The Battersea Fun Fair and The Staff Yard

My friend Sarah emailed me a few days ago to ask if she could have a copy of this ferris wheel image above. She said it made her feel nostalgic.

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I thought that was interesting because that feeling is exactly what led my parents and I to a fun fair in Battersea Park over the bank holiday weekend. My dad remembered enjoying the Battersea Fun Fair as a kid. He wanted to see if there was still a theme park in the same area, but this ferris wheel is only part of a temporary bank holiday fun fair set up for a long weekend.

Curious about his comment that the park had closed because someone had died, I looked into it a bit more and found this:

“The fun fair’s most spectacular ride was a roller coaster called The Big Dipper, which opened in 1951. It was of wooden construction and suffered a major fire in 1970. It was permanently closed down after five children were killed and thirteen others injured in an accident on 30 May 1972 when one of the trains became detached from the haulage rope, before rolling back to the station (the anti-rollback mechanism having also failed) and colliding with the other train. This is the worst accident in the history of theme parks. The lack of a main attraction led to the decline in the popularity of the fun fair and its eventual closure in 1974.”

I had nearly forgotten about these photos of our day in Battersea Park until Sarah emailed me and I realised I hadn’t shared them here on the blog yet.

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It was a beautiful day, the last weekend in August – bank holiday and sunshine all in one. We were looking for something relaxing to do, a low key way to spend the day.

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Battersea Park was never really on my radar until I lived just over the bridge, but now I walk through every so often to enjoy the green space that runs along the south side of the river.

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One of my favourite features of the park is the Peace Pagoda, which I’ve written about before along with a few other Battersea Park posts. It seems so out of place that you actually feel like you’re not in London anymore, similar to the feeling of driving by the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, only on a much smaller scale!

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We walked through the west side of the park, taking in the fountains and manicured flower beds. Everything looked tidy, bright and Summery.

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We stopped for 99 Flakes before heading toward the Staff Yard.

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The Staff Yard is bursting with herbs and veggies. It’s a bit hidden as it’s a walled garden so not so obvious unless you know to look for it or accidentally bump into it.

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Though it’s called the “Staff Yard”, it is a community project that’s maintained by the charity Thrive.

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It’s not a huge space but there’s a really wide variety of plants neatly organised and labeled. I also found a gnome.

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In the 20 minutes or so that we spent exploring this space, not a single other person walked in so it’s definitely a relaxing place, a little hideaway, with a few benches dotted about in case you brought your book.

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We spotted a garden for men’s health and women’s health with various herbs and why they are good for either.

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We eventually made our way out and back to the river. I love walking over the Albert Bridge. It’s my new favourite. (My old favourite, in case you are wondering, was Blackfriars Bridge because I used to walk over it every day when I did my study abroad internship many years ago and it brought back fond memories every time I returned.)

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We wandered slowly down King’s Road then, to Duke of York Square which is excellent for people-watching (and car-watching, even if you’re not a car person, which I’m not at all but it’s amusing to see all the show offs around here).

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It was definitely a very relaxing way to spend the day. And the park looks very different now, just a month later, transitioning into Autumn.

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Where’s your favourite London park to spend a crisp Autumn afternoon? Do you have any memories of the Battersea Fun Fair? I’d love to hear your stories if you do!

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Rain in Battersea Park and Chelsea Embankmet

A few weeks ago, Jorge and I took a walk in the rain, down Chelsea Embankment, over the Chelsea Bridge to Battersea where we walked through the park before veering off to a pub for a lunch of steak & ale pie and mash.

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Though we always complain, there’s something mesmerising about London rain, the way it clings to the bare branches above us, glistens on gravestones and shimmers on the painted posts of garden fences.

Raindrops on Winter Branches

There’s a certain nostalgia that it carries; it reminds me of puddle jumping with friends in university and its rhythmic pounding on the tin roof of my elementary school during recess.

Cemetery Rain

We spent a while walking through a cemetery along the way. I always enjoy cemeteries.

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In fact, if you’re bored, there’s plenty more photos on LLO of cemeteries in London including: Plumstead Cemetery, Woolwich Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, Brompton Cemetery, Abney Park Cemetery, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Kensal Green Cemetery and Highgate Cemetery.

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I find them to hold a fascinating mixture of life and death, with plants always growing among the stones. They are places of stories and reflection.

Nature on a Rainy Day

We walked through the home of the Chelsea Pensioners, along the paths and around the puddles with reflected Winter trees.

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Across the grass, the infamous and revamped Battersea Power Station loomed. Luxury flats went on sale there last week for up to £6 million.

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Don’t think I’ll be moving there any time soon…You?

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Under the tyres of red London busses, the rain gives a satisfying swish and puddles become mirrors of some of London’s favourite icons. We didn’t walk past any of those this day, but it did make a nice little reflection of the Chelsea Bridge.

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I took a few photos through the squares at the top just for fun. One of the Albert Bridge:

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And one over to Battersea Park on the other side of the river:

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On the other side, we wandered along the river and into the park.

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We came across a small blue door that looks as if it hasn’t been opened in decades. Places like this intrigue me.

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Though it was already Winter, signs of the Autumn still lingered in the fallen leaves.

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This Buddhist peace pagoda in Battersea has been here since 1985. Like the incredible BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple in Neasden, it makes you forget for a second that you’re still in London.

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Here’s a link to a few photos I took of the pagoda in 2010.

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The air is more refreshing in the rain. It brings out the smell of lavender growing in front gardens and clears the pollution.

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There were plenty of people out and about in the park, holding their umbrellas and walking their dogs or tossing tennis balls across the grass for them to chase.

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I would have liked to have walked along the riverbank for a different point of view, but I wasn’t wearing very appropriate shoes for all the sand and stones.

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Anyone know what these red plants are called?

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They match the red benches nearby that curl around the Peace Pagoda.

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When we got to the end of the park, we thought it was time to hunt down that pub and dry off a bit.

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This is a row of houses right at the end of the Albert Bridge that touches the end of the park.

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There was a guardian pub dog outdoors and an “All troops must break step…” sign, which matches the one at the end of the Albert Bridge.

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While we were in Battersea, we took a little shortcut through a group of council flats.

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It’s always been interesting to see the posh houses and council estates in such close proximity in this city.

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They were quite colourful.

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My two favourite London bridges are Blackfriars and the pretty Albert, which we walked over on our way home.

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It reminds me of the board game, Candy Land, which was really popular when we were kids.

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Do any of you live on a houseboat? I don’t think it would be for me, but I’ve always wondered what it’s like when I walk on the Chelsea Embankment side of the Thames. Here’s the sign that matches the one at the pub!

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And lastly, on the way back home, we swung by the David Wynne sculpture of the Boy with Dolphin which I shared a photograph of in my last entry about my walk from Sydney Street to Sloane Square.

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“Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” 
John Updike

A Walk in Battersea Park

Ah, a late post today, in true bank holiday spirit. Anyone off to Buckingham Palace tonight? Make it down to the Thames yesterday for the boat parade? Enjoying the extra days off? Some festive Jubilee photos for you tomorrow. I’m looking through them in bank holiday mode, slowly slowly.

On Saturday, we took a wander through Battersea Park before the festivities kicked off. So, in the meantime, here’s a few photos from there:

Some random books piled up around the park

Bit of wildlife…

A dog frantically chasing the wildlife:

A pretty flower.

Battersea Power Station –

And, of course, a taste of the Queen’s Jubilee. Chocolate-flavoured.

Yum yum yum!

Photo of me by Jorge.

Listen to a Londoner: Claire Watson

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers.

Claire Watson, 26

Claire works in social media strategy and lives in Islington. She wishes that running everywhere, and subsequently being able to go to the pub in your lycra, was socially acceptable. She’s currently working on the Boutique Run and training for the Guernsey marathon in August. She’s set up a JustGiving page if you’d like to support her efforts.

LLO: Give us the basics first: How long have you lived in London, where are you from originally and how did you end up here?
CW:
I’ve been in London for 3.5 years. I lived in Clapham Junction for few years, and now been up in Islington for the past 9 months. I grew up in leafy north Hertfordshire so would often come into central London on the train at weekends and have always wanted to experience living and working here.

LLO: As a runner preparing for a marathon, where’s your favourite place in the city to train?
CW:
I’m really lucky to live within a 15 minute run of Primrose Hill – it’s a great place to train… Not only is powering up the hill some of the best conditioning training you can do, it’s such a beautiful view when you reach the top.

LLO: Tell us a bit about the Boutique Run coming up in Battersea Park this July. What brought about the idea and what can we expect?
CW:
All the stats show that women would exercise more if the facilities were of a better quality, if they could do it with friends and if the competition was friendly – not fierce. So Boutique Run is a new event concept which leaps these hurdles with style. Women can take part in a 5 or 10k run followed by a post race experience unlike any other. We’re talking free champagne, hot showers, massage, a fabulous after party and a special ‘Bouti’ bag full of goodies!

LLO: Favourite shop in London for sports gear?
CW:
Sweaty Betty is fantastic – they do really great clothes that are really flattering and feminine. They normally have really good sales and if you sign up to the catalogue list you get another 10% off your sale items (as well as a nice catalogue in the post every few months)

LLO: Best place for pampering and massage after a long run
CW:
I don’t tend to get massages in London, as they are so expensive! My boyfriend kindly got me (and him) a day’s introduction to massage course as a Christmas present this year, so we’re now pretty competent at getting each other’s knots out! It was a really nice activity to do together on a rainy Saturday in London and now we’re saving money not having to go out to get them. Although I’m yet to find a massage deal that I would like, I’d recommend signing up to Wahanda.com, as they have some great health and beauty offers across several really nice London spas and beauticians.  

LLO: And of course, the reward – favourite place to enjoy a night out in the capital?
CW:
There are so many great places to go out that offer something completely different for whatever your mood. Is it really sappy if I say it’s more about the people than the place we go, as there are so many fun places? I have the best nights out with my girlfriends from school. We live all across London so tend to congregate in Covent Garden as a centre point. Cocktails at Sophie’s Steakhouse are great and you can’t go wrong with 1/2 price happy hours at Jewel.

LLO: Any advice for busy Londoners looking to stay fit but might not quite have the energy for all these marathons?
CW:
Everyday activities. Instead of standing to the right on escalators on the tube, walk up them (really squeeze your buns as you do it to give them even more of a work out). There are loads of great parks in London, so just get out there and walk or jog around them.

I also took up softball a couple of years ago through work – there are loads of leagues taking off in London, predominantly based around companies. It’s more about socialising in the evening sun than anything else… And a great way to meet people. http://www.baseballsoftballuk.com/

LLO:  What’s the coolest thing about living in your postcode?
CW:
Freightliners Farm – hearing cows mooing when we have the windows open, or being woken up by the cockerels.

LLO: Tell us about something, somewhere or someone that you’ve discovered in London and think the rest of us should know about.
CW:
The Thai Green curry man who sets up his stall every lunch time in Goodge Place – thoroughly delicious. Also, if you have a friend who works for PWC, ask them to take you to the Turret meeting rooms in the Embankment office – one of the best views of London I’ve been lucky enough to see.

LLO: Is there somewhere in London you’ve love to explore on a long run but haven’t had a chance yet?
CW:
The Thames path out in Richmond – I did a quick run down there a few weeks ago and will definitly be carrying out some of the hard 20 milers out past Richmond, towards Ham and Kingston- it’s really beautiful and you feel 1,000 miles away from a busy city.

Thanks Claire!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Guest Post: Boutique Run in Battersea Park

Claire Watson got in touch last week to offer us (well, the female half of us, anyway – sorry guys!) a discount on a great event coming up in July. It involves running in the park, massage, goodie bags and champagne to keep the spirit up at an after-party. Plus, it’s for a good cause, so I asked her to share the details here….

 

Any London ladies who love running will know that the Sunday morning runs can be a bit of a bind on your Saturday night social life, but there’s a new run that’s happening this summer which will let you lovely ladies enjoy your running whilst spending quality time with your girlfriends.

Boutique Run is a unique night out for the girls: a scenic 5km or 10km followed by entertainment and pampering.  We’re talking free champagne, hot showers, massage, a fabulous after-party and most importantly a special ‘Bouti’ bag full of goodies.

The evening’s festivities will be taking place in Battersea Park, 6pm on 10th July 2010.

And if you fancy an even more guilt free night out why not do something good for charity? Boutique Run is supporting Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a pioneering charity saving lives and changing futures, through research campaigning and education – removing the fear of breast cancer for good.

What’s more, we have secured a 25% discount off the entry fee for you all.  To claim the discount register online and enter code: OBS2.

Boutique Run will be best enjoyed with your girlfriends and you can sign them up for 25% off too, so why not guarantee them a place as well and enjoy this great night out together.

Sign up here; www.boutiquerun.com