Meandering by the river

5 February 2017
Ben Pentreath

We were in London for the weekend. On Friday night we had our office Christmas Party. It’s become a bit of a tradition at Ben P towers that Christmas Parties are not best held in December, when the last thing anyone needs is another party, but in the bleak dark days of late January or February we could all do with a knees-up. And so it was. Although not the craziest night ever, because one or two of the chief instigators of crazy were sick in bed or on holiday. But still, a lovely evening.

Charlie had a date with a friend in Portobello and it was my turn to take Mavis to the park, which was a lot of fun for both of us, even as rain showers swept across London. Charlie and I went for lunch up in King’s Cross, the sun cleared, and we decided to have a little wander down to something new… The Hunterian Museum, before it is about to close for a while. Charlie had been, but I hadn’t.

Dombey Street glowed in pale sunshine. I’ve always been slightly partial to the council flats next door to the old Georgian terraced houses.

It was a day when I was noticing things that I hadn’t really looked at before. We got fascinated by the tall townhouse on the corner of Lambs Conduit and Dombey Street with ancient net curtains in all the windows. Who lives there, and what is it like?

The brightly coloured shopfront of the Fryer’s Delight caught my eye: the Tastiest Fish & Chops in Town…

Arriving in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, we found this….But on the south side of the square, our destination was the Royal College of Surgeons…. their museum is the Hunterian.

I loved their disabled ramp.

A long queue was growing at the door. Across the square, through the trees, the houses of Lincoln’s Inn Fields glowed.

Eventually, we were inside, and here the blog gets a little disappointing. I took a photograph of the memorial to Lister, but on entering the museum a polite sign asked us to respect their policy of no photography.  Hmm. There goes my ‘new thing for the blog’, we thought.

I took one sneaky snap of a this impressive gentleman….

But to be honest the rest you will have to imagine. Thousands of specimen jars with the most hideous contents, exactly as you would expect of a museum in the College of Surgeons.  My stomach began to churn and I couldn’t wait to get to the fresh air.

The greatest sadness of all was the wartime destruction of the great Victorian Museum:

When war broke out there were just too many contents to consider evacuation. On 11th May, 1941, the building was bombed. The resultant fire was fuelled partly by the alcohol in thousands of preserving jars. Over two-thirds of the collection were destroyed.

Late afternoon sun glowed on the north side of the square.

The facade of the Soane Museum was perfect, as ever.

After tea, we headed to the Brunswick, to watch Jackie. A small pink bicycle was abandoned on the steps.Jackie is one of those films where the cinema was completely silent as the credits rolled. We loved it. And then dinner and a good catch up with an old friend.

This morning, we took Mavis to Regent’s Park again. The air was cold but clear.

But even as we arrived at the park, the sunshine was fading.

Grey mist rolled in. The Post Office tower was suddenly invisible.

Mavis suddenly decided to run around with a bigger stick than usual, which made her look very small.

Fog settled across London.

This afternoon, Bridie was taking us to the River Cafe for William’s birthday lunch. We got out at Hammersmith and went for an explore along the river.

I don’t know enough about this fine classical building right on the roundabout. Can anyone tell me?
But I did find this photo here…. And I wonder if I don’t love it even more then. How London has changed. We can all hardly remember.  What a beautiful photograph, I believe only from 1987.

We reached the river at Hammersmith Bridge.

Some buildings were nicely run down, others were very done up:

This house and garden were close to heaven, a whole lawn of bulbs… and the first daffodils of spring. Have you seen any yet? Edward Johnston, as you all know, designed the typeface of the London Underground.

He lived on Hammersmith Terrace, also home to Emery Walker….

I will treasure the memory of the visit I made to the Emery Walker House, years ago now. It will be exciting to see what happens next here.

I don’t know if everyone will know about the thousands of parrots that are now living in West London, thought to have come from escaped pets. We spied one. So exotic for a grey afternoon on the river.

I spied also an ancient Colefax and Fowler fabric in a window. Quite right.


The back of Hammersmith Terrace, facing the river, is really the front – with windows all aligned, unlike the street facade we saw earlier.

We had a perfect lunch at the River Cafe, and the pale sun slowly settled, and when we emerged the whole of the river was lit up soft pink from the sky.
And London felt quiet, and beautiful, and happy.

22 comments on this post



I was looking for some red telephone boxes in London for a Photoshoot and stumbled across your wonderful blog. Would you know where exactly I might be able to find the one in your photos taken?




One of those who enjoy your blog and who resides in Dombey St, when I first moved here l assumed the Council Flats were built after the War, quite incorrect there had been plans to demolish all buildings up to Grays Inn Rd, fortunately this was halted after the demolishing of the buildings where the Council Flats are now ! On one occasion when cast my eyes over the building on the corner a neighbour mentioned it belonged to an elderly man with a stall in a market, not quite sure whether he just uses it for storage or actually lives there !

Diane Keanesays:

Hi Ben, I’m taking the liberty of leaving a comment which has nothing to do with your post. I wonder if you are aware of the ongoing saga of restoring the Chateau de Gudanes in the French Pyrenees? Here is a link to the website:
Like you, Karina Waters, who purchased the derelict building several years ago with husband Craig, is a gifted and sensitive writer and reading her posts is so inspirational. As well as the narrative of bringing new life of the Chateau itself, of course. The CdG website has joined your Inspiration Blog as one of my favorite places to hang out on the internet. Oh, and the couple are Australians, from Charlie’s part of the world. Please check out the website if you aren’t already aware of it, you will enjoy it!



Hello again – I had a look at Bradmore House last night as I got off the tube and wondered whether you saw the sign on the side which reads

Bradmore House – the Baroque front facade dates from 1709 and was restored in 1993 – Bredero Properties plc epr architects ltd

I wonder if other side of the building i.e. which doesn’t face the church or road is the original ‘front’ as it has an elegant double curved outside staircase, columns and original plasterwork. There’s a tacky restaurant sign and plastic windbreak screen things stuck on across the whole front This link has loads of interesting historical info including part of it now being at the Geffrye Museum. Got me all revved up about historical houses in Hammersmith and beyond now!


There’s always something unexpected in the London posts: apart from the most varied architecture there is the colour – pink stretch limo, the pink bicycle, pink daphne, three red phone boxes, one green parrot, a fat guy in red, a blue door, a red door, some yellow railings… and Mavis going for #stickgoals. And you espied the Beloved Post Office Tower peeping over rooftops. Best, Nicola

Cyndia M.says:

Could those glorious pink blooms be winter daphne? They’re always such a nice surprise this time of year for us in the States. I’ve so enjoyed your posts!


Thanks Ben for a lovely blog as always. Its great to read it here in Singapore! As a UCL undergraduate and later working at the Institute of Education and as a Chiswick resident for many years I especially enjoyed this week. Re: Doves typeface, BBC R4 did a play about it last year.

Its called “An obsessive type – the story of the Doves typeface”

Jan Fawkesays:

I so love your blog, Ben. I thought I loved your country posts best, but now I’m not sure! Such wonderful evocative photos of London….my favourite city in the whole wide world…( I’m from Sydney!)


Your pictures made me feel homesick for london for the first time since moving to france nearly twenty years ago.


you outdid yersef’, mr. ben! am buttoned down against 65 mph forecast winds for the next few days on top of more snow and ice on top of the already several feet of snow and ice that i am slipping and sliding and falling in and over….wonderful and brave daffs, loved the telephone boxes, the best fish and chips and i hope you enjoyed desert for us all, at the river cafe! thank you for so generously sharing your’ like no other sees’ visualness, where most would see just bricks and mortar.

an outstanding week to you and charlie and the ms. mavis, dear ben.

Diane Keanesays:

Ben, what a fun ramble around London! RE Bradmore House, identified below by commentator Sarah: that graceful rooftop railing and urns are surely original to the building, so is the view of the building as a bus garage a view of the other side?

Exciting to see Edward Johnston’s house! I am an artist & calligrapher, in awe of Johnston’s accomplishment in revivifying an ancient art. In the US, Arnold Bank is credited with that process. I studied art at Carnegie-Mellon University and had a calligraphy course taught by one of Arnold’s protégés. He has already given up teaching but turned up a few times at that class which was a wonderful experience. He, of course, revered Johnston. Nice memory in a comment by a former student at the Royal College of Art, of Arnold Banks’s teaching there:

Thanks as always for sharing your weekend! Greetings to Charlie and Mavis.


Emma-Jane Whelansays:

Monday mornings are always better for a bit of BP, thank you, as ever. I also enjoyed the link shared by Peter about the Dove Typeface. I love a good treasure story so it was good to find a more recent account of the recovered metal type from the Thames mud here:


its Bradmore House, a lovely 18th house facing the church, now part of Hammersmith Broadway roundabout and surrounded by ugly office blocks, shopping mall and bus/tube stations! The local historic buildings saved it from demolition – I only know as I live nearby and actually bought the little leaflet, so sad it looks alone in a sea of ugly new buildings which overshadow it but stands there proudly, I don’t know who occupies it now. The Emery Walker house I think is set to re-open this year, amazing place, what a lovely walk it is up and down the river there. Thanks so much for the blog, I look forward to it every week!


We have daffodils out in our garden. They arrived this weekend and the snowdrops the week before 🙂 I have also seen crocuses and a rhododendron!!
The parakeets which are so common in London have also arrived in Dorset. We saw a colony of them squawking in the trees at Studland back in December.


Thanks, Ben. I too stayed in London this weekend, but unfortunately managed to miss all the sights you have again managed to capture so well through the eye of your camera. FYI, only last week I noticed that on the “local flora and fauna” board for visitors in Green Park, they even provide an illustration of a parakeet alongside pictures of a carrion crow, a grey squirrel and some white deadnettle, so they have well and truly arrived. You can’t miss hearing them, but they are often very difficult to see, as they fly so fast and are extremely green – so well done for spotting one!

William Evanssays:

When ever I visit your wonderful shop we always nip down the road to the Fryers Delight, agree the best Fish & Chips and wonderful seating.
The rather plump chap is Daniel Lambert who is associated with the amazing George Hotel of Stamford, if not been a must visit when in that neck of the woods.
Thanks for sharing all once again. Have a great week.


thank you for the lovely post – as usual, you have such an amazingly good eye!
Have just been into the garden to seek out my daffodils. Would you believe the shoots measure just 1.5cm in Niederdorfelden, near Frankfurt. But I have about 5,000 snowdrops out already!
Wishing you a lovely week.

David Sanderssays:

Really nice snaps of London, whilst you were out and about Ben; that’s my London fix for a while then. Mavis appears to be levitating in one of your shots – who’s a clever girl.

Alison Lewissays:

What a lovely piece of writing and thank you so much for sharing. One thing that always makes my heart sing is the sight of Colefax and Fowler curtains in windows. As for the ‘wild parrots’, I hadn’t realised these are exist in London! You may be interested to know that in the entrance hall at The George Hotel in Stamford, Lincolnshire, there is a portrait of Daniel Lambert, the large chap in the portrait at the Royal College of Surgeons museum. He was born March 13th 1770 and as a young man was extremely strong. As he got older, however muscle turned to fat and at the time of his death on June 21st 1809, at the age of 39, he weighed 52 stone, 11 lbs. His height was 5ft. 11ins., and he measured 3 yards 4 ins. around the body and 1 yard and one inch around the thigh. He was regular visitor to The George and his walking sticks and custom made chair are on view in the hotel. I very much like the idea of a Christmas party in late January….. now where’s my diary for 2018 …….. 😉


A wonderful blog as always a few moments of escapism your photo diaries guide us from our own lives and in my case over thinking.
Great to see Mavis having fun.I think a Christmas party in February is a good idea l think so many people try to cram too much into December. Thank you Ben for sharing your images of London there is always somewhere new to see. So grateful cameras were not allowed in the museum glad to be spared any gorey details!! Hope you and Charlie have a good week.


Daffodils in February! A dream! So envious.

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