Friday, 10 July 2009


How perfect is this look. I love the proportions and the colour of her bag.This look was indicative of many I saw on a sunny afternoon as I stepped out of Hampstead tube station. I had managed to clear all my paperwork. I taught my lessons and then rushed to get a train to the far flung Northern climes of this city.
I need not have rushed. I got their far too quickly and so had an couple of hours to kill before the place I wanted to see opened.
So I did what any self respecting adventurera would do. I bought a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel and a rich chocolate truffle from the Hungarian bakery and walked to the top of the hill for a picnic.
As I walked up the hill I went past this stunning house. I LOVE this style of architecture. Inside a couple in their late seventies were getting ready to go out, they looked so comfortable and the house looked so lived in. Just perfect, I started to play that game, you know the one where you imaging what it would be like to live this life?

I then saw a stunning house through the bars of this gate. It opened in half an hour and better still sold a combined ticket to the other place I was waiting to open. Outside were another couple of octogenarians (no different ones) snoozing on a bench, they too were waiting for the place to open, so I wandered some more.

I saw this house, once lived in by Constable. he described his paintings as Skying "That landscape painter who does not make his skies a very material part of his composition, neglects to avail himself of one of his greatest aids"

Round the corner, The Admirals House, a real monster.

As I finally walked round the corner to visit Fenton House I spied this gorgeous building. I peeked over the wall to see a stunning view and a very clipped and manicure topiary garden.
Once inside Fenton House one of the wardens conspiratorially told me it belonged to Ridley Scott. "He's a film director you know, they say he's made lots of films including one called Gladiator, not that I've seen it. He's never there," Talk about dammed with feint praise!
Still it is a stunning house.

So here we are, whilst I waited for 2 Willow Road to open, I went round this oasis of calm and tranquility.
Complete with sunken gardens and an orchard.

With deep flowering boarders.

Even the toilet had a touch of class.

I was very lucky that quite a few other people were looking around too. They provided an excellent distraction, so that I could take these guerrilla photographs.
I overheard a couple ask if they could take photographs, they were told no. Apparently "the Japanese always ask, and even when told no they then try to take photographs from the window" Scandalous I say. Ha, I set my camera on sneaky silent and papped away.
Seriously though what harm does it do?

I had to work quickly and with stealth, hence the lack of composition.

You must admit it is a lovely house and to think I found it by accident.

Two icons of beauty, that is the ubiquitous Holly Bush Pub on the left and on the right "Yellow Car" do your kids slap each other when they see a yellow car? mine do. This one was cute though.
And so to 2 Willow Road.
  • Designed by Modernist architect Ernö Goldfinger for himself and his family
  • Complete with original contents including furniture designed by Goldfinger
I have had somewhere a small pamphlet about this place for what seems like years. I knew little about the background, but my memory was jogged after seeing those photographs by Veronica Bailey at the V&A.
Walking inside the house it felt as if the owners had just walked out to buy a pint of milk.
It has the patina of age and yet still feels contemporary. All the rooms seamlessly meld together to create a unified space, a large balcony overlooks a stunning garden. It is much smaller and shabbier than I expected and yet the intimacy makes it feel like it was a much loved home rather than like so many contemporary houses today, which to me, lack the human touch.
I could happily have moved in, sadly it is north of the river which is beyond my remit.
Oh and of course it is owned by the National Trust and therefore not for sale.
My ire was irked by the DO NOT Take Photo stance. Again I ask why? What is so bad. This time the eagle eyed guides were younger and wholly sussed to my ways, and so not one photograph did I get to take. Criminal.
If you are ever in the area I urge you to go it maybe small be it evokes such an amazing life fully and richly lived.


materfamilias said...

What a day full of beauty you've had! Thanks for taking us along -- great shots, very inspiring. Pater and I will obviously have to branch out next time we visit London. (although I must have been somwhere near here in the 60s and early 70s when I stayed with my aunt on Sumatra Road)

indigo16 said...

You probably passed Mr Goldfinger in the street.

La Belette Rouge said...

The red shoes and the red bag. Le sigh! Just my kind of look. Only if she had our stripey tee on, she would be perfection.

And, oh, I love your meal for adventure. One needs fortifying when they are soon to be assaulted with so much beauty.

Poor me, I had no rich chocolate truffle to prepare me and hence I was bowled over by all the gorgeous gardens and houses you posted.

Mardel said...

What a perfect look with the red shoes, the red bag, the wicker cart. Heaven. I love the room with all hte windows above the door; the rest of the house seems too much, but that, a little sancturary.

Janet said...

Great post! I do love that Willow Road!