Monday, February 14, 2005

London Trip III

Because I stayed with a different friend in London to the one I normally stay with I was able to experience a whole new area of the city. On my third day we walked to Parliament Hill and across Hampstead Heath. Filled with people 'Pretending to be in country' said my friend sarcastically, dogs, fat squirrels and even a few signs of spring snowdrops, green shoots of daffodils. We walked towards Hampstead village and ambled up and down the streets, passing Keats House and popping into Hampstead's local library. At the door of the library a large orange cat greeted us and consented to ear rubs. This is my favourite kind of travel encounter something that cannot be planned from Time Out but happens anyway.

Afterwards we walked to Berg House and looked at the reproductions of Constable's drawings of cloud scapes from the Heath.

We then warmed ourselves in a chain bookshop looking at books but didn't buy there but went onto Daunts Books and supported independent bookselling there.

The next day a sunday I did the only thing I'd prearranged in London a London Walks Tour of Old Jewish Quarter 'A Shetel called Whitechapel'. Last year I did one of their tours of Clerkenwell and was amazed at what good value they were in terms of interest and unexpected information. The walk was great despite the cold and the early start 10.40am. We left an hour and a half to get to Tower Hill Tube Station my friend saying we'd probably be early in the end we only just made it as the Tower Hill Station was closed and we had to walk from Aldgate East. We managed to meet up with all the other people who had been corralled into the tour friends of ours and finished it off in Brick Lane. Now Bengali not Jewish and had a lunch in an Indian Restaurant. Thus fortified we walked along the river and crossed at the Millenum Bridge and attempted to warm ourselves up at the Globe Theatre cafe.

The next day aware of the vagaries of public transport in London I left 3 hours to get to Kings Cross Station. So naturally I was very early I walked the 5 mins to The British Library. Oh wonderful place! Lockers for a returnable £1 coin v the £5 at the station. Went around the Writer in the Garden exhibition (free!) but somewhat hasty. There were items from both Little Sparta Avant Gardening by Ian Hamilton Finlay and Dungness by Derek Jarman. I hadn't planned to visit this exhibition but was delighted to see copies of Jarman's handwritten notebooks about gardening and being reminded of my visit to Little Sparta last year.

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