Thursday, September 18, 2008

West Along the Thames

Each time I visit London, I try to explore a new area. Last trip, it was Islington and a bit of Chelsea (rained out). This time, I chose Chiswick for one of my new adventures. Chiswick is well west of London -- it took about an hour to get there, past Hammersmith on the District Line.

My first destination yesterday was the Treatment Rooms, just a couple blocks from the Chiswick Park tube station. This is a private house, owned by an artist who has covered the front and back facades, as well as the garden wall, with mosaics. Oh, and there's a truck parked outside that has also been covered with mosaics, including lettering that says "My other car is a Turner Prize reject." There's a big tiki on the front, and little skulls and stuff, with wild bright colors everywhere. The back wall is the most interesting bit -- it commemorates Luis Ramirez who was executed by the state of Texas in 2005 for a crime he didn't commit.

Next, I walked quite a ways due south toward the Thames to get to Chiswick Park and Chiswick House. This was the estate of the second Earl of Burlington, who took the Grand Tour when he was 20, bought tons of art in Italy, became a great admirer of Palladio, and built his stately home using Palladian principles in about 1720 or so. The grounds are currently undergoing landscaping restoration, so there's a lot of orange plastic fencing in different areas and scaffolding on a bridge and a gazebo, but they are still lovely -- wild in part, and more formal as you approach the house. It's a popular place for people to walk their dogs, and the grounds were teeming with hounds and mutts of all sorts, most off their leashes and many wet from a dip in the pond. Disconcerting to an affirmed hater of dogs such as myself.

I did the house tour, which consists of a 20 minute movie about the Earl and then you're left to wander around on your own. Most of the rooms are empty of furniture, but the velvet wall coverings and ornamental gilding have been restored, as well as the famous Chiswick tables. Lots of the Earl's art collection is hanging on the walls. Photos not allowed indoors.

From there, I kept walking towards the river, cutting through the churchyard of St Nicholas to get there. I then walked along Chiswick Mall, which is right next to the Thames. It was low tide at the time, but I could see that high tide had brought the river up over the grassy bits across the road from the posh houses, and just a bit onto the pavement. Sometimes, the river comes right up to people's front doors, and they have special solid metal gates with rubber gaskets to hold the water back. A lot of uneventful rambling brought me back to the Stamford Brook tube station, with a stop for a panino and beverage before getting back on the tube.

Next destination: Pimlico, for the Tate Britain, where I saw the Frances Bacon exhibition. I didn't know anything about him, but now I can tell you that he was not a happy guy. The paintings are dark and disturbing. Where there are bright colors, they are associated with gore or violence. All his people are fragmented and distorted, shown as isolated or anguished. In need of something uplifting after that, I went through the Turner rooms and was surprised to see how loose and abstract some of his landscapes were. They were filled with glowing light, unlike the grey skies outside (but no rain yet since I've been here, so I really shouldn't complain).

My final destination was the Guess Where London (my Flickr group) meetup at a pub in the City, and I had plenty of time to get there so I decided to take the boat that goes from the Tate Britain to the Tate Modern. I walked across the Millennium Bridge, and trudged through crowds of office workers up to Gracechurch Street for the meetup. It was great to see my old mates and meet some new ones. We compared notes for our Open House Weekend plans, and I hope I'll run into a few of them on Saturday or Sunday. I'll be wearing my Flickr button and my Knitters for Obama button, so I should be pretty easy to spot.

Pedometer reading: 21,500 steps, 8.84 miles

  • 60p for a bagel
  • £4.20 for admission to Chiswick House
  • £4 for a panino and limonata
  • Admission to Frances Bacon exhibition: 0 (I used a friend's member card)
  • £3 for boatride
  • £2.30 for beer
Note: Rosenbeans has asked me to detail my transport expenses, but I can't do that. Each journey costs something different, depending on how many zones you cross. There's a maximum amount that you can be charged for a day, and if you exceeded it, your Oyster card is adjusted overnight. As I noted in my first post, I put £20 on my Oyster when I arrived at Heathrow. There was about 6 quid left on it from my April trip. I'll probably put another tenner or two on the card before the end of the week.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment