Sunday, April 25, 2010
London is a huge city. I feel like I could live my entire life here and not see all there is to see. Even in the two and a half years I’ve lived in Hampstead, there are still a few glaring holes in my knowledge of London. One of those holes is Wimbledon.
Before yesterday I had never been there, and since my perennial bad luck precluded me from winning the ticket lottery for the tennis championships this year, I figured I would go and have a look during the “off season”.
My boyfriend and I took the train to Wimbledon yesterday afternoon. When we first stepped out of the station, I was worried we had come to the wrong place. Far from the hilltop haven we had heard about, I felt like we had walked into a run-of-the-mill English suburb full of low-end high street shops.
Walking up the hill, we began to discover that with higher altitude came higher quality of life. As red brick flats gave way to huge single-family homes and high street chain stores made room for lovely boutiques and cafes, we knew we had made it to Wimbledon.
Having read about a good pub where we could get lunch, we headed for The Crooked Billet. A beautiful spot on Wimbledon Common, The Crooked Billet was full of overstuffed leather chairs and old wooden tables, and looked like just the place to curl up by the fire in winter.
Given that this wasn’t winter, we sat outside instead. A pitcher of Pimm’s and a mushroom and rarebit tart were in order for lunch, and we took our time eating as we revelled in the sunshine.
After lunch we wandered up to Cannizaro House, a hotel on the common, to explore the expansive, colorful gardens. We also poked our heads into the dining room of the hotel, where contemporary art met Edwardian interior architecture and two-tiered tea trays full of treats rounded out the scene.
We continued our Wimbledon wandering by taking a walk though the common. Somewhat like Hampstead Heath in its unmanicured state, the Wimbledon Common was much flatter and featured many more horse trails.
We walked under the leafy canopy until we came to a giant windmill (now a museum), then turned around and headed back to the high street.
More boutiques, trendy pubs, cute cafes, and gourmet grocery stores awaited us. The Beautiful People were out in droves at a pub called the Dog & Fox, but the real eye candy was in the butcher shop. Maybe it’s that we’ve been deprived of a decent place to get meat in Hamsptead for so long (but not for much longer!), or maybe it’s just that we love food that much, but we couldn’t resist buying steaks at The Butcher & Grill to BBQ for dinner.
Steaks in hand, we walked back down the hill to the Wimbledon tube station. Away went the beautiful homes, gone were the stylish cafes. Just like that we were back in real London, back on the train, and back on our way home. But back in Hamsptead we were again on a hill, again in a lovely village, and again happy that there is still more of London to be explored.