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Monday, 2 October 2017

Bus pass holiday - part I

We've been away for a short break.  Not for us passports, travel insurance, cancelled flights and long waits at airports but a short city break - once again to London.  I think as Samuel Johnson said "to be tired of London is to be tired of life" and we can always find somewhere different to go something new to learn when we go there and if "a change is as good as a rest" then London is certainly a change from our normal country environment.  So if you would like to tag along with us please do but be warned this will be quite a long and picture heavy wander.

Just over a week ago one "September morn" we set off, not on a canal boat as per my photo but by train, for London Waterloo.  Having had a sandwich lunch at the station we made our way to the bus stop and with our bus passes to hand caught a bus to our hotel in Marylebone. Mr M had done his research well and found us a lovely small hotel (why do they call them boutique I wonder?) in whch to stay for the next 5 nights.  Having unpacked our bits and pieces we set off to explore the immediate neighbourhood and finished up on Marylebone High Street where we had a sit down and a cup of tea in Paul bakery which always reminds us of our Saturdays shopping in Limoges when we lived in France and by then we had also sussed out some possible places to go for our supper too.


One of our plans was to continue the walk we had started last year when we did section 12 - Highgate to Stoke Newington of The Capital Ring which is in total of 78 miles and as we have now done just 2 of the sections at our current rate of one section each year it will take us another 13 years so I doubt we will ever finish it!

Anyway it was a lovely sunny morning so we set off to get the bus to where we had finished last year and hopefully to do the next section.  The bus didn't stop at the stop we required so we had to walk back from where it did stop and what a find was this lovely little cafe we'd never have seen had we got off where we had intended!

Such friendly owners and so welcoming - we went through to the conservatory at the back....

...where we sat at the table by the window....

... overlooking the garden below.  It was something really different so right up our street! For more information and pictures check it out here on Trip Advisor where it has deservedly gained very high ratings!

Having enjoyed a coffee (Mr M) and a cup of tea (for me) with a home-made biscotti biscuit alongside which was delicious as indeed were the drinks we said our goodbyes and set off by bus to  to find the last bit of last year's walk which we had discovered later we had missed last time as I had dropped the instruction sheet!  We decided to have lunch before we left Stoke Newington and had a sandwich in the Salvation Army cafe/charity shop!  As I said we like to do things differently and this was lovely - clean and friendly and the filled rolls were very good too.  So replete and ready to go we made for Abney Park Cemetery

You might be forgiven for wondering why we wanted to visit a cemetery but this was a lovely tranquil environment and a real nature reserve with no trimmed edges beautiifully cared for graves.  The cemetery dates back to the early nineteenth century and was a pioneer in multi-faith burial grounds and the first of its kind in Europe and was a suitable resting place for nonconformists and dissenters and its occupiers include Congregationalist, Baptist and Methodist ministers among others such as the founding members of the Salvation Army Catherine and William Booth.

Central to the design of Abney Park the chapel is the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe, and was planned to reflect a lack of bias towards any one Christian sect and the cruciform plan adopted the equal arms of the Greek cross. It was not consecrated and functioned purely as a funerary chapel - not a place of worship.  Seen in this photo below it looks as if there is a longer arm to the cross but the actual chapel has in fact the equal arms of the Greek cross and the one arm is extended to provide a covered porch for the horse and carriage entrance.

Photo from the website not mine obviously!

As you will see in this photo below.

I loved the higgledy piggledy gravestones and the fact that many were overgrown and natural and over all the sound of birdsong.  Lovely and I think I'd fit right in here one day!.

So eventually we were ready to set off on our next stage of the Capital Ring to Hackney Wick - if you have your comfy shoes on or maybe as you are reading this a cup of tea to hand we'll set off.

Our route took us through Springfield Park a lovely green area and listed as one of London's top five green spaces by the Guardian see here which apparently has an excellent cafe though we had already been catered for in that way so didn't try it out.

 The sun was shining and the sky was blue - how lucky were we?!  For more info see here what Time Out has to say about the park.

 The route eventually came out alongside the River Lea where there are moorings for many houseboats in the marina here.

 Most of the way was then along this tow path beside the river with the Walthamstow Marshes on the other side - here we go beneath a bridge carrying trains to who knows where but we were happy to be down here in the peace and quiet ambling along the tow path stopping to take photos here and there along the way.

This is London as most visitors never see it eh?!

Autumn is definitely on its way.

Till we reached the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where we turned off from the path and into Hackney Wick which sadly didn't merit any photographs being somewhere I'd rather not remember!  From here we got a bus back to Highbury and wondered if the Fig Tree cafe might still be open for a cup of tea which it was - only just as it was due to close in 15 minutes but we were welcomed in like old friends.  After saying goodbye once again to the lovely owners we got another bus back to Baker Street and from there we went for supper at the Golden Hind where we had the best fish and chip supper I've had in a long while!  Maybe the walk in the fresh air helped.  We were lucky to get a table and as the evening wore on it became incredibly busy.  From here it was just a short walk back to our hotel. A lovely day of sunshine and blue skies and a great walk topped off with a delicious meal - what more could one ask?

Day 2

Having slept well and breakfasted like kings on the delicious buffet provided at the hotel we set off by bus to Putney where we wanted to visit Fulham Palace and Gardens.

 As we walked from the bus stop to the Palace we passed these allotments - looked lovely I thought and one gardener obviously enjoyed an occasional sit in the sun admiring his handiwork to judge by the seats.
In through the gate past this lovely lodge building to the Palace itself...

 .. through the Tudor courtyard.

 Our first port of call the cafe what a contrast to yesterday's elevenses stop eh?  But it was lovely in a different way.

Once refreshed after our bus journey we set off to look round the gardens.  These are new glasshouses built in the style of the originals which had fallen into disrepair.

 I don't know if this lettle video will work but it shows the work that went into restoring the glasshouses.
The garden was lovely and I imagine in the summer months it would be even nicer.  I took several photos but most of them were out of focus so you will need to check the website out for more

 This is a very old and venerable holm oak tree thought to have been planted in the 1500s but still looking good.

On our way out to walk towards the river.

The mighty Thames looking a little less than mighty as the tide was out!  Having had our fill of that we returned to the Palace cafe for lunch before getting a bus to Selfridges and then a short walk to see the Brown Hart roof garden which I had heard about.  Check out the link for a video about the creation of this little space on top of a Grade II listed substation

 The building at the end of the road seen here from the Garden is Selfridges so it's surprising that this little known garden is just a few yards from busy Oxford Street.

Having seen this - it didn't take long, even though we sampled the tea at the little cafe at one end of the garden, as it is not very big we walked down to Oxford Street and then just behind Selfridges about a 10 minute walk away we came to the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square.

 This is considered to be one of Europe's finest collections of works of art, pantings,furniture, arms and armour and porcelain.  We reallty didn't have time to do it justice and will need to go back another time for a further look.

 Being such an art Philistine I was less interested in the art and paintings than the beautiful braids on the curtains which were not antique at all!

I preferred the little snuff boxes so intricately carved and decorated- do check out the video on the link here

There is of course a tea room which looked nice but we didn't check it out as we had not long ago had a cup of tea at the roof garden cafe.  So we left the Wallace Collection and walked back to our hotel having had another lovely day out.

I think it best if I stop here and add the next couple of days as another post.


  1. A fascinating journey. I first went to the Wallace Collection when I was at College, and fell in love with it.
    You do get to some lovely places, and tea rooms too!

  2. I would love to have followed along on this lovely journey!

  3. So true! So much to see and do in London. I've been thinking about London lately. I miss it, most of all the places I haven't seen if this makes sense. Thanks for the tour!

  4. I would have never guessed that those park areas would be part of London. I think most tourists (as we were) concentrate on the centre with the museums. London is a fascinating city that I hope to return to explore further. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy reading your posts.

  5. Your blog was absolutely fantastic!
    Great deal of great information & this can be useful some or maybe the other way.
    Keep updating your blog,anticipating to get more detailed contents.


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