London Walk: a pleasant discovery

After my bad luck with Apsley House (closed for refurbishment) I was a bit baffled – what to do next? I had been counting on that visit.

Oh, well, I just had to keep walking didn’t I?

So I strolled down some street (herds of tourists everywhere) and spontaneously decided to turn off a side street…

And I found myself in a completely amazing world!

Deserted streets… with beautiful buildings… one or two passers-by… all this in the very centre of London! Wow! How was it even possible?!

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Mysterious building… Quite unusual in the midst of Georgian architecture of that street…

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Ha! Another arch! Don’t think it was as famous as the other two though 🙂

Everything was so quiet… so deserted… so mysterious… Where was I? In some completely different and enchanted world.

I walked  further and further away from the noise and bustle of London and eventually  I reached this monument

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Hmm, I thought, he must be the man responsible for creation of this heavenly corner of the capital, surely. Especially when I saw this inscription:


2013-12-14 13.26.38And this is what he meant:

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All the surrounding streets are built as crescents, full of noble wonderful buildings

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So I looked him up. Errm, no, he wasn’t what I thought at all, not an artist or an architect  – just a 18th century aristocrat. So why the monument then? Aha, looks like it was because the actual place, Grosvenor Square is the centrepiece of the Mayfair (exclusive London’s district) property of the Duke of Westminster. In the beginning of the 18th century one of them got a licence  to develop Grosvenor Square and the surrounding streets and I have to admit he did a good job!

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Lovely little garden all covered with fallen leaves… Still nobody around…

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And this tall, somber and beautiful church in the middle of an empty street

From here I started hearing the noise of London again. Time to go back from this enchanted world which I could never imagine even existed in the midst of London

 

 

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Walk around London: Park Lane and a bit further

After the Animals at War experience I crossed the road to Park Lane itself.

Now, for me the name (as well as many other London’s names) always associate with the Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga. I love this book, read it many many times and remember very well how Soames Forsyte visited his sister Winifred in her house at Park Lane… 🙂

2013-12-14 11.57.41So I was walking slowly along the street trying to guess what house would Winifred live in?

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No, too showy-off 🙂

A lot of the magnificent buildings on Park Lane are posh hotels now, Marriott and Hilton of course, and the poshest of all – The Dorchester

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A suite here is over £9000 ($14,500) PER NIGHT!

When you are walking along a  street in 21st century and seeing signs “Ballroom” every now and again – it makes you feel quite weird… like Were am I? 🙂

Ok, I reached my interim destination – Wellington Arch.

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When I was crossing the road junction to get to the Arch I saw some sort of murals on the walls of the subway depicting the life and deeds of the Great Man. It was quite interesting actually! I think I was the only one looking though…  No wonder the newspaper guy was eyeing me suspiciously 🙂

Had a little rest on a bench near the monument

2013-12-14 12.35.10Crossed the road to my final goal – Apsley House

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I had done some research!

Apsley House, also known as Number One, London, is the London townhouse of the Dukes of Wellington. It stands alone at Hyde Park Corner, facing south towards the busy traffic roundabout in the centre of which stands the Wellington Arch. It is a Grade I listed building. The house is now run by English Heritage and is open to the public as a museum and art gallery, although the 8th Duke of Wellington still uses the building as a part-time residence”

That’s exactly why I wanted to go there (not mentioning the chance of meeting the 8th Duke perhaps).

Guess what? IT WAS CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT TILL BLOODY APRIL! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggghhhhhhhhh!

Such a disappointment…

Oh, well, would have to find something else then.

Carry on walking around London

So, I started my walk down Park Lane and I spotted something which looked suspiciously like a horse. I just had to go and have a look!

It was a Monument to Animals at War –  a powerful and moving tribute to all the animals that served, suffered and died  in the wars and conflicts of the 20th century.

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There were four figures all together: two heavily laden mules in front of the wall…

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… and a dog and a horse at the back, having gone through the wall bearing witness to the loss of their comrades

The figures of the animals were just fantastic. Two mules at the front, carrying all that war stuff, so resigned to their fate (and all the time you think “Animals.. at war… no chance of surviving for them…”)

Because the whole composition was not made on the same level and was spread over the lawn, among the trees it didn’t look like any official memorial but rather like something very natural and organic and all the more powerful for that reason.

The wall itself was carved with ghostly  silhouettes  of various animals lost in wars and there were inscriptions  about theatres of war and the numbers of animals lost.

But this short line just shocked me

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They didn’t, did they?! NO CHOICE… How terrible… What a poignant inscription…

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There were lots of wreaths from various animal charities  at the base of the wall and two photos of dogs wrapped in plastic files with their stories – obviously recent reminders that the poor creatures still serve with their masters… and still die.

Later I found out that the Memorial was build with the money collected from a national appeal and donations from many charities, companies and people.

I stood there for a long time. It made me very sad and sorrowful thinking of all those creatures who didn’t start  wars, didn’t want to take part in wars but had no choice… and perished…

Sorry.

Wandering around London: from Marble Arch to Wellington Arch

That was the plan. To walk from one famous Arch to another and at the end visit a very special museum.

It didn’t quite work like this.

So, I started here, at Marble Arch

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Marble Arch, London. Historically, only members of the Royal Family and the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery are permitted to pass through the arch; this happens only in ceremonial processions

Crowds everywhere. And strange statues:

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I mean, this is a wonderful sculpture, but why?..

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Opposite the first horse sculpture – another one of a kind of wild “Mongolian” horseman…

Is these horses all gathered near the Hyde Park because it used to be the place for the noblemen to ride their horses at the leafy alleys? I wonder…

 

On a very informative board next to the Arch I read that at this very place there used to be so called Tyburn Tree – that is the gallows where the public executions took place from as early as 1196 till as late as 1783 (they didn’t stop hanging all together then, just transferred it to a different place).

It said there that the site of the gallows is  marked by a plaque at the intersection of Edgware Road and Bayswater Road. I went to look for it but couldn’t find anything similar on any walls.

That was because the plaque was not on a wall but in the GROUND – on the traffic island in the middle of the road!

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So that done, off I went along the edge of Hyde Park on the Park Lane towards my destination – Wellington Arch.

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Hyde Park from the side of Speaker Corner

—————- TO BE CONTINUED —————————–

 

Christmas time! Add a little magic to your home.

I decided to make a magical creature cushion. It sure would add more charm to any prosaic divan or bed or settee or armchair… or anything at all!

Let me introduce you to the Unicorn.

"Magic Unicorn"

“Magic Unicorn”

 

If you are looking for an original Christmas present look no further – just visit here