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A walk around Hampstead and the Heath!

George Romney's House
I took a walk to Hampstead Heath with a friend this week and took a lot of photos. The day had started fine but ominous looking clouds soon covered the periwinkle sky. Nothing could take away the beauty of the Heath and the surrounding area - it was wonderful to be outside again and looking at trees and plants springing forth. The magnolias in Golders Hill Park are not quite out but there were daffodils and irises, and blossom on the trees.

The Pergola, Hampstead Heath

Beautiful twisting trunks of Magnolias-not quite out!

This reminds me of Daphne du Maurier's 'The Birds'

A view of the Pergola, Hampstead Heath

Keats's House

The Pergola, Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath filled with trees that could have been drawn by Arthur Rackham

The Pergola, Hampstead Heath

Romney's house

The whole area is so wonderfully atmospheric. I'm reading a couple of books at the moment with associations to Hampstead - one is a re-read, although most of the action is set in sunny Italy - The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin - a favourite of mine. One of the characters, Mrs Wilkins, believes she has seen Keats crossing the road in front of his house. It's a wonderful way to give an insight into her character - she's rather dreamy and I imagine would not find seeing such a sight disturbing. Sadly, I didn't see him, but I imagined that I felt Fanny Brawne walking beside me on the Heath - her grief almost tangible. It made me want to get out Keats's poems and the love letters between him and Fanny - and also watch Brightstar, which I loved - a wonderful film directed by Jane Campion filled with haunting images.
The other book I'm reading and finding hard to put down to get on with any work is Justine Picardie's Daphne. It's so beautifully written, and a fascinating story about Daphne du Maurier's passionate interest in Bramwell Bronte - all intertwined with Daphne's life and books. I love Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and Frenchman's Creek, and Justine's book feels like visiting an old friend.
At every turn we could have bumped into Daphne du Maurier who lived at Cannon Hall as a child or J M Barrie who wrote The Admirable Crichton, in which her parents acted. And was that Henry James we spotted as he rounded the corner? I could smell the paint as I passed Romney's House and I swear I saw him watching through the window, cleaning his brushes on a paint-stained rag.
A lovely day - I must go back soon when the leaves are out on the trees!