I got to London on Thursday, tired and a bit miserable (jetlag?) and really missing my hubby, wanting to get the next plane home to him. I had dinner at my friend’s ‘Londominium’ and was a bit of a sad sack.
Then, as always, I woke up and remembered why I loved London. I went to my favourite London coffee shop, Monmouth Coffee Company. MCC (not to be confused with Melbourne Cricket Club) is a tiny cafe with communal tables and therefore, a good place to make new friends. I had a chat with an American lass – the conversation starter was her Anthropologie mustard coloured pea coat. I then duly went off to Anthropologie – an American brand which has 2 stores in London. I spend a lot of time on the internet lusting over their clothes (couture porn) and when I got there I was like the kid in a candy store (or woman in a really big clothes store with credit card at the ready). I spent a good couple of hours in the store and tried a whole heap on. There was a really good sale section (mostly summer stuff). I was remarkably restrained, I think, with what I bought; the pea coat was the only non-sale item I procured.
Walking down Kensington High Street, there were lots of great shops other than Anthropologie, however I was in a hurry – hence a worried call from by bank was subverted. There was a shoe shop curiously called ‘R. Soles’. I can just imagine the shock of the people who call that shop on the telephone.
That evening, a wonderful drink/dinner/more drinks with the stellar Philippa (skinny latte), my other UK brother from another mother. We got along uncannily well – it is amazing how much you know a person from their blogs. I only wish Shauna and Phil lived nearer me!
Unfortunately on saturday morning I woke up at 0600 (jetlag) and was kept awake by the night supervisor of my hotel, whose room is next to mine, snoring like a sea lion or other such creature. There was a wall in between AND I was wearing my silicone putty ear plugs! I was unimpressed.
However, I pressed on with my plans to wander about. I went to the famous Portobello Road markets in Notting Hill. It was extremely crowded and full of tourists (I prefer to think of myself as an intermittent Londoner rather than a tourist) and I was getting more and more agitated; London would be good if it had more space! We do not know crowds in Australia. But then I told myself to chill the fuck out and just enjoy the (cold, grey) atmosphere. I had a nice cup of coffee served to me by a fellow with an Italian accent and I felt more normal.
The markets were really something else; lots of antique jewellery, vintage furs, handbags, hats and also some crafts. Further down they sell food – I ate a paella made on the street in a jumbo paella pan for lunch. I then walked down (another) Kensington street, and marvelled at the Georgian (or is it Victorian? I always forget) terraces. I wondered who lived there; they were probably rich. Probably the equivalent of Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones, I would have thought. I happened upon a wedding crowd; posh ladies like fascinators in their hair, I learned, and smiled at their excitement. I ‘ducked’ into a branch of the famous British lingerie chain, Agent Provocateur. This chain, which is quite upmarket, sells sexy (not porn-star like) but highly impractical smalls for ladies that are…small. The shop assistants there were cute little tight pale pink dresses, kind of like a naughty nurse. This looked a treat on the tall, pneumatic, blonde Swede sales assistant; we had a nice little chat. She asked me if I wanted to try anything on in my size- apparently they have it- and I stifled a guffaw and said ‘no, not today’.
I then toddled down to Hyde Park. I have never been and walked through Hyde Park in my previous times in London. Unfortunately, there was a protest rally ongoing at the time, so I ducked in and got myself a hot drink from Pret a Manger (a really cool fast healthy food chain which they have GOT to get in Australia). I was served by the most beautiful bubbly Afro-Caribbean lady, and I felt it necessary to complement her on her smile. She seemed too effervescent to work in a fast food place, but it is good that she does. By that time the protest had finished. I went there and people watched – (perving at) sorry looking at the nice blokes running around hyde park.
That evening, I went back to Darren’s Londominium, where a few of us (including some other people I know) had a mega dinner. Daz made a jumbo version of everything – burgers, sangria, starters. Then we played pictionary – after a few wines and under the influence of Jetlag it was all improbably funny.
Today, I went out with the intention of looking at other markets, but ended up at St. Pauls cathedral for the church service; alas, it is free to get in there on Sundays (usually 12 quid to climb up the dome). I walked through a part of London which was quiet, and saw the venerable Bank of London building – a Mary Poppins tour of sorts.
I am not terribly religious, though not an atheist, but I was really moved by the service in the surroundings. It was probably this, plus a combination of jetlag and PMS which made me blubber just a tiny bit. The choir was rousing and sang in Latin. We shook hands with our neighbour in the pew, saying ‘Peace be with you, (and also with you)’. A really important, relevant and poignant message.
I then went to the old operating theatre exhibition at Guy’s Hospital, which was built in the pre-anaesthetic and antiseptic era – gory! Then I went to the Tate Modern gallery, where they had an awesome Gauguin exhibition. The free section of the gallery was also really good; lots of important post-impressionist and surrealist works (including Monet’s Water Lillies).
And then, finally, I have found an internet cafe to document my good times.
Tomorrow, I think I will go to Hampstead Heath; the forecast is for bright skies. It will be my last full day on holidays.