Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Afternoon in SW19: Wimbledon

In need of a break from all the World Cup madness, Keenan and I thought it would be a great idea to spend the day on the grounds of the All England Lawn for the Wimbledon Championships. I went last year with Keenan's Dad on the last Friday of the tournament and really enjoyed the atmosphere. There was no line and we even got tickets to Court No. 1 for the Ladies Double Semi-Finals. Little did I know that the first Saturday of the tournament turned out to be the busiest day with some 9,000 people already in the queue at 8 a.m. for 6,000 ground tickets. Yikes! Needless to say, we didn't get tickets into the All England Lawn; maybe we'll have better luck next year?

Our back-up plan was then to spend the morning/afternoon exploring Wimbledon Village before returning to Clapham to meet up with our Oxford-based friend for the USA vs. Ghana game. With the exception of the immediate area around the train station, Wimbledon Village is quite lovely; beautiful mansions, cute boutiques, cafes and restaurants, and very leafy. Bright pink Evian flags, one of the official sponsors of Wimbledon, dotted the streets of Wimbledon Village, as did the ubiquitous green tennis balls that made this neighbourhood so famous. 

If you want to sample the country lifestyle of Wimbledon, take a walk along the Southside of the Common to Rushmere Pond. Here you will find beautiful country cottages and gorgeous mansions. Continuing on Westside Common, you'll run into the Cannizaro Gardens and House, an old historic mansion converted into a boutique hotel with a nice champagne terrace overlooking the garden. Along Crooked Billet Road, there are several atmospheric 'villagey' pubs such as 'Hand in Hand' which came highly recommended by my Wimbledon/Oxford-based friend. We opted for a picnic instead on Wimbledon Common as it was a sweltering 29C and wonderfully sunny last Saturday. Our summer has finally arrived and lucky for us, it came on a weekend – a good summer according to the English!

The walk through the labyrinths of leafy glades, golden meadows, and honeysuckle of Wimbledon Common was an enjoyable one. We followed the main pathway to the the famous Windmill and found ourselves a wide clearing of grass for a leisurely picnic under the sun. It was a lovely afternoon in picturesque Wimbledon. I'm sure we'll be back soon enough as the train journey is just 13 minutes from Clapham Junction.

Our "little" break from the World Cup ended at exactly 7:30PM Saturday evening; that was the kick off between USA and Ghana in the second round of the World Cup. I was hoping that the game would end in penalties with a win of course, but our USA team lost  to Ghana 2-1. The World Cup madness didn't just end on Saturday night, it continued well into Sunday starting with a delicious Bavarian breakfast at our friend's flat in Embankment, followed by the England vs. Germany game at Ziegiest, a popular German pub. England was thrashed by Germany 4-1 and out of the World Cup. Unfortunately, a bad weekend for us Yanks and the English, however, it was a great weekend of sun and catching up with wonderful friends!

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