Wednesday, September 26, 2007


In Kensington, I noticed, the babies do not match the young women who are pushing their buggies. During week days this part of London becomes nannyville. They emerge from houses that are tall and grand - like something out of Mary Poppins or Paddington Bear - belonging to the very affluent middle-classes. My hotel was typical: a Victorian town house five floors above ground and another beneath

overlooking a small square of community garden.

I had a peaceful night. The room small but perfectly adequate and the place clean, quiet and with a pleasing quirkiness,

and the staff friendly. I'd definitely stay there again - although Kensington is not particularly central for most of the events I usually attend.

However in this instant it was; just a short stroll, about fifteen minutes, took me to the Albert memorial

the Albert Hall,

the Royal College of Music and,

the venue of the AGM of the Society of Authors, Imperial College (part of the University of London).

Queen Victoria, I decided long ago, had brash tastes. She loved the gaudiness of India; nothing could be too shiny, too gilt, too bejewelled or too opulent in her eyes. Wealth and empire, once acquired, should be flaunted...

Albert was the love of her life and when he died prematurely she seems to have set a large part of London aside to honour his memory. The Albert Memorial (which glints quite dazzingly in the least suggestion of sun) is at the edge of a large splendidly encircled park, and across the road from the magnificent concert hall which is also named in his honour.

I like the detail of these structures; the patterning of the grille here for instance and the moulding of the sills.

I also like the way that you suddenly come across a building that is less well-known and less elaborate, but just as striking. This, presumably, is just a Victorian office block but, like one of the enviably proportioned females in the Martin Amis book I am reading, is both slender and tall in frame and yet curvaceous...

Although in another way entirely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I notice that about the babies in nearby Richmond, where I have to take people to the orthodontist, of necessity during the working daytime. It is quite strikingly different where I live, on the other side of Richmond park.

Lovely post, as ever, I do so much enjoy your photo essays.

Wed Sept 26, 07:21:00 pm  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Thanks so much for the lovely detail in your descriptions, and the photos - what a treat! Beautiful buildings. Looking forward to your report on the Terracotta Soldiers. And to your book reviews.

Thu Sept 27, 08:14:00 am  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...

I always enjoy your strolls with a camera...

Fri Sept 28, 03:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you all - you're so kind. You spur me on...

Sat Sept 29, 06:36:00 pm  

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