's how I spied it this afternoon. It's worth a visit.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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