In mid July, my sister celebrated her 70th birthday. Amongst many other things that she did, she took the female relatives of the family out for lunch in London.
We went to Babylon Restaurant at the Roof Gardens in South Kensington. High up on the 7th floor, 100 feet above the hustle and bustle of Kensington High Street and with amazing views over London ..... it's not often that you can enter a building at street level, take the lift to the 7th floor and emerge in a leafy garden in the centre of London.
I started with Truffle Risotto ..... AMAZING !!!
Then I had a fillet of Hake with Jersey royal potatoes, wild garlic, samphire, poached leeks and a seaweed tartar hollandaise sauce ..... AMAZING !!!
..... and finished off with Lemon Posset, poppy seed ice cream, gin and tonic jelly with juniper meringue ..... AMAZING !!!
Now, if there isn't an event going on, you can take a tour of the famous and oldest spectacular Roof Gardens so that's what we did ..... the Roof Gardens were the brainchild of the chairman of Derry and Toms Department Store, Trevor Bowen and were constructed by Ralph Hancock between 1936 - 1938. Bowen wanted to outdo the gardens of Selfridges and Barkers department stores so he created three themed gardens including fully grown oak trees, a running stream and flamingos !!!
The restaurant and gardens are now part of Sir Richard Branson's empire !!!
The gardens cover 1.5 acres. It has ponds, bridges, walks, trees, shrubs and sitting areas. There is an English Woodland garden with nearly 100 species of trees, a Spanish Garden with fountains and a walled Tudor garden.
Derry and Toms closed in 1971 but was taken over by my favourite shop at the time Biba. Above is Barbara Hulanicki, owner and creator of Biba, in the rooftop gardens with the flamingos !!! I was always in Biba so, it was lovely to go back all of these years later. After it's move from Kensington Church Street to the Derry and Toms building, Biba immediately attracted up to one million customers a week and was one of the most visited tourist attractions in London. After disagreements with the board, Big Biba closed in 1975. I used to like it best when it was in Kensington Church Street ...... it was never the same when it moved and became too big ..... anyway, I digress .....
Here's my photograph of the Spanish Garden .....
..... and here it is in the 1930's.
It is well worth a visit ..... lunch was very reasonable and, the guy who took us round the gardens said anyone can visit the gardens and sit with a drink as long as there isn't an event on ..... you don't even have to have lunch !!!
Afterwards, we went to see Diana's white garden at Kensington Palace ..... I was going to show the photographs but I thought that you had probably had enough for today ! I'll show you them next time .
images 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 & 12: via me, images 2 & 14: via babylon, image 7: via garden visit, image 9: via mike, image 11: via riba, image 13: via rbkclocalstudies