Sunday, October 16, 2016

Exploring Ealing With Barbara and a Bus Ride to Kingston

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Up and About Before Dawn:
     I was awake by 5.30 am, I read Twitter till 6. 30 am, then I drafted a blog post and checked and responded to email. I also put together my itinerary for my forthcoming trips to Europe in November. I then booked Easybus tickets to get from Victoria to the airports and back. It is amazing how much time all this takes.  This has pretty much become my routine movements of the morning but today, there was a slight difference. Since it was Sunday, I intended to get to Mass. Plus I had plans to meet with my former Holborn neighbor and friend Barbara who was sweet enough to come to Ealing so that we could explore my new neighborhood together. It was about 9.00 am when I got out of bed to wash and have a bit of breakfast--toast with peanut butter, Nutella and Philadelphia Cream Cheese and coffee.

Off to Mass at the Church of Christ the Savior:
     I left my house at 10.25 am for the 10.30 am Mass at the church which is literally one block away from my house. It is a beautiful church--Victorian Gothic, rich with exterior details that are appealing and attractive and equally rich inside with all sorts of sculptural and painted embellishments. There is a lovely huge stained glass window of the Risen Christ with an extraordinarily handsome, unbearded face, a very nice choir screen with the cross and twin figures flanking it (a common feature in many Anglican churches) and wonderful paintings on the ceiling, the side walls, plus many Gothic sculpted saints to keep one's eye fascinated.
     The Mass was well-attended. However, there were so many children that it was a very noisy service. It was a Sung High Mass with loads of incense and hymns of which all six verses were (badly) sung to the accompaniment of an organist who seriously needs some music lessons! Of all the services I have attended over the last two months, this has to have been the least satisfying. Although the children disappeared for Sunday School before the Readings began, they returned before Communion and the noise began again. What's worse is that I saw grown adult women have a long and endless gossip session in the lines on their way to Communion, lots of hello waves and flamboyant kisses being given by members of the congregation as they made their way to the front to receive the Eucharist. I have never seen anything quite like this kind of socialization in the middle of Mass absolutely anywhere. It was shocking, disturbing and made the Mass very unruly. I will not be going back to that church--that's for sure. That said, the very young curate preached an excellent sermon on the power of prayer and the ways in which we ought to pray. I learned a whole lot from it.
     Back home, I barely settled down for just a few minutes when I got an email from Barbara to say that she was just about to board a Tube train at Chancery Lane. In about 45 minutes, she would be with me. I tidied my home in readiness for her arrival, folded and put away my laundry, then soon found myself greeting her at my front door. Barbara was my very first visitor and it was a real pleasure to welcome her in my new home. Naturally, I gave her a tour and then, as the sun had come out after what had been a very wet morning, we decided to take advantage of it and go out to discover my neighborhood.

A Lovely Stroll in Ealing:
     As I have not had much time to explore my own neighborhood, I was delighted to have Barbara for company. We took a random street right off Haven Green and walked up admiring the beautiful Victorian houses with their period details. Autumn is well and truly here and trees are shedding their leaves like golden confetti. There are tinges of red, orange and fiery yellows on every tree and crackling leaves underfoot--nothing, of course, compared to the glory of our New England autumn season...but this is bringing to mind the beautiful sugar maples in my back garden that are probably beginning to change color at this moment.
        I told Barbara then about a sign I'd been seeing outside Ealing Broadway Station for the Pitzhanger Manor--and we decided to go out in search of it. Following a map on Broadway, we headed towards it but as it was already about 1.15 pm, we made a detour for lunch and chose to eat at Carluccio's, the delicious Italian chain of restaurants to which Barbara and her husband Tim had first introduced me about nine years ago when we ate lunch together at the Carluccio's at Smithfield Meat Market in Central London. 

Lunch at Carluccio's:
     Well, we were seated very quickly in the eatery that we found at Ealing Green--and in the process of making our way to it, I realized yet again what a fabulous neighborhood I now have the privilege of living in--it is simply filled with shops and restaurants and bars and pubs that give it such a lovely warm neighborhood feel--almost like a little friendly village in the midst of the city.
     When it came time to order, we both went for the Italian Peroni beer and while Barbara had the Spaghetti Carbonara, I had the Lasagna Traditonalle. My portion was huge and I ate just half of it with the intention of packing the rest up to take home for a future meal. You see, I needed to save room for dessert because I knew that no meal at Carluccio's with Barbara or Tim is complete without a Lemon (Citron) Tart at the end for pudding. And that was precisely what we ordered and what we enjoyed--a  crisp tart shell and a tart creamy filling. It is a dessert also to which they had introduced me and which I never fail to enjoy.

Off to Find Pitzhanger Manor..and Stumbling Upon Walpole Park:
     When we'd cleared our bill, we set off in search of the Pitzhanger Manor and discovered that it was being refurbished in a major project that will see completion only in 2018! Hard Luck indeed! But we also made the discovery that the house was designed by none other than the chap I am coming to think of as an old friend, Sir John Soane! Yes, he of the John Soane House and Museum in Holborn that I had visited only a few days ago! Soane designed it in the Neo-Classical style for which he is famous with straight severe lines, one half of the classical columns facing outward and classical maidens adorning the pediments of each of the pillars. We knew this from the pictures that surround the fence that encloses the property. Ah, too bad, we thought. We must come back together in 2018 and see how it looks in its new avatar.
     Then, just around a corner, as we continued our walk, we chanced to come upon the gates of a park and, on impulse, stepped inside it. And what a lovely walk we had amidst its wide acreage! The park was part of the property that one would see from the back windows of the Pitzhanger House that had, apparently, been designed for the Walpole Family. It has been bequeathed to the people of Ealing and is, therefore, known as Walpole Park. It had everything you could desire in a park--a lovely avenue of plane trees, a serpentine (lake), a duck pond (complete with colorful mallards), a bridge (in the style of John Vanbrugh's Blenheim Bridge at Blenheim Palace) over a brook, plenty of well-kept lawns filled with ecstatic dogs and their happy owners, lovely children's playgrounds with sand pits and sliders, swings, see-saws, etc. and well-defined walking pathways. The day turned out to be simply gorgeous after all and it was a perfect way to spend an afternoon. No wonder the park was fairly full.

Back Home for Tea:
    Having received our exercise for the day, we found our way back to my flat past Ealing Town Hall (a very handsome building in golden stone) and the new residential development that is coming up right outside the Tube station and adjoining the church. Once home, I put the kettle on and we sat and chatted some over a cup of tea and carrot cake with pistachio biscuits and Tunnock's Tea Cakes. But since we had just eaten a big and very late lunch, all we did was nibble at tiny pieces of cake. By 4. 30, Barbara got ready to leave and I was very sorry to see her go as I do not know when I will see her next.

On the Bus to Kingston:
     I decided to leave my flat and walk Barbara to the Tube station, but I also decided that since the evening was still so bright and the light so pretty, I would take a bus ride to Kingston. There was a 65 bus waiting right at the station stop and into it, I jumped. It turned out to be a most delightful ride--there was a time when I was a little girl in Bombay when my parents often took us for bus rides on a Saturday or Sunday. Alas, horrible traffic in Bombay put paid to such simple pleasures--so it was nice to be able to revive them and take a bus ride just for the sheer joy of it.
     The bus route was lovely--we went past Ealing and towards Kew. In fact, we rode alongside the famous Kew Gardens and I could see the tops of the glass greenhouses and, later on, the Pagoda for which it is known. Further along the route, we passed by wide parkland as we arrived near the Thames at Teddington and then we were in the snazzy town of Richmond. We did not go towards Twickenham (which would require crossing the Thames on Richmond Bridge), but went straight toward Kingston. A few minutes later, we were there and at the last stop, I hopped off. It was then almost 6.00 pm and twilight was darkening the city quite rapidly. Besides, since it was a Sunday, all the shops had closed and there wasn't much to see on foot. So I just sat at the bus stop opposite and jumped into a bus going back to Ealing where I reached at 6. 30 pm. It was a really impulsive but very satisfying outing and I felt very pleased that I had seen some of the more beautiful Thames-sides' hamlets that I dearly love.
     Back home, I got back to the itinerary planning I had begun in the morning and booked my ticket to get from Catania in Sicily to Padua where I will be giving a guest lecture. I was pleased to get a good price on a Ryanair flight and with that done, I continued watching the Lewis episode that I left half watched last evening. I finished writing this blog post and then got ready for dinner as I was quite famished by this point. I ate the last of the Lamb Korma from Tayyabs that I had frozen with a cup of tomato soup and chocolate ice-cream for dessert and while I ate, I caught up on past episodes of Cold Feet.
     I had a very nice weekend indeed. It was one in which I managed to catch up on a lot of items on my To-Do List and although I haven't managed to accomplish all of them, as Scarlett O'Hara said, Tomorrow Is Another Day.
    Until tomorrow, cheerio...     

1 comment:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rochelle - glad you had a happy time with Barbara .. she's always good company. Just got her to put an apostrophe that was missing into a post she wrote! Interesting what you're finding out about in Ealing - I'm learning too. Carluccio's is good value ... I quite often visit the one in Chichester ...

Have a good week doing all you need to do and ticking off more on your to do list ... cheers Hilary