It is a truth universally acknowledged that Bank Holiday weekends will always follow a week of unseasonably warm weather, raising hopes for a glorious four days of freedom and sunshine, and then proceed to be miserably cold and wet. Therefore, when I woke last Friday morning to bright sunshine, I didn’t even care that it was 7.30am and I could continue to sleep for hours if I wanted to. I wasn’t going to miss a chance of some sunshine! So, I quickly got dressed and headed up to my favourite local spot, Waterlow Park, with a croissant from the baker’s and Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man. I saw no one on my way up Highgate Hill; everyone was still in bed, and London was silent. Bliss. I wandered into the dew-drenched park and found myself a sunny bench on which to curl up and read. All around me was sparkling grass, bright daffodils and crocuses and trees glorious with new blossom, set against the backdrop of the hazy, distant skyline of the city below. It was pure perfection; I was alone, the sun was shining, and I was surrounded by beauty. I couldn’t have wished for a lovelier morning. Once I’d had enough of relaxation, I headed back down the hill, stopping to take in some of the gorgeous Art Deco architecture in Highgate on my way; there’s nothing more becoming to smooth curved lines and white stucco than a bright blue sky.
Later on that morning I met my mummy for what was supposed to be a cultural day. We had planned to go to the Natural History Museum to see this exhibition, but the crowds of children on their school holidays put us off. So, instead, we had lunch at Carluccio’s and then went to the King’s Road to do some shopping. On our way we passed the Parish Church of St Luke’s, in Chelsea, where I helped organise a carol concert in my first fundraising job and which has a lovely little garden to sit in – a hidden gem! I was surprised to see a huge banner outside the church commemorating the Dickens bicentenary; I hadn’t been aware of any connection to Dickens, but it turns out he got married there! The banner promised an exhibition inside the church, but there was a service going on so we couldn’t see it; I’ll have to go back another time as I’m interested to see what they have on display.
On Saturday I hitched a lift with my brother to Blackheath, where I met an old friend and flatmate for a catch up. We had a delicious lunch at Chapters, and then mooched around the shops in the village; I took a look at the orange penguins outside The Bookshop on the Heath, but nothing appealed – probably for the best. We then walked across Blackheath and through Greenwich Park down to Greenwich, stopping on the way to admire the view across the river to the city. Sadly a large section of the park has been roped off for Olympics preparations, which spoiled the view a bit, and where I used to roll down the hill as a child, there is now fencing – I’m not sure when that was put up, and am hoping that it is a temporary structure as well. No summer is complete without a roll down the hill in Greenwich Park and a telling off from your mum for getting grass stains all over you!! I know Greenwich like the back of my hand – I spent many happy weekends there when I was growing up, as it was a short bus ride from my more boring South East London suburb, plus my sister used to live there and got married there, and a lot of my friends still live there now. I love the market and walking along the river and jumping over the meridian line…the start of time! As it’s on the ‘other side’ of the river, it’s not particularly touristy or built up, and feels like a real village community rather than a bustling part of central London. Well worth a visit!
On Sunday it rained ALL DAY and likewise on Monday it rained ALL DAY – typical! – but that meant I had plenty of time to read Excellent Women and watch old films like Brassed Off, which I had forgotten was so utterly brilliant and also has none other than a young Mr Carson playing a lead role – how could I have missed that connection?! If you’ve never seen it, you must watch it – it’s set in the early 90s in a Northern mining town at the time when Thatcher was closing down all the mines. It’s pretty gritty but at the heart of it is the story of how the miners’ brass band keeps them all going, and there’s nothing like vulnerable men and a community sticking together to make me cry like a baby. Plus there’s Ewan McGregor, so, you know – no excuses! While relaxing indoors, I also found this fascinating article about Barbara Pym and this website detailing a campaign against a potential windfarm being built on the moors that inspired the Brontes – having visited I can well imagine what a change this will be to the landscape and I am very upset at the thought of a unique site of natural beauty and cultural heritage being destroyed. There is a petition you can sign on the website if you feel moved to do so, and you can read more about it here and here. I am not against renewable energy by any measure – in fact, I am actively for it – but there are plenty of other places that would be more appropriate and suitable than a site of particular cultural significance that means so much to so many people. It makes me sad that these considerations don’t seem to be important any more. Finally, as its the centenary of the Titanic sinking, I am interested in reading something on the topic. I have this fantastic book that I am currently looking through, but I want to read something that has a bit more detail and discussion. Whilst in Tescos over the weekend I spotted this – I nearly bought it, but I thought a book written in the 1950s wouldn’t be the best for a Titanic beginner. I’ve looked online but the range of Titanic books available is very daunting and I don’t know where to start! Does anyone have any recommendations for something readable yet informative? I’d be most grateful!