Having awarded ourselves some days off the question was where to go?
Firstly we went for a hike in the beautiful Surrey Hills to Leith Hill tower, a folly built in the 18th Century which adds the missing 64ft to Leith Hill to make it a mountain, 1,000ft above sea level. We love eccentricity and apparently the landowner/builder was buried underneath his gothic edifice. The base of the tower is a tiny café – just a hatch in the wall serving coffee and cakes – and usually there are a few walkers munching and slurping as reward for the short climb. Others must have had the same post-Christmas exercise idea and the top (sorry, the summit!) was busier than usual with folk on horses, dogs taken for walkies and lots of good-natured chat. It was too misty to see the thirteen counties you can view on a clear day – although the Shard in London and the South Downs which run along by the sea were visible – but our walk was invigorating and great fun nevertheless.
Our couple of days in London started with a visit to Benjamin Pollocks toyshop. His museum is in Goodge Street and I haven’t been since I was a kid but the shop in Covent Garden is small but full of puppets and toy theatres and other somewhat Victorian delights, see some of his shop windows below. We also popped in to another favourite place – Nordic Bakery in Golden Square where we drank very good coffee and ate cinnamon rolls and a slice of Swedish toscakaka (tosca cake).
Our next trip was to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, south east London. This is the kind of place you might miss but it’s only some 10 minutes from London Bridge Station. We went searching for inspiration and found it, and the museum is free too. The stuffed animals and birds are Edwardian but the displays seem to be from the 1950’s and are in Festival of Britain colours (pastel pinks and yellows) and a lovely informational typeface. There are musical instruments, galleries of ‘curios’ too which have been rehung in a new eco gallery, Romainian costumes and an aquarium with jelly fish. We loved the Victorian greenhouse and Sundial and in the grounds there are musical instruments and drums to play. Designed for kids no doubt but we played along with other adults in the winter sunshine looking at the view over London. Look there is St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance!
We have also been writing posts from that blog we have been neglecting in the pre-Christmas rush and today after a walk in the forest and baking bread, we are going to settle down, hole-up in the house and read our Christmas books.
Happy 2015 everyone!