9 August 2015
We’d been out near Henley for lunch today. A beautiful day and a delicious time.
And then, Charlie had to head down to Dorset to get permission from the garden to go on holiday for 2 weeks.
Do you know what I mean? Three days of hard labour (on top of the weeks of time that he’s been devoting already) will just about mean that on Wednesday he is allowed to leave. Of course, we’ll arrive back to total chaos, and a glut of this and that, and doubtless to scenes of devastation in corners of the vegetable beds. But for now, I hope he should be free to go.
I, sadly, have to be at my desk rather early tomorrow morning. So I took the train back from Twyford and dozed my way into Paddington station, waking up just as the train pulled in.
It was a perfect evening in London. Far too hot and too beautiful to descend into the tube; far too nice to rush home in a taxi. It was one of those moments to linger, and realise the incidental details and everyday beauty that surrounds us… if you choose to look.
The roof of Paddington Station glowed.
Even the grimy old walls of the station tunnels glowed.
Ancient un-noticed signs quietly rejoiced in the soft evening light.
If you’re rushing into Paddington Station tomorrow morning on the 8.35, will you pause for a moment and notice the fabulous beauty of the roof, and the way it curves just at its termination.
Charlie and I have a thought that begonias are about to have a massive revival. In five years time they will be about the coolest plant going. Watch this space… you read it here first.
Endless creamy stucco mansion blocks glowed.
It was the pillar-box red door that grabbed my attention first…
But don’t you adore even more the black rocking horse that sits watching through the window to the right? On Saturday, we’d been to the Ravilious exhibition at Dulwich with Mum & Dad. This picture was like a little Ravilious or Bawden compressed into a single frame.
I’m rather into 1950s brick terraces at the moment. I’m wondering if they are even more fabulous that tall Georgian streets. Friendlier.
Hyde Park basked in the August heat. It was a dream.
Planes drifted into the sunset overhead.
The towers of Battersea emerge from dry lawns and thick green trees.
Over at Speakers’ Corner…. debates raged thick and fast. The noise reached a loud babble. Hundreds of people had gathered to listen and discuss. From all corners of the earth, debate was going on. Maybe it’s the child in me… but I was almost more intrigued by the guy blowing huge bubbles across the road at Marble Arch…
And I wondered how much the ancient, creamy white stones have witnessed on this busy corner of London…
Across Park Lane, the gently-bowed fronts of the great Regency Mansion houses looked on silently. Not houses I know very much about. I should probably turn to the lovely book we’ve got in the office written by Oliver Bradbury… The Lost Mansions of Mayfair. Yet another book where I seem only to look at the pictures. There is never time to read these days, is there?
Tucked around the corner, is the perfect, eccentric, beautiful facade of the building that now houses our wonderful friends The New Craftsmen. If you are in London you MUST visit. It’s brilliant. And if not, enjoy a superb wander around the perfect website explaining all the things they get up to. Bonkers, but so good.
I have never known very much about this beautiful church on North Audley Street.
A perfect Greek Revival facade by Gandy, formerly St Mark’s Church, it is now an event space.
I love moments of magic change of scale in the street like this.
London is full of cranes. I admit, I like them. Although I don’t always like what they build. I sometimes wonder what it would look like if electricity pylons were painted in shades of electric red or cobalt blue as they marched across the countryside. Probably very weird, but it is an interesting thought.
Retained facades, meanwhile, are very weird aren’t they?
A glimpse to that temple of commerce, a piece of American optimism dropped in to sleepy Georgian London: Selfridges.
Although of course it goes without saying I really prefer We Sell Fridges. CLASSIC!
I have always loved the Duke Street Electricity Substation. Earlier in the year I bought a beautiful lithograph of the building by the remarkable artist Glyn Boyd Harte, part of Glyn’s Temples of Power series. To read more about wonderful Glyn, read this perfect post over at the Bible of British Taste.
Glyn would have loved this sign and the yellow glazing.
I have never noticed the brightly coloured flower vases on top of Claridges. So I checked out some photos on the internet, and realise there is a reason why. They have just been decorated, by the looks of things.
Insane. Gorgeous. More please.
I heard a terrible rumour at dinner the other night, that Colefax & Fowler are to leave their legendary show room further up Brook Street. I sincerely hope this is not true.
More planes drifted through the evening blue sky. Everywhere in London at the moment, vast squares are being dug up in the creation of Crossrail. If any one who works on the Crossrail project reads this blog, I’d seriously love a tour one day (I doubt the Crossrail community and the Ben’s blog community have very many venn diagrams, but we will see). I’m completely amazed by the scale of this engineering project going on right under our noses, without anyone really noticing. Five million tons of earth are being removed from London.
Down the road, the serene tower of St. George’s Hanover Square has seen it all before. I was reading a little of the history on the church’s website and was struck by this sentence: “Building materials were stacked in Hanover Square, and there were constant complaints from the inhabitants about the prolonged inconvenience caused by what seemed to them unnecessary delays”. From time to time I go to a couple of meetings just around the corner from the church, and I am particularly fond of these giant surrounds to tiny doors along the side flank.
I called Charlie, who had arrived in Dorset to a garden shrouded in fog, and walked home, past more cranes…
And past our old favourite, the Post Office tower…
And the sun faded. And I reflected on what an incredible thing a 45 minute walk through London is.
There’s something fun over at the shop just opened! Our lovely Pop-up book shop, McGonigles, is installed (up to the big city from beautiful Cerne Abbas in Dorset) for the month of August. Do call in as soon as you can. It’s a dream.
You see what I mean?
I have this in my sights…
And I was thrilled to find a copy of More Ant & Bee. One of my favourite books from my childhood.
We never had copies at home, but my wonderful Aunt Barbara had them, and I used to love staying with her precisely as a result.
And this week, Charlie and I are off on holiday. We can’t wait. Maybe this is the perfect holiday reading for both of us…?
Here’s Charlie, meanwhile, yesterday evening, getting permission from the roof terrace in London to leave.
Irregular posts will follow… from Tuscany.