The London I Love

One of my favourite views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, from across the River Thames.
One of my favourite views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, viewed from across the River Thames.
The Grenadier Pub - Sarah Hampson
Royalty among London pubs, “The Grenadier” in Belgrave Square dates back to 1720, and the lovely thing is you never know who you might bump into!

I have always loved London, from the moment I first went there as an adult. I had been there as a child, when I was 7, and we were enroute to Geneva, Switzerland, where my father was on a year’s course in business. We were taken to Harrods and to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. That’s about it. But when I returned at 18 – this time on a visit from Smith College in Northampton Mass, where I was enrolled as a student in English Literature – I truly fell in love with England.

Whenever I am in London I always love to visit Holland Park, with its magnificent gardens and orangery.
Whenever I am in London I always love to visit Holland Park, with its magnificent gardens and orangery.
My husbands favourite spot in Hyde Park, are the Italian Gardens commissioned by Prince Albert for his great love Queen Victoria.
Our morning walk in Hyde Park always includes the Peter Pan bronze sculpture and the magnificent Italian Gardens, commissioned by Prince Albert for his great love Queen Victoria.

My parents were living in Holland Park in London at that time so when I had to go home on holidays from school, I flew there.
My parents have lived in London ever since, except for a short stint in Australia. After I finished Smith, I came to London
and worked in advertising and public relations for almost 2 1/2 years in High Holborn.

Part of my job was to work with editors on Fleet Street – when they still worked on Fleet Street. There were many boozy lunches – and an in intriguing look inside an old newsroom. I fell in love with that world a bit, too. But Visa trouble sent me back to Canada. Short of marrying someone so I could stay – there were some offers – I had to leave.

The moving "Blood Swept Lands, and Seas of Red" created by Paul Cummins and Tom Pyper, made up of 888,246 ceramic poppies and representative of the lives lost in WWI..
The moving art installation “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” was created by Paul Cummins and Tom Pyper, and comprised of 888,246 ceramic poppies representative of the lives lost by Commonwealth countries in WWI.
Sarah Hampson - I was extremely honoured to be invited by the Tower of London to plant some of the ceramic poppies in memory of Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the Great War.
I was extremely honoured to be invited by the Tower of London to plant some of the ceramic poppies in memory of Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the Great War.

My husband, who is British, and I travel to England about twice a year – and for last two years, I have also done a short work
stint there for a few months for The Globe and Mail. I wrote about the poppies at Tower of London to commemorate the centenary
of World War 1. I volunteered as a ceramic poppy planter – a quite overwhelming job, to be down in moat with others, planting a ceramic flower, each one representing a fallen soldier. There were close to 1 million. Canada, alone, lost approximately 65,000 in that conflict. I wrote about it for The Globe and Mail, and was subsequently invited by the BBC to do a television interview about Canada’s feelings about WW1.

The view towards Kensington Place viewed through the famous Henry Moore sculpture "The Arch."
Looking towards Kensington Palace through “The Arch” of the famous sculpture by Henry Moore located on Long Water west of the Serpentine.

 

The beautiful gold leaf detail on the main gates of Kensington Palace.
The beautiful gold leaf detail on the main gates of Kensington Palace.

What I love most about London is the creativity, the ideas, the sense of cerebral activity that fall from the sky like rain.
There is always so much going on – in the theatres, art galleries, even the fashion stores are like dreamscapes. I could walk along London streets for hours, thinking about what came before, and who came before, strolling down those same streets. There is always a tension between the past and the present. One of my favourite things is to walk in Kensington Palace Garden and Hyde Park – not far from where members of my family live and also where we tend to rent when we stay for a length of time. The vista across the green, the statues, (Albert Memorial, Peter Pan) and the people.

Albert Memorial
Built by George Gilbert Scott, and commissioned by Queen Victoria, The Albert Memorial opened in 1872 in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park. Recently restored the glittering gold leaf glistens even on cloudy days.

 

Obedience - Hyde Park, London, Sarah Hampson
His Masters Voice – its surprising but walking in Hyde Park can make you feel far from the madding crowds.

We once came across a gentlemen seated on a park bench in the early morning light with his obedient dog seated in front of
him, unleaded, waiting for his master to stir. It was such a perfect and serene scene in the heart of this wonderful city.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *