Friday 26 August 2011
Slow traffic accompanied us as we travelled along under the flyover, zo that we could admire the garish 'black' cab alongside us and then we turned left towards the bridge, passing the Irish Cultural Centre
Approaching the river, we spotted the sign that told us we were leaving the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Britain’s Council of the Year, 2010.
The river was very high and running fast, and we did not envy the canal narrow boat which we spotted up river.
There are attractive cottages along the route, reminding us that Hammersmith, and Fulham, and the other districts we passed through were once separate villages, many of them attractive to families 'weary of London' and looking for a quiet life. As Posy Simmonds said of Cornwall, it's very easy to 'love a place to death', or at least to turn it into a suburb
We came to the playing fields of St Paul’s School (founded in 1509 ‘for 153 boys… to be taught free’, not what it does these days: but you probably know my views on ‘charities’ like this).
We saw a blue plaque for Edouard Espinosa, one of the pioneers of modern ballet: there was another on the same building, but as we know and have mentioned before, the English Heritage site is not the most helpful when you know approximate address but nothing more. Nonetheless, this is a good route for Blue Plaques, as we soon passed both Gustav Holst (who has a website all his own) and Ninette de Valois.
The ‘Hail and Ride’ was working well along here, as we sped parallel to the river towards Barnes Railway Bridge, which features in the Boat Race commentary every spring. Barnes becomes Mortlake, which becomes Sheen, without boundaries discernible to the passing stranger, other than the names of the railway stations. We saw a less than helpful, though high tech road works sign, possibly hinting at future problems with Mortlake Road, but we were unaffected.
The Stag Brewery, once belonging to the Watney family, now produces Budweiser. But there are some good shops round here: for example, we noted that Jane Taylor Millinery, famous from Ascot to Vogue and back.
Along here, the council has planted sweet chestnuts as roadside trees. Though still small, they were already bearing fruit, and we made a note to come back in a few years around turkey-stuffing time. Past North Sheen cemetery, we came to Richmond Railway station, and the narrow, interesting streets of Richmond, with signs to the excellent Orange Tree Theatre, to arrive at the bus station, round the back, at 12.35. The trip is listed as 25 minutes, and we had doubted the possibility, but this was not bad.