Today is the official end of the Christmas season and we are not yet in Lent. Hurray!
I woke up this morning heavy lidded and groggy because I had had an almost sleepless night but I couldn’t go back to bed because I had a hospital appointment. At last, a good reason to go out, go on public transport, take a walk, possibly exchange a few words with total strangers. No, I wasn’t going to accept sweets, but I would get into a stranger’s car (black cab,) if I had to.
I was going for a blood test for the Novavax trials which I had signed up to last year. I was quite excited because I thought they might tell me today if I had already had the vaccine, or just the placebo. I arrived a couple of minutes late, they were ready and waiting, with the chief nurse wielding his big bloodletting instruments. I have difficult veins apparently, and they obviously made a note of it. Nurse Serge, not Gainsbourg but an equally sexy voice, sat me down, tied something hard round my arm, and proceeded to gather his gallons. It was all over before I had time to remind him that I don’t like to see blood. He knew. he didn’t show me. So, lighter by about 100 ml I felt very happy. I asked about the placebo. They still wouldn’t tell me. The trial has a few more months to run. But they said they would let me know if I am offered a vaccine.
I left the hospital quite lightheaded, and still quite tired, but the day was beautiful, so I thought I would walk to a station, and see where the route took me. This was the Fulham Road, which I used to know well as a child and teenager; parallel to the Kings Road, it wasn’t quite as exciting in the swinging sixties, but almost. I was a the Worlds End side of the road, so the first thing I did was to make my way to where Vivienne Westwood’s shop used to be. Alas, it is no longer there. What there was, however, was this interesting clock which whirled round and round. WordPress isn’t letting me upload it, so you will have to look on Instagram.
But before I got to that corner I went to Italy. Honestly, it was like being on holiday in the south somewhere. Lots of condiments and tins piled up. A section of cooked pastas and salads and vegetables to take away. Another section with fabulous salamis and meats etc. A section with ice creams and cakes and breads. Lots of very friendly staff who just encouraged me to browse. It was magical. In the end I bought a jar of tiny sweet peppers. Got home to find they were Peruvian. Oh well, will go out, will travel! (See top picture).
Then I saw this little monster.
and this rather gorgeous elephant guarding a door.
A shop selling Cashmere
and a garden centre with some rather lovely statuary. It also had some beautiful flowers and plants which I was tempted to buy, but I couldn’t carry any more. I’d bought a jar of peppers already!
These wooden toys took my fancy. Although everywhere was closed most places seemed to get round this by offering appointments by phone.
I have no idea who this man is – apologies if you see yourself in this photo, but this pub looked open. It wasn’t..
That was unfortunate as I needed to go to the loo. In the end I walked into Marks and Spencer and the very nice man at the door suggested I go to Pret. That was about a mile away, – I have never been so pleased to buy a sandwich in a long time! Three cheers for Pret a Manger, who know how to keep their customers.
I was down to Kings Road by then and I walked along searching for places I knew as child. Choy’s Chinese Restaurant, mentioned in a lot of the literature of the sixties. Not there any more. I used to love it.
Antiquarius – antiques market where my mother briefly had a stall. Not there. It is now a shop called Anthropologie. But they seem to have kept the tiling and the stained glass, thank goodness.
This is how I remember it from the side. That was the trades’ entrance!
The Pheasantry is still here, pretending to be the Arc de Triomphe or Marble Arch or something!
And Chelsea Old Town hall, where my mother got married for the second time.
As you can see, it is a quarter to one and I need to rush to Pret. But there was so much more to see. I’ll tell you tomorrow!
Thank you to everyone who pointed out all my typos in the original. i have got rid of most (some) of them now!