With Travelling Companion and Daughter I spent some end-of-holiday days in west London. We stayed in a flat in Barnes and visited Putney, Teddington and Hammersmith. There were a few falsely sunny mid-mornings (I wasn’t up early enough for the false dawns) but basically the weather was the same grey we’ve been having in Brussels.
On the tube train that took us from St Pancras to Hammersmith was a Boris bike (a street rental bike). It didn’t seem to be with anyone. The woman in the photo stood up and moved to to make it clear it wasn’t hers. A few stops later, though, a young man who had been made homeless and was begging down the carriage came along and rolled the bike off onto the platform.
When I lived in London in the 80s I was a north London boy, more or less. These places in the west are new to me. North London has hills. West London seems to have the river round every corner.
This is where the Boat Race takes place. Everywhere except Teddington, people were out rowing.
In Barnes we ate well in an Italian restaurant (Riva) and a pub (the Brown Dog). Elsewhere, not so well. We were told by Son, who joined us, that Instagram has changed what people eat. Dishes that bulge have become fashionable.
I like the snickets (back paths) in Barnes.
It seems you can still get milk delivered to your doorstep there. I wonder if there are newspaper delivery rounds too.
In Teddington we visited a housing development whose residents share a broad lawn that slopes down to the Thames. They provide themselves with boats, apparently, to putter or row across to a pub on the opposite bank. It made me think of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, which I’m in the middle of.
West London seems to be the rugby-playing area of London. I liked this combined football and rugby goal.
To get to Teddington we caught a train from Barnes station, which is to be found, oddly for a station that serves an almost-inner suburb of a world city, buried in a wood.
In Hammersmith we went to riverside pubs – the Rutland and the Dove, where, allegedly, James Thompson wrote the song Rule Britannia in 1740:
- The nations, not so blest as thee,
- Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
- While thou shalt flourish great and free,
- The dread and envy of them all.
- Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves:
- Britons never never never will be slaves.
We also went to see the pantomime, Dick Whittington, at the Lyric theatre.
This is the Dame. Another character was a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a pigeon who is mayor of London.
Not all pantomimes have a message but this one did: London is a great city, and anyone who lives here is a Londoner.