Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Mewsing around London

Half term has finally arrived after the longest start to the year. To say that I feel relief would be an enormous understatement! Already, it's made a lovely start and yesterday the sun shone so of course I went wandering.

In the summer, I visited a couple of mews in London and was wowed by their beauty. Mews would have originally been rows of stables with rooms above down an alleyway or around a yard. Nowadays they have been converted into homes or studios but still hold their periodic charm. No sooner have you stepped onto the cobbled way than you are transported from the bustling city to a village-esque place. These mews offer an insight into a London past that it's often easy to forget when routine calls.

Unsurprisingly, mews are a popular spot for a photograph or two which is how I initially came to discover them (as I've said before, social media's not all bad) but I knew there must be more than a couple out there. So I took to Google Maps in pursuit of more.

With a page-long list, the morning train took me to Gloucester Road where I hoped to first find Stanhope Mews... turned out there are several Stanhope Mews; North, South, East & West, not to mention the one without a compass point attached which was less than impressive. Not off to a good start.

Never deterred, on I went to Queen's Gate Mews which was far more impressive! Longer than any I've seen before and with so many plants in pots lining the way (including olive trees), it was incredibly idyllic. There were even a few pumpkins sitting on doorsteps which more than relieved my fear that mews in October would not be so sweet or pretty as they were in the summer.

From Queen's Gate Mews I wandered on to Kynance Mews about which I'd heard good things! This one was even sweeter still, tucked neatly behind a brick wall with a church spire peeping over the top. It was incredibly hard to believe that I'd turned off a busy main road to find this one. Particularly with the church, I could have easily believed I was in a village somewhere quaint. Upon further inspection it transpired that the area around Kynance Mews had a village feel in general.

Before I'd disappeared into the mews, I had spotted a sign for Illy coffee which I never can resist. So I endeavoured to return for a drink once I had explored the mews. A filter coffee and a cannoli stuffed full of pistachio cream put me in good stead for further adventuring.

Petersham Mews was next on the list and yet another stone's throw away. One key theme I did notice in every mews I went to (and in the summer as well) was the presence of builders. I think the mews must still be areas of development as there's always someone painting or some scaffolding up. It did make me a little shy to be taking photos and, well, I do always feel a little odd taking photos of someone's home anyway. But I just tell myself that they shouldn't live somewhere so pretty and that 'everyone' else must be doing it too. Whoever 'everyone' is.

Petersham Mews housed a few car repair places and an architect's studio. There was also a very large clock there which I loved, even if it was telling the wrong time. Unlike the others which were dead ends that I had to awkwardly turn around at once I reached the end, Petersham Mews was a through-road from which as I reached the end of, I saw Elvaston Mews beyond.

Funnily enough I had passed Elvaston Mews earlier in the day and had literally crossed it from my list thinking 'oh that doesn't look worth wandering down'. Strange how places can look so different from different angles. Equally, I realised that I'd actually passed Petersham Mews earlier too but had been afraid to wander along it due to the number of work vans yet coming through to it from a different direction had made it seem so much less intimidating.

Both of these mews were short and sweet and somewhere I felt a little more realistic wishing I lived than those with the elaborate paintwork, wisteria and enormous windows.

On first impressions, my next destination, McLeod's Mews seemed the most unusual of all. The mews houses sat neatly below modern high rise buildings and were on a much more altered road. No cobbles here. However as I wandered past the first few houses I rounded a corner which took me back in time again to the more traditional row. There was another car repair shop here tucked away in a corner which had an almost European feel to it. Now I was not only feeling like I'd gone back in time but also abroad!

McLeod's Mews wound around and around until when I came out the other end it turned out it had turned into Osten Mews. With a severe Victorian wall dominating the end, this one definitely felt very filmic.

2 o'clock by this point, I had reached the end of mews in the borough (oh yes, there are more to come another day) and suddenly realised I hadn't had any lunch. A cannoli is only minuscule after all and I had been on my feet all this time. So I decided it was time to call it a day and on I walked to the King's Road where I could find something to eat and maybe have a browse in Anthropologie (no ulterior motive there at all).

En route to King's Road I stumbled upon Manson Mews. An incredibly well positioned car made for a lovely snap then I was on my way.

Off to Bruges at the latter half of this week and very excited for a Belgian adventure though I must say, as I am tending to find these days, the lure of London is strong when it has so much prettiness to offer!