Monday, September 14, 2009

The Dead, the Gasometer, and the Line of Beauty

After a great night sleep on the inflate-o-bed that I bought for Spooner from (because he doesn't do online shopping -- what's up with that?), and waking up sans jet lag, I set out for what I thought was going to be a relatively easy first day on the pavement. Crikey, was I wrong about that. I've just walked back into Spooner's flat, poured a glass of his Scotch, and looked at my pedometer. I walked 28,688 steps today (that's 11.76 miles), so it's no wonder that I could hardly drag myself up the 50 steep, windy, treacherous stair steps to the flat. My feet are sore, but I don't have any blisters and my back held up really well. (I must remember to do my stretches at least once a day while I'm here.)

My day started with a short, brisk walk up to the Hampstead Heath overground station. Rosenbeans will remember that station -- the network used to be called the Thameslink, and you couldn't use your pre-Oyster travel card on the line, so Rosenbeans and I would get the train between Finchley and Frognal where we were staying and Hampstead Heath near Spooner's first flat, trying to avoid having to pay the fare to the ticket collector on the train. Now you just use your Oyster card. I got off at Kensal Rise station and realized that I hadn't a clue how to get from there to Kensal Green Cemetery, but I did know it was on the Harrow Road. Seeing that I was literally on a rise, I walked downhill and got to the Harrow Road soon enough. The gates were open and I walked into the cemetery. Not 5 minutes later I ran into a woman who started chatting. She clearly knew her way around, and I did not. I said that I did know that Charles Dickens' beloved sister-in-law was buried somewhere near the entrance, and she showed me right to her grave, not 20 feet from where we were standing. Dickens really wanted to be buried next to Mary Hogarth, his wife's sister, but the family prevailed and buried Mary in the Hogarth family plot, sans Charles. He did pay for a nice marker for her.

At the suggestion of the woman I met in the cemetery, I went back to the office and bought the £2 guide to who is buried where. I could easily have spent half a day in the cemetery, but I cut it short after finding Marc Brunel's tomb, on which someone had just recently laid a bouquet of lilies, and not finding Wilkie Collins or Anthony Trollope. I can now check off #3 on the list of the Magnificent Seven.

Leaving the dead in the shadow of the gasometer, I crossed the Grand Union Canal and started my walk through Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill. I saw nearly everything on the walk that I had mapped out, and I'm so glad that I did this on a Monday, i.e. non-market day. I found two decent, though very different, loos along the way -- one just inside the main door of Sainsbury's at the start of my walk, and the other a Victorian subterranean public loo. So many of the public loos in London have been closed, and the ones that remain open are usually Gents', so I felt that I really HAD to use the Ladies' under Bevington Road, just off Golborne. It was clean, safe, cost 20p to get into a stall, and had a lingering wiff of Victorian bog pong that seemed right.

Along my route I saw many things recommended to me by my Flickr mate Malcolm, and found the places referred to in The Line of Beauty -- the pub where Nick and Leo meet, the house in Kensington Park Gardens where the Feddens live, the private garden itself (which is most likely Ladbroke Square Gardens and not Kensington Park Gardens), the cinemas at Notting Hill Gate, and ended my walk on Rotten Row in Hyde Park, which Nick walks along after leaving Lowndes Square (which I skipped seeing) near the end of the book. In between these noted places, I saw photos on a wall, mosaics, a tiki bar, bootscrapers, some interesting doorbells, a reflective pavilion, and picked up a few conkers. When I reached the point where I could walk no more, I exited Hyde Park, hopped the tube at Knightsbridge, and called it a day.

Pedometer reading: 28,668 steps (11.76 miles)
60p for a raisin and hazelnut roll to munch through the morning
£2 for the cemetery guide
£3 for a tuna and salad sandwich on brown bread and a bottle of water
£1.60 for a chocolate croissant at the tea house in Kensington Gardens

1 comment:

  1. ScribeGirl10:30 PM

    Yay, Line of Beauty walk! Did you get good cemetery pix? Admirable endurance.

    ...but what about SUPPER? -- or, was that the scotch?