London — what a rich cultural and physical landscape. I keep pouring over the map wondering who has ever walked all this maze of roads, streets, places, mews, lanes, malls and avenues. I made a bit of a start focused on the neighbourhood where I was staying in Belgravia but on to a couple of London vignettes….
A kilted porter
As part of the UK 4-day adventure Dave suggested I stay at one of the clubs associated with the Vancouver Club. The Caledonian Club is on Halkin Street, just off Grosvenor Place. The Hyde Park Corner station is the closest tube location. The Club is billed as “a little bit of Scotland in Belgravia” — and so it is. Martin, complete with kilt and really strong Scottish brogue, met me at the door. I was jet-lagged but did manage to comprehend that there were two rooms on the first floor that I couldn’t enter — no women allowed. They did relax that rule in the evenings when after 6pm (on Fridays at least) women are allowed into the bar.
Kim Wilkie — landscape architect for London landmarks
My first night in London I was desperately trying to stay awake to get into the time zone rhythm. My Berkeley class-mate Kim Wilkie came to the rescue by inviting me for dinner in Richmond — which is turns out is a lovely little town at the end of one of the tube lines in west London. He can walk to the tube station from his house which accommodates a flat above his office. He has been responsible for key landscape renewals in London — the Thames Landscape Strategy from Hampton to Kew, the City of London Cemetery, Hyde Park Corner (current project)– as well as several large scale projects in Moscow. http://www.kimwilkie.com/ I had no problem staying awake discussing the design politics of London and the UK.
Harrods in the ‘hood
With the business reason for my trip to London behind me (The Redesigning Business Summit: The Big Rethink — see my design blog http://design.blogs.sauder.ubc.ca/ for the serious stuff.)
I had today — a Saturday — to myself in London. Because Dave and I are returning quite soon for a two-month stay I wanted to leave the Tate Modern, the British Museum and so on for us to do together. Scanning the map, I noticed that I was in easy walking distance of Harrods. Every good cultural landscape detective looks into what the locals are up to — at the least the Belgravia locals. I did a small amount of damage and had lunch at the Veuve Cliquot champagne bar (see above).
Was wondering what to do for entertainment that would be something Dave wouldn’t want to do. I came upon the play 39 Steps — based on the mystery by John Buchan which happened to be a favourite of my dad. A ticket was easily bought and I was off to the Criterion Theatre for the 4pm show. I was sure it would be populated by a sprinkling of people — partly due to the time of day — but also due to the fact that it has been running since October 2006! But it was packed. A very clever and well-designed production with only 4 actors and a multitude of characters. It felt good to be in live theatre in Piccadilly Circus.
Home tomorrow. Also good.