Happy Easter, everyone! The sky’s bright blue and I long to put on my hiking boots and head for the hills. But it’s far too chilly for the Chilterns, so join me on a West London Easter walk.
Let’s start off with a bit of seasonal fun. While rambling along Collingham Rd near Gloucester Rd tube I spotted this family of luminous bunnies. As I took a snap the owner emerged from her house. She told me that she started putting on similarly festive displays for her children every Christmas. They loved them so much that she’s since extended their range. “We’re planning Halloween now,” she told me, then leapt into her sports car and zoomed off with a most unbunny-like roar.
But the walk I’m about to suggest starts two stops along the District and Circle lines, at Sloane Square. Download the route from http://www.london-footprints.co.uk/wkchelsearoute.htm
When I did this walk a few weeks ago I began with a fortifying breakfast at Colbert, adjacent to the station. The manager recommended various treats such as their Eggs Benedict and superfruit salad with pomegranate jewels. As he said, you should only order things in restaurants that you wouldn’t make for yourself back home. The food was delicious, the atmosphere relaxed and fun. Most memorable were the gorgeous loos. With their nautical decor, including sea green tiles, they had the feel of a glamorous 1930s French liner. I was in no hurry to dry my hands.
Setting off outside, my first fascinating port of call was the Arts and Crafts Holy Trinity church (four stars in Simon Jenkins’ Thousand Best Churches book). The morning light was streaming through the Burne-Jones stained glass east window. I loved the writhing patterns of the floral wrought iron chancel gates.
From here, the route zig-zagged back and forth between the King’s Road and Cheyne Walk, past all sorts of curious buildings tucked away down tiny streets. In addition to the places I’ve photographed I passed Godfrey Street—a row of tiny houses painted different colours—and the Manolo Blahnik shop window in Old Church Street, arrayed with shoes sprouting multi-coloured protuberances that looked like exotic plants.
I enjoyed seeing Oscar Wilde’s former home in Tite Street (with a pair of suitably louche lamps with shades of guinea fowl feathers in the window) and seeing Whistler’s house overlooking the Thames and matching the views to his Nocturnes.
I passed a slab of the Berlin Wall in the National Army Museum grounds, entered the magnificent chapel of the Royal Hospital (home to the Chelsea pensioners) and eventually wound up in the food market just outside the Saatchi Gallery (both of which were heaving with crowds.) I found plenty more cups of coffee to keep me going until the sun went down in a blaze over Battersea Park.