Friday, November 25, 2011

Hidden London 1 - Two Temple Place


Having just published Susie Kelly's wonderful book Best Foot Forward about her solo 500 mile hike through hidden France I thought I'd write here every so often about my own jaunts through hidden London.

As a full-time carer and writer/epublisher I tend to work non-stop. Weekdays, evenings and weekends don't have much differentation. I balance this by by darting out every so often to meet up with friends or by taking a random solo wander. I live in the W8 district, a very pretty part of west central. Though we're surrounded by gardens, parks and shops and are within striking distance of all the major galleries and museums I still haven't discovered the half of it.

Yesterday I met a friend at the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy and afterwards we nipped across the road to London's most sumptuous store Fortnum & Mason, for a wander through confectionery and cakes.

Last week, thanks to a friend buying tickets many, many moons ago, I was lucky enough to go to the Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery, take a virtual tour of the gallery here. Everybody's talking about the two The Virgin of the Rocks coming together and they were one of the many highlights. One of them is in the permanent collection and it's worth knowing that when the exhibition finishes it will take its place back in the free area of the museum. Lots of London's museums and galleries are free. Which is as well as it's such an expensive city to live in.

This morning I took a walk/run to The Round Pond in Kensington Gardens and used that little plinth to do my T'ai Chi and yoga.

The Round Pond is Bird City. Many famous writers have perambulated its circumference including J M Barrie (Peter Pan lives here too) and Virginia Woolf.  The modern building is the Royal Garden Hotel, with Universal Music HQ just down the road it's the base for many visiting rock stars. It's one of the only hotels I know that uses healthy E-cloth microfibre technology to clean its rooms, so if fresh air is important to you, or you're asthmatic or suffer from allergies, that's the place to stay. The building to the far right is Kensington Palace, currently going through a revamp. It was Prince Charles and Princess Diana's home and will soon be home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William & Kate. Kate was spotted in our local Top Shop on Kensington High Street recently. I once spotted Princess Diana at one of our favourite local restaurants Kensington Place.

Kensington has many alleyways and tiny, pretty streets full of interesting little shops:

But now for a truly hidden bit. A free gallery I discovered recently is Two Temple Place. It's a really eccentric building, inside and out - see the Mary Poppins-like ship on the roof. The house was built by Lord Astor, the interiors are extravagant but it has a very warm and friendly feel to it.

There's a fantastically off the wall caff. A brilliant place to go for tea and cake or an Ottolenghi-like salad lunch. This is my friend X in the caff, she'd literally KILL me if I put her picture up on the internet hence the um subtle disguise: 

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.


Kate said...

Great post and I must get along to 2 temple place myself soon.

I am a museum and gallery lover and spend lots of time in them. Thank goodness so many are free and yes London is a expensive city to live in, viva the packed lunch too.

Anne Brooke said...

Lovely to see these parts of London. We're hoping to go to see the Leonardo exhibition at some point but we'd best get our skates on! Love the starling too.



Stephanie Zia said...

Thanks, Kate, clicked on your name and found your site Love London, fantastic! Anne, it's so worth going, sold out internet but they release daily tickets I think would be worth the early morning queue.

Deb said...

I love "hidden London". More please!
It's so easy to get stuck in our own little patch, oblivious to the marvels around us. Nobody knows London as well as you.

Stephanie Zia said...

Thanks Deb. Looking forward to our Sloane Square jaunt on Thursday!