London: Kicking Around Kensington.
I love a day in London. There’s so much to discover, wherever you go.
Whenever I have to go there, I always make a day of it.
As I had an invitation to an event near Harrods and Harvey Nichols, known affectionately as Harvey Nicks, the obvious area to explore was Kensington.
From London Bridge, I caught the Underground on the Jubilee Line to Westminster, just a few stops along, and changed to the District Line. It’s not all Underground, as it pops up to the surface sometimes!
Off the train and turning right, I walked along a tunnel, which was useful as it was raining quite hard.
I could have turned left out of the tunnel, towards the Albert Hall, but I kept on walking.
The V&A (Victoria & Albert) Museum was on my right, so I went in and discovered to my surprise that it was completely free to go around it!
It’s huge, like so many Victorian buildings, but I didn’t have time to explore it all. So I headed straight ahead to the Fashion section, which I really wanted to see.
There are displays of fashion from the late 1600s, in glass cases. It’s amazing that the clothes have been preserved in such excellent condition! But as most of them seem to have been for special occasions rather than for everyday wear, I suppose they have been carefully packed away, out of the light.
As you know, I love knitting and sewing, but I could never produce some of the exquisite workmanship that used to be done by dressmakers then! How did they manage it? Needles probably weren’t so sharp and thin as they are now, and threads not so fine or faultless. And what about the lighting? It must have been hard on their eyes after a lifetime of work. They must have been able to sew a lot faster than we do now.
There was a pair of white stockings from the late 18th Century, hand-knitted. They were so fine that I couldn’t even begin to work out how to do garments like that!
I believe that it was the men who were qualified to knit, after an apprenticeship of several years.
The place was full of groups of teenagers, frantically making notes. They’re obviously the fashion designers of tomorrow. I think 50% of them were boys.
In the last section were designs by Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
What an honour for our Vivienne to have her clothes displayed in the V&A while she’s still alive! It shows her Punk Era.
Yes, they’re unique, but they’re not a patch on the older clothes with their flowing silk dresses, lace inserts, etc!
With my creative juices overflowing, I went out again and crossed the road.
The Natural History Museum was almost in front of me, just to the right. It was still raining, so I went inside.
Again, it’s all free. It was very busy with groups of children in high-viz jackets.
Their eyes were shining with excitement as they obediently followed their teachers, and I kept hearing the word ‘Dinosaurs!’
The museum is very child-friendly and there’s a lot that they can get involved in.
I loved the Dinosaur section. What a shame that they’re all extinct. Such huge creatures! Did Man ever watch them passing by, or were they long-gone when some of our ancestors decided to crawl ashore and stand up and explore?
One massive specimen in a glass case looked as though it had been run over by a bus! It was completely flat.
Probably one day they’ll be able to re-introduce them into our world by using their DNA. I do hope so! And let’s hope that they can do the same with the amazing-looking Dodo! They look so cuddly. It’s a disaster that Gerald Durrell was born too late to save them from Man’s mass-murder.
My opinion? It’s strange when we live in a country that never misses an excuse to get money out of us that our museums are all free.
A huge number of the visitors are tourists from other countries where all their museums charge quite a high entrance price. The upkeep of these collections is expensive, and very important. So it’s time that they charged an entry fee, instead of
begging for donations, or using Lottery money that could be used for more important causes like saving lives.
Having seen the state of the loos, trashed by groups of unsupervised children, I’m sure that it must cost a small fortune just to maintain them!
I came out of the museum and passed a long queue waiting to go inside. They were being allowed in a few at a time.
So if you want to pay it a visit, go round to the other side, where there wasn’t any queue!
Out of the main entrance, I turned left along Cromwell Road, and directly left.
I was pleased to see that there are lots of seats dotted around London now, so it’s easy to find somewhere to sit when you get tired.
I sat down and was about to eat my cheese sandwich when I noticed a bundle of clothes opposite me, seated in a bus shelter, with a pile of rubbish beside it.
Crossing the road, I thought I’d offer my sandwich to this homeless person. There was no way of knowing what sex it was. Then the head nodded forwards. It was in a deep sleep, and I decided that sleep was probably even more important for it than my sandwich, especially after the Winter that we’ve had!
What desperation makes someone end up like that? It’s understandable in other countries where if they don’t work, they don’t get. But there’s always a way of getting accommodation and handouts in the UK. Isn’t there?
A lot of the roads have obviously been repaved, probably for the disabled, so that there’s no kerb any more, and sometimes I didn’t realise that I was standing in the road until I noticed all the traffic coming towards me!
Pausing on the corner, I took a photo of the Natural History Museum, and I noticed that a taxi had held back and left a gap for me at the traffic lights so that I could get a clear view. How thoughtful!
If I’d kept going, I’d have come to the Albert Hall and Kensington Gardens, but I turned back to Cromwell road and walked past all the designer shops to Harrods.
I love to browse around the Food Hall, and usually buy something, but today I was in a rush.
Tragedy! They’ve sub-let the little raised café area and got rid of the beautiful huge glass Tiffany lampshades, and got some tatty-looking labelled rubbish in their place.
I went out and carried on to my appointment, at the Berkeley Hotel.
As I walked towards Harvey Nicks, a man in a woolly hat passed me, smiled sweetly and said, ‘Bastards!’
Why? I have no idea!