Monday, 23 September 2013

Open House weekend.

   It was "Open House London" weekend. So to take my mind off, of the stalled sale of my house I went with Gallery Girl and looked around others. There was a huge list of places to visit. What's left of Battersea Power Station, a prison, 10 Downing Street (the official residence of the Prime Minister) and about 750 other places. We opted for a couple of local places, with gaps in between, just in case something interesting popped up. First call was Kelmscott House found on the Upper Mall facing the River Thames in Hammersmith. Gallery Girl and I parked the car up by the Chiswick Brewery (parking is free there on Saturdays and Sundays, just in case you're interested) We walked from the Brewery along Chiswick Mall. On one side you have some pretty large and impressive houses dating back to the early 1800's on the other, the river. Full of rowers and sailors enjoying the last of the dry weather and the beginnings of the autumn winds. Chiswick Mall turns into Upper Mall. Same interesting architecture but with the addition of a couple of nice pubs. Which we earmarked for later use. A bit further on and we find Kelmscott House or rather it's coach house next door, which was our first stop. The House was once the London Home of William Morris. Morris was part of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A bunch  of bearded hounds who weren't that keen on the industrial revolution and wanted to return to a more man made and crafted existence. Open any home interiors magazine and you're sure to find a window or wall covered in WM's fabric or wallpaper. It's still available today. Due in part I guess, to the industrial revolutionn. Old hairy chops must be spinning in his grave. So back to the coach house. Morris used it's basement to set up a printing machine. Printing his poetry and translations of foreign books, mostly old medieval tales. The Brotherhood were seriously into all things medieval. Their paintings are full of red haired maidens and blokes wearing shiny suits of armour. But back to the house, there isn't much left from Morris's time but the volunteers who keep the place going were an interesting bunch and eager to share their knowledge of Will and his posse.
   As we left and were uuuming and aaaring about what to do next. We stumbled on a Quaker Meeting House. Also part of Open London thing. Now neither Gallery Girl or I knew much about Quakers. So in we went. We were shown around by Margaret, a Quaker from Pennsylvania. She told us a little of the history of the building. There original home was bombed in the war and this was temporary (70 years temporary ???) We were shown plans for their proposed new building plus a little about Quakerism. Which sounded interesting. So much so, I spent Sunday morning goggling all sorts of facts about the Quakers. Some of famous brands available on the high street were started by Quakers. Cadburys and Frys, Clark's Shoes, Bryant and Mays matches to name but a few.
   On our way back to the car we stopped at one of the earmarked pubs for a pint and a sandwich, crab for GG and bacon for me. I guess we were there for about an hour. Chatting about what we had seen and what we needed to look up. We walked back the same way. The houses were the same, we just noticed way more detail than before and the river looked and sounded a bit busier.
   Next on our list was JMW Turner' the artists little hide away house in Twickenham. Around 1810 Turner in his mid thirties and having made a mint from his paintings buys a couple of meadows in Twickenham. He designs and builds a little house in one, where he can get away from work, his mrs and their two kids and spend a bit of quite time fishing and going for the odd ride in his little buggy with his dad (The second meadow in case you wondered, was brought to keep the horse in). GG and I were in the last group of 15 given a guided tour around the house and garden. It's in a really bad state. They are just about to start renovating it, now they've found a bit of money. Odd to think that the house of one of this Country's greatest known artist is being saved by a small band of dedicated volunteers. Raising money and interest as they go along. Well done those people. I salute you.
   The end of the afternoon was spent with a bit of food shopping and a visit to a charity bookshop (two books purchased) and another visit to another pub. So I could watch Fulham lose to Chelsea on the big screen TV while GG worked her way through one of the charity buys.
   A happy day and a full day, where we learned lots and didn't spend much. Shame about Fulham losing though.

Onwards and upwards in the pursuit of fulfilment :-))) 

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