Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Louis Patisserie and an Autumn Sunset

T. and I have been stuck inside feeling ill lately with a variety of interesting symptoms - all of them different. And then suddenly, today.... we both feel a bit better. 

So we took a gentle late afternoon constitutional to Hampstead Heath.  It's uphill all the way but within half an hour we were in the middle of the wood by one of the wildlife ponds watching the birds as the sun set, the autumnal sky changed colour, the water rippled quietly.

All of a sudden a group of birds flew by, like a skein of white hankies against the pale gold water and few remaining leaves.

The branches reflected in the water's ripples to make a series of endlessly varied repeating but surprisingly organised patterns.

We continued up the path, past the rather mysterious caravan park which I think is something to do with the Bank Holiday funfairs which traditionally take place on the Heath.  A few of the caravans were occupied, and looked very cosy.

We came out at the Whitestone Pond, which stands at the top of Heath Street. This cuts the Heath into two, and has become a rather busy road which joins Hampstead and the nearby village of Highgate.  The Pond was a where Victorian children paddled and played with model boats and poor old cart horses came for a drink or also had a paddle (see below). 

It's recently been renovated at vast expense to be a "meeting place for the local community" (whatever that means). Needless to say nobody was "meeting" there but it's attractive now, with reeds growing, lots of wildfowl

and the evening traffic going past.

We walked down the hill and decided to have a cup of tea in Louis Patisserie at 32 Heath Street.  This family-owned Hungarian patisserie has been in Hampstead since 1963, and it doesn't seem to have changed at all since I first visited it as a teenager.  All my adult life I have liked to pass and look in the window at the cakes (which are always the same designs).

It's always been rather expensive, because although it's unpretentious, everything is of top quality.  But every now and then we splash out on a florentine or chocolate. Our kids were always intrigued by the domino cakes, but they also do very good croissants..  

Inside, it's very clean and well maintained, but here again, nothing much has changed since 1963, (and it must have seemed pretty old fashioned then)

You can see the shop section at the end, with the net curtains hanging above the shop window, but inside the cafe (divided from the shop by wrought iron screens, not visible in the picture)  it is cosy and warm, with buttoned leather benches and brass lights. My idea of a traditional Hungarian coffee place.  It's usually full and has a lot of "regulars."

We bought a loaf of bread - traditionally baked  crisp outside, soft inside and not expensive - unlike the pretentious "artisan" bread which sells for three times the price in the farmer's market, and shared a vast but very good slice of chestnut cream cake.

By now it was dark, and we set off home, leaving Louis still selling cakes for the locals to have for tea.

Out of the door - it has the name of the shop inscribed in terrazzo at the entrance ... there is something a bit Edward Hopper about it at night....

Somehow, a lot of old fashioned shops have clung on in Hampstead Heath Street.  The ironmonger and greengrocer have also been there as long as I can remember, as has the camera shop, which always seems to be full of camera fans does a good second hand trade.

Hampstead used to be a rather bohemian place, haunt of artists. Now, much of it has been taken over by bankers, media and money people, and rents are now so high that most of the modern shops are high priced boutiques, coffee shops, or art galleries - the sort of places you find anywhere.   So it is nice to feel a sense of continuity with a less frantic and status conscious time, and I hope that the old shops can continue to thrive.

Now we are both feeling rather tired, so perhaps we weren't that much better. But taking a walk has to be good, even if it was rather a slow one, and involved cream cakes.



  1. Looks like an awesome patisserie! Not exactly my part of town; our local favourite was William Curley - I'm sure you've heard of him

  2. Very Edward Hopper, agreed.

    I always think of George Smiley whenever I hear of Hampstead Heath, and his exploration of the site of Vladimir's murder.

  3. Although I couldn't take that walk, I believe I would have someone pick me something up from that patisserie! Fattening foods are my downfall.

  4. Thank you for a various photos! Yes,I agree with you."There is something a bit about Edward Hopper at night." The seventh also reminds me of his work. My wall calender in 2008 was a collection of his work.

  5. AMAZING shots of the lake, Jenny!

    WOW...they're faaaaaabulous! Love how you caught the birds in flight. And that second shot of the reflection is stunning!

    I also LOVE the image of the caravan park. I get such a wonderful FEELING from it. Love the light on in the window!

    Talented photographer you are. Very inspiring!

    Hope you're feeling better.

    Have a great rest of your week!

  6. I like those reflections and the patisserie looks Delicious!

  7. A Hungarian named Louis? Now, that is unusual! The place looks like my kind of café, and I am sure their cakes are delicious! How kind of the people that they allow to have pictures taken in the café and shop. I doubt they'd be as friendly in Germany.
    The picture and description of the pond, the light and the birds flying past are very poetic, thank you!
    Hope you both feel much better today!

  8. thanks for sharing your authentic bit of old...charming. Do hope you feel tip top soonest!

    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

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  9. Hello Jenny:
    How lovely to have Hampstead Heath with all its variety within such a short walk of home. We love the old postcard which you show - rather more atmospheric than today.

    Your local patisserie looks absolutely charming and is somewhere we should most certainly make a favourite haunt. Strangely, since it is Hungarian, not a single cake which you show conforms in any way to those which are always to be found in any Hungarian cukrászda. That said, they look delicious.

    We do hope that by now you are feeling fully restored in health.

  10. Never mind a stroll round London, it's a stroll back in time - you're taking me back to my own time wandering around Hampstead in the late 80's!

  11. I remember the ponds at the top of the hill. When delivering there in the 80's the driver insisted we stop there for ice creams - yet I always paid.....!
    Nice tour of the area.

  12. Thanks for showing me around your neighbourhood.

  13. A walk and cake - you had the best day!

  14. I feel as though I traveled with you, saw what you saw, sensed what you sensed. There are few higher recommendations for a blog post than that.

  15. It's amazing you write about Hampstead Heath as I have just started to read a fiction book where the action is set there! Louis Patisserie is not mentioned though (well it's a fiction book as i said!)...

  16. Thanks for the lovely trip today!! :)

  17. What a wonderful place. The picture with the white birds is terrific and the cafe is darling.

    I do hope you're feeling better soon!

  18. The first two shots are captivating and were my favourites, but I think I see from your shot of the Louis emporium how it might be a little Hopperish at night. Brilliant post.

  19. Oh, how could you!

    The Heath and Hampstead, where I spent so much of my time. We lived just down the hill towards the upper end of Kentish Town and we indulged in a walk on the Heath at every opportunity. The cafe on the Heath was one of my haunts, it was full of foreigners like me.

  20. The second shot looks like an abstract painting. xD

    You are making me drool all over my keyboard over those yummy treats! ^^

  21. I am sooo ashamed. I have never been to Hampstead heath (not my side of London, you see). Well, I hope that you are feeling better and I will have to try Louis Patisserie (French name, Hungarian goodies - How funny!).

  22. I enjoyed taking this walk with you, so many nice sights and yummy cakes, too. I particularly love the image of the reflections in the water, with the bench. I'm glad to have a chance to see these places I probably never will except through your words and lens. Thank You.

  23. The day must be relaxing for you to stroll around the pond and the old city.
    Your photos suggest a lot of your thought. I enjoyed them and your description. Thank you.

  24. Glad to hear you are feeling better. Looks like you had a nice outing. Those sweets would make good medicine. ;)

  25. Sounds like you had a fine walk Jenny (and thanks for taking me via the photos!), topped off with the excellent patisserie (yum yum!)

    Glad you're feeling better too.

    Anna :o]

  26. This is now on my 'Must visit' list after I land in England in the next couple of weeks. My sort of place indeed!

  27. Nothing like a walk on the Heath to blow away the cobwebs.

  28. Oh thank you for for sharing your journey. That looks just like the sort of place you could curl up with a tasty treat and read the daily news.

    Glad to hear you're feeling better.

  29. Such a lovely posting. I do hope you're both fully recovered soon.

  30. Sad that Hampstead has now been taken over by the rich. I remember it in the seventies when as you say it was more the haunt of artists and the unconventional generally. There was a wonderful coffee shop I used to hang around in for hours, reading and watching the clientele.

  31. PS: But at least you still have the Everyman Cinema. I used to go there very regularly.

  32. Lovely photos - love the repeated patterns in the second image - and the tour round Hampstead. What a lovely patisserie and the camera shop looks fantastic. I'm outside London and completely on the wrong side for Hampstead but it's just gone on my 'must visit' list!

  33. Jenny, what a cozy place this shop is!! The regular customers seem to be relaxed as if they were at home. Maybe this place is the second home for them. Oh, it is splendid that there is no change. Sometimes I am fed up with fast life. Everything is going too fast, but here they look like enjoying different pace of time. Thanks for taking me here!!

    Best wishes,

  34. I love that second picture!

    Those cakes and pastries look pretty good too.

    Glad you're feeling better.

  35. What a sweet little gentle journey you have taken us on! The shop window full of beautiful cakes and pastries would certainly cause me to stop and look every time I walked by too. The very first thing I noticed on your inside shot was the sugar bowls heaped up with sugar cubes...we never see sugar cubes over here anymore, it's always bulk sugar...I wonder whatever happened to the cubes? I remember them as a child.

  36. So many goodies in your post! A complete joy to read it and look at the pictures.

  37. All these lovely comments have been such a pleasure to read. Thank you very much. @Sara, I never saw the sugar cubes until you mentioned them (I mean, I did see them but didn't NOTICE them). I don't know who really uses them at home, although I think I saw some in the shop last time I looked.

    @Snowwhite, this coffee shop is indeed a "home from home" for some of its regulars. I hope it continues.

    @Becs, @MuMuGB and @Christine, I do hope you make it here! Let me konw!

    @Nick, I wonder if you're talking about the Coffee Cup in the High St. next to the William IV pub. There was a big fuss when that finally went. The Everyman alas has changed from being a bohemian flea pit to a smart cinema club and not such a good programme, but still not totally mainstream.

    @MuMuGB and @Jane and Lance and @Librarian - it didn't occur to me that cakes had nationalities. Actually they remind me of German cakes, but then I have never been to Hungary so maybe "Louis" was really a German with a slight personality problem hiding behind various fake nationalities :)

    @Zhoen ,the Heath has been the scene of real life murders in its time, it used to be a haunt of highwaymen. (Not THAT recently of course)

    Perhaps "Louis" seemed a rather elegant and glamorous name. The owner might have originally been called Tibor or some other less suave name, I guess :) @Lina, you are right, I had never noticed! @Friko, you know so many of the places I go, and since I have been here a long time I bet I have passed you in the street without recognising you... that is such a funny and actually downright weird thought. @DeeBeeL, I wonder what book you are reading set in Hampstead Heath?

    @Alan Burnett, thank you very much for this nice compliment! @Adullamite, if you stopped at the Whitestone pond often you might have noticed the plaque which the Heath and Old Hampstead SOciety have put up to themselves, I just couldn't believe people would ever seriously do that !!!

    @Ron, thank you, I also love the cosy look of lights in caravans, specially if they have gas lights! (that one in the photo, did)
    @Dominic, I haven't seen William Curley, as you know Richmond is actually on a different planet from Hampstead, which is why inhabitants of one place find it so hard to visit the other. ....


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