Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An English Summer: My visit, day one

I arrive in England - Kenwood House
 
Monday, August 4, 2014

Since I have moderate fear of flying, the flight dragged hour by hour as I kept my eye glued on the trip map. Air New Zealand flew well, but that was all they did (granted, it's enough). Although I was supposed to have a window seat so I could keep my eyes on the ground, they gave me my bete noire, a seat smack in the claustrophobic middle of the plane. This agony I had to endure for 10 hours, with only the nastiest of food, no internet, and not a single watchable movie (Nemo? Juno? Hobbit?). But then I got up and went to a window to see, and there at last were the foggy islands. The first sight of them never fails to bring tears to my eyes, on this my 33rd trip, just as it was on my first.

Cartwright Gardens - where I usually stay in London
 
 And then I was on the direct tube (Piccadilly Line) to Russell Square, looking out in the above-ground sections on a perfect London day. Low 70s, sunshine, fresh breezes, English greenery, the flowers of summer, buddlia and rosebay willow herb, oh so beautiful, and I have ten days of it stretching out before me! Reached my hotel, the George b & b in Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury, and had half an hour to wash up and get settled in my room before friend Ron Dunning (genealogist, musician, Austen family member) arrived. There's nothing lovelier than seeing a friend after a long journey, you feel welcomed and oriented straight away.  
 
Guide, philosopher, friend - Ron at Kenwood 

Ron, like the knight he is, promptly whisked me away on a lovely drive to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath - a more glorious greeting to England can scarcely be imagined! There I was, just like that, in the midst of Constable landscapes come to life. We had tea first, in the garden, iconic delicious English delicacies, egg mayonnaise sandwich and Victoria sponge. The house was simply beautiful, a stunning Adam house filled with Rembrandts and Constables and beauties as far as the eye could see. We followed this with a refreshing walk on the Heath, more views across grass and landscape over the city in the long distance. Then Ron drove me back to the hotel. Lovely drive too, through fascinating London neighborhoods, and there's no better companion than Ron for such a journey, for he has "the knowledge." We had a spot of Tandoori at my favorite neighborhood Indian place, and then I staggered back to the George, for some much needed and sound sleep!
 
 
Egg mayonnaise and Victoria sponge!



The Dairy at Kenwood
 
Tandoori at Motijheel in Marchmont Street

13 comments:

Tig said...

Thank you for bringing the joys of an English visit so beautifully to life.

Derrick said...

How I envy your egg mayo and cake! Neither could be found yesterday when I was there, but the Rembrandt self-portrait more than made up for it.

BrittArnhild said...

I am looking forward to "follow" you through your days in England. I am having 10 days in London and southern England to look forward to in September. Now I will use your blog to make a list over places to see. Kenwood House noted down today :-)

Diana Birchall said...

Tig, thanks for reading - I've only just begun! And how I wish a wish to you could have been included. Next time! Derrick, I'm sorry somebody ate the Vic. sponges before you got there, but at least you live in a land where they're not hard to get! Britt-Arnhild, I in turn will follow your trip! I know you'd like Kenwood.

Arnie Perlstein said...

Any Lord Mansfield stories from your visit to Kenwood?

Elaine Bander said...

I used to stay in Cartright Gardens too--great restos nearby. Now I'm usually at the Tavistock for convenience. Despite living in North London, I can't remember ever visiting Kenwood House. That's not to say I didn't, I just don't recall it--except for a vague impression of lovely, empty rooms. But my friends and I used to enjoy wonderful concerts and picnics on the lawn. Looking forward to sharing the rest of your journey.

Elaine said...

I used to have a holiday job at a hotel in Cartwright Gardens when a teenager and lived round the corner in Judd Street. Marchmont Street was my shopping centre

Charles Bazalgette said...

I'm envious! I used to live just by Russell Square and loved Bloomsbury. Kenwood too...

Anonymous said...

I can enter absolutely into your laying eyes on England. I was thrilled the first time I saw came in by boat (after 12 days so it felt like I had crossed the Atlantic); I fear if I make it back next summer I will indeed cry hysterically. I hope I can manage a more decorous burst of tears.

I agree after a long trip there is nothing so rejuvenating as a friend with kind welcoming eyes to greet you and whisk you away. When I returned from Williamsburg, a new friend of mine, Jon his name, came and picked me up as Jim no longer could.

Like others I wish you had said more about Kenwood. Any stories told by the guide (however bogus). The food looks scrumptious. I too will be reading these accounts of your trip vicariously to join in.

Best wishes to Ron Dunning too,
Ellen

Diana Birchall said...

Glad my stories are reviving nice memories for others! At Kenwood there were some Lord Mansfield references, Arnie, but they were mostly just pictures from the movie, and the book being sold in the shop. Just off the plane as I was, it was more refreshing to spend the time at Kenwood mostly outdoors, and I didn't do a close examination of the contents, just a general impression of lovely things.

Diane said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for rendering it in 3-D. All the food details are making me hungry.

miladysboudoir said...

Diana, my son lives near Kenwood and we did just that walk a couple of weeks ago. I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip, just sorry our paths didn't cross. Next time for sure. You are long overdue in Yorkshire.
Barbara

miladysboudoir said...

Diana, my son lives near Kenwood and we did just that walk a couple of weeks ago. I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip, just sorry our paths didn't cross. Next time for sure. You are long overdue in Yorkshire.
Barbara