I hope you’ve had the best Christmas ever. We were down with Mum and Dad on the Isle of Wight, and had a lovely time. But this time, the blog this week is about two happy days in London either side of the holiday, as your little sneak preview last week will have let you know. Let’s call it the holiday double billing.
Early on the Saturday before Christmas we met our clients Justin and Paula at Portobello. It’s funny, looking at these photos, to think how we all feel the two or three days before Christmas, and how we are a couple of days after… That is, I suppose, the definition of anticipation. Fair enough. I love Christmas – beginning, middle, and end.
Notting Hill sparkled. We were there with the early birds, the delivery trucks and market traders setting up stands.
You’ve got to know your way around the arcades, but inside some are amazing treasures. My favourites are downstairs at the Admiral Vernon and at the back of the Gallery Arcades.
We had a good rummage and made even better buys. Then it was time to say goodbye. Charlie and I were heading to Peter Hone’s for lunch. Welcome to heaven.
Peter’s flat, as you will know from blogs past, is laden with extraordinary architectural fragments from which he makes amazing casts in plaster of Paris.
The kitchen is like a Portobello dream stand:
The bedroom is painted the palest mint green:and in amongst the castings, you find Basil, Peter’s extremely naughty Jack Russell. There is more about Basil in a minute.
Lunch is eaten around a beautiful pink and white striped table:
Here is Peter amongst his collection, tapping away on his i-pad (Peter is not afraid of technology). But lunch was over. We were taking Basil for a walk.
Basil’s playground is Ladbroke Square Gardens.
He doesn’t like being kept on a lead.
He does like chasing tennis balls, which Peter confiscates and keeps in one of the urns in the middle of the garden, just in case you are looking for your tennis ball. Walking past that particular urn drives Basil mental. You can see why:
Basil is virtually impossible to photograph. He never stands still:
Which is possibly a good thing. He has recently caused a bit of a raucous in the gardens. If you look carefully at the gardens noticeboard you will see four tell-tale sticky bits on the outside of the glass.
What on earth has been going on? Peter confessed. Basil got in to terrible trouble the other day, and Peter received a letter from the Gardens Committee. Peter initially tore it up but on reflection was so incensed that he glued it together and stuck it to the noticeboard. He sent me the evidence.
The note reads “THIS IS MY ACCEPTANCE TO THE GARDEN COMMITTEE. P. HONE”
Obviously the blog could never in a month of Sundays condone the behaviour of naughty dogs in London gardens, but we do, I’m afraid, condone blowing a raspberry to the Dog Sub-Committee. And of that, Mr Peter Hone is a master. I suspect there won’t ever be a statue erected to Peter and Basil in Ladbroke Square Gardens, but I feel there should be. Peter is one of London’s greatest geniuses, and Basil his soul-mate. Best not to tell them they can’t run in the garden. (Apologies if you are a member of the Garden Committee reading this blog. PEACE ON EARTH).
We headed home through streets rushed with last minute shoppers. The last rays of the sun caught the top of the Post Office Tower and all felt very very well with the world.
Today was a first. I got on a Barclays bike. I’ve got a confession to make. My trusty Pashley has had a flat tyre for about 8 months now, and I always forget to mend it until the moment I need it, by which time it’s too late and outrageously I resort to a taxi every time. I think it’s time to rethink the Pashley. Charlie got me on it. Barclays bikes from now on.
Charlie and I headed to Primrose Hill. I’ve written about Primrose Hill before, of course. It’s one of my favourite parts of London. But it was Charlie’s first visit, and it did look remarkable in the slanting winter sunshine.
If we lived in a tall Victorian townhouse in Primrose Hill, I think this would be our kind of car:
The view from the top of the hill, looking out across London, was as beautiful as ever…
But I was fascinated to see how many cranes were on the skyline (far more than October 2013 when I last photographed this view):
London construction is booming, and I’m not always sure for the best. But somehow I suspect this view will always remain amazing.
We wandered back through the ice-cream coloured streets of Primrose Hill. The blue house in Chalcot Crescent featured recently as Paddington Bear’s London home, and I wonder if the father and child walking by were having a close look for that reason?
I love the palettes of Primrose Hill. The award for the best colour scheme of all time goes to this house:
We walked back to King’s Cross along the canal.
Where we slightly fell in love with this canal keeper’s cottage…
I am thrilled every time I visit the amazing Kings’ Cross redevelopment. It’s brilliant.
And then home, past St. Pancras glowing in the late afternoon sunshine. I’ve just been reading about the battle for St. Pancras in Gavin Stamp’s brilliant little collection of essays, Anti-Ugly, which I can’t recommend enough.
Thank god for the Victorian Society, Pevsner and Betjeman, in the 1960s when all this was due to be swept away: And… home.
Have a really happy New Year. Haven’t the last few weeks and months flown by? I’m so excited about 2015, and I hope you are as well.