I was in London recently for a Matrix Re-imprinting with EFT course, which incidentally was amazing and gives me a whole other modality to help people heal past traumas and unearth what stops them living a life they love.
I chose to stay near the course in Chiswick which just happens to be where I first pitched up in London aged 21 all naive and full of hope. I studied at the London College of Fashion for a year then trained to be an accountant ( a whole story in itself) and ended up staying in London for 6 years.
On a free day I decided to try and find the place where I stayed all those years ago. This was a bit of an adventure due to the lack of a map; I don’t have a smart phone and I chose not to take an A-Z. I personally think we can become too reliant on our modern technology and end up even more disconnected from our environment.
I once a Satnav but ended up turning the flipping thing off. For one I didn’t like the electronic voice going on and on; secondly I had no idea where I was. I completely lost my bearings by handing over all responsibility for my journey to this machine. I ended up feeling disorientated and disconnected. I eventually turned it off and went back to using the road signs and my intuition. For the last part I called my friend ie connected with another human being.
How many of us never got where we were trying to go, before these things came along?
I like paper maps and had printed out a google map. Paper maps make us look and connect with our surroundings, we check the street names, we look for landmarks and we may even meet people who we can check in with and who can give us assistance with directions. Mind you this has it’s down side as you will find out further on.
In the past I would have been too afraid to just set-off and explore but the more I work on my fears the less of an issue this becomes. In fact, now, I rather enjoy the adventure and possibility of discovering something unexpected. I set off along the Thames path passing all the new builds. I can’t remember what used to be there but now it’s all town house type buildings. They are not very attractive and all the ground floor windows were barred, which says a lot.
I kept walking passing through Duke’s Meadow and eventually found myself at Barnes Bridge. I had gone too far so I then followed a path alongside the railway line for a while before launching off into the nearby streets to try and find somewhere on my map.
Although I am used to being totally in nature when I walk it is never hard to find some even amongst the most built up of areas. Even when it seems like there is nothing green at all if we look hard we will see moss and grass growing between paving slabs.
Eventually I was able to locate the flat I used to live in. It looks very much like it is still divided into flats and bedsits. I shared the top flat with a guy who used the living room as his bedroom and I had the actual bedroom right up in the attic. I remember the terrible shock of having to pay £25 per week for that when I had previously been paying £25 a month in Edinburgh!
The thing about walking in a city is to notice what’s going on around us. It’s all too easy to join in the trudge, head down avoiding eye contact and just get yourself from one place to another without much regard for the bit in between. As I walked the streets to the tube station I noticed that most people would not make eye-contact and those that did, did not smile back, sad.
I took the tube to Sloane Square. I was exhausted by this time having walked all over Chiswick and guess what? I asked a road cleaner for directions and set-off only to discover after 15 mins or so that it was in the complete wrong direction. With hindsight it would have been better not to assume I was sent in the right direction and to have checked the street names properly, but hey ho, apart from muscle and hip aches I got to peer into some gorgeous communal gardens where I saw office workers enjoying the sun and some nursery children running around outside, always heartening, as well as lots of beautiful plants. I also wandered past posh shops full of things no-one really needs at prices most could never afford. It is another world Chelsea, full of tidy uniformed children, fast cars going slowly, men in suites determinedly off somewhere, women with bags and a clutch of tourists wandering around getting in the “locals” way.
Finally I made it to the Chelsea Physic Garden and after a lovely lunch in their cafe I joined a tour of the garden with a very enthusiastic and interesting guide.
“Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in London and was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for the purpose of training apprentices in identifying plants. It subsequently became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world.”
The garden origonally backed onto the Thames where barges would bring plants in from all over the world. Later the Embankment was built so they no-longer have river frontage. However they do have the most expensive lawn you can hire in central London. Apparently every Saturday they are closed for private hire and just the lawn hire alone costs £10,000, that’s before any marquees etc.
An interesting contrast to that is the annual rent they pay to Cadogan Estates who now own all the land around there. The annual rent for the garden land has remained the same since Sir Hans Sloane gave it to the apothecaries, £5. He must have been a clever man or had smart lawyers because the rental agreement was done in such a way that, despite attempts by various land owners over the years to turf them out, they have been able to stay and still only pay the £5.
The garden’s claim to fame is that it has the most northerly fruiting outdoor olive tree. They also have a very old pomegranate tree which fruits, a cork tree and amazingly a grapefruit tree outside which was laden with fruit.
If you enjoy gardens then this place is worth a visit, but I would advise a late spring onwards visit. I was really too early for it’s full splendour.
I took the bus from here to Victoria where I caught the tube to Turnham Green and then I made my way back to my accommodation. The end of this little walk took me down the delightful Church Street. Here there is an old brewery now made into flats but still retaining its character as well as several old building and of course the church, a quaint little part of old London.
Lastly along the Thames path back to the Cherry Blossom gardens and home.