Sunday, October 24, 2010

Highgate Cemetry and Kenwood House

Autumn is upon us early this year. While I'm loving the vibrant autumn colours, I am not sure if we're ready for another long, cold, dark winter in the U.K. Unlike the unseasonably warm autumn last year, this autumn arrived with a vengeance; I found myself pulling out my winter coats in the middle of September. Brgghhh....

The days may be getting shorter and the air cooler, but among the many reasons to love autumn is the gorgeous fall foliage, and of course, knowing that the holidays are fast approaching. After waking up at 4:00am this morning just to make sure that the San Francisco Giants secured a date with the Texan Rangers in the World Series (Go Giants!), I went back to bed and woke up a few hours later to gorgeous blue skies! We may not see the sun for the next few months so what better way to spend a gorgeous fall day than an afternoon at Hampstead Heath. And with Halloween just around the corner, Keenan suggested that we pay a visit to the legendary Highgate Cemetery in north London!
Highgate Village is full of Georgian charm nestled at the eastern edge of Hampstead Heath. The atmospheric well-heeled neighbourhood of Highgate is a world's away from bustling Soho and Covent Garden. The cemetery itself is divided into two parts -- the West and the East in which the former can be visited only with an organised tour, and ladder is open to the public for a small fee of £3. It is an enchanting Victorian necropilis with lovely shaded  paths, moss-covered Gothic tombs, and lots of trees, scrubs, and wild flowers. We spent some time walking through the Highgate East cemetery located just south of Waterlow Park and took loads of photographs using the natural light.
Among its most famous residents at Highgate East cemetery include writer Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Anna Mahler, sculpturer and daughter of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler; and of course the most notable individual, Karl Marx, no introduction required here. You cannot miss Marx's tomb -- it's gigantic! In fact, Highgate Cemetery is the resting place of numerous revolutionaries, and Marx is in good company with his deceased Communist neighbours -- Dr. Yusuf Mohamed Dadoo, South African Communist chairperson; Jim Cronin, Socialist journalist; and Saad Saddi Ali, Communist Party of Iraq leader, to name a few. It's a fascinating place to visit if you happen to be around Hampstead and Highgate.

Afterwards we walked north on Swain's Lane to The Flask, a Highgate institution for a pint of Blue Moon lager, and then made our way to the stately Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath. Listed as Grade II by the English Heritage, the Kenwood House is home to some marvellous paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough and boost the famous Adam Library. Kenwood House also host an annual picnic summer concerts on the well-manicured lawn overlooking the City and Canary Wharf. Gorgeous views and beautiful autumn foliage, followed by a homey Sunday Roast to end the day -- enjoy the photos below:

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