It’s a good thing I have a travel buddy like Victoria
, who is not
only tolerant of my often eccentric tourist plans, but who, more often than
not, joins in wholeheartedly. Take Kenwood House
, for instance. I’d been there
with my daughter, Brooke, before they’d renovated the interiors. This time out,
wanted to take it all in and suggested that we put it on the itinerary before
the Wellington Tour began.
“Fine by me,” I told her.
“You don’t mind going back? In any case, it will all be
different, now that the renovations are finished.”
“Oh, I don’t care all that much about the interiors,” I
said. “I want to see London
from the Heath. And highwaymen.” Now, this is what’s so great about Vicky – she
didn’t question my reference to highwaymen in any way. Instead, she
instinctively knew what I was on about.
“Hhhmm. Why not? Footpads and highwaymen laid by Hounslow
Heath cause the Great Western Road
and the Bath Road
brought travelers and coaches through. They had to come through Hampstead for
the Great North Road,
so why not highwaymen? Oh, and I want to see the dairy.”
“At Kenwood. Supposedly there’s a period dairy on the
grounds. And some sort of bath.”
“A bath or baths?”
“I don’t know how many they have.”
“Do you mean baths or do you mean baths, like in Bath?”
But Bath itself
has several baths,” I reflected.
So, on a warm Saturday morning in September, Victoria and I found ourselves at Kenwood House, seated on a bench overlooking Hampstead Heath and the City of London. It's fabulous when one's dreams become a reality, no? And here I was, sharing it all with Victoria.
Views from Hampstead Heath over the City
We sat side by side on the bench for a time, each of us silently contemplating the views before we made our way towards Kenwood House proper. Here's a map of the area.
Helpful to the Wanderer
Just inside the gate is this gardener's cottage on the grounds of Kenwood House.
A short stroll brought us to one of our objectives - the baths.
We made our way down a flight of stairs to the entrance of the baths themselves.
The Cold Bath - not very inviting but we were glad that the renovations were underway.
Just outside the baths, we found these stairs and a doorway that beckoned . . . . .
View from the Terrace
Climbing the stairs, we arrived on the terrace at the rear of the house.
As you can see, the views were stunning and we decided to walk down to the dairy before touring the house.
On the way, we encountered several others strolling the grounds, including the cutie below, whose name, we learned, was Duke. Really. Not even kidding. Duke.
Who could resist this face?
Around to the front entrance
The classical portico, added by Robert Adam for William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield
walking the paths toward the Dairy
We finally arrived at the dairy, only to discover that it was closed. Apparently it's only open to the public one day each week and this wasn't that day.
"Too bad it's closed. I know you wanted to see it," Victoria said.
"And I thought there'd be cows. In my mind there were cows. And milkmaids. In period costume."
"In your mind there are always period costumes."
We strolled around the area for a bit, taking in the atmosphere and appreciating the bucolic surroundings.
By this time, we were both a bit peckish, so we decided to walk back to the cafe for lunch before touring the house.
Roses in the Brewhouse Restaurant garden
Victoria decided upon a salad accompanied by wine, whilst I opted for my first scone and pot of tea since landing on English soil.
"Hey, Vic," I said through a mouthful of clotted cream.
"I have something to say to you and I want you to look me in the eye while I say it."
"Is it something bad?"
"Non. It's something good. You ready?"
"Here we are. Together. In London. At Kenwood House. Like we planned. It's finally happening."
Victoria grinned at me. "I know. It's terrific. Alone together in England. Like minded travelers wallowing in British history."
"Our history bucket lists come to life. With only ourselves to cater to. We can overdose on 19th century Britain and Wellington to our hearts content."
I'm not certain, but I think it was at this point that Victoria and I clapped our hands together and laughed with childlike glee.
"But that's not the best part," I told her.
"Non. This is the best part," I said, leaning in conspiratorially. "This is only our first stop, on our very first day. We still have over three weeks of all things Wellington ahead of us." I know we laughed like loons at this point.
Once we'd recovered ourselves, we decided to use the loo before wandering towards the house. I tell you this because it was in the loo that I struck up a conversation with a really nice lady named Frances. The three of us walked outside and continued the conversation, talking about where Frances had been in the U.S. and where we'd been in England. Then I handed her our Number One London business card, which prompted her to tell us that she loved historical research, herself being a direct descendant of architect James Wyatt. Which prompted even more discussion, as you may well imagine.
Finally, Victoria and I entered the house and were greeted by two volunteers, who welcomed us warmly and asked us if this was our first visit to Kenwood House. Victoria told the young man that she'd been to the house before and had also seen the traveling exhibit of its artwork when it showed in Milwaukee. Which led to more discussion and mention of our blog. I handed him our card.
"I know this site," he said. "It's great."
Victoria and I glanced at each other. Was he having us on?
"I have a blog about London, too. The Lost Valley of London. I travel round London and shoot videos of out of the way places and my adventures."
This jogged my memory. "Wait a minute," I said, "I know your site. You wear a pith helmet, right?" Really, what were the odds that Anthony and I should meet at Kenwood House? All of this led to more discussion and mutual admiration, which lasted another few minutes.
We did, finally, tour the house and for that part of our visit I hand you over to Victoria, who will be bringing you Part Two of our day at Kenwood House soon.
Labels: Kristine Hughes, Loose in London