This morning we made our bleary way to Fulham. In order to get to Fulham High Street, which was where we were meeting friends, we actually had to go to Putney Bridge.
Which was confusing.
Apparently we could have gone to Fulham High Street via Parson’s Green.
Although never via Fulham Broadway.
So, we got there, and met our friend Gill and her daughter Catherine in the Emma Bridgewater shop where we browsed contentedly and I did not buy anything (go me – I had spent all the money on cake), and then we headed off to a cafe, recommended by the EB staff, called Local Hero.
The cake was very nice. The red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting was particularly red, and had a great deal of frosting, which is what you want in a red velvet cake. The coffee was nice, but the service was rather lackadaisical it has to be said.
The staff mixed up my children’s smoothie orders. Only one came out for starters, and it was the wrong flavour. Tilly took it back and a good ten minutes later two came back. One was obviously the one Tilly had given them back, and it was still the wrong flavour. By that point we were beyond caring and just accepted it, but it wasn’t brilliant, and Gill asking for more hot water for her tea pot was something the lady really struggled with, despite it being usual to expect to get a jug of hot water with your pot of tea if you’re in a proper tea shop. It’s one I would definitely avoid on a busy day for fear of being forced to chew my way through the counter in a) hunger and b) rage.
We took our leave of Gill and Catherine after an enjoyable hour spent scoffing, and went back to Putney Bridge, this time taking a detour to Fulham Palace.
Fulham Palace is actually a palace, and not in fact a tube station, or a football team.
It used to be the seat of the Bishops of London, and now it’s a small museum, a large park and a rather nice house with what looked to be a decent tea room. The museum opens from 1-5 from Saturday to Wednesday I believe.
While we were there the local sculpture society were having an exhibition in the house and grounds and there were some really interesting things to see. Otherwise I imagine the house might be a little dull, despite some excellent pictures of bearded bishops, none of which you could purchase in the shop, much to my frustration.
Who wouldn’t want a bearded bishop? That’s what I say.
The grounds are the real gem, and we loved the walled kitchen gardens, and the bee hives, and had we not been popping elsewhere we would probably have done a bit more exploring to the other, more parky areas of the park.
Instead we ventured back into the city and took the tube to London Bridge where we hied ourselves round the corner from the station and into St. Thomas’s church. St. Thomas’s has the oldest operating theatre in England, and we thought it was well worth a visit.
A family ticket was about £14 – although you get a 50% discount if you’re a National Trust member and you show them your card. It opens every day from 10.30 to 5.30.
A word of caution. It used to be next to St. Thomas’s lying in hospital, which is now no longer there, so the only way to get to it is to climb up 36 small stairs which spiral up to the bell tower, which is where the herb garrett and operating theatre are. There is just the one staircase to get up and down, and if you’re infirm, don’t like stairs or think you might get wedged snugly on the narrow treads it’s probably one to avoid.
We thought it was fascinating, and had a totally great time. There were lots of gruesome exhibits to look at, body parts in jars; nasty operating instruments etc, but the herb garret was also fascinating because it was actually being used to dry and store medicinal herbs. The place smelled wonderful and there was lots of stuff you could sniff and pound and run your fingers through. You could also have a go at making your own pills with a pill rolling board and some plasticine.
My favourite fact was that when they ‘modernised’ the operating theatre some time in the 1800’s, they had to put down an extra layer of floor boards and fill the gap between the two layers with saw dust, because before that, when they were doing operations the blood used to drip down onto the heads of the congregation below.
After all the goriness we were quite peckish, and shot over to Covent Garden to see our friend MaryAnn and treat her to a birthday dinner at Dishoom, a Bombay style diner I’ve eaten at before, and MaryAnn wanted to try. The dishes were a little unusual. I love their black dhal, which I’ve never had anywhere else, the chicken tikka is incredibly spicy, which you wouldn’t expect, and the fiery potatoes were more mediterranean and rather mild, but still tasty. We heartily recommend the chilli squid, and Tallulah demolished the chilli cheese on toast.
Tempting though the pudding menu looked, everything was rather too grown up for the children, so we walked over to the Ed’s Easy Diner in Soho and had ridiculous milk shakes instead. I highly recommend the butterscotch flavour.
An abortive bus journey and a fascinating walk down Connaught Street where we saw two heavily armed policemen, and quite a few interesting shops we might go back to explore further (the policemen not so much) and an impromptu trip to Paddington Basin (rather nice), we made it to our last stop of the day – Paddington Station. There is one Gromit at Paddington, the only one not in or in the vicinity of Bristol, and we snapped it, taking our grand total to forty seven.
We parted ways with MaryAnn, meandered about Paddington, ducking into St. Mary’s hospital to take a photo of the Alexander Fleming museum, to remind us to take a visit there one day. It’s bound to have at least some gruesome pictures in to cheer us up, and ended up at Edgeware Road with sore enough feet to make sitting on the tube train home a very pleasant experience indeed.