Tuesday, November 15, 2011

London: Fabulous Madness

The Autumnal View from the Room
It had been many years since I’d last spent any time in the centre of London. The intervening years have left a lot to be desired in terms of my stamina, but by the end of the four days I was improving. My sister, Trish, had invited me to stay with her at the hotel, and The Man had agreed with our plan and would stay with his sister in Brentford. But at my request he had also agreed to meet us in London the next day and take not only the two of us, but my niece and her two children to lunch and the London Eye. As he was a Londoner he would be able to point out the sites from the wheel and navigate our way around that part of London.
My youngest sister was visiting England for the first time. In fact she was visiting  Europe for the first time and she was putting everything into it to ensure it was memorable. We stayed in the Lancaster London, a very decent hotel very near to Lancaster Gate and across the street from Hyde Park. The hotel is several stories high and my sister opted for ‘a room with a view’ on the seventeenth floor. Once checked in we took The Man and headed for a nearby pub, recommended by a receptionist. Unfortunately, we arrived a few minutes after 10 pm and food was no longer being served. But there is nothing like the excitement of being in London for the first time! A glass of wine sufficed until later when we ordered some not exactly excellent room service. Trish had arrived at Heathrow at 8.30 pm and by the time The Man had driven us to the hotel, we’d checked in, etc. food was not readily available.  But the evening was mild and we were able to sit outside and relish the occasion.
Drinks and Smart Phones
The next morning two sisters embarked on their adventure together. We knew that we would be limited in what we would be able to do and see as we are no longer exactly spring chickens – even if she is 11 years younger than I am. The first thing was to find breakfast. Since the weather was so mild it seemed a good idea to head toward Oxford Circus on foot in order to perhaps find a cafe on the way. Well it was a good plan, but we didn’t find anything until reaching Selfridges and then had to make due with croissants and pots of tea.
Once sort of fed, we found our way to the underground station and eventually to our first tourist destination, Westminster Abbey! At the end of October the line of tourists is not too bad and within about 15 minutes we were inside. (I do think the entrance fee of thirteen pounds a bit steep – I know, I know…) I’d not been to the Abbey for 20 years and it’s amazing how fuzzy my memories were – so it was good to see the old place again and to pay my respects to the kings and queens and poets and actors lying around – and the audio phone with Jeremy Irons with his sexiest voice was very helpful. Unfortunately, no time for lunch as we were meeting Husband and Niece at the West Entrance at 1.00 pm. Perfect timing – everyone turned up within a few minutes of being on time.
The West Gate of Westminster Abbey
Time for lunch before my sister perished from hunger! The weather was stunning and before long The Man had directed us through crowds amazing for the non-tourist time of year and onto Whitehall where we found a little restaurant with tables outside: soon all were fed and watered and with sunlight still shining away – away we went toward the Eye. Astonishingly there was no queue once the tickets were bought. The two children were extremely well-behaved and entertaining at the same time! Grand-niece held my hand like a very good girl and grand-nephew did not try to take his shoes and socks off! The Man was an excellent tour guide, pointing out the major sites before our eyes, as well as those parts that reflected his own history as a child growing up in post-war London, where bombed out and often dangerous bombed out areas were playgrounds for the children of his day.

His Royal Highness, the Prince of Cuteness

Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Cuteness captured
by a Knight in Painted and Armoured
Some of my favourite people in all the world

In the eye of the powers that be...
Time now to get back to our hotel. The Man made his way back to Brentford by bus in order to pick up the car and return to pick us all up for dinner. By then 'us' included my nephew who had just landed at Heathrow from and my youngest son. Soon we would all embark through the mysterious streets of London to the East end and the Prospect of Whitby pub. And five dozen gold stars for The Man!

So ended the first day. Tomorrow would have us  Visiting Niece for yummy breakfast goodies, trawling through Notting Hill, being confounded ordering tea at Kensington Palace and a mind-blowing visit to the Theatre! But more about that anon...


  1. Hello Katherine:
    One simply cannot avoid being caught up with the thrill that is London at any time of the year and at any time of day and night. It really is the most remarkable of cities. It is also incredibly tiring we find as one tries to pack in far too much as there is so much that is tempting to see and do.

    Your first day sounds packed with interest and the 'Prospect of Whitby' is iconic. Clearly, a fun time was enjoyed by all. We look forward to hearing more.

  2. I was in London this summer staying with a friend and had a whale of a time, from a garden party at Lambeth Palace to a Thai restaurant near Ladbroke Grove via loading up at John Lewis ...and next time we're hitting the Prospect of Whitby...I haven't been there since my student years.
    Thanks for reviving good memories!

  3. Absolutly cute, no two ways about it!


  4. What a great day you obviously had, Broad, despite the entrance fee for the Abbey! London is so big and there's so much to see, you have to do it in bite-sized chunks or collapse. Not a city I know well, so I shall enjoy the next installment.

  5. Our daughter is in London this week then traveling to Scotland. She's having the time of her life, having never been to Europe.
    I'm so excited for her. And happy you are having such a lovely time there as well.
    It helps to have a driver, for sure.

  6. Daughter was on the EYE yesterday, the 14th, as well.

  7. Lovely to revisit London through your eyes Broad. Looking forward to reading more.

  8. I miss London! And how brilliant for Jeremy Irons to be the tour guide in your ears as you walked through Westminster Abbey, I love it.

  9. Jane and Lance: Indeed finding the right pace is a challenge at my age. I think we both did reasonably well -- it's the stairs in the tube which do me in the most! But, as they say, 'no pain, no gain' and it was all worth it -- for 4 days anyway!

  10. Fly: Lucky you -- I only seen Lambeth Palace from a tour bus! Garden Party followed by Thai food -- what a combination... sounds tremendous fun -- though I'm not big on the shopping -- prefer the calmer ways of my smallish town -- but the rest sounds marvellous!

  11. SP: And I'm not even bragging!;-)

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  13. Perpetua: It was worth the entrance fee -- and I know they have to do it ... The greatest difficulty for us was deciding what to see and as the clocks had just turned back the day before gauging the daylight was tricky. I don't know London as well as I would like to so I'm lucky to have Londoners for family!

  14. Barb: Actually, I was in London two weeks ago -- It always amazes me how much time has gone by when I'm trying to be up-to-date. Sounds as if your daughter will be having a great time -- so much on offer for everyone and there is nothing quite so wonderful as that first trip abroad.

  15. Astrid: Thanks! Nice to see you here...

  16. Ruth: That voice was so totally unexpected, but it did put a smile on my face! I love London, too and I hope I can get back a little more often...

  17. I'm thrilled to hear your story of your father and grandmother, related to WCW!! What a treat for me and all the readers who come to synch.

    May I shake your hand? :-)

    Would I ever love to hear more stories from that time, from your father and grandmother. Wow.

  18. The makes me want to visit London again; it's been 40 years since I was there (sigh). The Man sounds like an amazing asset to have along on a trip! Is he for hire? And the children are wonderfully cute!

  19. hello "broad"
    just thought Id call in.... and give you the once over!!!


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