All the News out of London:
Ouch! My Sore Feet!
This time around we're staying in Tooting, SW17. Such a great name for suburb. It first came to my notice all those years ago on the late 1970s television show "Citizen Smith" about Wolfie Smith, an urban guerrilla (that's code for layabout) leading the Tooting Popular Front (TPF) with the slogan "Freedom for Tooting" - check it out on YouTube! There are no signs that he had any success! Apparently the place is now known for a reality show "24 Hours in A & E" filmed at St Georges Hospital which is visible through our window. Sadly, perhaps, I've never seen it, but we do hear lots of sirens, even the odd helicopter.
Just behind St Georges we found a small park called Tooting Gardens which we thought would be a suitable place to get our bird lists up and running. We were rewarded with sightings of a few of the usual suspects - a magpie with the blue flash along its wings, very different to the Australian maggie, and a robin singing away the morning. Just a reminder to regular readers that any of the most excellent bird shots I show were taken by Sandra!
Not deterred by the impending revolution led by the TPF our friend Zoë lives nearby. It worked out very well that she was home with her lovely bubbas so off we wandered in that general direction. I say that because I had the incorrect address so we didn't take the most direct route. At first I attempted to pass on the blame but yes, it was my fault! Eventually we spent a delightful morning reading Grug books and watching the old conservatory being demolished. Most exciting.
Tracy spotted Morden Hall Park on the map just a few tube stops away and Zoë confirmed that it was certainly worth a visit so off we go again, coat and Happy Pumpkin beanie in place! So much activity on our first full day. It is another example of the green space that is dotted all over London. We wandered through forested areas, around wetlands, along the River Wandle and across grassy fields. Plenty more birds for our lists.
While having some tapas across the road to end our day I discovered a little local speciality - "Wolfie Smith Amber" - how could I resist? I didn't even try to.
A little damp this morning, good English drizzle, but with the promise of a clear afternoon. Priority number one - wifi and coffee. Two priorities actually. Cafe Nero just up at Tooting Broadway seemed the obvious choice. Perched at a bench overlooking the comings and goings of the broadway we whiled away an hour or so getting some interweb loving as we sipped our coffee.
The afternoon meant it was time to brave London. As the Handel House Museum was covered in scaffolding on our last visit we decided a return was in order. The site has now been rebadged as "Handel and Hendrix in London". Initially confused because no one wanted to answer the front door, despite looking resplendent without scaffolding, we found the entrance around the back. Two musical figures living side-by-side in Mayfair several hundred years apart. The addition of the Hendrix exhibition in his old flat upstairs has given a new lease of life to the museum and makes for a quirky place to visit. Young Jimi enjoyed the connection and developed an appreciation of Handel's music. Some say it's possible to hear the odd musical tribute in Jimi's tunes but I can't say which pieces - excuse me while I kiss the sky?
While sitting in my favourite corner catching up on the overnight dispatches, Sandra made an interesting discovery. She asked, "Is this room square?" I agreed that it wasn't. A study of cornices seemed to indicate one acute-angled corner and one obtuse-angled corner. Now, given the state of fireplaces in Mayfield, this was a most alarming matter. Photographic evidence was required so I mounted the back of the lounge with camera in hand. The shot wasn't clear. Back on the lounge again, with square cornered book in hand, I present the evidence!
With such an eventful morning behind us it was time for action. Today's choice being the "Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew." It remained dry throughout the day and we spent a lot of time in the back, wilder corner on the lookout for badgers and birds. The former remained out of sight, even though there are plenty known to be living there. On the ornithological side of things we heard and glimpsed plenty, including our first encounter with jackdaws. I also visited my own personal wollomi pine tree which is growing well - much more so than the two that didn't manage to survive at our place.
On Monday Raff had made a personal recommendation that we sample the meatballs at Belpassi Bros, Tooting. This initially led to a rendition of "On Top of Spaghetti" by Tracy and me, which Raff enjoyed. Good advice on the meatball front. We finished off our day spending a tasty and pleasant evening catching up with Lucie and Tom around the meatball pot. Good times keep rolling on - just like that meatball that rolled off the table. Tom is on a promise to sing the song to Raff again at the next available opportunity.
For our final day in London it was time to invoke my motto - "When in London go to Shakespeare's Globe". On offer was Twelfth Night. We've seen various productions of it before, each very different. This was the first time we'd seen it at the Globe. On a wintery twelfth night (5th January) in 2012 we saw the all male production with Mark Rylance as Olivia and Stephen Fry as Malvolio. In total contrast today Malvolio was played by a feisty and tiny woman with a doubty welsh accent - she was great. It was done in a kind of a disco style with a live electric band, lots of singing and was totally sensational in the Tudor atmosphere of the theatre. Big, big laughs.