Thursday, 3 April 2014

Hampstead Heath and Kenwood in the Spring - London's lovely lung

Some regard Hampstead Heath and the Kenwood estate as one of London's lungs.  Recently pollution has been a problem, but healthy joggers, ramblers, bird spotters, walkers and wayfarers have been enjoying the delights of this part of north London, NW11, N6 and N2.

Hampstead and Highgate have had for many years a great appeal to literary types, actors, artists, musicians and culture vultures, who have lived in this highly desirable area. It is not hard to understand why.

Recently I have been finding out about Eric Blair/George Orwell's association with Hampstead.
He worked in a bookshop, quite near to the one below.

In fact he worked in what is now a branch of Le Pain Quotidien, which is on the end and corner of the row of shops shown below.

 (Some vandal removed the part of the sign in Orwell's honour on the wall outside the shop.)

 John Keat's house is a place of pilgrimage for those who admire his poetry. But don't turn up on a Monday, when the house is closed along with the public library next door.

 Kenwood, part of the Iveagh bequest, is a magnificent Robert Adam mansion. And entry is free.

The Rembrant self portrait.  He looks worried, world weary and worn down by his advancing years.

 The paintings are wonderful. I'm so glad that they got the Vermeer back from the art thieves!

We can enjoy seeing the Vermeer again.
The grounds are beautiful at any time, but especially on a fine Spring day.

On reflection, it would be unwise to engage in strenuous outdoor activity, even around the Heath, in view of current pollution levels in the London area.  People with asthma and heart problems have been strongly advised to stay indoors until the south westerly winds blow the pollution away.

Very high levels of pollution have been recorded in central London, where visibility is reduced, and the air quality is causing difficulties for people wanting the stretched health and ambulance services.

The present warm weather conditions are drawing keen ramblers to the Heath and Kenwood estate.  This weekend should bring better air quality throughout the south east of England, and I expect many will flock to Hampstead Heath.  The end of school term will increase the number of families visiting the Heath.

And the controversial dredging project will be in full swing.

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