We started the day with a cooked breakfast near Tower Bridge followed by a walk along the south bank of the Thames Path as far as London Bridge, taking a few minutes to walk around the attractive Hay’s Galleria. Originally a warehouse and enclosed dock this listed building was converted in the 1980’s to offices, shops and cafes.
Taking the Underground from London Bridge, we travelled to Notting Hill Gate station for a Saturday morning wander along Portobello Road. Before continuing to the market we paused for coffee on Notting Hill’s high street on the edge of Hyde Park. Continuing towards the market, it’s very crowded here at weekends with food stalls, antique and vintage clothes shops. Houses are painted in attractive pastel shades and street entertainers are to be found on every corner playing saxophones, singing or even juggling. Noticing a blue plaque we read that George Orwell was once a resident here. Westbourne Grove crosses Portobello Road and along there are some upscale small shops and bars.
Having had enough of the hustle and bustle of the market we took the Tube from nearby Ladbroke Grove to Belsize Park as we wished to take a walk on Hampstead Heath. Leaving the underground station we walked up Haverstock Hill into Hampstead which is a prosperous village with a refined air. It’s signposted to the Heath from there (taking about 10 minutes to walk from the Tube station).
Hampstead Heath is a large, hilly expanse of heathland with a lake in one corner. It has a famous open air lido with mens, ladies and mixed ponds. We climbed to the top of Parliament Hill where, on a clear day, the Houses of Parliament can be seen. It was quite dull so it wasn’t possible to pick out many of the famous city landmarks. We walked down the hill leaving the park at the Parliament Fields gate from where we caught a bus to Piccadilly for a light lunch in Haymarket.
After enjoying our snack and a little rest we headed off to Sloane Square – one of my favourite London shopping districts. We strolled along the King’s Road then decided it was time for tea and cakes in Peter Jones. We both selected slices of the chocolate, liquorice and blackberry gateau – a combination neither of us had sampled before but it tasted delicious so I’ll definitely have to look out for it again.
Canary Wharf was our final place to visit today, we walked over to West India Dock to visit Crossrail Place. This will be the new Crossrail station from 2018 and has been partially open since May 2015. The futuristic building, pictured above was designed by Sir Norman Foster.
We took the lift to the upper level so that we could visit the Roof Garden which is open daily during daylight hours. With its self watering roof, the garden reflects the area’s heritage as a trading centre, with many of the plants being native to the countries visited by the ships of the West India Dock Company who unloaded their cargo on the site of this new station.
The garden is planted in an east/ west arrangement. Asian plants such as bamboo are in the eastern section of the garden whilst plants such as ferns from the America’s are planted in the west. Narrow, winding pathways and attractive wooden teak benches create a rainforest atmosphere – it really is a haven of tranquility yet steps away from the hectic life of the adjoining financial centre.
Leaving the garden we walked along to the nearby East India Dock where we enjoyed dinner in the ‘Ledger Building’ pub overlooking the dock.
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