Armed with 20 GBP on each of our Oyster cards we set off on Monday morning for a day's exploring around Chelsea. We're starting to adapt to our jet lag and waking at a reasonable hour now (far better waking up ready to go at 5.30am than at 2.30am!). This is our early morning view from our SW facing bedroom window.
We find it easy to negotiate the public transport system: bus no 26 from Mare Street Hackney to Liverpool St station then the underground to Sloane Square. We plan to walk the length of King's Road Chelsea, from Sloane Square, all very Hugo Boss and the opulence of Peter Jones department store, right down to the more seedy World's End, favourite haunt of the Rolling Stones in the 60's.
I do a bit of a scan of the shops and realise those in the
Sloane Square end seem affordable by high end Australian standards. We sit and reminisce about our Chelsea experiences back in 1975 as we enjoy a coffee at Paul's on King's Road.
Everyone we talk to you is looking forward to the wedding next week (all Londoners get a day off work after all!). There are big street parties planned and costumes to be devised. This window display at Peter Jones is the most tasteful promotion I've seen yet.
We wander off into some of the pretty Chelsea side streets filled with 18th century mansions and lined with parked Aston Martins and Beemers in every shade of black.
.....and find St Luke's church in Sydney Street. The writer Charles Dickens was married here in the garden.
We walk down Edith Grove to Cheyne Walk on Chelsea embankment, one of London's most desirable residential addresses. We work out which of the townhouses belonged to Pre-Raphaelite artists, JMW Turner, Ian Fleming, George Elliott and Sylvia Pankhurst. Number 96 is up for sale for 25 million GBP. It belonged to the artist James Whistler at one stage.
I've just finished reading Keith Richard's autobiography Life so I was interested to see number 3 Cheyne Walk, which belonged to him at one stage. Not anymore; his principal residence is in Connecticut in the US. Number 3 looked quite modest compared to the others.
We walked across Albert Bridge to Battersea Park and got a lovely view of some Cheyne Walk houses from across the muddy grey Thames.
Battersea Park is a relatively new London park (only about 160 years old). It looked beautiful on this fresh Spring morning though not very crowded being a Monday.
The big tower in the background of this view of the lake in Battersea Park is often seen in shots of the iconic Battersea Power Station (made even more famous as the cover image of Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals and the notorious flying pink pig incident). Unfortunately I didn't get a full view of the power station on this visit.
We walked back over the Thames on the Chelsea Bridge, then past the Royal Hospital, site of the Chelsea Flower show and the hospital for the Royal Chelsea Pensioners. We even saw a couple of the pensioners, all shiny shoes and military ship shape, even in their wheelchairs.
By now we'd been walking around 10-12 klms and no lunch! We were relieved to find the gorgeous old Zetland Arms pub on Old Brompton Road, South Kensington and settled in for a pale ale and a rest for our hard working feet. We ended up in an extended conversation with Theresa, the pub manager, originally from Newcastle Australia, but 14 years living in London. We had a great chat and she ended up presenting us with our own London Pride mugs and matching key chains - very nice!
After a very late in the day but very reviving sandwich at Pret a Manger in South Kensington we made our way up to Cromwell Road to the Victoria and Albert Museum. With its late closing time (5.45pm) we were left with a good one and a half hours to check out a few things in its amazing collection.
I remembered the amazing Chihuly exhibition of glassworks at the NGA (was that in the nineties?) so this hanging piece in the foyer of the V&A immediately looked familiar.
Our overwhelming impression was of Britain's incredible wealth - being able to amass an amazing collection of applied arts like this from all over the world from all periods of history. The collection also highlights Britain's own art & craft legacy. I particularly enjoyed the ceramics collection - but we only got a brief oversight in this short visit.
This oak staircase from a 16th century Italian townhouse was pretty impressive!
Although I experienced the trip back home in a haze of exhaustion I remember being daunted by navigating the very large, but oh so well mannered peak hour crowds, at Sth. Kensington Station and the sight of every second commuter reading their tidy editions of the London Evening Standard. They don't do that over in the East End.