Festivals & Events · Food & Drink · Garden · Knitting · Travel

Capital Times

Having been extremely lucky in bagging tickets for Wimbledon this year, we decided to make the most of the opportunity and extend our stay in London last week. Thank you to the Grandparents for babysitting (and cat sitting and plant watering) for making this possible!

Our hotel on the South Bank was a great base for getting around and seeing all the riverside attractions. My Fitbit has registered considerably more steps than usual these last four days.

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Millenium Bridge towards St Paul’s Cathedral

Our first stop was to meet friends in Soho where we enjoyed a delicious pre-show meal and great service at Kricket. Hake in Malai sauce with samphire was my choice and it was cooked beautifully. Kinky Boots the Musical was a really good fun feelgood show to see afterwards and we finished with a walk back to the hotel, enjoying the London night skyline and noticing a very smart fox trotting into the grounds of the Savoy chapel.

Friday was all about the tennis. It was another scorcher, and being daft enough to forget both my hat and sunglasses, I stopped at a roadside stall to buy an emergency hat. As we waited for the match to start, I pondered how I might pimp the cheap hat for Wimbledon 2019. A band of crocheted strawberries perhaps? Or I could nest our beloved Boris Pecker on top? That move might get me on the telly though, and that would surely traumatise my tweens forever!

Wimbledon was excellent. Strawberries and cream, Pimms and great tennis of course, particularly a tense, closely fought battle that saw Venus Williams beaten by Kiki Bertens.

It was a relief to find our seats were in the shade. There was much fanning occurring on the opposite side of the court!

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The ground staff at the All England Club have done a terrific job in this heatwave keeping the courts and magnificent purple and white flowering displays in top condition.IMG_6191We stayed till late soaking up the atmosphere on Henman Hill. After a thoroughly enjoyable day we walked back to Southfields Station where many of the shops and restaurants were decorated for the tournament. In one cafe bar, rackets with flag designs were hanging in the window.  Look closely and you can see it’s made up of ring pulls from cans crocheted together!IMG_6208On Saturday, we walked to Borough Market, somewhere that’s been on my bucket list for a while. It was bustling and vibrant and I loved it.

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Any purchases would need to get home safely on the train in the heat. Probably a good thing this limited us, as we could have spent an awful lot more! Temptation was everywhere from the glossiest currants and cherries, to artisan breads, spices, fresh local oysters and flowers.

As well as produce, there is homeware at the Borough Kitchen and from Richard Bramble, a British artist with a passion for cooking and wildlife who has collaborated with chefs to come up with an ongoing collection of ceramics, tableware and textiles.

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We cooled down with a fresh juice and bought the most enormous succulent peaches and Spanish ham crisps for later. We were able to sample delicious products before deciding on a jar of Raw English Devon Flower Honey from the lovely lady at From Field and Flower.

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Lunch was grilled halloumi and kofta with delicious fresh salads from an East Mediterranean street food stand. The market was pretty busy by then so we sat and ate by the river next to the Golden Hinde, a replica of Sit Frances Drake’s famous galleon.

Refuelled, we jumped on the tube to Angel to make a pilgrimage to London’s most renowned yarn shop Loop.

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This was another first visit and I was very pleasantly surprised by Islington and the shopping area around Camden passage, with its mixture of antique and vintage stalls alongside independent cafes, gift shops and traditional pubs.

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Just opposite Loop I bought a couple of printing blocks from a stall – a bee and a ball of yarn! They are really nice quality, printing clearly and I imagine using them for stamping gift labels.

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Loop itself was a real delight.

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The shawls and wraps by Parisian designer Sophie Digard are exquisite but sadly not in my budget! Ah well, its way too hot anyway. I did treat myself to a posy brooch and a pair of Cohana mini snips that will last a lifetime – so long as I don’t lose them. They’re so tiny!

Back at the hotel we watched England win (yay!) and Kyle Edmund lose (boo!) before heading out for a rooftop dinner overlooking the river on a balmy night.

Our train on Sunday wasn’t till evening so that left time for a trip to Kew Gardens. I was so inspired when I visited last time, I vowed to come back .

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First on my list of ‘Top Three, Must See’ was back at the Waterlily House. I find the rusting iron structure and reflections in the black water romantically beautiful. Gourds were growing overhead. I wonder whether mine will fruit so well this year?

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Second was the newly restored magnificent Temperate House, the greatest Victorian glass house in the world with over 1500 species from seven temperate regions around the globe. Next time we visit, I know many of these important and rare plants, propagated from the originals will have taken off and be within touching distance of the upper viewing platform.

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Than there’s The Hive. This was relocated to Kew from the Milan Expo where it was the UK pavillion in 2015, designed by by artist Wolfgang Buttress. Kew is the ideal home for an installation that raises awareness of the role of plants and the importance of biodiversity and sustainability. The honeybee is the protagonist, that vital pollinator responsible for much of the food we eat.

Kew is enchanting and I know I’ll visit again and again. Another time of year, different plants will be the stars. I’ll end with more memories of a wonderful day out on a glorious English Summer’s day.

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