Courses here at Richmond make a point of using all that London has to offer as part of the academic experience. I love how both my European Business Environment and British Culture professors have taken us around the city to explore and physically see what we’ve been learning about.
Since my British Culture class is a 15 minute walk from Notting Hill and my professor knows the area very well, we decided to take go there on a Friday morning stroll. I wasn’t expecting to learn much, but my professor taught us a lot about the stark contrast between the people who live in the area. Notting Hill is expensive real estate in London. However, there is also a lot of government housing. The housing doesn’t look too different from what’s already there, and we were told it’s mostly where someone who is creative – like an artist – would live because the environment is cool and they probably aren’t making much money. There is also an historical and influential black community; Malcom X stayed in the area when he visited London.
Our first stop was a bit morbid: the basement where Jimi Hendrix died. Okay, we didn’t actually go in because people live there, but we saw where it was located from across the street. Next we hit the Notting Hill film sights. We found tbe bookshop first, which was funny because I had no idea it was an actual bookshop. I wanted to go in and peruse, but I was outnumbered so I’ll be making a stop soon. Then we walked to the blue door where Hugh Grant’s character lives. The door is really small (near a bigger blue door), but apparently the house is massive and the director, Roger Michell, lived there during filming.
My favorite places were our next two stops. We walked past Stella McCartney’s studio and I nearly lost it. Paul is my favorite Beatle, so naturally I’m obsessed with his daughter. That aside, she’s a brilliant designer. Her studio was once a chapel, which explains the cool design of the building. The next stop was Sarm Studios where artists like the Beatles, the Stones and Rita Ora have recorded. This studio is responsible for “Bohemian Rhapsody” (classic) and the Band-Aid single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The outer wall has some really cool graffiti, so I can only imagine what the inside looks like.
We ended the tour at the Tabernacle, a restaurant and bar where Pink Floyd had their first performance. The building is tucked behind trees but if you can find it, it’s a beaut. It houses some cool modern art as well. The layout is very casual and cool and there’s outdoor seating. We all grabbed a freshly pressed juice and enjoyed the sunny day of discussions about politics, race, gun control and the coolness of Kate Moss. It was an interesting class to say the least.