The very grand Ham House (in Ham!) dates from 1610 and saw great drama during the Civil War and being a royalist household, happily entertained the King and Queen after the restoration. The rooms were expensively decorated to reflect the standing of the guests and is beautifully maintained by the National Trust who are continually renovating the fabric and the fabrics of the house. Bathing and toilets are always a fascination from old times and the Duchess of the house installed a bathroom for herself in 1675, one of the first in the country and even built one for her servants although this was outside in a courtyard! The gardens are wonderful too as you can see and the diary has the most amazing shelving supported by legs elaborately carved as cows' legs - rather strange for a room tucked away outside the main house! We dropped into the Petersham Nurseries on the way home to look at the plants and take afternoon tea at their famous cafe but nothing happens there on a Monday so we found the Petersham hotel with its views over the river and tea and cake instead.
It's festival season in London and I went to 2 which were at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was the local Golbourne Road festival which was a low key but fun affair with stalls, dancing and a stage with local bands. There were stalls from the nearby college, a neighbourhood school, a plant stall, the Police demonstrating finger printing (!) and our own raffle stall which was raising funds for Arts Mentoring (http://www.artsmentoring.wordpress.com/) . The dancing was impressive and well worth a photo.
At the other end of the scale was the huge and showy Taste of London in Regents Park where all the top restaurants take a stand and serve 3 signature dishes - everyone from La Gavroche, through Gaucho, The Grill at the Dorchester to Busaba Eathai - sooo much choice! Other stands were selling or doing tasters of all manner of goods from vodka to cakes, to sausages to spicy dips. It started off really sunny but got a little chilly later so here's a photo of Regents Park early on looking glorious.
I took a trip to Camden market to see how busy is it during the week in anticipation of some It's Your London visitors coming in soon and was delighted to see it was buzzing on a Wednesday. There'll be more about Camden soon but here's a couple of photos of the famous canal and the Vespa bar next to it!
Restaurants included the Mall Tavern where we had a meal ahead of the cinema - the meal was good and it's a nicely done gastropub worth a visit and so was the film - 'Please Give' at the top cinema, the independent Gate in Notting Hill. The theatre trip to 'Holding the Man' was less successful as I'd hoped to see 'Dream of the Dog' on at the same theatre but it was sold out and the second string was not for us. However we retrieved the evening but going back to Terroirs, a wine bar off Trafalgar Square where the Cotes de Rhone saved the day!
It's full on sport at the moment with the World Cup continuing (tho' whether England will continue to be in it is yet to be decided) and Wimbledon starts in just a few hours. So hard to get anything done!
Bye for now,