19 November, 2012
Cheese toasties under the Westway with Phil and Margaret Drabble? No it's another one of my London walks this time written by Margaret Drabble in the company of my pal Phil from Brum. We went a bit wrong on this walk and it really wasn't very nice. It began in a Sainsbury's carpark just behind Kensal House, designed by Maxwell Fry with input from Elizabeth Denby who made a comment that "In short, the general working class opinion seems to be that the blocks of flats would be all very well for people who can afford to send their children to boarding school, and go off by themselves by car for the weekend and for the holidays, but that they were definitely inadequate for families whose lives must centre in and around the home." The flats were built by the Gas Light and Coke Company to showcase high quality low cost housing. After we saw this we took the nicest part of the walk by the Grand Union Canal as far as Wormwood Scrubs. Even this part wasn't that good. We went wrong at Scrubs Lane and should have walked on the other side of the road for a view over Wormwood Scrubs for a view of the scrubs and the prison! Think Margaret Drabble has some funny ideas about pleasure. Having braved Dalgarno Gardens and the St Quintin Park estate of my former employers (known to the managers as San Quentin) we walked down an unremarkable suburban street to meet the dominatrix of the Westway which covers an awful lot of space and has a lot of real property underneath it. We lunched at the Westway sports centre on cheese toasties and cake (not cheap) and looked at the brightly coloured climbing walls. We passed under the westway to where 10 Rillington Place had been demolished and then walked up Ladbrooke Grove sadly missing out the deviations which might have been more interesting. We did see the Trellick Tower, sister to the Balfron Tower. This building was designed by Erno Goldfinger who once had the misfortune to live next door to Ian Fleming. Mr Fleming did not like his neighbour so named a faamous bond baddie after him. All in all not sure I'd want to do another walk written by Margaret Draabble if any exist.
11 November, 2012
The welcome in the pub was as sour as the beer. Not a good introduction to Royston in Hertfordshire. Royston (the Royes Stone) stands at the cross roads of the Ickneild Way and Ermine Street and the pub was nearby. I have to say the food was good though, and I did get a copy of Red Bulletin with a feature on Felix Baumgartner's space jump. The stone is the base of a cross that was set up long ago, just after the Norman conquest. It stands above a cave that nobody knows why it is there, although I suspect it is probably a chalk mine. Anyway I couldn't call in at the cave because it was closed for the winter. The town once had a Royal palace but the townspeople asked the king to go away because they couldn't afford to keep him. They made their living catering for travellers on the way to York with a series of inns. Besides the inns there are old houses in the town: This one doesn't have a georgian front stuck on to a medieval building but there was certainly one that did. This house is (allegedly) the remains of King James's palace. The church was open when I called but although it is part of an old priory, bought by the town for their church at the dissolution of the monasteries, there was little to catch my eye inside. Outside the church the churchyard has been turned into a war memorial garden with a monument to USAF bombers in the form of a red granite obelisk. The gardens also include a raised area dedicated to the Queen's silver jubilee of 1977. The gardens themselves recieved a Festival of Britain award for merit. At the top of the high street is a small corn exchange with curious chimneys and, just out of town near the golf course is a fountain dedicated as a memorial to Queen Victoria. The actual war memorial shows soldiers from medieval times to the first world war and is an interesting sculpture.