October 23, 2007

Hampstead Heath and Creperie

My friend D was back in London this weekend, and when 6:30 rolled around on Sunday and it was time to close up the gallery, he met me to explore Hampstead Heath in the near dark.
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It was chilly, but not too cold as we walked up the hill, and we headed down a dark trail into a large grassy area, down a side street and a back alley, onto another side street. We cut back into the woods down another, more obscure, darker trail, feeling for the path beneath our feet, walking slowly to avoid tripping over roots and ruts.
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There was a huge pond at the edge of a clearing and a single bench. On the other side of the still water, the windows of apartment blocks glowed in the darkness. We sat silently, letting our eyes adjust. Swans glided along looking for food and crickets chirped in the grass at the edge of the pond. It was so peaceful. And to think, the bustle of London was only a short walk up the road. Hampstead Heath is an oasis of calm.
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On our way, we came by a blue plaque at 3 Villas on the Heath. The famous Bengali writer, Rabindranath Tagore had lived there. And I could see the appeal of the area to an artist or a writer. I said to D, “I could live here and write poetry.” The area was actually quite well known for its community of artists and writers and intellectuals. The list of famous names is quite long. Martin Amis, William Blake, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, Audrey Hepburn, George Orwell, and more recently, Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, three of the Spice Girls, Sting…. And the list goes on. For more, scroll down the
Wiki entry.
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The street where Tagore lived lined one edge of the heath and the house was like a cottage on the corner surrounded by bushes. But as much as he must have been inspired by the charm of London, he was also affected by its loneliness. He once wrote about this city, “There can hardly be a more cruel place...in Winter; the sky turbid, the light lacking lustre, like a dead man's eye.”
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My dad warned me about the loneliness one can feel in this city with its grey skies and unpromising rain. But even the loneliness is darkly inspirational. I thought of the bench that D and I sat on that I could return and write for hours on my own. I could live back there, in the green solitude, with the excitement of London just an arm’s reach away.
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Back on the main road, we wandered, admittedly lost, trying to find the tube station. And then, we discovered The Wells, a little pub with heat lamps and tables around the outside, people playing Scrabble and Chess at tables inside. We ordered some chips and bread and snacked and chatted. The staff seemed a bit confused about taking orders, etc, and we ended up with a free diet coke. But it was a nice little pub and I grabbed a card so we could return. The bartender gave us directions back to the station.
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And of course, we had to pass Hampstead Creperie, the little crepe stand that boasts 27 years in Hampstead and usually about 27 people queueing for a crepe! Dangerous. D made me stand in line for about half hour so he could have his usual white chocolate crepe. But he shared and we were entertained by a wild clapping and dancing drunken man yelling at a line of 30 people that they all have no personality and no brains, so I didn't mind. By then it was pretty late and we decided to head home, vowing to explore the area more soon and come back for another round at The Wells and, of course, a visit to the beloved Creperie
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2 comments:

lmguijarro said...

Hi steph,I´d just like to tell you how much i´ve enjoyed reading your post, i am such a london lover, that appreciates every single detail of he city for its uniqueness and your blog makes me discover new london faces, i´ve just created a blog that at the moment it is just a novice crub so i hope you won´t mind that i put a link to your blog


thanks for your secrest sharing

lmguijarro said...

Hi Steph, I ´d just like to tell you how much i´ve enjoyed reading your posts,I am such a london lover that appreciates every single corner of the city, and your blog makes me discover new london faces, i´ve just created a novice crub blog that i hope you won´t mind if i link it to yours.

thanks for sharing your secrets