Friday, June 10, 2011

Greetings from Belsize Park, London NW3

We’ve been in London since Tuesday, staying in a modest B&B hotel in the quiet, untouristed area of Belsize Park, between Swiss Cottage and Hampstead and only 5.5 km from Trafalgar Square.  The hotel is in the same street where Greg lived in 1991-92 during a 3-year stint working in London.  So it's not coincidental that we're in this area, which is close to stations on three tube lines enabling quick access to central London.  

The name 'Belsize' derives from a French word 'bel assis' meaning 'beautifully situated'.  The streets in this area are lined on each side with 4-storey 1850s semi-detached Italianate villas (now mostly converted to flats) with white stuccoed facades.  This produces an attractive streetscape such that the area was apparently once referred to as 'the white cliffs of Belsize'.  

On Tuesday we walked over to Hampstead Heath, which is only a few km away and spent a couple of hours walking on the Heath, which covers 800 acres of grassland, woodland & ponds.  We also visited the historic Kenwood House Georgian villa situated on the Heath, before walking back via Hampstead village.

During the last few days we have taken the tube into the centre of London and out to Greenwich, to  tour key attractions and have also done some long city walks.   

This evening we unpacked the bikes and tomorrow will get organised for the train trip to Penzance early on Sunday. 
We've seen lots of cyclists here and it's great to see the facilities that have been developed compared with the early 90s, when Greg cycled extensively in and around London.  As well as bike lanes, cycling network signage, priority markings at traffic lights, etc, the docking stations for the recently-introduced bike hire system seem to be everywhere and there’s also the trial of two-storey bike storage facility on a platform inside Paddington Station, which was packed with bikes.

We’ve had mostly good weather but the last few days have been showery at times. This has helped prepare us mentally for the inevitable wet weather on our end to end tour !

No comments:

Post a Comment