A thoroughly lovely day!

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…


  1. Sounds lovely! It was such a nice sunny day so it was good to make the most of it. I went to a National Trust place today as well – the grounds of Pondsden Lacey were beautiful today.

    I still haven’t seen Julie and Julia – must get round to it one day.

    I hope your Sunday is just as good!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Ooh that sounds lovely, Jackie! I have a membership with the NT so I like to go to properties as often as possible to make use of it – I might try out that one.

      You should watch it, it’s such a feel good film!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day! It’s so fun to play tourist in your own city – a group of my high school friends and I have a very similar ritual.

    I adore Meryl Streep in everything, but I thought she was particularly wonderful in Julie and Julia. I went to see it with my father and he immediately went out and bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I. My mother, not a foodie, was unimpressed but the results have been delicious!

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know, I love it! It’s so easy to overlook wonderful places when you’ve lived somewhere all your life.

      I am tempted to do the same…I am intrigued, especially, by aspic! Though you are lucky in having someone else passionate enough to do the cooking for you…I’d be the one slaving over a hot stove and probably end up in tears on the floor like Julie!

  3. Book Psmith says:

    I second you on Streep…she was so wonderful in this film. Like Captive Reader’s father, this movie sent me straight to the bookstore to buy books related to the movie:) What a delightful way to spend a Saturday.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I just loved her! Glad you did too. I am itching for a copy of Julia Child’s biography now, and the cookbook…but I fear there would be FAR too many tempting recipes for me and I’d never be able to stop cooking them all!

  4. Madeleine says:

    Those flowers are gorgeous! I just changed my laptop wallpaper to a tulip one in celebration of Spring. It’s been gorgeous where I am, too. What a wonderful weekend, huh?

    Anyway, I’d give anything to be in London. I’ve never left the US (except to go to Canada, but that doesn’t count. :D), and you could find much of a Victorian home if you tried your hardest!

    I loved Julie & Julia. I think Meryl Streep did fantastically and Amy Adams was pretty cute as well. Plus, I loved the views of Paris and the markets. 😀

    Mmm… butter. ♥

    1. bookssnob says:

      Aren’t they lovely? I was surprised to see such gorgeous flowers in a public place!

      Oh you must come as soon as you can – it’s a wonderful city with so much to see and do!

      Oh yes…I loved the views of Paris too. I’ve never been and I long to go…Julia’s childlike enthusiasm of everything she came across in France just delighted me and I can imagine I will be the same when I’m finally able to be let loose in Paris!

  5. Teresa says:

    That does sound like a wonderful day! I’m crossing my fingers that the ashes will go away and the lovely weather will stay for my upcoming visit to your beautiful city!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh goodness, yes! I hope you can still come Teresa!

  6. What a gorgeous day you had! I loved Julie and Julia too though I didn’t like Julie all that much. Meryl Streep was excellent in the role. I had trouble believing Julia Child really spoke like that so I looked her up in youtube and only then do you realise what a fabulous job Meryl did playing her!

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know, I am so lucky to enjoy such lovely things! I agree – I could have done without the Julie part entirely. I’ve read some of her stuff online and she comes across as a rather unpleasant woman – I think Amy Adams treated her far more kindly on screen than she is in real life!

      Oh, that is exactly what I did! I couldn’t believe anyone could speak like that! Meryl Streep mimicked her so well, she really is so talented.

  7. I’m quite envious! Looks lovely!

    1. bookssnob says:

      It was indeed a gorgeous day! Thank you!

  8. Lex says:

    It’s scorching hot here in the Philippines! I would love to roam around but there are no flowers or trees to enjoy! Nevertheless, I have a reason to stay at home more.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh I’d love some scorching hot weather! If it was that hot here, I’d just be lying in the garden at home as well!

  9. Karen says:

    So jealous of your day! Although we are also having lovely weather on the east coast of Australia at the moment we don’t exactly have the variety of wonderful historical places to visit like London does! Thank you for sharing and letting me live vicariously!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Well if it helps, I’m jealous that YOU live in Australia! I’d love to be there right now! I’m glad you enjoyed living vicariously, though!

  10. diane says:

    Sounds like you 2 had the perfect day. I love the photos as well. Glad u liked Julie and Julia (I’ve seen it twice) Steep was fabulous.

    1. bookssnob says:

      We did! It was so lovely because days like that in April are so rare! I will be watching Julie and Julia over and over again; it’s the perfect film for when you need cheering up!

  11. aspirefreak says:

    Wish to have more days like this.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Don’t we all! Thanks for coming by!

  12. I am still having tourist days in London since I am still so new to it all; I think that you can easily live in the city for decades without even scratching the surface of what there is to discover and cherish.

    I hope that you enjoy The Carlyles at Home for Persephone Reading Week; it’s not one I have read myself.

    Meryl Streep was outstanding in Julie and Julia and I too adored it. I keep meaning to pick up My Life in France to read. Butter … cream … mmmm.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh, absolutely – I am still discovering new things and I’ve only been here almost 24 years! The shame!

      Me too – I was waiting to visit the house to read it, and it’s been on the shelf at least two years…maybe longer…so it’s about time I gave it the light of day!

      Oh My Life in France is now a must read for me! But can we bear to read the delicious descriptions of Parisian delicacies, Claire?!?!

  13. Nicola says:

    Nothing like a sunny day in London with a good friend. Great pictures.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Exactly Nicola! Glad you liked the photos!

  14. Verity says:

    That sounds like an amazing day! Carlyles at home was a lovely book and I didn’t know you could actually visit their house! Wow! Definitely want to go there.

    1. bookssnob says:

      It was! You have to visit Verity, I know you’d absolutely love it. And it’s walkable from the Museums at South Kensington – about ten minutes – so you could combine it with a bigger day out easily. I’m glad the book is good – I’m looking forward to it!

      1. Verity says:

        Claire and I are planning to go before the blogger meet up as I’m an NT lifetime member so it’s free 🙂

  15. Alison M. says:

    *Bon* appe*tit*e ! 🙂 Glad you loved the film, I did too. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t as Julia Childs was such an American phenomenon but, as you say, her personality (thanks to Meryl Streep’s great performance) shone. As did the lovely sun this weekend 🙂

    1. bookssnob says:

      Hehe! My friend and I kept saying that all day after watching it! I think the film had such a wonderful sense of joie de vivre all the way through it – Meryl was perfect in the role!

  16. Darlene says:

    Such a gorgeous photo, Rachel (love your cardie)!

    Visiting Carlyle’s House is a must on my next trip to London. It’s wonderfully eerie to walk around a house knowing it’s ‘as it was’. And how Sandra Bullock won the Oscar over the stupendous Ms Streep is beyond me (lovely though she is) *sniff*.

    Do you have any friends or relations stranded at Pearson Intl in Toronto? I’m 45 minutes down the highway and could offer tea, sympathy and a room.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Darlene! The cardi is so old – it’s a Gap number, but it has held up well and provides a splash of colour to a plain outfit!

      Yes Carlyle’s House will be a definite high point for you when you next come – I just know you’ll love it. I adore Sandra but having seen The Blind Side I’d have to agree – Julia Child’s voice was so distinctive and Meryl was so convincing in her portrayal of her. She deserved more recognition for that role than she got.

      Oh how lovely you are Darlene! Poor old Naomi at Bloomsbury Bell is currently stranded alone in New York – she was in Denver at a conference and was due to spend a few days in New York with her mum afterwards and her mum never made it out so now she’s all alone in the city! She’s quite enjoying it but she’s also worried that she might not be able to get back! So you might have to do a mercy trip to New York if there’s still no flights by the weekend!

  17. Jenny says:

    That sounds so fun! I’m envious of y’all getting to go to the Tate – I went there once, with a student group in 2005, and although I’ve been back to London a bunch of times since then, I’ve gotten lost every time I tried to find it again. They had really good tour guides, I remember, and I unethically attached myself to a tour group once I discovered the tour guide was telling them all sorts of interesting things I’d never know otherwise. 😛

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh I love the Tate, but it is out of the way. Next time you come, get the tube to Pimlico and walk – it’s well signposted! Or you can get a bus over the Vauxhall Bridge and walk from the end of the bridge like I did – great views of London and the MI5/6 building too!

      Tagging onto to tours is a brilliant thing to do! Free information!

  18. savidgereads says:

    Wasn’t it just a gorgeous weekend in London weather wise? For a minute with those pictures of tulips I thought you had been in St James Park (if you haven’t been to see the pigeon eating pelicans then you must!!!) at the same time as me… Vauxhall so beautiful, who’d have thought it?

    It’s nice to embrace tourist days in town, I don’t do it enough and soon it won’t be my full time home, so must do more!!!

    1. bookssnob says:

      It was! I was close to you but not quite there…we could have passed in the street and not known it! I know – the views from the bridge are stunning and I really enjoyed pottering about in the vicinity!

      You must, now you’re swanning off to Brazil for half a year! Not.jealous.at.all!

  19. JoAnn says:

    I love the idea of ‘tourist days’ in your own town! The Julie & Julia movie lead me to read My Life in a France – which I highly recommend. Have also dropped a hint or two for Mastering The Art of French Cooking for Mother’s Day… don’t know if I’d really use the recipes though.

    1. bookssnob says:

      They are so much fun! And usually free too 🙂

      I would love to read My Life in France but I’m with you on the French Cooking – as much as I like the idea of it I can’t see myself cooking lavish French recipes any time soon!

  20. Looks beautiful! I went to London a few summers ago and had a fabulous time — I’m very jealous you get to live there 🙂

    1. bookssnob says:

      It’s a great city to live in, I must say! You should come back soon and see more of it!

  21. Mae says:

    I can’t believe how bright those flowers are! You look so summery. 🙂 I like your idea of exploring your own city. We always fail to think about our own cities like tourists and forget to see that our city is quite fun too. But, of course, you do live in London… 🙂

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know, aren’t they gorgeous! Thanks – I try and get out of winter clothing as early as possible and the glorious weather is allowing me to get my summer clothes out much earlier than usual! This is true..I am lucky to be in one of the busiest and most cultural places there is…but I don’t appreciate it enough, is the problem!

  22. Danielle says:

    Lovely photos–thanks for sharing them! I’m very envious that you have London at your fingertips–I feel a little like I am living in a cultural wasteland (well, perhaps not so bad as that but…). My library has the older edition of the Holme bio, which I have looked at but just not squeezed in yet, so I look forward to your review to tempt me.

  23. bookssnob says:

    I’m glad you like them Danielle! It is a great city to live in, but easy to become blase about unless I stop to take the time to appreciate it. It’s funny because I long for the prairies of rural America and small town New England…we always want what we can’t have! I hope to read the bio soon so you won’t have long to wait for the review!

  24. what i can i say, pizza restaurants are really the best and they can really fill my belly ;”*

  25. Gerhardina says:

    I’d forever want to be update on new blog posts on this internet site , saved to my bookmarks ! .

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