Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old May 31st, 2015, 05:26 AM
  #181  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,615
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Sorry you didn't care for the Geffrye. I really like it: it was at the Geffrye that I realized that all that dark oak I was used to seeing in "stately homes" had started out light, plus the more modern rooms are quite evocative for someone who grew up in England in the 50s and 60s. When I was there in December they had the rooms decorated - in period - for Christmas and it was interesting to see how that changed over time.

I've done the Denis Severs house twice, although not for some years. Definitely go for the candle light tour.

I was thinking of going to the Tate Britain on my next trip, as I've never been. Sounds like I should reconsider.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 31st, 2015, 01:35 PM
  #182  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,615
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
WTB - have you been to the Fashion and Textile Museum? The BBC has an interesting piece on their current swimwear exhibition - http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/201...rief-encounter - but I had read a not-so-good review of the museum.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 31st, 2015, 03:06 PM
  #183  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Patrick, love the sign on your blog!

Tedgale you seem to have it down cold! Another trend is young women with grey hair, I'm definitely too old to try this one in an ironic way! I've seen quite a to of man buns and innumerable beards as you describe. When you've finally finished growing that lumberjack look the rocket barbershop on Hackney Rd is the place to have it sculpted, their slogan is "You grow it we mow it"
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rocke...94739057268201 There's a line, even before they open.

Annhig times have definitely changed, not sure it's a classic tourist spot but it's certainly a foodie, club, shopping and street art destination.

Thursdaysd, I wouldn't reconsider the Tate there's still lots to see there. I didn't dislike the Geffrye (and it sounds like they did a good job for Christmas) it's just that perhaps its for people who've seen a lot of the other attractions in London. I have been to the Fashion and Textile Museum, I really like their Thea Porter exhibit and I have the swim wear one on The List. Bermondsey is also a great neighborhood to walk around.

MissPrism, your right about the bike! Yes, I have see BoxPark - for those who haven't it's a shopping area in stacked shipping containers right next to the Shoreditch Hughstreet Overground. There are also offices you can rent in containers at a place called containerville!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2015, 05:52 AM
  #184  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've finally got around to blogging about the benefits of ArtFund membership which has worked incredibly well for us.

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...fund-pass.html
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 09:26 AM
  #185  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OK, I've been falling a bit behind on the reportage and if I don't get going now I may never start again!

So we've been busy and have finally got around to seeing several of the places that were high on our list. We went to Eltham (pronounced Elt-ham) on the way back from our out of town trip, I was glad to visit as it was high on my list. It was quite fascinating, a Tudor Great Hall and moated garden which was added to and renovated in art deco style by members of the Courtauld family. There were lots of fascinating details about their friends and family including a lemur they bought at Harrods! I can't think of anything else it compares to in England though in several ways it reminded me of Josephine Baker's Chateau Milandes in the Dordogne. It's interesting to see the juxtaposition of Tudor architecture and modern furnishings but I'm not sure the place works as there seems to be little sympathetic interaction between the historical/architectural spaces and designs.

It had been very well resorted by English Heritage but rather like so many of the National Trust sites it's all now about telling an accessible story, hence I was given a card and told I was maud someone other and my husband got his own character too, all gender specific of course nothing too challenging! Sorry to be a grump but I don't need to become someone else in order to find it interesting but you can see it would appeal to children.

The gardens are quite attractive and it's clearly a popular site locally.

On Saturday my husband was meant to be going to the cricket with the sibling, but it was rained out, clearly a reprieve for the husband! Instead he headed to the Tate Modern and I went out to Walthamstow to visit the William Morris Gallery.
http://www.wmgallery.org.uk

My expectations were fairly modest, frankly I went because it was raining and I discovered the number 48 bus which goes from the end of our road ends at Walthamstow Central which is only 15 minutes from the gallery. I love following buses or trams to the end of the line so this seemed perfect. Walthamstow itself is a little rundown and clearly has a large population of Eastern European Immigrants, I saw a Romanian shop, Polish Shops and a cafe selling Albanian bean soup! There are however quite a number of attractive streets but this isn't a leafy suburb like Hampstead.

I'm delighted to say the gallery defied the low expectations. I really liked it. They don't have an extensive collection but everything is well displayed and they have a wide range of items from furniture to prints, pamphlets, stained glass etc. The gallery does a good job of telling the tale of Morris' career, his artistic collaborations and his later conversion to socialism.

There is a lovely park behind the museum and a nice cafe on the premises too. The building does have a relationship to Morris, it is the house that Morris' mother moved the family to - after his father's death and they lived here for a number of years.

A few weeks ago we'd heard the artist Yinka Shonibare speak at SOAS and so it was a pleasure to see that the William Morris Gallery had commissioned some of his work. I particularly liked the recreation of a photo of the Morris' and Burne Jones families redone with current residents of Walthamstow wearing Victorian Costumes made from African fabrics. This link may give you some idea of what I'm struggling to describe...
http://www.wmgallery.org.uk/whats-on...shonibare-mbe/

I'd really recommend the museum for anyone who is interested in William Morris or the Arts and Crafts movement.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 09:53 AM
  #186  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,615
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Oh good, I'm really glad to get a report on the William Morris place. From annhig's comment it sounded like it was in a bad area, but from you report it's fine.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 09:56 AM
  #187  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We had a bit of a mamouth day out following on from the Arts and Crafts theme. First a train from Cannon Street down to Bexleyheath to see The Red House which is the house William Morris commissioned Phillip Webb to design for him. It's currently being restored by the National Trust. Don't expect to find a pristine Arts and Crafts interior after all Morris lived here a long time ago and it has had many other owners who made subsequent changes. There are some vestiges of Morris' time including some large built in furniture, decorative walls and a studio.

The docents are very knowledgable and there is a delightful cottage garden complete with a lovely vegetable garden. This is a great place for anyone with a keen interest in architecture and/or Morris. The house is about a 15 minute walk from the station and it's easy to find. Lets just say Bexleyheath is not the tranquil retreat it was in Morris' day and Red House is surrounded by some very quotidian suburban developments. We headed over to Danson House in a nearby Park which currently has a Vivienne Westwood installation but it was unfortunately closed after some tea and cake we decided to head to Greenwich by bus. It's astonishing how often tea and cake goes along with a revived sense of enthusiasm for the day out!

Anyway a bus ride took us directly to Blackheath where we walked across Greenwich Park past the Observatory and down past the lovely historic buildings. In particular we wanted to see the Queen's House the first Palladian style building in London. We walked down to the Thames and as it was low tide clambered down the steps to do a little bit of mudlarking, as usual I was wearing unsuitable footwear but that's the story of my life. In Egypt recently the guide told me to wear "sports shoes" the next day and I say, pointing to glittery flats, "These are my sports shoes!"

It was really fun , I'd been meaning to go on one of the mudlarking walks and have been following a Instagram account of mudlarking finds. It was fun to see how easy it is to find things and between us we found two small clay pipe heads and lots of the straight hollow stem fragments. Unfortunately neither pipe bowl was decorated but it looks like they where on the earlier side as they were smaller, apparently the bowls got larger as the price of tobacco fell. You can find lots of them partly because they tended not to be heavily reused as the tobacco was sold in the pipe.

This will give you an idea of what I'm talking about -
http://mudlarking.blogspot.co.uk/201...lay-pipes.html

As I understand it you're free to take anything you find on the surface but you need a mudlarking license if you are going to dig artifacts up.

After this we walked along the Thames path heading west on our way to dinner at the Mayflower in Rotherhide which is a lovely pub right next to the Brunel Tunnel and museum. Unfortunately we didn't leave enough time for the walk which we realized half way through so it turned into a bit of a death march through Deptford which wasn't too scenic to say the least.

We had dropped by the pub a week or two before but it was fully booked and so this time we made sure to make a reservation. WE had a lovely table upstairs with a view over the Thames and very much enjoyed the atmosphere, service and food. I'd give it a strong recommendation but make sure you get a reservation. I particularly like taking the Overground back from here to Hoxton as you go through Brunel's original Thames tunnel which was first used for pedestrians. You can't see anything but I like the idea of it!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 10:57 AM
  #188  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ok, still lots more to cover, if anyone is still interested. I'm already getting all the days mixed up so I need to write this before I forget everything!

SPENCER HOUSE is a stunning 18th century period house fronting onto St. James' Park which I've wanted to see for a while. Its only open on a Sunday so it's somewhere you have to plan to see. It was a miserable day (there have been quite a few this year!) and until the very last moment I was the only one on the tour when three younger American turned up. It was great to be a small group though their key interest seemed to be connections to the Princess of Wales, yawn.

The building has been leased on a 100 year plus lease and has undergone an incredibly expensive restoration by Lord Rosthchild and his financial group. They've restored most of the public rooms which are used and rented for social functions though it remains offices upstairs. The restoration is somewhat mind boggling, the Specers stripped the place during the war and brought most of the fireplaces and woodwork, including chair rails up to the country pile Althorp. This meant that the restoration included reproducing all of these architectural elements, apparently Earl Spencer generously gave them access to the originals, no wonder!

It's very much worth seeing for anyone looking for a glimpse of 18th century London or anyone interested in interior. Some of the rooms including the Palm room are completely over the top. However, I do have some reservations about the place. Yes, it's lovely to see but it doesn't have much "texture" to me. It's a pristine restoration and it doesn't in anyway feel like a family home. In a way you see a lot of this in London and I'm hard pressed to think of anywhere like Palazzo Colonna where you have the grand rooms of a family that has owned the place for hundreds of years and the family apartments.

Obviously it's a matter of preference but I always enjoy seeing interiors that reflect a range of periods in a complimentary way, or if the interior reflects a certain period, I like it to have a sense of character of the owners. The Jaquemart Andre in Paris and the Nissim Camodo are great examples of the later as is the Leighton House in London. This is why I liked Fenton House in Hampstead so much because it has the feeling of being someone's home.

NATIONAL GALLERY
The Man who Invented Impressionism - we made it to the exhibit at the National on the day it closed and I was sorry we hadn't gone sooner so that we could have made more than one visit. It was an incredible collection of works sold by the dealer Paul Durand Ruel and even included doors from his home decorated by Monet. The audio guide was terrific and they exhibit did a good job of exploring Ruel's relationship with the artists and the development of the market for their art which in a way he helped create. I don't know if the exhibit is traveling elsewhere but if it is I'd highly recommend it, the only negative was the number of others enjoying it too.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 11:22 AM
  #189  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
NIGHT OUT IN SHOREDITCH
Last night we did our best to raise the average age of Shoreditch and we had a delightful time. First dinner at Dishoom which is an upscale Indian restaurant, think very hip, the whole place could be the backdrop to a fashion spread and I'm talking about the interior though it could also go for the patrons. It's a huge place but there are lots of people lining up. They don't take reservations so we went on the earlier side and the drizzle/cold/Monday night factor worked in our favor.

http://www.dishoom.com

Anyway, I loved it! Great food, good service and bags of atmosphere. The food is from the Parsi community and there were some familiar dishes but also a few things that were less familiar. Lots of things fried in chill and lime, delicious and overall highly recommended. I think they also have outposts in Kings Cross and Covent Garden.

From here we headed on to NightJar, the speakeasy cocktail bar I mentioned above. This was another hit and the reviews were spot on. The place is hip, stylish but not pretentious. It's table service and the server was very nice. general they have a cover for the music but on Mondays they often have the evening sponsored by a drink brand and last night there was a great small and playing gypsy swing all underwritten by Chambord!

The place has great atmosphere, there's a small bird on the door but no sign and you give your name to the chap who directs you down some dark stairs. Inside it's very lovely with a gleaming ceiling and lots of engraved mirrors and leather booths. This isn't a place for a cheap drink (£12-14 per cocktail or the knock down price of £7 for the sponsored varieties and only on some Mondays) but to be honest they looked like works of art with aromatic botanicals etc. One that came to a nearby table was flaming!

My Royal Hawaiian came in a coconut which is incredibly cheesy but was good fun and incredibly well made. IT has to be seen to be believed so here's the link!
https://barnightjar.com/drinks/royal-hawaiian

All in all a great night out!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 12:08 PM
  #190  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,860
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loving every bit of this, welltraveled, and will definitely go over again with a highlighter before I leave in TWO WEEKS!!!
LCBoniti is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 12:27 PM
  #191  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad you're still following along and I hope you have a great time with the Meadettes!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 01:30 PM
  #192  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
very clever website, WTB.

And I love the look of that indian restaurant - round here we have only the standard bangladeshi fare plus the odd nepalese restaurant.
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 01:48 PM
  #193  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,860
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
*ahem* We are Meadaholics.
LCBoniti is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 02:59 AM
  #194  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,386
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I can't wait to go back to London even though I've only been home 4 days!! William Morris on my list!
northie is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 04:02 AM
  #195  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad you are home safely northie, but given our difference of opinion on Soane I'm now worried about whether any of my recommendations will work for you ?!!

Still a few more things to catch up with before you're all up to date, I've got friends and family this weekend so I'll be preoccupied with siblings galore!

WALKING TOURS
Ok, yesterday I kicked into high gear (probably had something to do with taking the day off the day before) and went on two walking tours, I should add I advise against this and I ended up exhausted! I started with the London Walks Underground tour staring at the very respectable time of 11am. This is a great tour if the weather is dicey as it's mainly in the tube.

The tour covered the development of the various lines on the Tube, with a little about the construction and decoration. However, while it was a good into I'd like something a little more details, perhaps going further out to some of the more unusual stations, though to be fair this was probably too much to expect for a two hour tour and we did go to Westminster to see one of the newer stations, I must make it out to Canary Wharf to see Norman Foster's station. One thing that could make a good day out would be combining this tour with a visit to the London Transport Museum.

While I fancied the transport museum I was committed to a second walking tour, this one in Spitalfields. Over the next few months London will be hosting quite a number of Huguenot related events for the HUGUENOT SUMMER FESTIVAL. The walk I was on, was the first official event of the festival which contains lots of stuff from concerts, to lectures, seminars and days out.

The walk covered much the same ground as a recent walk we had been to on the Jewish community in the same area, though it was interesting to hear more about the Huguenot community and their contributions to the UK. They came here to escape religious persecution in France and had an enormous impact on luxury industries such a silver and silk weaving. The beautiful Georgian houses you see in Spitalfields were occupied by the master weavers who settled here.

http://www.huguenotsofspitalfields.org

After all the walking I was fading fast and I headed up to Tramshed in Spitalfields. This is the place with the Damian Hirst cow I mentioned above. Anyway they offer a reasonably priced sandwich till 4:30pm which was perfect. I had it with a glass of rose, which is my way of pretending some sort of summer is happening here! I really liked the sandwich but it's fairly straightforward fare, chicken or steak in industrial style surroundings and at 4pm it was almost empty. Apparently it's very popular in the evenings and attracts quite a crowd but I'm not sure that would suit me. I liked it but I wouldn't go far out of my way for it.
http://www.chickenandsteak.co.uk

Incidentally do pay attention to the size of a glass of wine in the UK. They sell a glass that is 250ml, yes that's a third of a bottle in one glass. However, although many places don't put it on the menu you can ask for a 125ml "small" glass of wine. I used to work at a pub as a teenager and I can tell you the glasses of wine were far closer to 125 than 250 back then!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 04:56 AM
  #196  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,386
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's ok wtb I really like arts /crafts and William Morris so I'll take the risk ��. Our 2nd last day in London went to Spitalfields to see the church where my great great grandparents were married in 1840- Christ church - a beautiful Hawksmoor building renovated now so different to when I saw it some years ago . Talked to one of the guides there who is descended from the Huguenots . Also went to the church in Fleet Street where my great great great grandparents were married in 1790- didn't know I had London connections until recently .
Don't tell me this marvelous tale is coming to an end .
BTW from Heathrow to Melbourne 27 hours - plane had to turn back after Dubai to take an ill passenger to Singapore .
northie is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 06:00 AM
  #197  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,054
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bookmarking for later...
Trophywife007 is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 07:52 AM
  #198  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
The walk covered much the same ground as a recent walk we had been to on the Jewish community in the same area, though it was interesting to hear more about the Huguenot community and their contributions to the UK.>>

I heard a funny story on the radio the other day from comedian and actor Miles Jupp who had been brought up thinking that he and his family were descended from the Huguenots and had a whole family history about it. Sadly, when he was approached by someone to help him research his family tree it turned out all to be a myth - they weren't Huguenots at all!

Here's the link to what is a very funny programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05mt5c8
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 01:39 PM
  #199  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don't worry northie there'll be another month of my rambling and then I'll spend months catching up on my blog! Interesting to hear about the family connections.

Annhig thanks for the link I'll check it out, perhaps all the people on my tour were faux Huguenots too!

DR JOHNSON'S HOUSE
Today I headed to Dr Johnson's House which is right off the Strand. I've passed by the area so many times but have never gone in but today was the day. I really enjoyed it. On the first Wednesday of the month they have a walk with a City of London guide which takes you around the area and gives you an idea of what it was like in Johnson's time.

In a way it's familiar ground (the Strand, Temple Church, St Clement's Church etc) but it was interesting to see it and the guide did a good job of drawing the picture of the Strand as a narrower road, Johnson moving between lodgings, marrying, making his way and eventually completing his dictionary. It was a good backdrop to the house which has some interesting information and is quite attractive but is fairly sparse in terms of furniture.

CHINA EXCHANGE LECTURE This evening we headed to another of the talks at the China Exchange in Gerrard Street right in the middle of Chinatown. Tonight it was Stephen Fry talking about language which was quite interesting. It's an unusual venue and draws a diverse audience, last time Carol Thatcher was in the audience (she was unmistakable when she asked a question) and this time Fergie and Princess Beatrice swept in at the last minute, with David Tang saying, "I see gingers in the back, come forward there are seats for you" - classic! Fergie apologizing to all saying , "This is so embarrassing" as she made her way hastily to the front!

http://chinaexchange.uk/whats-on/
Do have a look at the schedule for upcoming speakers and people who still have to be schedules, its quite something.

----
Incidentally has anyone been to Sutton House in Hackney? It's a National Trust property I'm asking ask someone recommended it to me today -

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutt...=1356318539245
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2015, 01:58 PM
  #200  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here's a new blogpost with pictures and details from Fenton House in Hampstead. Summary is it's a lovely merchant's house, very much worth seeing.
http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...hampstead.html
welltraveledbrit is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -