*Digs through archives* Ah yes! Come ye: gather round whilst I regale you with tales of my time in that bustling hub of a city called London. Ahem.
The year was 2016. A reasonably warm weekend had been bestowed upon us, such that, for my sojourn down to London-town I did not bring means to cover myself warmly, save for but a fashionable & functional pashmina. The journey was tedious but of a fare price. Having arrived into the evening I thought to stretch my legs by walking to my house of stay. The hour long trek took me through such splendid parts of London; past boutique shop fronts, high class eateries & bespoke establishments. ‘Twas not a place for me, as I hurried past two glamourously thin women, adorned in full-length gowns speaking French outside a posh brasserie. Please, make haste & avert your eyes, for I, but a lowly piece of rubbish in my working garb, must pass by.
My house of rest offered no frills, but my room was ample & the window large. Having paid an extra sum so that I might be afforded the benefit of a window, I was dismayed to learn that I would be residing in the front of the ground floor; alas, I did have to keep the drapes drawn so that no folk ambling along might catch a glimpse into my den. I also discovered that my room, being on the ground floor was accessible for a wheelchair chair user (so perhaps explaining the extra space) & as such featured several emergency pull cords throughout. I was instructed not pull them as an alarm would sound & inevitably someone would come rushing to my rescue. All very well, but surely they had a different room I could occupy? What if there was someone in a wheelchair who rolled in off the street needing a room for the night? I very much hope there was more than one accessible room.
The purpose of my travels was to connect with an old esteemed colleague (OEC), whereby we intended to converse jovially whist enjoying the finer parts of London. Having researched the area, I rose early & made my way to a cafe some 10 minutes down the road. I filled up on a Full English, knowing that the expense of nourishment would prove to be rather copious, & tea would likely consist of cold sandwiches eaten quietly in my room.
Exerting my legs yet again (and for the duration of the weekend), it was in good fortune that my points of interest all lay within an hours walk, no more. Given my early start I was able to peruse the neighbourhood at a leisurely pace & take in my surroundings.
My destination was Hyde Park, more precisely – Kensington Palace. And then, who should I but spy? My OEC, Miss B. Wiltshire, having but arrived not more than a week prior from abroad. I wish to say that her visit to this fine country was none other than to meet with myself, however this was not so & our meeting was more out of coincidence, but a planned one none the less. We conducted ourselves in a rather un-lady-like fashion by jumping about & allowing our voices to progress ever higher.
We toured the Palace & exchanged pleasantries through-out. Although many Royals have occupied the Palace, most notable would be that of Queen Victoria & her husband Albert. Her marriage was one of choice, not convenience or politics, however it does strike me odd that she & Albert were first cousins. This information was courtesy of Seth The Explainer, who was much taller up close than I initially thought.
Having not set foot in London before, I envisaged to take my OEC to quite possibly one of the finest establishments in the city: Harrods. I had spruced myself up since last evening’s rubbish-walk-of-shame, so we were readily admitted into the department store. Through winding sections of exceptional wealth I lead my OEC to Laudurée for afternoon tea. Though my visits to London are not frequent, I do always make a point of reaching Laudurée to either sit in, or if time is short, to simply take away a box of macarons. It is by no means an inexpensive place & I admit I always feel slightly ashamed to look at the receipt of £23 for 6 macarons. That is indeed outrageous! And it is my one special allowance for London.
Though our time was short, it was very delightful to see my OEC. She was a brief snippet of home. We said out goodbyes in the Stationary Room of Harrods & I then wandered about, looking at the various finery. I considered for a moment how a single Christmas bauble would be a nice memento from Harrods, then I reconsidered after seeing the price. I left with haste.
The museums that I had mind to attend were preposterously buzzing, with queues running out the entrance and around the building. I elected to amble back towards my inn, but to snake through the side streets and back alleys. But just one street away from the main road & one could not tell that they were in such a boisterous place; the loud sounds of the city immediately ceased to exist, replaced by birds chirping, dogs barking & radio noise tinkling from a nearby window. A young couple arrived home, complete in tennis whites, carrying bags from Waitrose, while a small dog bounded out of their sleek vehicle. They must be quite well-off, I thought, considering the nature of the area. A peaceful, wistful walk lead me back to my bed, where I lay down for a brief nap before heading out in search of sustenance. I did fare a bit better than cold sandwiches.
The next morn I went to a very specific cafe as I had heard such wonderful things; however upon arrival, the sign on the door read ‘closed today.’ That was not the information I had been given. I resigned myself to a different eatery for a Faux English – egg, bacon, tomato in a flakey baguette with crisps on the side. The crisps made me uncomfortable, as that is an evening snacking food, but I had paid so I could do little more than eat them.
The Victoria & Albert Museum was already quite lively by the time I reached it. Placing my bag in their storage hold, I was free to wander the museum floors without restriction. There are six floors in total & not nearly enough time to see it all. As I had the whole day to spend, I needn’t rush, so was able to appreciate all the fine curios on display.
My wanders took me through Europe 300 – 1815, the seven cultural displays of Asia (of which, China was disappointingly dull compared to the others), fashion through the ages, the sculpture corridor (of which I admittedly breezed through because it was boring), the silver display (of which, anything that could be silver was & as such there were too many little items in shelved cabinets to look at), the miniature portraits room (in which, I regret I had but little time to spend as I needed to make way to the coach station).
It was an amicable weekend to be sure, filled with merriment, extended exercise & particles of knowledge.
Listen To: Belle & Sebastian – Mornington Crescent