Thursday, 16 August 2007

West Side Story
In the early nineteenth century burials in London were getting out of hand with overcrowding etc and so the government authorised the building of seven private cemeteries around the metropolis. One of the most famous today is Highgate Cemetery which we visited in August. Many visitors are attracted by the grave of Karl Marx which, by the way, supporters of Marxism paid to be moved from its original position to accommodate the crowds. Other notable graves include the parents of Rod Stewart.
However, Highgate Cemetery has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The first cemetery was built to the west of the lane in 1839 but when this became crowded the East Cemetery was built in 1854. Marx rests in the latter. For a couple of pounds each the public can wander around this area which resembles an open park. But for real Hammer House of Horrors atmosphere you need to join a guided walk around the West Cemetery. This is really spooky and a lot more interesting than the East side. Walks are not frequent - probably only two per day but are extremely good value.
In uncharacteristic August fashion, the day was sunny and hot so we went for a walk in Kensington Gardens and were drawn to the Diana memorial. Despite all the bad press it received when first completed it is a relaxing area which is very popular with children and an appropriate monument to the sad life of the princess.
From there we gravitated to The Serpentine where we joined the tourists by renting a pedallo for an hour. This is a bit like propelling a tandem - it is obvious that your partner is not pushing their weight.

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