Ffestiniog Railway : A Magical Combination of Spectacular Landscape and Historic Railway

Ffestiniog Railway poster

Last Saturday dawned bright and sunny and the day stayed perfect in every way throughout. I crept quietly out of Gladstone’s Library at 10 past 6 in the morning and arrived at Porthmadog Harbour Station Car Park at about 20 to 8. This was a day to remember! I was invited by two friends who are patrons of The Landmark Trust to ride the Ffestiniog Railway and view the ruined property which the Trust are about set to restore in partnership with the Railway.

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Glasgow Weekend : Mostly Mackintosh

people make glasgow

Never having visited Glasgow before, I was delighted when Ann suggested a weekend visit to the city. Gosh! Mackintosh! His work is everywhere.  I was familiar with his flower paintings created during his time in Walberswick in Suffolk. Last year I read Esther Freud’s ‘Me and Mr Mac’ a fictionalised story of his time there.

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Washburn Heritage Centre and Swinsty Reservoir

heritage centre signIt’s been a very, very wet Christmas season here in Yorkshire and elsewhere in the north of England. But while the local A65 road into Leeds was flooded on Sunday I took off to local reservoirs where it seemed like the world and his wife was exercising its dog. Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs lie just south of Thruscross Reservoir where I was walking recently. Continue reading

Tea and Tattle Christmas Fun

“Hello and welcome to the Tea and Tattle tearoom and Arthur Probsthain bookseller! Our story starts over 100 years ago when our bookshop was founded. Since then four generations of our family have been helping our customers to find an amazing selection of books, and more recently art and music. In June 2010, we decided that we wanted to offer our lovely customers something more and so, the Tea and Tattle tea room opened its doors.” (T&T website)

APT&T

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Chelsea Physic Garden : Where Plants Really Matter

On Friday my sister arrived to join me for the weekend and we checked into our hotel just behind Harrods. This was a relatively new area for us. We had decided to avoid the Central London and City areas as the London Marathon on the Sunday meant big crowds and closed roads and limited access everywhere.

So, being in the Belgravia area seemed a good opportunity to visit lesser known places in the Chelsea area. For many years I’ve wanted to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden but haven’t been in the right place at the right time. Friday being beautifully warm and sunny we decided to step out down Sloane Street and Royal Hospital Road where, next door to the Royal Hospital (think, Chelsea Pensioners), we found the high walls surrounding another oasis of peace and calm.

CPG Rock gdn

The rock garden of basalt rocks is a listed monument

Tucked away beside the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden is a celebration of the beauty and importance of plants. This walled Garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for its apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants and it became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. Today, as an independent charity the Garden relies on the support of visitors and Friends to help protect and nurture the Garden for future generations.” [From the website]

tangerine dream

The Cafe in the 17th century curator’s house

There are free tours every half hour with a volunteer guide so we decided to join one of these first, before having lunch outside the Tangerine Dream Cafe.

CPG gates

The Gates lead to the Chelsea Embankment and beyond that to the River Thames which was so important to the Garden bringing boats alongside with their cargoes of exotic plants

volunteers and gardeners at work

Gardeners and volunteers at work in the Systematic Order Beds

It was impossible for our introductory tour to include all of the gardens on the site :

Garden of Medicinal Plants
The Pharmaceutical Garden
World Woodland Garden
The Garden of World Medicine
The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants
Historical Walk
Botanical Order Beds
Island Endemic Flora

[Each garden is explained on the website.]

so after lunch we visited most of the rest – the greenhouses, the new world woodland garden and had a closer look at the two information point caravans devoted to Sir Hans Sloane and the Swedish plantsman Linnaeus.

Sloane and Linnaeus

Each cart contains information about Carl Linnaeus and Sir Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane

Sir Hans Sloane (a copy of the original)

Dr. Hans Sloane, after whom the nearby locations of Sloane Square and Sloane Street were named, purchased the Manor of Chelsea from Charles Cheyne. This purchase of about 4 acres was leased to the Society of Apothecaries for £5 a year in perpetuity. Sloane was also a founder of the British Museum.

‘Curse or Cure?’ is the title of the 2015 temporary outdoor art installation created for the Garden by ceramic artist Nici Ruggiero. It consists of a trail of 15 inscribed apothecary jars displayed on metal spikes amongst the plants and a larger display of 21 jars against the wall.

curse or cure descrip

Description of the Installation

curse or cure jar

A Jar on a Spike

curse or cure jars

The 21 Jars

Read here an article by Lisa Jardine which appeared in the Financial Times Magazine in 2013. You may need to register to read.

 

 

 

The Cloister Cafe Great St Bartholomew’s

There are three new Quiet London books. In the volume “food and drink” there are lots of ‘new’ listings. Flicking through I noticed that a cafe has now opened in the cloister of St Bartholomew The Great church, West Smithfield. Over the years I’ve stayed half a dozen times at 45A Cloth Fair one of three Landmark Trust properties in Central London.

cloister

Last week a friend of mine was staying there and invited me to join her on Thursday afternoon. I travelled down that morning for a big event on Saturday (more later). We decided to try out the cafe and it was indeed quiet. But then it was a lovely warm day and there were plenty of people in the churchyard having their offices lunches in the sunshine.

Gatehouse

Enter the beautiful Great St Bartholomew’s church by passing underneath the Elizabethan gatehouse” writes Siobhan Wall.

Inside St Barts

After slowly wandering round its hallowed interior,  find a table in this tranquil cafe to the right of the main porch.”

main porch

Main Porch

higgidy pie

There aren’t many places where you can sit and have a slice of chocolate cake [or a Higgidy pie, for that matter] among fifteenth-century cloisters, but the ancient surroundings make this one of the nicest cafes in London to have afternoon tea.”

green tea

Fresh mint tea is served in white china pots, and with the pale green light filtering through the leaded glass windows this is one of the most peaceful corners in England.”