During our upcoming sojourn in England, one of the neighborhoods Victoria and I will be staying near is Sloane Square, in Kensington. It’s not an area I’ve stayed in before, so I’m looking forward to exploring the area more fully this time over. While I’ll be arriving in London at 6 a.m., Victoria won’t be landing at Heathrow until 6 p.m., so I’ll be on my own for the better part of the day. 
I think I’ll first stroll down the King’s Road and browse the shops on my way to Caffe Nero for that cup of coffee I’ve been anticipating for so long. Perhaps I’ll stop into the nearby Waterstone’s Books for a browse before retracing my steps to Royal Avenue, with it’s 19th century terraced houses, one of which was home to Bond, James Bond. This Avenue will bring me directly into Burton Court, a 14 acre green space that holds ancient trees and the Brigade of Guards cricket ground and backs directly onto Chelsea’s Royal Hospital. 
The Royal Hospital is yet another of those places I’ve always meant to visit, but have never gotten around to seeing. And it’s yet another place with connections to the Duke of Wellington – will Victoria and I ever run out of people, places and things connected to the Duke of Wellington? More on that soon . . . . but for now we begin the Wellington connections to the Royal Hospital with his commission of that famous painting, The Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Waterloo Despatch, by artist David Wilke. You can read a prior post about the painting here

A second Wellington connection is the Hospital’s Great Hall, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, where Wellington’s body lay in State in 1852. In addition, there’s a Museum that features military artifacts, including items associated with the Duke, as well as other uniforms, weapons, models, etc. 
After the Royal Hospital Museum, I may just mosey down to nearby Ranelagh Gardens, another site I’ve been meaning to visit. It’s the site of the present day Chelsea Garden Shows and has been incorporated onto the Hospital’s estate. 

Of course, the Ranelagh Gardens of the 18th and 19th century is long gone and the Rotunda, Chinese Pavillion and lantern lit lanes are no more, but how glorious would it be to tread on the same ground where dandies, powdered ladies and the haute ton once paraded on summer evenings? 
Remember, by this time of day I’ll still have about six hours to fill before Victoria arrives at our hotel, so I may just head up to Piccadilly and take a London Walk. The Old Palace Quarter walk sounds like fun. Strange, is it not, that someone who leads tours and walks themselves should want to take someone else’s tour? I suppose we all like to be led round London and entertained with historic tales.
Afterwards, I plan to visit Hatchard’s bookshop. I reckon it will be about 4 p.m. by now and I’ll have a couple of hours to browse the books before returning to our hotel in order to meet Victoria. A quick wash and brush up for her before we toddle out for out first of many dinners together in England. And where, you ask, will we be dining? At the Duke of Wellington pub, of course. Or, as it’s more cheekily referred to – The Duke of Boots.


  1. Helena – I always take a sleeping pill and actually sleep on the overnight flight, so I should, with luck, be well rested by the time we land. In any case, a nap is deadly on that first day. One must stay awake and get into the UK sleep cycle, which is why I've set myself such a rigorous schedule during the day. No time for even thinking about sleep!

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