Ms Matthew’s and her colleagues from Catatonia’s words probably sum up best what London feels like to me. Only thing is, whatever London is to you, there’s always a surprise lurking around the next corner.
I know you’ve got to visit the sights and the West end, but there’s so, so much more. Like stumbling upon Fullers brewery and a cracking little boozer with the best pint of London Pride I’ve had, when I recently went down there for GBBF.
It’s places like Chiswick that a lot of people tend to miss. Driving along the A4 towards central London you’d never think that 50yds from the main road, just the other side of the Griffin brewery there’s another world.
A world of cobbled streets, clamp bricks and wooden clad houses with Wisteria falling down the crooked walls, a church that wouldn’t look out of place in a chocolate box village. Walking down Church Street you could almost think you were somewhere like Rye. I don’t know why I said Rye, many other quaint rural south eastern towns would fit the bill. Maybe it’s because there’s some water nearby? You can’t see it at first, but you know it’s there and then you see it at the bottom of the street, the original London murky.
To be fair, you don’t get to see much of the Thames because the waterfront gardens of the stately homes on Chiswick mall block the view. Lowly pedestrians get to walk along the bumpy little street between houses and gardens. Beautiful houses, but if I could afford one like that I’d have a tidier street out front. To be fair, it’s well worth the walk from Hogarth roundabout along the riverside path towards Hammersmith bridge. There’s a few pubs too, big ones looking over the river and some more appealing ones tucked away down narrow little streets.
I gave the waterfront boozers a miss, they weren’t open and in any case it was breakfast I wanted, so I cut inland at Furnivall Gardens. The Dove on Upper Mall, looks the most interesting of the ones I passed, smallest bar room in the world? Now where have I heard that one before … ?
If you walk by/through/under Hammersmith Town hall you come to King St, and a right turn and short walk gets you to The Plough and Harrow, the local branch of Wetherspoons, where I went for breakfast. Smashed avocado bagel with a poached egg and very nice it was too. Only thing was, when the nice young man served it to table, there was no chucky egg? ‘Are you sure you ordered one?’ ‘Definitely’, said Mrs C. He took the plate away and returned it with poached egg atop. Apparently it wasn’t on the order and we hadn’t paid for it, but it was on the house. They didn’t have to do that and wouldn’t accept an extra penny. Fair play Wetherspoons, top food, top value, top customer care (If you’re reading Tim, it was Friday 11th August at about 0930hrs, the young man was brilliant).
But that wasn’t the point of this. Neither was it the old gadgies assembling at their usual tables. Not even the one who shuffled in on his walker, complete with grimy red nylon shopping bag dangling from the handle bars, parked it at his chosen table and then walked perfectly to and fro the bar, carrying back his brimming pint of lager in one hand, without spilling a drop?
No it wasn’t that, it was the carpets. I’d read quite a bit about Wetherspoon’s carpets; the promise of a different bespoke pattern at each location. The carpet in the Plough and Harrow wasn’t a particularly spectacular example, more pleasant and functional than say the geometrical splendour of The Winter Gardens carpet in Harrogate.
No, what struck me was there were two different carpets, one up front, one toward the rear. They were more complementary than different actually, same pattern different colour ways. I liked the border, it says so much about the quality, like ‘I was woven specially for this space’. Have I discovered something here? Or is this the norm? A little research is required. There’s loads of Google hits on Wetherspoon’s carpets, most of them relating to a book on the subject by Kit Caless. Yeah, that’s right, an entire book devoted to carpets, in ‘spoons!
Only thing is there’s nothing I can find out about different colour ways ,and or patterns, in the same premises. Maybe that’s the uniqueness of the Plough and Harrow carpet? I need to read this book and find out more about this mundane subject that’s now fascinating me, or contact Kit Caless direct.
Until I find out, Wetherspoon’s will never be the same again, or will it, can I find two more the same?
Readers comments and observations are particularly welcomed on this post for the sake of further research.