Dragged our weary selves out of bed – Phil was going off to a velodrome to watch pedal cyclists pedal – and I was going to meet Jill and Karl. We walked past the Leinstar Arms where we had had a drink on Friday night , and then past these hoardings on the Great Bath Road – all the pencils were individually carved and there were real metal spirals on the note book. This is the grand seat we sat on in the rain on Friday. Left Phil outside Number One London – another place we haven’t been to. Jogged past Buckingham Palace – and – – met Jill and Karl sitting on the pavement outside the Sanctuary – we rushed inside once it opened. We left the pub and walked past Abrhaham to Westminster Brdge to start our Ghost Walk ..(insert scarey music) We did suggest to Jill that she carry an umbrella to attract tourists and read the stories in a loud voice so we could charge a fiver a head – but she refused.
I would tell you the ghost stories she told us – but can’t be bothered to go and get the book, and besides – one day we could take you round and charge you a fiver! Above is the plaque on the Battle of Britain memorial on the Strand which shows my Uncle Stanley’s name – Sgt S Andrew. Look — a ghost on the wheel! This has nothing to do with ghosts – but she s a fine figure of a woman. Can’t remember where this was – but we liked the cute little cherubs. Above is what used to be a water gate and would have opened straight onto the Thames. Now it goes onto the Embankment gardens where some rather funky music was being played.
That.s my girl, attention span of a gadfly. We went down into the arches under the strand – and blatantly broke the rules. The ghost down here can be heard screaming and drumming her heels. I never get the drumming the heels bit – I’ve tried it, and even without the screaming you don’t hear much, and it hurts. I wonder if back in the day you could buy special drumming boots with percussive heels? We didn’t break this rule, but I did try and get Karl to. He has more sense than I thought. Down a very tiny alleyway Past the sweetie shop – with strange things! I want some Boop-oop-a-doop juice! But not enough to want to pay for it!
We had a wander around the walking and hiking gear shops in Covent Garden – why they all cluster here is a mystery – and ended up in the Coal Hole.
Where I was entertained by Jill’s Zoolanding, and Karl’s amazing dancing head.
We joined the National Trust last year and only visited two properties – so when the direct debit went out again this year because we were too disorganised to cancel it, we vowed to visit lots of properties and make it worth our while. Of course we haven’t – but we did some online research and found that there was a National Trust property in Hampstead – and it beng a beautiful day decided to walk. We set off towards Paddington – the houses on the way were lovely – with glimpses of mews behind.There was a time when the Firkin pubs were THE trendiest place to drink – I had forgotten about the free t shirt you got if you managed to get a card stamped in 12 of their pubs – another challenge which will never be fulfilled. When we saw this sign we thought that there was still one hanging on in there – ..but no – despite the chalkboards outside it was well and truly shut. I loved this juxtaposition of old and new. We got to Paddington station – where there was a collection of stag parties and hen parties or possibly rugby fans – dressed in a variety of costumes – from Native Indians to these glamorous hula hula men. We headed off down the side of Paddington station and found the canal, which led to a big new complex at the back of the station. Above the canal there was a ‘peephole’ which let you look down on the station – there was a lift too which Phil had Phun in summoning. There was also this rather good area which was like an amphitheatre.We carried on along the canal to Little Venice – which I have heard of for years, but never been to – a bit of a disappointment as was expecting something more than a large pond.
Here was a man who we thought might be clearing a small child from his rudder. After a while the canal went into a tunnel, and we passed our second closed pub of the day – wouldn’t it make a great place to live. Back down to the canal – with one more small tunnel to go through. Then there was an area of moorings – looks good from the picture – but the boats were so close together that you could have passed the salt from window to window. Sort of pictaresque slums. Unlike this house – which looks soooo good – but the garden was just a little bit small. Phil wanted to buy it so that he could have a chair in the turret that would go round and round. Another fine view …and some cute baby ducks. (Yes, yes Phil – duckLINGS) We left the canal just before Regents Park, and went to one of my favourite pubs – Leffe on draught. The barman did warn me that Leffe was Very strong – told him that as I was getting old I needed to pack the alcohol in. I also have the WORST EVER photo of Phil taken in there – blackmail material? Offers? We left the pub after a pint of Leffe and carried on up Primrose Hill and it’s views. Further North past a gaggle of sky scrapers and then we found another lovely pub – the Washington, and George winked at us and lured us in. Look – more draught Leffe! And a barman with very very hairy forearms – which stopped at his elbows. And note the guy on the left – with a beige jacket with lots of pockets? Picture of a happy man. After a while we carried on up to Fenton House – by now it was 1600 and there was a parade of pensioners leaving. Lovely house, lovely staff – and lovely garden. Why isn’t my lavender like this? View of Fenton House and the interesting skyline This was the nearest pub ..
.. and guess what? More draught Leffe! We staggered back down to the Washington – where there was a man playing the piano – and the same man with the pockety beige jacket who was there earlier. What a lifestyle! By the time we got back to Primrose Hill it was dark. Same view as the earlier one! Back on the canal side – things had got a little spooky – look at the moon. – and the tunnel was very dark – and the waterside slum had closed it’s gates, and we had to leave the canal and Go Through an Estate – da da daaaaahhhhh – only people who have lived in London know what Going Through an Estate can mean – but we escaped safely to the other side and back.. .. to the dark, dark, canal path. After Little Venice the canal side became more friendly – and better lit – and we met two sculptures. .. and found another pub – but no draught Leffe! Shame on you! By now I had had Enough – and drank Red Bull. Phil was still hanging on in there though. Staggered back the final couple of miles to the hotel – far too tired to take any more photos.
We had meant to set off bright and early for a weekend in London – but a last visit to the loo the evening before put paid to that, as the flushing mechanism broke and sent a torrent of water into the bathroom. So by the time Phil had turned the water off and we had both made trips in the dark to the end of the garden for screwdrivers and ratchets and other instruments of torture – and we had blamed each other for the general delapidation of the house, the universe and everything, it was about 2 o’clock in the morning before the leak was temporarily stopped, although we still weren’t speaking to each other! Eventually after two trips to town to get the right replacement part, and Dan fixing it – and Jake giving us a lift to the station (the joys of boys!) we ended up at Victoria.It was a gorgeous day so we decided to walk to our hotel – so here are the obligatory photos of the journey. One of the few remaining taxi drivers huts – still serving tea inside. We’ll just add a house in here .. Not sure if this is a ‘real’ tradesmans entrance attached to the basement steps gate – but there was a Rolls Royce parked right next to it – so a good possibility! The Earl of Grosvenor – who built and owned the streets we were walking on – sat with his hunting dogs – they looked so beautiful and curly that I was almost tempted – but the breed is now extinct.
I love the curve of this street – which led us to a glimpse of hanging baskets – and we all know what hanging baskets mean – a PUB!! A very good one at that – could have sat there most of the afternoon. Hyde Park was calling though – and we set off up to Knightsbridge.
The fact that we had stopped in the pub had nothing to do with the fact that I tripped over a paving slab and fell headlong – chipping the nailvarnish on my big toe – everyone who knows me also knows that I will fall over the slightest variation on a perfectly paved pavement. We went into Hyde Park and passed this lovely dell which was the outlet for the Serpentine – and saw this modern day ‘feed the birds’ tableaux. By now the sky was threatening rain – and it was very windy. We watched the boats struggling on the serpentine – one in particular kept blowing back onto the edge and had to be pushed back in by a rather elderly lady who waded in to help – no idea if she knew the rowers or not! As we got further from Knightsbridge the park got more wild – and you could imagine how it must have been with footpads hiding in the trees. We escaped to the relative safety of Kensington Gardens – where it started to pour down with rain – so we took shelter in this marvelous seat, looking out onto the fountains at the start of the Long Water. More birds- they are taking over the seat in a manner rather too reminiscent ofHitchcock’s The Birds. I am not quite sure how a whole park can be protected by smart water – do they put it in with the fertiliser when they water the flowers – do you get marked when you try and slip the park in your pocket? This is our hotel – just on the fringes of respectable Bayswater and slipping into Paddington. We got it through our drunkenly bought timeshare points – it was a special offer with a room upgrade and all – so this was our room.. ..very flash , with a brick wall and all. We left the room to go shopping in Whiteleys – which used to be a respected department store and is now a newfangled shopping centre. We bought a Marks and Spencers picnic and some bread and cheese and ate in the hotel room – and then went out for a wander. Walked back to the park – it was very, very dark. We got stopped by a man in a cleaning van – who told us that a lot of the gates were locked – an if we wanted to get out of the park we had best leave NOW!! However, we KNEW that Peter Pan was being performed in Kensington Gardens, and there must be a way out for the audience, so we walked towards the theatre – just in time to watch everyone enjoying drinks in the interval. Can you see Pan? Walked back to the hotel past this wonderful set of windows, and for a drink in the Leinster Arms. And there were slippers! Luxury!
Many plums. So far – 4 plum crumbles. And greengages! We planted a greengage tree when we moved in – 20 years ago, This is the FIRST year we have had any fruit – despite blossom taunting us for the last few years. Greengages taste fantastic – well worth the wait. To escape the plums Phil and I went for a bike ride from Groomsbridge to Forest Row – testing out the silver bike – and the results of the test were that it is too big for me – and the saddle is far too hard! There is a brilliant bike shop in Forest Row – and the nice man let me try out one of his bikes – which was so comfy and just spun along the road – that if it hadn’t been a disgusting shade of grey with turquoise little flowery blobs on it – I would just have kept on riding and left the silver bike with the man at the shop. As it was such a horrible colour (and Phil had been kept hostage in the shop) I reluctantly gave it back. Now the hunt is on to find a bike which is as comfortable but is red. Apart from the uncomfortable bike it was a lovely ride – along the old railway track. No camera and lucky the track had been taken up.