London - St Katharine Docks and the Thames
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Last July when I turned 60 we celebrated quietly at Cape Agulhas. This year we flew via Dubai airport (a few hours to stretch our legs and jaw meet floor!) to London. Those snow capped in July mountains - Ararat is 5,137 m - are in Turkey. Mount Ararat and Mount Suphan. I think our Thomas, SPCA special, parents unknown, might be part Turkish Van cat (large, fluffy, LOVES playing with water). We flew over Lake Van.
My bucket list includes living in London, a dream made real for a week when we lived in a holiday flat at St Katharine Docks. We chose the week when a heat wave hit London. Such bliss to return to a balcony overlooking yachts on the water. And in the only building shielded by 3 tall trees.
10 minutes walk from the Underground. We were across the road from Waitrose. Breakfast was Jordan's muesli with Cornish clotted cream. Yum ...
We had a list of things we wanted to do (posts coming), and an even longer list of No Time for those - Tate Gallery, the V & A. On my birthday we did a Thames cruise. Starting from the London Eye (no I won't go up there, but we did go to the Sky Garden on another day)
We were last in London in 2009. All these years later breaking news travels with you on the plane. London flags flying at half mast for Nice. People in shock. Security bumped up (our bags searched before the Sunday service at St Paul's, and two sinister security people checking each face at the departure gate in Bristol). Before we reached Frankfurt there were 3 terror attacks in Germany. While we were in Zurich a woman was knifed at Russell Square in London. Back at home municipal elections were peaceful. Less support for the ANC fat cats on the gravy train, and more for the DA's the city that works for you.
Turner lived in Chelsea, crossed the river, and painted the Thames from this delightful church. St Mary's in Battersea with Turner's Chair and a stained glass window remembering him.
The Ship Inn. Everyone messing about in boats on the water. Our boat had a group of Spanish schoolchildren who took a fancy to a little boat and sang them Happy Birthday. Thank you.
The down side of a garden with - wow flowers in winter - is skin that suffers sun damage. I needed a hat to protect my parting. No, not the battered white garden and beach hat. Something this little old lady could wear on the city streets of London, Frankfurt and Zurich. Rushing around the week before we left I found this pale pink one - then packed my suitcase to match. My husband's photos are peppered with pink hats!
We took the boat to Hampton Court. A bus to Richmond, where we walked up to the view. Admired the stag in the hotel parking lot. And the Petersham Hotel built in 1864 - Victorian Gothic and delusions of Hogwarts. In the garden with 'Bulbous Betty' I gazed at a tight colour palette of lavender and lemon yellow.
A day to remember with happiness. My delight was the Chelsea Physic Garden!
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