Having unpacked we decided to take a walk through Kensington Gardens to the Albert Hall where I thought we could have a cup of tea having enjoyed my visit there with a friend which I wrote about here but sadly it was closed for refurbishment! We had our cup of tea back at the hotel in our room instead before heading out to find somewhere for dinner.
London Walks but this particular afternoon we chose one within easy walking distance of our hotel which seemed a good one to do so as to learn a little more about the area where we were staying. It proved most interesting and was called Old Kensington and according to the programme: This one's special. It's rarely the first – or even the second or third – walk people go on, but when they do get round to taking it, they often say it's the one they liked the most. And no wonder, because Royal Kensington is London at its best – picturesque, stimulating, and full of character. Its parts are as delightful as London can provide: everything from warmly handsome old Kensington Palace (home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales) to Kensington Gardens (all meadows, shaded walks, bowers, and flower gardens, it might be the grounds of a stately home in some rural shire) to cobbled little soigne lanes and mews, girt with pretty cottages and charming old shops...
This photo shows a balustrade which is shaped the way it is because apparently ladies in their bustles would like to stand on the little balcony and if it wasn't wide enough the back of their skirts would be tipped up against the wall (not very decorous!) but since space was taxed rather than making the balcony wider the railings were bowed outwards to accommodate the wide wired shape of the skirts!
The Roof Gardens are spectacular and best of all, they're open to the public to visit free of charge. So I am guessing well worth a visit!
Blue coat school next to the church St Mary Kensington - seems it was a Ragged School originally but now is the chosen school for children of the well heeled including apparently Mr Cameron's children! Talk about rags to riches eh? See the little statues of both a boy and a girl on their little pedestals?
We decided to walk through Kensington Gardens as it was not yet 9.30 and we wouldn't have been able to use our bus passes till then - past the Albert Memorial - the iron work is fabulous isn't it.
Heritage one - what a trip down memory lane this was!
This walk is the distillation of a brilliant guide's many years' experience probing the hidden places and forgotten nooks of the world's most elusive city. Exploring parts of London that few people know exist – up creeping lanes, round out-of-the-way corners, past secret islands of green – Shaughan's at his inimitable best. As the New York Times put it, the walk is "a highly entertaining...blend of historical commentary and bizarre anecdote laced wild mildly scurrilous gossip about past and present celebrities and defunct royals." In such places and with such a guide, the past becomes our present.
Lots of interesting facts and fascinating places but I must admit I can't remember all of them! It's not possible to make notes and there are no handouts nor tapes due to copyright after all why should the guide do all the research only for somebody else to copy his ideas. So it was interesting at the time but I do have rather a lot of photos I can't remember of what!
London Stone something you'd walk past without a second look but whose story is fascinating.
Livery Companies all of which are listed in order of precedence (can't remember quit how one gets placed) if you scroll down the link you will see them all listed and their order. Seems Merchant Taylors and Skinners have long since disputed their precedence and so as a solution as to where they came it was decided to change them round each year but sometimes nobody could remember which should be sixth and which seventh giving rise to the phrase "at sixes and sevens"!
St James Garlickhythe which caught my attention because of the scallop shell above the door which is the emblem of St James and a symbol of the Route de Compestala which my French friend and her husband are walking in stages. I remember seeing the shells in Paris too on the Musee de Cluny in my post here.
We finished up in a little square here near the house of Dr Samuel Johnson - it is open to the public but we didn't go inside - maybe another time.
There was also a little statue of his famous cat Hodge in the square and apparently people leave coins in the empty oyster shells for homeless people to pick up.
By now it was lunchtime and we made our way back to Trafalgar Square where we decided to have lunch in the Crypt of St Martins in the Fields which was excellent though very busy.
After lunch we returned to John Lewis on Oxford Street to purchase the computer only to find they didn't have one in stock! However there were several at their other store Peter Jones in Sloane Square so we made our way there instead and having had a cup of tea and a scone we made our way back to the hotel before going out for dinner for the last time. Now since I wasn't going to bring the computer away but to leave it to be set up for me I did rather wonder why it couldn't have been dealt with without our needing to go across to Sloane Square but with bus passes it cost nothing and we had nothing else to do so I guess it didn't really matter.
Detail on blog post but here are some more photos:
St James Park.
Horseguards Parade which we crossed to come out onto Whitehall..
As Dr Johnson said "When a man is tired of London he is tired of life for there is in London all that life can afford" - how true!