We let the people walk ….
The aesthetic qualities and cultural ambitions of your esteemed Wandsworth Wanderer/Battersea Boulevardier know few limits … and certainly not geographical or fluvial ones – and so it was, a couple of days ago, that your noble riparian correspondent sauntered across Albert Bridge to two famed establishments.
Firstly, the newly renovated and rejuvenated National Army Museum, where contemporary paintings of Arthur Wellesley (aka The Duke of Wellington) riding through Spain are to be found side-by-side with posters promoting films featuring Maurice Mickelwhite (aka Sir Michael Caine).
There are ‘natures mortes’ displayed alongside ‘tableaux vivants’ on (mostly) silent screens – both showing current museum curation practice at its very best. The museum’s presentation and appeal is on a multi-generational level – it is neither didactic nor polemical; it seeks not to glorify our Army but rather to present a rationale for its previous and current standing and activities.
On the day that she re-opened the museum the Queen stops to inspect the uniform that belonged to her as Honorary Brigadier in the Women’s Royal Army Corps.
And if it’s good enough for her … it’s good enough for me …
Lunchtime during school holidays may not have been the best time for this transpontine foray into Royal Hospital Road but subsequent incursions are already being strategised.
It was thence but a short yomp down the road – certainly less far than a bold Agincourt Archer’s arrow-firing distance – to the second establishment of the day – indeed a long-favoured haunt, Chelsea Physic Garden.
As ever, a veritable oasis of calm and a sea of tranquility – even the visiting Bumptious Brats appeared to realise that here was not a place to shout, scream, scoot, skate or take delight in pursuing our feathered friends or persecuting their long-suffering nannies.
Objets jardiniers abound in the charming shop – highly recommended are the small-scale patent window-box seed dibbers – and these are to be found spade-by-trowel by reproductions of historic tomes, advising the Percy Throwers and Alan Titchmarshes of yesteryear on how best to nurture and cultivate cuttings, somehow shipped lovingly, from the Sumatran jungle or the Paraguayan plains.
The restaurant remains as charmingly chaotic as it was over 20 years ago – but at least it no longer requires seven senior ‘Friends of the Garden’ to serve, sell and account for a cup of tea.
All in all, therefore, a wonderful way of taking advantage of these fine Chelsea-based riverside facilities … the next step for your appropriately (or indeed inappropriately!) surnamed correspondent is a visit to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust along the river from Putney (to Barnes).
Of course, it means straying outside of ones belovèd Wandsworth – but as THE WANDSWORTH VOICE exists to proclaim all that is good and highlight all that is bad in our riverside vicinity … so be it.