Monday, 12 April 2010

Weekend in London

Six months ago, when we thought DS was going away on a school trip, I booked a few nights in a budget hotel up in London for a city break.  DS's school trip was cancelled, but we managed to fob him off on the grandparents and went anyway.  It was a lovely relaxing treat after my first few days at my new job, very laid back, just lots of ambling about, sitting in cafes, sitting in pubs, eating far too much, and visiting a few museums.

Saturday we started from Hammersmith and walked along the Thames riverbank to visit the Emery Walker house , a small terrace house overlooking the Thames run by a small private trust.  Walker was a mentor and close friend of William Morris, and his house is one of the few places to see almost intact contemporary interiors complete with original Morris wallpapers and plenty of Morris memorabilia.  There are lovely views over the river, and volunteer guides show you around the four rooms open to the public (dining room, drawing room, study and his daughter's bedroom).  After learning lots about Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, we moved on to view Hogarth's grave and peeked at Hogarth's house (not currently open to the public due to a fire).  From there we shopped our way down Chiswick High Street, then walked along to an Arts and Crafts pub, The Tabard, by Turnham Green station.  After a drink surrounded by Morris-style tiles, we strolled around the neighbouring Arts and Crafts-influenced garden estate, Bedford Park.  The weather was gorgeous all day so we even sat in a park for while just relaxing in the sun.

Sunday was focused on the Spitalfields area.  We enjoyed a lovely stroll around the Sunday market inside the old Spitalfields market building, admiring all the handmade items and offbeat items.  I bought these two lovely handmade ceramic wreaths from Despina Handmade Ceramics because I just fell in love with them. 

I also bought this strange bag from a stall that was selling them in various sizes.  It is assembled from one continuous zip, so you can unzip the bag completely, or zip it up into a bag - so weird!

 We had tea and sumptuous pastries at Patisserie Valerie then went off to visit the Dennis Severs House on Folgate Street.  This is a very unusual period house dating from Huegenot times, set up as a kind of walk-through still life art installation.  Every room is crammed with antiques and artefacts, all supposedly telling a story about the occupants who have just stepped out of the room before you entered.  Sound effects and smells complement the visual displays.  There is a bit of a jumble of periods but it is extremely atmospheric, especially since visitors are asked not to speak and to just enjoy the rooms in silence.  The rooms are all crooked, with uneven floorboards, lumpy walls, stained paint and plaster, and lots of personal items strewn about such as letters, half-finished cups of tea, needlework in progress, discarded clothing etc.  It made me realise that my dollshouses are just way too perfect and could benefit from some of these added details.

After a lovely lunch back at Spitalfields market, we walked north to the Geffrye museum, a quiet museum located in former almshouses.  We've been there before, and principally went this time for a quiet sit in the free reference library, where I was looking up information on Georgian interiors around 1810 (because I have a dollshouse supposedly set in 1810 which I haven't done much work on at all). The museum showcases period interiors through the ages and has recently improved its gardens.

I had my Clapotis with me all this time, and did lots of knitting in pubs, cafes, parks and in the hotel room.  I've finished the increase rows and am just starting the straight section.  I dropped my stitches to see what it was going to look like and I am a bit worried about how long my loose strands are, but perhaps it will shrink up a bit when I block the shawl at the end.  I don't want to be snagging it all the time on handles etc.  I've heard people say this is a boring knit but I've found it so far, just the thing for when you are people watching or TV watching.  I laid the shawl out on the sofa to take a picture and one of our cats decided that it was the obvious place to lie down if she wanted some attention.


Sew Create It - Jane said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Just the rest and relaxing to get you ready to tackle the world again!

The shawl is beautiful and obviously has gotten the all clear "cat-scan" :o)

Daisy said...

Thanks for all those links - lots of places I haven't been to either so will have to go exploring!

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