Well, for those of us not trapped somewhere we don’t want to be by Volcanic Ash, hasn’t it been just a thoroughly lovely day?! It certainly has been here in London, where the skies have been a glorious cornflower blue and the sun has been shining down on us. My dear friend Emma and I, who have been inseparable since surviving university digs together from the age of 18, regularly spend Saturdays together having ‘tourist days’ in London, where we make the effort to go to areas of London we don’t habitually visit, or to museums and other sights of interest that would normally pass us by. We had planned one for today, and we couldn’t have been more blessed with the weather!
Today we stayed South of the river, travelling from Emma’s flat in Hackney to Cheyne Row in Chelsea, where we visited the absolutely wonderful Carlyle’s House, home of the famous Victorian couple of letters, Thomas and Jane Carlyle, which has been virtually untouched since their deaths and is now owned by the National Trust. Today Cheyne Row is a blissfully quiet, peaceful street of early Victorian terraces just off the King’s Road, and it would cost you several million pounds to live down it. However, back in the Carlyle’s day, it was an undesirable street outside of the heart of London that was populated with shops and warehouses and was considered to be damp and unhealthy due to its proximity to the river. The pair were not wealthy, and as such their house is fairly sparsely furnished and not showy or cluttered as I had expected. It felt cosy, intimate, and lived in, and I especially was touched by the very personal objects, such as Carlyle’s pen, that remain in situ. It is quite rare to find homes untouched since the Victorian age these days and I absolutely loved experiencing the ambience and decoration of a home of that era. I don’t know much about the Carlyle’s, but I have Thea Holme’s biography of the pair, The Carlyle’s At Home, published by Persephone, so I shall be reading that for Persephone Reading Week now.
After spending some time roaming through the house and relaxing in the pretty walled garden, we headed off to Brixton, where we ate superb pizzas with capers, olives and anchovies at Franco Manca, a well known pizza restaurant that cooks pizza the Naples way. We queued for about 20 minutes to the sounds of Caribbean music pumping out of the surrounding market shops and salivating at the sight of all these wonderful pizzas being devoured by the eager diners. I am something of a pizza obsessive and so I was nearly wetting myself with excitement by the time mine arrived; needless to say it was absolutely delicious and if you ever find yourself in the proximity of Brixton, I urge you to pay a visit!
Fed and watered, we then hopped on a bus to Vauxhall, where we came across the most gorgeous island of yellow tulips on our brief walk from the bus stop to the Tate. We popped into the Tate to see my favourite painting; Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, by Singer Sargeant, and then had a little lie down outside in the sun. It was just the most lovely afternoon and we couldn’t have had more fun if we’d tried.
Oh, and last night I saw Julie and Julia, at long last, which I absolutely adored. Meryl Streep is officially the most wonderful actress on earth and I just loved her portrayal of Julia Child, who came across as such a lively, warm hearted and joyful person. I would have loved to have known her; she seemed to have such a boundless enthusiasm for life and that is the quality I most aspire to cultivating in myself. I am now having absurd thoughts of cooking my own way through Julia Child’s cook book. All that butter…all that cream…