So, our last day in London. We had just 6 days in all, including the day we landed that disappeared in a blue of lifts from old friends (thanks again, Paul!) and blissful post-plane hot showers and then just a little lap, more resting my eyelids really... from about 5pm to 3 in the morning! Oops.
After the previous day, when John and I made such a personal pilgrimage to South West London, we did something less familiar to us and headed north, to beautiful Hampstead Heath. It's a part of London we barely went to, if ever, when we lived there together, and I have fuzzy memories of going there years before which ended in an afternoon of pool. Which was nice. We wanted to go again to see how the houses with price tags we can't being to fathom and to check out the heath.
But first, up early – still not completely de-jetlagged at this point but in the excellent, getting-up-at-dawn-is-easy way, we went into central London so I could buy an Urban Decay palette from Debenhams on Oxford Street. It looked so hazy and calm and beautiful. And special thanks to the lovely lady from the Philosophy counter, who looked after me while the Urban Decay girl was awol. You we ace and I LOVE the palette.
Then it was back on the Northern Line to Hampstead. I love that station, with its tiles spelling out the station's name. By now, my camera was feeling very heavy, and getting it in and out of my back pack was all a bit too much. Of course I took a pic for an instagram but it never made the cut, so it's here instead. I never, ever thought I would be pleased about tiles. Amazing how things change, hey? It was busier than I expected outside the station. But so different to other, more familiar bits of London. We walked along the windy, wavey streets to the heath. And looked at the tall houses through the trees wrapped up in thick ivy jumpers. It was one of those perfectly crisp, foggy mornings that you know will get dazzingly blue and sunny later. The way the streets aren't gridded here is so charming. As were the food shops. After a week of sandwiches (the best were from Pret, btw – Marks and Spencer's were all a let down) we were just starting to think about some special dinners. Although I'm reasonably sure that this butchers will never be my local. Le sigh. More rows of tall houses on the way to the huge green. And I think I could subtitle my trip "cats of London"! How cute is this little guy? Speaking of cute little things, what on earth are these miniature bins for? I know, I've gone from photographing radiators to bins. The downward slope is steep. But I saw some before, in different suburbs (boroughs!) and want to know! They seem very practical. Let me take a moment to make my approving face. And then... ta-da! The heath! isn't it gorgeous! Watching these two swans was the best. They were working together as a team, building a nest. The one on the right was snapping off reeds with its beak and putting them behind him or her in a pile, and the swan on the left would pick them up, one at a time, and carefully place them in the nest. They worked hard at this for quite a while. Little black duck there stood next to them for a bit but didn't get involved. Swannies didn't seem to mind. We got some lunch (more sandwiches!) from down the road and then came back to our sunny spot. The ducks were frisky about something, feeling the springy-ness perhaps? And this is one of my favourite pictures of John. We paid a visit to Keats House, which unfortunately wasn't open to the public until later that day, so we had a look at its very pretty gardens. It's funny, there is something so English about this photo. I could never mistake that for Australia, even if the set up was the same. Something to do with light and colours. It looks like home. (Erm, except for the super posh house bit!) Later that afternoon, as we were still North, we decided to have a look at Camden. I used to go to Camden market all the time in my mid teens, and had been told it is very different now. And... well, it is, but it's even more touristy-grotty than it was then. The lock did look good though, and we got to see a boat pass through.
And then... time had run out! We went back to our hotel, did some laundry at the laundrette around the corner (and I baffled a man watching me take photos of our clothes being spun about, who felt that "... that's going to be an interesting photo!" Cheeky so and so. Well yes, it is, at least to me! Or, rather, it's the full stop on our London trip. It was over in what felt like three blinks. We had to get our clothes dry, back in the suitcases, and get on the train for Paris. London was over.