Friday, March 14, 2014

Scaling the heights

Phew, the next time we go to Hampstead I'm taking crampons. I never realised it was on such a steep hill. We went to see a couple of National Trust properties, first 2 Willow Road, then Fenton House. On the map they don't look that far apart but the map doesn't show the vertical difference!

Anyway, 2 Willow Road is a house built in 1937, but looks like something from 1965. It was the house of Erno Goldfinger, an architect with revolutionary ideas for the time. Apparently when he put in the planning application a lot of local residents objected, including one Ian Fleming, so maybe that's where the Bond villain got his name. Not a very big house and it wouldn't look revolutionary today, but it was then. We had a film and a guided tour. It's a house with a strong flavour of Barry Bucknell about it, if your memory takes you back that far. Worth a visit as an insight into the work and home life of an architect, but not a stately home.

Then the increasingly steep climb up the hill to Fenton House. I must say I can see why Hampstead is so sought after as a residential area. It is very attractive. It doesn't look flashy, more homely and old fashioned, but obviously expensive. We saw an Aston Martin parked outside a terraced house.

Fenton House was built by a rich merchant in the 17th century. We nearly didn't go as it was less than an hour until it closed, but we were really glad we went in because it had all kinds of great stuff. Fine needlework for Kath to look at, a stunning collection of harpsichords and virginals, one of which I very much wanted to steal, and from the upper floor balcony a view to die for. My camera shots do not do it justice.

You can make out the skyscrapers in the city in the distance. Apparently on a clearer day you can see the downs in Kent.

Nice gardens too, but we didn't have time to explore them.

On the way back down the hill to catch the bus we looked in a few estate agent's windows. You can get a small terraced house for well under two million, or a reasonably large detached house for about nine million. Small apartments were at least six or seven hundred per week plus fees whatever they are. I think if we sold our house we might be able to afford a garden shed here.

We can recommend a trip to Hampstead if you are in Paddington. A 46 bus from Rembrandt Gardens at Little Venice takes you there.

At lunch time yesterday (Thursday) the open space alongside the basin at Paddington was occupied by stalls selling hot food. Apparently this is a regular Thursday thing in the spring and summer. We succumbed to the Carribbean food stall, Kath having Jerk Chicken and me having my favourite Curry Goat. Highly recommended. They now have deck chairs out along the edge of the steps and some more facing the canal. They are clearly trying to make it a destination. Today, three table tennis tables appeared in the sunken section below the steps, but sadly no balls or bats, so if you plan to moor here in the summer, bring your own.

Each day we have been here a young chap with a net has patrolled the waters edge scooping up any rubbish in the water, and the Merchant square security guys are forever sweeping up. The place is kept immaculate. Pity about us scruffy old boats messing the place up.

And of course it's Friday today so at noon they raised and lowered the roll-up bridge, to an audience of school kids and other visitors. Its the first time I have ever seen a bridge get a round of applause. Lots of videos of it on you tube if you have never seen it. There's even one I did a few years back.

One of the security men was handing out little flick books with photos of the bridge in action. Flick through from one end to see it roll up and from the other to see it roll down. We got one so if you see us I can show it to you.

Tomorrow we plant to cruise up through Regents park to Camden before turning and heading back towards the main GU where we are picking up Rick on Sunday evening and then starting our cruise towards Crick.


1 comment:

Val Poore said...

Gorgeous views from Fenton House, Neil. When I was a child, my dad used to take up to Hampstead Heath nearly every Sunday. I loved it there. As you say, old-fashioned charm, but not flashy. A pity it's so very expensive!