Generally speaking, I love bank holidays, but I especially loved today's because it had no real purpose.
Indeed, today was the UK's "Late Summer Bank Holiday 2016," presumably just a random day to help us all commiserate that summer is nearing its end, and that we don't - as far as I can tell - get another official day off until Christmas.
Christmas. Nearly four months away. Pause to let that sink in.
But I digress! Since we were fortunate to enjoy wonderful weather on this beautiful late summer's day, I was thrilled when my friend Claudia suggested we go to Hampstead Heath for a late lunch and a long walk. "The Heath," as cool people apparently call it, is one of the very biggest parks in London--bigger than Hyde Park and Regent's Park put together. As it turns out, it's also 20 minutes away from where I live by tube ... and yet I'd never been there before.
Which is a little embarrassing, because it's awesome. It's got beautiful views of the city of London, and it's a little wild, with overgrown trees, rambling paths, and hilly climbs. We ambled along, refusing to check our phones for directions, instead relying on those old-fashioned skills of asking other people for help, supplemented by our own, random, "Oh, I think it's this way" once in a while.
Finally, we found what we were looking for: Kenwood House, a beautiful estate perched at the top of a hill. It's mostly known for the paintings and artwork it houses, but today we had something more simple in mind: a cup of tea and a slice of carrot cake in the beautiful gardens. I loved it.
After we got lost yet again on the way back, we meandered a little through the Hampstead neighborhood itself, down little cobblestone streets, enjoying the late afternoon sun. I think I've found one of my new favorite London areas!
See you soon, Hampstead.