London Diary – Pink Floyd at V&A

Jul 28, 2017

Thanks to dear Lauren who is a fan, we went to the Pink Floyd exhibit at V&A. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Going into it knowing little about the band, I learnt lots and became fascinated by the music and the band’s journey. I can imagine the joy it brings to the fans, introduction, memorabilia, videos, and a very cool audio guide that plays automatically the relevant content and music as you come into range.

Alas, sad as it maybe, it seems that all parties must end, and the band did not stick together all the way. Nonetheless there is no denying the musical brilliance of the band.

The grand finale, a segment of a live reunion concert from 2005 projected on all four sides of the performance hall, is evocative both in sound and image, Pink Floyd through and through! I walked away with that in my memory.

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London Diary – A Charming, Classic English Village and a Roof Garden in the Heart of Kensignton.

Feb 5, 2017

We had a wonderful time on Saturday, visiting Amanda and Ian at their home in Essex, a quiet, lovely, English village, not far north east of London, but what a world apart.

We took a walk through the village to work up the appetite, going by houses and fields, having two sightings of deer, where mud and wellies were all part of the pleasant experience.

We enjoyed a brief stop at the village church, which interestingly was very much reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Steventon Church. It couldn’t be more befitting, Jane Austen was after all what had brought us together. Amanda contributes her time and skill to the making of church pew cushions, and showed us one with her name sewn on it.

Delicious food, wine, lovely company and interesting conversation was the order for the rest of the day, just the way Jane would have done it 🙂

Love Amanda and Ian for their hospitality and friendship!

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Saturday Feb 11, 2017

Doing Valentine today, lunch at Roof Garden in Kensington, to be followed by a stroll in its garden.

Just as we were getting ready to head out, snow flaked down persistently.

How did it turned out?

Pretty good. The food was excellent. Getting up close to some interesting flamingos, and a Spanish garden, where they were least expected, were all part of a lovely experience.

Already thinking of coming back in spring/summer.

We also checked out Whole Food on the next block, with numerous items spread out on three spacious floors, it was impressive.

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London Diary – Women’s Mach on London

Jan 21, 2017

How do you deal with something that is so wrong in so many ways and so many levels – Having Trump as the president of US? Women’s March on London was a cathartic first step.

Women’s March on London carried on from US embassy at Grosvenor’s Square to Trafalgar Square, men, women, young, old and children, and so many showed up. Mr. Sun joined in too. Inspiring!! Very proud to be part of it.

 

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London Diary – Autumn Amble Highgate to Stoke Newington

Oct 2, 2016

It was a perfect autumn day for an autumn amble.

The walk started out of Highgate, which is known to be a nice suburb, but we got no more than a glimpse of its High Street on the way to Highgate Station where we met the group. From there we quickly tuned on to Parkland Walk, which is a local nature reserve converted from a former railway. The railroad track has been gone and replaced by dirt and gravel pavement. Overall it is a narrow long strip of wooded path and the branches so thick, we were shielded from the bright sun most of the way.

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The walk became more interesting after that. Finsbury Park is a nice big park. New River is a manmade waterway opened in 17th century to supply London with fresh water. Woodbury Down is new neighborhood of modern apartment buildings with great view of New River, West and East Reservoirs and London. Clissold Park is beautiful. Finally, the walk ended at Stoke Newington.

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London Diary – Autumn Amble City Hall to Canary Wharf, Fortuitous River Cruise and Decorative Art and Textile Fair at Battersea Park.

Oct 1, 2016

London offers free guided walks throughout the city 3 weekends a year, Winter Wander in January, Spring into Summer in May, and this weekend’s Autumn Amble. There are a number of choices on each of the weekend days, all great opportunity to explore London. Not only new comers but long time Londoners participate as well. We’ve got ourselves on the email list and received invitation to sign up weeks before the walk. This time I choose City Hall to Canary Wharf for Saturday and Highgate to Stoke Newington for Sunday.

City Hall is south of River Thames across from Tower of London and Canary Wharf is further to the east. It is a great route, half of the time we were right by the river, the other half we had to go around buildings that are right on the river.

Both City Hall area and Canary Wharf are highlights of London. In between are many less known but still interesting spots. Among many others are old wharfs that have been converted into flat buildings, St Catherine’s Dock and Marina, St John’s Church, Wapping Wall that is a lucky spot with fantastic views to both The City and Canary Wharf, Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant Narrow near end of Regent Canal, and many pubs along the way, of which, Prospect of Whitby from 1520 is the oldest on the river Thames.

The weather was however not so lovely. It rained on and off. Luckily it didn’t go too hard at us and we were able to carry on with umbrellas, rain coats and jackets.  The sky was as grey as lead but chose to clear up just as the walk was coming to an end.

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We had dim sum at Royal China right at the wharf. It was very good, no wonder that place was fully packed. To return to the city center, we decided to try the ferry boat Thames Clippers instead of tubes or buses. By then, the weather had turned around 360 degrees, and the ferry ride from Canary Wharf to Westminster turned out a fantastic river cruise.

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There was one more program for the day, Decorative Art and Textile Fair at Battersea Park. Antique, design and art fairs and trade shows that take place in London come in great numbers and quality. Imagine the endless opportunity for decorators and shoppers. Impressed by a few others, ADFL, LAPADA and Masterpiece, I wanted to check out this one too. Not to mention I’d been given an invitation that would admit two, more than happy to make good use of it indeed. It was nice, lots beautiful things to see. The fair ran a shuttle bus between the park and Sloane Square, which is close to Knight Bridge and Harrods. We ended the eventful day with a dinner at a pub nearby, Antelope.

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London Diary – Henley Regatta

Jun 29, 2016

Henley Regatta is one of top events in the scheme of rowing competition, held annually at the picturesque village Henley on Thames. This year it runs from Wed to Sat this week when teams from the world, including many teams from US, Harvard, Yale, Columbia to name a few, row against each other. It is an exciting sport all right. But it is the social aspect of it that makes it a very English experience.

As it was demonstrated by the daylong program yesterday, which was the first day of event, the Brits surely knows how to live the high life. Watching from one of the river front boxes at Phillis Court, a private club right at the end of the race, guests were treated to noshes and continuous flow of spirits, coffee, tea and Danish pastries for breakfast, champagne and bar snack not long after, Pimm’s (one of those things with a firm British mark on it) heralding lunch, 3 course lunch served in a separate dining room with plenty of wine, then more tea, coffee or champagne continued in the river front box.

There was watching of the sport of course, but it seemed that for most guests, of our group anyway, there was more social going on, along with the people watching. The hats were fabulous and you might have guessed that there is a strict dress code for the club, skirts only for ladies and they have to be just sitting on the knees or below, not an inch higher or you’d be turned out. Gentlemen have to wear suits or blazers/sport jackets with chinos and ties/cravats. All was part of the fascinating experience.

Only thing I would have like to change was the weather, it was so cold few could stay out for long, not what you would hope for a summer day, is it. Anna from Rusia who has lived in England for more than 16 years said there is no summer in England, that one weekend in May was probably all the summer we’d get for the year. If she was correct then English summer had finished before it even started. In any case, it is not going to stop the fun is it.

P.S. I tried Pimm’s first time yesterday, it is a delightful sweet and fruity drink. It is made by mixing Pimm’s into lemonade and flavored and garnished with fruits. Although Pims’s is heavy at 25%, the mixed drink tasted however very light and I figured there can’t be too much Pimm’s in it right. But I was warned. The English likes their Pimm’s, one said, it is more likely there is more Pimm’s in there than it tastes.

 

London Diary –Spring into Summer! (2)

Yippee hooray the sun came out, and the sky was a concert of blue patches and myriad of white puffs. I could hear children running and shouting on the soccer field. That was in the early morning. Things changed a bit later in the day.

But no matter. Spurred by the success of yesterday, I was eager for more lovely spring outing exploring London.

Walk London Spring into Summer continues with day 2. We are doing Twin Peak of Capital Ring, a section of Capital Ring between Greenford and Harrow on the Hill. After lunch at Black Horse, a pub by the Paddington Canal near Greenford station, we met up with the group which was about 60 people this time, twice as big as yesterday. Our guide were Marlene and David, who are both small in size and appeared to be septuagenarian. Marlene was the lead and goodness gracious, she was strong and as sprightly as can be, setting a brisk pace the entire way. Long walk and two steep climbs later, she was as fresh as when we first started, and we actually finished almost 30 minutes earlier, 4.5 miles in 2.5 hours.

We started at the head of the line but it proved to be difficult to stop to take photos and enjoy the moment and still keep up with the place in the line. I decided to forget about that. What good it is if you can’t stop and enjoy it along the way :o) The whole thing was a bit too hurry to my taste but we managed. After this however, I need a whole week to rest up :o) On the other hand it was worthy every bit of the effort.

In fact, I think today’s route surpasses yesterday’s, we saw delightful green space, interesting locales, and reached hill tops with stunning views.

Leaving Greenford Tube station, we took up Greenford Road by McDonald at Westway shopping center, and quickly entered a nature preserve, where we were surrounded by verdant green, butter cups, cow parsleys and lots of hawthorns.

In a little while, we found ourselves by the canal. We followed Padding Canal for about 20 minutes before changing direction and starting the climb up to Horsenden Hill, which is the highest point in Ealing. The path to the hill top was lovely with profusion of cow parsley lining and enlivening the way. The view of west London once atop the hill was absolutely rewarding and refreshing. You can also see the spire of a church north west of the hill. That spire in the distance is Harrow on the Hill, our next stop.

Harrow on the Hill seemed far from Horsenden Hill, and it was. First, we went through a tract of woods, which is so dense, deeply green and jungle like that it seems out of character, not what I expected to see in London. Once out of the woods, we were back to town and civilization.

After a bathroom break at Sudbury Hill Tube station, we zigzagged our way through residential neighborhoods, passing rows after rows of terrace houses, a small number of which had gardens in the front. I like the brick houses here, they are on average characteristic and handsome, but I’d much prefer them to be detached houses, single family home set in a decent size yard, with nice lawn and garden, which of course is a handful minority in a crowded city like London.

It had been an upward climb for about an hour by now and I started to feel the weight on my body and the reluctance of my legs, then the scene turned interesting. Elegant houses and eventually, the beautiful buildings of Harrow School loom ahead. A boy’s boarding school founded in the 16th century, Harrow School is one of most expensive private schools in UK at more than £12000 per term. Its impressive list of alumni include Lord Byron and Winston Churchill.

On top of the hill, a few steps from Harrow School is the grand church of St Mary and its soaring spire, which we saw from Horsenden Hill. Next to a stone tablet with inscription of Byron’s written words is a look out with stunning view of west London. Walk London Spring into Summer ended with a pretty high note.