Easter Weekend

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!

29 comments

  1. Your comment about the weather made me smile because my very first trip to England was on a bank holiday weekend, and the weather was horrible almost the whole time, unseasonably cold and wet and awful, and right after what was apparently a glorious week. I’ve avoided bank holidays since then and have generally had really good weather.

    And Brassed Off is a great movie!

    1. Oh no Teresa! What a shame!! Bank holidays are guaranteed to always be rubbish so avoiding them like the plague is definitely a good tactic!

      So glad you’ve seen the film – I love it!!

  2. Your Easter weekend looked lovely! I love the blue, blue sky. You certainly know how to make the most of your time. I am a morning person myself and would love walking along with you in the morning. Even though the sun left you I’m sure you enjoyed being cozy with a book on a rainy Easter. Thanks for sharing your weekend.

    1. Thanks Janet! I know – it really was a stunning morning. The clouds soon came so I’m glad I got up so early and made the most of it. It was a great excuse to relax indoors when the rain did come, so I still didn’t mind the bad weather. Wish we could go walking together!🙂

  3. What a delightful-sounding weekend! Your posts always make me so envious of all the wonderful things and places you have access to in London – it’s so great to see that you take full advantage of all the city has to offer!

    1. Thanks Claire! I do my best to make the most of it- I know how lucky I am! But your beautiful photos of Canada make me very envious too – the grass is always greener!🙂

  4. Re Titanic: it may sound silly, but try reading some contemporary newspaper reports of the disaster, and of the inquiry which followed. When the James Cameron film came out I worked on a paper in Lichfield, where there is a statue to Captain Smith, so I did some research for a feature. The old news stories made fascinating, if heartrending, reading. There’s a British Newspaper Archive at the The British Library, which you can now access on their website, and I assume you must still be able to look through the collection as well.

  5. Your Friday morning read sounds delightful. I love the unexpected gardens at St. Lukes. Hurrah for South of the River. We’re off to Greenwich today & then will walk over to Blackheath & home. Any envelope news?

    1. Thanks Rachel! Hope you had a lovely time in Greenwich!🙂 Have my final interview on 8th May and after that I hope I will have good news to share!🙂

  6. Sounds like a fantastic weekend despite the rain! That sunny, tranquil morning must have been simply delicious🙂

    I really hope they don’t build the windfarm – there aren’t many places left that are still untouched and capable of connecting us to those precious memories. It would be terrible to lose another little bit of culture and history!

    I’ve always been fascinated by the Titanic. I hope you will review a book about it in the future😉 I’m also curious about the new Julian Fellowes series.

    I hope there’s some sunshine brightening up your day, Rachel!🙂

    1. Thanks Lucy – yes it was! I hope so too – I’m really sad about it.

      Oh the new series was dreadful according to everyone – I didn’t even bother watching it so that will tell you all you need to know!!

      Thank you – and the same to you!🙂

  7. I think I have sat on one of those very benches in Waterlow Park when I was over for a visit to my son. He was living in Finchley at the time before moving to good old Greenwich. Funny.

    Here’s a very readable book about the Titanic disaster: Every Man for Himself by the wonderful Beryl Bainbridge. Eerily intimate and no doubt accurate.

    I hope you’ll have many more London weekends to describe to us! Lovely.

    1. What a coincidence! I’m so glad that you’ve been to Waterlow Park, Chrissy – it really is a beautiful spot.

      Thanks for the recommendation – I will check it out!🙂

      I will indeed – this city has got so much to offer and I will never tire of exploring!!

    1. I think most locals will be high-tailing it out of the city…it will be practically impossible to get anywhere as loads of roads will be closed and the tube will be rammed…I am going to escape to the country!

  8. You had me at Waterlow Park with a croissant and your book! My neighbours three doors down are having a pool put in and it’s all loud machinery and classic rock blaring. Needless to say Deacon and I have been to the park…a lot!
    I can’t say that I’ve ever read an entire book on the Titanic, just dipped in and out of non-fictions works that come across the circ desk but no doubt you will have plenty of suggestions soon, Rachel. And when I make it to Greenwich one of these days I will be sure to look for kids full of grass stains!

    1. I thought of you and how you’d have loved it there that early, Darlene! Sorry to hear about all that noise – building noise is my most hated thing in the world – so shattering to your sense of peace!!!

  9. Always nice to hear Tales From Greenwich Park, more so from a book reading meridian hopping R. I always found it fascinating to think how GMT starts there, making that humble silver brick line (or is it solid, don’t recall) of worldwide importance.

    Don’t know how you managed to roll down the hill though; just a few seconds was more than enough for me in wee blighter days.

    Its fun to take the Thames boat trip there too, and curious how such a nice little ride gets used for commuting journeys. Then again – I’m assuming the boat service still runs?

    I’ve been enjoying some cherry blossom today, R. And – get this! – went foraging for stinging nettles to make nettle soup. Quite nice, bit like spinach, but its more the onion/garlic/etc which determines the interest. Very nutritious, I understand.

    I do love English spring but much of it is so much of letdown when the skies revert to grey and we scramble for winter coats again.

    – Bop

    1. Oh yes Bop, the boat service is still going very strong! I’ve got it to work before – a lovely way to travel in the early morning!

      I LOVE cherry blossom and I’ve always fancied trying nettle soup…I do enjoy spinach so maybe it’s something I should give a go!

      Yes, true – it’s freezing today. Every time I think it’s time to put away my coat, the next day I have to get it out again! So annoying!

      1. There’s an avenue of cherry trees in a park I usually visit every year. It doesn’t get much light so they blossom weeks after other trees.

        Its ravishingly pretty.

        After a dreary grey winter I love the blossom so much, R, I have to enjoy it in stealth mode so no one thinks I’m a nutter as I gaze up into it, intoxicated.

        One thing about the nettles, R, just in case it doesn’t occur to you. Should you go a-hunting, get away from the roads and the pollution. You can easily find recipes on the internet.

        – Bop

  10. I haven’t watched Brassed Off in years. I did see Ewan McGregor’s new movie the other day, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Such a sweet movie.

    Thank you for passing on the information about the wind farm. As a Bronte fanatic who lived in Yorkshire, the moors are very near and dear to my heart. I’ll definitely be lending my support to the petition.

    What a lovely Easter Weekend. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, and that you had a least some sunny weather.🙂

    1. I want to watch that Diana!

      I’m glad to hear you’ll be lending your support, Diana – I really am so upset about the thought of those moors being ruined.

      Thank you – it was good to at least have a few hours of sun!🙂

  11. Such a lovely weekend you’ve shared with us, Rachel, and so many interesting links to check into. I’m just catching up after being away and then busy and have enjoyed these last several posts – ah, my book list gets longer and longer.

  12. Brassed off is one of my very favourite films, not least in my teenage years when I was playing in a brass band (in fact, it was in a brass band that I met my husband!). Fingers crossed for getting good news soon about your job…

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