Dead good: loitering with intent in Kensal Green

I am sure there are many lovely things about Kensal Green, but my good friend Dev and I went with only one thing in mind: dead people.  We wanted to see as many of them as possible.

Not in a zombie horror movie sort of way, more in a ‘will you look at the elephant on that tombstone’ sort of way.  I know it’s not for everyone, but for the discerning tombstone tourist* Kensal Green Cemetery is pretty much the most fun you can have visiting dead people without it becoming illegal.

Built in the 1800s it was the first of the Magnificent Seven garden cemeteries built in a ring around London to alleviate overcrowding in parish burial grounds.  And its 72 acres are beautifully manicured and jam-packed with variety.  It claims to be not only one of England’s oldest and most beautiful public burial grounds, but also its most prestigious.

It doesn’t have the large architectural flourishes of Highgate, but there are just so many interesting monuments in such a variety of styles that I think it is actually my favourite of the magnificent seven.  But don’t take my word for it, look at the pics, or – even better – visit it yourself…

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‘Nothing fancy for me, thanks.  Just something simple…’

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TO HER: something fittingly modest…  The back reads:  To the memory of Madame Soyer
Died September 1st 1812
Aged 32 years
England gave her birth
Genius immortality

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Simple and stunning – the grave of Thea Canonero Altieri

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This is my absolute favourite – may we all hope to receive such a send off:  Major General the Hon. Sir William Casement KCB of the Bengal Council and member of the Supereme Council of India who after 47 years and six months of distinguished service partly in the field, partly as secretary government in the military department and finally as member of the Supreme Council, when about to returnm to his native country, crowned with well merited honors and distinctions, was swayed by a sense of duty to accede to the ??? instance of the Governor General in Council to defer his departure.  A step which exposed him to the attack of the fatal malady which terminated his valuable life at Cossipore on the 16th day of April 1844 in the 64th year of his ???.  In him the Government of India has to regret the loss of an able and upright adviser, the army of a steady friend, and the community at large of one of its most valued members.  His affliected widow records this tribute to his public merits.  Her own loss can only be ??? however imperfectly by those who knew his private worth.

If Kensal Green has lit your funeral pyre, don’t miss my blogs on Brompton Cemetery and Highgate and Nunhead.

* Thanks to Kelly for giving me this phrase 😊

Patio cleaning for a man who loves the smell of napalm in the morning

My poor husband works so hard and at the weekend all he wants to do is sit in the garden surrounded by lush greenery, listening to the tinkle of next-door’s fountain.  Sadly this is not his experience.  The gentle sounds of next door’s water feature are drowned out by the raucous shrieks of our unruly children.  The lawn looks like a stretch of unloved scrubland.  And the patio has been reclaimed by nature and is now coated in a thick layer of green slime.  It’s a cruel, cruel world where a man works hard all week only to come home to a slimy patio.

So last weekend I decided to address the whole rogue patio issue.  In his usual supportive way, my husband stood at the back door shouting helpful advice.  First piece of advice: coat the patio in bleach before hosing it down.  Of course he recommended bleach.  He loves the stuff.  Nothing makes him feel like a toilet has been properly cleaned like its pungent aroma burning his nasal passage every time he goes in the bathroom.

But, as we all know, bleach may well be excellent for patios, but it is terrible for clothes.  So I did what any right-thinking woman would: I took my trousers off and power-hosed the patio in my knickers.  This is despite watering it down so extensively I’m not even sure there was any bleach on the patio.  My daughter was baffled.  I mean, if a substance is so harmful you don’t want to get it on your clothes, surely messing about with the stuff in your underwear is the height of folly?  To be fair, I think a bigger concern was what the neighbours might think; but they’ve met me before, so power-hosing in my undies probably falls well within their expectations.

And now the patio is lovely.  It is an oasis of calm and joy.  My husband is happy and I am fully dressed again.  The only cloud in the sky (apart from the constant one that hangs over every British summer) is that now the patio is impeccable, my husband has noticed that the lawn isn’t meeting requirements.  Oh well, at least that’s a job I can do with my trousers on…

P.S. I would love to tell you that the lovely patio in the picture is mine, but sadly not.  It  is the patio my husband would like to have when we win the lottery.  It was designed by Belberdos Landscapes, who seem to do a lot of rather chic gardens.