London Diary – More of Thames and Van Gogh

Jan 30, 2016
The weekend is coming and my husband would ask what we are doing for the weekend. And I would have the answers. Really it’s been an easy job for me, there seems to be endless possibility here.
Having tried a small part of Thames Path between Richmond and Ham, we are to go back to Thames Path for Kingston today. Waking up to a dismal grey sky wasn’t the tonic for the day, I dragged myself out of bed and started to get ready anyway. Unexpectedly, but oh so happily for me, things took a 180 degree turn, the over cast was completely wiped away and it became a brightly sunny day and it stayed that way until the sun set.
We started from Richmond Hill, which can be reached by District Line or Bus 65. At the bottom of the hill is Petersham Meadow, where the surrounding starts to look rural. A path across the meadow will take you to Petersham which is a neat historic village between Richmond and Ham. In about a mile southward along the river from Petersam Meadow is Ham House on Thames. It is a Grade I listed building and currently managed by National Trust. An elegant house with a refreshing style, I could not have guessed it a 17th century house. Almost right across the river, is Marble Hill House, a white 18th century Palladian villa.
We traveled by the eastern bank of the river. The river was still mostly quiet but here and there we would see seagulls and ducks bobbing and some groups rowing. While there are cottages and low rise buildings along the way on the western bank, the eastern side of the river is mostly woods and fields. In about 3 miles, we passed the town of Teddington and its river lock and dam. Once in Kingston another 1.5 mile later, the environment became that of an urban scene. Kingston is apparently a large town. We made it to Kingston Bridge just as the sun was setting. After beer and a snack at a pub near the bus stop, Grey Horse, we headed home.



Jan 31, 2015
It had been more than 4 weeks since I last visited National Gallery, finally I was going back to finish my viewing, Rococo, Impressionism and post Impressionism collection. Save the best for last indeed, that was my favorite part of the museum.
So many great works, the painting of a girl by Madame Le Brun, The Market Cart by Thomas Gainsborough, Venice by Canaletto, La Yole by Renoir, Water Lily by Monet, and the list goes on. At the end, it was Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings that mesmerized me.
Once I set eyes on them, they seemed to draw me in and in. I stood there, stared, pondered and marveled at them. In comparison, they are smaller in scale than most of the other paintings there, and they are relatively simple in subject matter and composition, two crabs, long grass with butterflies, still sun flowers, wheat field with cypress and a village scene, and yet, they speak to me with intensity. The colors are striking; each brush and line effortless yet alive and fluid with energy; a dream like quality is palpable in each of these paintings, and yet you are convinced it is real. The result is that unique finish that belongs to none but Van Gogh. Not all his paintings are as happy as these, but still, considering the struggle he had in life and with his illness, it is amazing that he was able to capture beauty as he did.
I joked with my husband that I get Van Gogh probably because I have some of that “craziness” myself. Alas, not nearly enough to be the genius that he was. LOL…

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London Diary – Winter Wander Weekend

 

Jan 26, 2016
Many here love walking/hiking. And when you’ve had a taste of the extensive web of beautiful “foot paths”, easily accessed throughout the country, you’d understand why. It is not simply escaping to the country of open space, fresh air and delightful scenery. It is also rich history and architecture you’d encounter along the way. The enticement is irresistible.

I’ve done some walks here and there in England, loved every single one and forever looking to do more. A few weeks ago, I found out about a great opportunity, a long list of free guided walks in and around London sponsored by London Transportation was offered for the weekend of 23rd and 24th. I could hardly contain my excitement. Many routes looked fantastic but I finally decided, Richmond to Busy Park (9 miles) for Sat and River Walk in Hammersmith (3.5miles) for Sun.

That was to be the first of this organized walk that happens at most 2/3 times a year. Alas, a bad cold hit before the weekend. Although still battling the cold, I couldn’t help but try. I went but had to stop before long. I got as far as Ham House (one mile down) and turned back. It was however enough to whet my appetite.

Richmond is a pretty London suburb on the river Thames and the route is part of the longer Thames Path that stays close to the riverside. The list is also a wealth of information. I hope to catch up with the group next time, if not, I’ve picked up many walks to do on my own.

Here is the listing of the walks, http://www.walklondon.org.uk/

National Trust has a great walking route for Richmond and Ham House. The views from Richmond Hill and Henry VIII’s Mound are lovely. See link for details, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ham-house-and-garden/trails/ham-house-from-richmond-walk