Royal Cowbells

alpine cow

Last Sunday morning I had an enchanting walk around Hampstead in the company of a group of strangers and an erudite guide. I’ve enjoyed a number of these London walks over the years and so it was that one cold January afternoon in Little Venice I learned about the history of the Regent’s Canal and enjoyed peering nosily through houseboat windows. On another walk I explored the quirks of upmarket Notting Hill, and a walk around Chelsea revealed intricate treasures from the Arts and Crafts movement. But Hampstead is definitely my favourite walk so far, with its panoramic views over London and streets so steep they have handrails.

maida vale

Our morning provided two hours of entertainment coupled with a bit of exercise as we puffed up and down the hills. Church bells rang and if I hadn’t known better I’d have thought I was in a Hampshire village. It’s so high that we would normally have had views stretching way into the distance over the City, the docklands and out to the Dartford Crossing. But it was misty and we saw nothing. Despite this, there were plenty of figurative high points. We touched on the edge of wild Hampstead Heath which made me think dreamily of highwaymen, and I was charmed by the preposterous Continue reading

Crimson lake

claire - still life

In June 1936, Salvador Dali appeared on stage in London at the International Surrealist Exhibition. He wore a deep-sea diving helmet, and held a billiard cue in one hand. In his other hand was a leash. This had a pair of Afghan hounds attached to it. Speaking in Catalan, he launched into a lecture about a philosophy student who survived for a month by eating his way through a mirror-fronted wardrobe. Unfortunately, a few minutes into the address some of his audience noticed that he was turning puce and slowly suffocating. A poet was dispatched to find a spanner but in the meantime Continue reading