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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Bus pass holiday- Part II

To continue the saga I posted earlier about our few days in London:

Day 3

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we set off by bus for Tower Bridge where we were to meet the Wanderer for lunch at a restaurant near there.  We had chosen this venue as it tied in well with another garden I hoped to see and was also somewhere not too far for her to come - she cycles this way to work most days.  (I know this isn't Tower Bridge but it is the Tower and I just liked the juxtaposition of the old and the new with the Shard in the background along with a red tour bus).

 This is of course Tower Bridge!

 What I wanted to see was the Floating Gardens which had been featured on BBC Gardeners' World back in June but which are only open to the public once or twice a year under the national Gardens Scheme and that was also in June however I did wonder if it might be possible to see them from the roadway.

 It wasn't really possible to see much naturally as they are the private gardens of the residents who are moored here.

I did manage to see one garden though through the railings of some flats opposite!

We met with the Wanderer and had a lovely catch up chat over lunch in an Italian restaurant in Shad Thames just back from the river.  We sat talking for nearly 4 hours - well it had been the end of May last time we saw her!  Then we parted company and she went on her way as we made our way back over the Bridge to get our bus back to our hotel.

Day 4

Monday dawned dull and damp - not exactly raining but not exactly dry either - such a shock after the blue sky and sunshine of the day before!  We wandered along to Marylebone High Street where we whiled away an hour or so in the lovely Daunt Books if there had been more seating we'd probably be there still!  But time was passing and so we went to Paul Bakery again for a coffee before setting off for Battersea Park.  We walked along the Chelsea Embankment to the Albert Bridge seen here - as you can see it was still somewhat murky although the rain had stopped.

As we crossed the Albert Bridge I noticed this sign but there were no marching troops at the time!  Once over the bridge we were at the gate into Battersea Park.  I can't think why we'd never been here before as it is a lovely place - green, peaceful and with lots to see and do.  Our first stop was the Peace Pagoda  if you check out this web site there are plenty of photos of it.

Along side was an information board and I couldn't help thinking that this quote from the Most Ven, Nichidatsu Fujii was particularly apt just now with the state that the world seems to be in!

The Pagoda tells the story of Buddha in a series of 4 bronze sculptures one of which I show below.

We then wandered on taking photos as we went.

And came to an enclosed garden entitled the English Garden - well weren't they all?! but this one was lovely and tranquil.

 Leaving the tranquility of the English Garden we continued our walk and in the mist ahead could see the iconic chimneys of the Battersea Power Station.  Well not the original ones but replicas.  The once coal fired Grade II listed power station was decomissioned in 1983 and lay empty for years but is now being developed for more info see here.

Single Form by Barbara Hepworth overlooks the boating lake - it seems that Single Form was constructed as a memorial to Dag Hammarskjöld, secretary general of the United Nations from 1952 up until his death in 1961. Hammarskjöld, a good friend of the sculptor, had been speaking to Hepworth about a commission for the UN site just before his tragic death in an airplane crash. Single form was first exhibited in Battersea Park in 1963. Over the next year, Hepworth recast the sculpture in three parts for the UN site, scaling the sculpture up from 10 feet to a gigantic 21 feet high.

 We walked some more and discovered a tea room so had a sit down and a drink and then continued alongside the lake.  Such a lovely tranquil place and over all the sound of the green parakeets.  These birds are not native to the UK and are not always welcomed as although they are stunning in their iridescent emerald plumage with a rose-red neck ring, and a thrill the first time you see them, they are also aggressive, destructive, and extremely raucous in large flocks and in 2009 they were listed along with gulls, magpies and crows as pests.  However they were lovely to us that day.

 Leaving the park we crossed the Chelsea Bridge back to the other side of the river we'd crossed earlier by the bridge you can just see on the horizon in this photo - click on it to enlarge it.

With the camera on zoom you can see the Peace Pagoda we'd seen earlier.  Time to go back to the hotel now at the end of another lovely day out - our last full day in London.

Day 5

Time to go home - am I the only one who is always ready to go home even after a short break?  Longer holidays find me counting the days till I can be back where I belong even when I am enjoying myself.

Anyway we had our last breakfast in the hotel's breakfast room,exchanged e-mail addresses with the couple from California we had been speaking with each morning and then returned to our room to finish our packing before checking out.  We left the bags at the hotel and set off for a last look round in London this time walking to Regent's Park.

 The railings and gateways on so many of London's parks are so beautiful I always think - who paints them I wonder I certainly wouldn't want the job!

 Inside the gates we wandered round enjoying the peace of a mid-week morning when so many other people might have been at work.

 Look here is one of the gardeners!!

 More lovely decorative ironwork.

 Here is Mr M ahead of me and reminding me of that old ad for Startrite shoes!  Who remembers it?  For those who don't here it is:

Though in the ad the little boy has a companion!

 There was an exhibition of sculptures displayed in the park and this one caught my eye - it's called The Invisible Mother  as I have already said I am a bit of a Philistine when it comes to art and couldn't for the life of me see the connection between mothers and this although I seem to remember sometimes feeling a bit like this when the Wanderer was young!  To me it spoke more of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle but then what would I know?  

Even this late in the season the beds were still colourful.


 These little topiary trees reminded me of cupcakes - not that I am a fan of cupcakes or topiary but they are clever aren't they?

 More wrought ironwork.

 It was a sunny morning so I don't know why the photos all look a bit dull on the camera they look much brighter.

 By now it was almost mid-day so we walked back towards the parish church of Marylebone behind which runs Marylebone High Street where we had lunch before continuing our walk back to the hotel to collect our cases.   We got the bus to Waterloo in good time for the 3.20 train and were home and indoors by 6.00 pm. 

By the way the name Marylebone apprently comes from the fact that the original parish church dedicated to St Mary was built alongside a small stream or "bourne" thus the name St Mary at the bourne now shortened to Marylebone.

In case you haven't had  sufficient reading I leave you with a book recommendation:

I had come across the fact that Mozart had kept a starling which could apparently sing one of his compositions in a perfectly ordinary novel whose title I now forget, just something one of the characters had mentioned and wondering if in fact this could be true I checked it out on the internet and came across this book and requested it from the library.  It is absolutely fascinating and to quote the blurb:  "is a tour de force that awakens a surprising new awareness of our place in the world"  Read it and you will see for yourself!

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.