Wednesday, October 19, 2011

London Diary, Day Three: London Walks

Deb: Following our tradition of doing the “Walks” whenever we go to a city, we continued with two stellar walks today. Having been here many times, we were afraid we had exhausted them! Over the years we have done three different Beatles walks, Jack the Ripper, Haunted London, Fleet Street, Tower of London, Ghosts, Gaslight and Guinness, Shakespeare and Dickens and a few others that don’t exist anymore. Today we did Hamstead and Hamstead Heath and Little Venice. They were both superb! The first one was from 11 to 1 and then we grabbed a quick bite and ran for the bus ... no, scurried for the bus ... walked quickly but with urgency to the bus, and ate our sandwiches which were brilliant and arrived at the starting point of the next walk.
A very old 1700's Georgian church. I'm rockin' the new coat!
Our first guide was funny and easy with people, knowledgeable, a real treat. The second guy was very well informed but with an edge of bitterness at his having to do this sodding job which made it all the more fun. He would state facts in a very serious and dramatic way and take huge pauses to make his point with a flourish. “When Keats stopped coughing and saw the shade of blood in his hands, he knew it was TB like his mother and brother before him and he said.....................BIG PAUSE.................BIG PAUSE, TIME ENOUGH FOR A TEA............................ "I have just seen my death.”  Then as we headed for an old cemetery, he said, “And buried here is someone that will surprise you, and I will tell you who" .....................BIG PAUSE............BIG PAUSE.....................I WAS ABLE TO DO SOME SHOPPING............... "when we round this corner.” His manner was so serious. We LOVED it!
My sweetie crossing under a canal bridge.
I am sure many of you have done the walks, but if not I highly recommend them, not only as a way to learn history and walk about, but to get into parts of the city you are visiting you would otherwise never get to. The Jack the Ripper walk is a prime example. We would have never explored White Chapel left to our own devises. The following are today’s walks.

Little Venice was described this way: If you fancy something completely different, this is the walk for you. Little Venice is the prettiest and most romantic spot in town. A unique combination of white stucco, greenery, and water, it boasts the finest early Victorian domestic architecture in London; a Who's Who of famous residents (Robert Browning, Edward Fox, Joan Collins, Annie Lennox, and Sigmund Freud to name but a few); and a jewel of a "village" street. And that's not to mention its canals. One of them – Regent's Canal – is known as the "loveliest inland waterway in England". Part of the walk is along the canal towpath – which to this day is studded with fragments of evidence that bring the Age of Canals to life. And afterwards you can have tea – or a bite to eat – at a stylish canal-side cafe.
 One of the canals in Little Venice
The house of a British Admiral who inspired the character in Mary Poppins
who would shoot off cannons and raise the flag!
Hamstead and Hamstead Heath was described thusly: This is a great walk...they just don't come any better than this. Our setting is London's most picturesque neighbourhood...a perfectly preserved Georgian village crowning the top of a handsome hill and garnished with the capital's most elegant old world promenade, a medley of cobble-stone lanes, pretty cottages, surprising turnings, and unsurpassed views. As for our cast of characters...well it's every bit as beguiling as our setting, ranging from the highwayman Dick Turpin to the painter Constable to the poet Keats; from Freud and D.H. Lawrence to Sting and Boy George; from Elizabeth Taylor and Emma Thompson to Rex Harrison, Peter O'Toole and Jeremy Irons. And for good measure, there's London's most villagey atmosphere and magnificent Hampstead Heath, the capital's best-loved park.
Permanent houseboat homes on the canal
One of Paul McCartney's old homes
We ended the day on my husband’s suggestion of the Alice In Wonderland High Tea at the Hotel. He is rehearsing now and then Fred Willard and his lovely wife are taking us all out to dinner. I am now officially rockin it! I am, in fact, jealous of myself. xo
Alice in Wonderland never had it so good!

Down the Rabbit Hole we go. Hope there's a gym down there!


  1. Okay you got me. Who was buried in the cemetery. Too bad I didn't know about this place when I was there for just 24 hours on the way to somewhere else. I would have enjoyed this. Continued great fun.

  2. OHMYGOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!! London withdrawals!!

    Where exactly in London is Little Venice? A few of my friends did the Jack the Ripper tour and loved it; never got around to Tower of London (not enough $$$ and too many people). The Alice in Wonderland high tea looks delightful! :)

    And the weather looks glorious!!! Even more jealous (it was gorgeous when I was there too). AAAHHH I WANT TO GO BACK!! Glad you are enjoying yourselves!

  3. Jealous.






    Oh, and, that coat is, indeed, a best coat.

    Fred Willard? Oh man, now I'm in the mood to watch Christopher Guests movies. (Of course, when am I ever not in the mood to watch Christopher Guest movies?)

  4. LOVE THIS!!!! That's how I got around Scotland; just walked around and explored! I want to see a shot of the two of you! :]

    Meant to comment earlier...was consoling a dear friend. Can't wait to read more about your travels!

  5. Deb those photos make me Smile , and I can use a good smile After my very Long long daY. Thanks for posting them . I love that Alice And Wounderland tea party. Oh how great is that. I think my favorite photo though out of the whole bunch is the Marry Poppins house one. I love that movie. It's one of my favorites so seeing that house brings back the movie. Amazing . I have never done any of the walks but I want to and will. I am going to put that on my list of things to do for life. And I am for sure going to do them. Great post Deb.

  6. I most definitely agree with my sister...couple pic!!!!!! :D

  7. Jealous of yourself, you say?
    Oh, you do crack me up, missy.

  8. Madge it was Rex Harrison's wife and it was a simple heartbreaking headstone. Missed for all time by her doting husband Rex. The guide said that he tending to it until he died. Or rather he said "he tended to it...dum dum dum...till he DIED!!!!!!!!!!!
    The other funny thing about this guide is that the last word was always shouted! Holly Little Venice is around the Warwick Avenue tube (bakerloo line) Lili Langtree had a gorgeous home there as did Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney, Madonna tried to buy Lili's house and Michael Flatly usurped her. Rigel you will be happy to know that Fred is a gentleman of the first order. We had a delightful dinner last night at Orzo's! It's weird Lyndsie because we walked up to the house and I said to Colin that it reminded me of the Admiral's house in Mary Poppin's. Then the guide told us of the eccentric old general and his cannon shooting ways. He said that the woman who lived next store was indeed the woman who wrote........wait for it.....wait.........MARY POPPINS!!!!!!!!!! Okay Holly couple pic, not a good one but Colin took it yesterday of us and it's sweet. Kate, sometimes I am yes. Even I can't believe some of the adventures!!!

  9. Deb, I am just love love loving this whole inspired idea. London is truly the kind of place you can describe in detail and the reader never gets tired of it! I love the added stories in your comments too. Just so amazing and interesting. xo

  10. That is just so amazing that te women that lived beside the marry poppins house actually wrote the movie. Amazing.

  11. I'm really enjoying these posts, it's like a little peek at London. BTW I love these kind of walks, I enjoy walking to begin with as you see so much more than you would by just driving by add in a tour guide and I'm all for it. I've even done a couple around Winnipeg that taught me a few things about this City even though I've lived near or in it my entire life. Sounds like your sure having a good time.

  12. Erin, you bring up a great point: take tours of your own 'hood. A great way to learn something about the place we most often take for granted.

  13. And, take your camera!

  14. I was just in London in May and had a grand time. I try to go every other year with the family! Those guided walks are the best - I've done the Jack the Ripper one too, such fun! It was a Pub hopping one - ya saw where one lady was murdered and then you went into a local pub and had a drink, toasting her life. And then you walked to another murder site, and hit another pub, drinking toasts to all these ladies who had been murdered. Crazy fun. The other tours you listed are also fabu! I especially enjoyed the Haunted London, Fleet Street, and the Dickens one. Such a great way to see the city!

    Quick suggestion . . you have to arrange this with the National Park Service cuz its closed to the public, but try and go to the Hyde Park Pet Cemetary. It's Amazing! A small Victorian cemetary. Lovely, completely absolutely sweet! Goodness, it's grand fun.

    (I hope this photo link works!)


    A must see for Pet Lovers! Call the National Park Service at their regular number. Ask to arrange for a tour. Its free but they ask you to make a donation towards it's upkeep.

    Continue to have grand fun in London . . . its a wonderful city indeed!

    Laura in ATL

  15. I've never even walked the Freedom Trail, and here you are traipsing all over London in such beautiful weather. I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of doing the Jack the Ripper walk (surprise) and the Ghosts walk. I'll have to go and stay in London and actually SEE it someday, instead of just heading directly to the cruise terminal. It seems London is a bit more... scenic. :)
    Continue to enjoy yourselves!

  16. Deb, you're making me want to go visit London - and I don't like to travel! :)

    For my son's most recent birthday, we did a historical tour of the University grounds, which we all enjoyed. My son impressed the tour guide because he already knew so much about the campus (like the tale behind the Paper Airplane Room) and some of the people - such as Diefenbaker.

    I wonder what other local walks are out there to pencil in for Spring.

  17. Yeah it really is quite amazing everyone as you cannot run out of exciting, historical odd, fab shocking things to do in this town. Especially when you least expect it you come across a gem. Thanks Laura, I am going to look into that right now.

  18. Deb,

    When next in New Orleans, be sure and do the walking tour of Lafayette Cemetery #1.

  19. BTW, for those who have been asking me about it, I have found a used microwave and vacuum for my apartment. Yay!

    (Deb, Barbara, Ruth, and Katie K., check y'all's email. :) )

  20. (Colin might get a kick out of this) So I just called the EKU Arts box office to see where our tickets for Nov. 18 were. I think the guy on the phone thought I was nuts.

    Yep. That's how my day has been. Hope you're still having fun, Deb. :] Can't wait to read more!!

  21. Hi from Colorado! Love you blog-so funny and delightful!

  22. Rigel I will for sure and I am so glad that you have hooked up with the microwave! Kelly I love that. That guy should have been ON IT! You bet, having fun for sure. Darci Hi back, so glad you are enjoying our little blog!

  23. You wanna talk pauses? You've kept us waiting for days. Who was buried around the sodding corner?!?

  24. Oooops, read carefully first, comment later.


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