My daughters and I got to take the Eurostar to London after our Paris sojourn. MC had to get back to Gap and work, but was able to stay five nights. H and I had another four after that, but no camera.
A highlight was the walk we all took on Friday, from Trafalgar Square to Borough Market, by way of Somerset House and the skaters, Twining's, Middle Temple, Blackfriars Bridge.
We took a bus to Trafalgar from our hotel; from the window:
Pub across from Borough Market:
Friday mornings the market is not as crazy crowded. The weather was nice enough to eat our sandwiches at the picnic table there. The world's best grilled cheese stand, the one that has raclette also. Don't try to travel more than 50 feet before digging in:
Mulled wine as good as street vin chaud in Paris.
MC likes people, in all their visual variety.
I especially like this one:
They aren't all young and/or handsome:
But many are:
We walked to the Tate Modern then, dropped the girls off and I walked back to Bloomsbury through the City.
Thank you Darlins! You are all very kind. I'm happy to pass on your words of encouragement.
Yes, MC is our 22 yo daughter, the one who lives in in the Alps this year. She's going with a group to Fes and Tangier, Morocco, and to Madrid next week during their (next, sheesh) break, so maybe she'll get some interesting shots there.
I was wondering about those bundles, too, mich. I don't even know what that is in his mouth.
I feel most drawn to portraits in general, painted or photos. I like the one of the ponytailed man standing in red truck, because that's how I feel when I see MC, too.
We had just spent ten days in Paris with their father, a wonderful stay in a Marais apartment. He had to go home to work, and the girls and I got to hop on the Eurostar and zip over to London; we love both cities.
It was raining when we arrived at St. Pancras, almost the only rain our whole trip, so we opened our umbrellas and walked the mile to Arran House Hotel. www.arranhotel-london.com/ We'd all stayed there six years before, so it felt a little like sailing into port in a storm. It's changed ownership, and also management from the South Africans who ran it last time. Now the front desk men are Indian, the women who run the kitchen and clean the rooms are Eastern European, and it's maybe a less taut housekeeping ship. We grew very fond of the day desk man.
Our first floor room faced the street, with a mantel and sink, and tall windows. The ceiling moldings and the proportions show that each of the two townhouses joined for the hotel used to have two large rooms in front, now cut into four and a hallway. Still, it feels elegantly spacious with the high ceilings and view. You go up a short half flight to the lavatory and bathrooms, and there are another two floors over that. We had a choice of a larger triple room on the third floor, but you can see from the street that the top floor would be lower-ceilinged. Some of the rooms have had bathrooms added, but I like the old fashioned shared original ones just fine. Sharing was never a problem.
We love the breakfast there, mostly for the camaraderie, the way it slowly fills from 0700 until the last minute rush just before 0900, the hum of different languages in morning voices, tinkling spoons in mugs.
I just looked at your hotel link, lola. I stayed on Gower Street last time I went to London (2006?) I found it terribly noisy but mainly I think my bad memories are because I got sick eating in an Indian restaurant.
I too am full of admiration for your daughter's portraits Lola
By happy coincidence I will be in London ( staying in Borough) this weekend and so will endeavour to find the candy man's stall . Of course the stall may not be there but I am hoping it is, and it is not just because I want to get a look at the candy man for real but because I want to satisfy Mich's curiousity about the bundles.
Bixa, fumo, casimira: I hug you gratefully. Lucky lugg! Would love a report.
bjd, yes. It's noisy in front, but possible to get garden facing rooms. The previous owner had a second set of storm windows installed at the edge of the windowsills, leaving a 9" insulating airspace that helps the noise a lot and was handy as a refrigerator. Summer might be problematic. I had the single bed alongside the window, and found it difficult to sleep well the first night. The other nights I used earplugs and did just fine. In fact I found the increasing morning traffic noise a good alarm clock, since I wanted to be up and in the breakfast room first thing. (I was the one poking my head into the kitchen and asking, "Is there any coffee yet?" They serve it in what we call French press glass carafes, small amounts freshly made that cool quickly.)
I can't tell everyone they'd love Arran House, and I did look around for similarly priced Bloomsbury hotels just in case. I peeked into this place, across Russell Sq. on a quieter street but close to bus lines and Picadilly line stop: www.stmargaretshotel.co.uk/W_e_l_c_o_m_e.html I liked the look of it. From the street I scoped out some small hotels on Bedford Way, which is way quiet and nicely located.
Saturday morning we three took the bus to Camden Town to check out the market there. We bought MC posters of Paris to brighten up her room at the Foyer, and a few trendy clothing items. What a fun scene.
These guys were good.
The Olympic Spirit lives on.
Seating for ethnic street food heaven:
MC will take the occasional standard whoa-can't-believe-we're-really-here shot:
Dusk comes early in January.
Sometime I need to compile her public affection shots.
As I was scrolling down and looking at even more perfect photos, I had exactly the same thoughts as Bixa - there is absolutely nothing standard about MC's photography whether it is portraits or scenery - the dusk photos are fantastic. i hope she checks in here occasionally to see our admiration at first hand.
Lola - I really enjoyed your descriptions too which compliment the photo's perfectly.... and yes I will post a report when I return.
Finally got my hands on the laptop and a quiet morning to myself.
Bixa, you a doll. Funny about the Eye! I had thought it was my imagination. The Camden Town market is big, spread along the canals and locks, the biggest and most visited open air market in London, therefore the UK. It didn't strike us as touristy. A good place to look for alternative clothing. I saw some of my favorite shoes ever there, fantasy retro but wearable, at a shop on the High Street near the canal.
Mich, I've never been to Scotland, though I hear it's beautiful. It's unlikely that I'll ever get enough of London in this lifetime.
Thank you, lugg and casimira!
MC really should get a apias name and reply, but since she's only written one blog entry since our trip I can't add to her Writing To Do list. She has checked in here, and is knocked out by all of your generous words.
HAMPSTEAD SATURDAY AFTERNOON
We got back on the handy #24 Bus and continued north from Camden Town to the end of the line in Hampstead. This leafy hilltop town would have been a fresh air refuge for wealthy Londoners at one time. Now it's a suburb where I might put lottery winnings into real estate if I ever played the lottery. Lots of prams and strollers, and an air of civilized prosperity. It's a steep climb up the High Street from the bus stop, past shops fashionable and ordinary, cozy coffeehouses.
Families passed on their way to the Heath in wellies, coming away muddy. We debated walking across to get the London views, but realized the paths were going to be mucky. Walking down the road between the Heath and town you still get a view that includes St.Paul's dome. Down near the bottom of the hill I browsed a small bookstore while the girls looked in a charity shop; the best collection of children's books I've seen.
My first visit to London was with my mother, after I'd gotten out of school and was making a living. Her friends told her to stay near the Marble Arch, but since I was doing the pre-internet booking and my share of the paying I got us in a lovely Hampstead B&B called the Sandringham. Kippers for breakfast. Great neighborhood. I don't think it exists anymore. As the crow flies, it was no further to Trafalgar Square than say the Victoria & Albert museum, but of course we had to take the Tube to get anywhere in London, and my dear Ma did grumble a bit. I loved it there, but regret not indulging her. She's never gotten to go back, and I have.
Preparing to speak to the unfaithful, facing misty Hyde Park:
Then sharing his belief in Islam. I found this man peaceful and beautiful, and agreed with a lot of what he said. Only a few people listened to him:
This exchange got contentious. The speaker and a heckler discussed lack of proof for God's existence:
This Jesus Cowboy, an American, held forth at Speaker's Corner a few years ago last time we visited. He defended the woman's point of view against the atheist, though most of the crowd seemed to back the heckler and enjoy the angry energy:
These young men had rented the Vélib-style bikes to come heckle. I like this women, who was there three and six years ago also, and then also surrounded by young male hecklers. They seem here more interested in the existence of God argument than in harassing, for the moment.
There was a mere handful of speakers that morning. The three times I've gone it's been almost exclusively religious; no wacko or otherwise politics or environmentalists. Just across the street, and a lot louder, a Muslim gathering:
Just a quick check in to say that unfortunately I could not find the Candyman when I visited on Saturday. He may have been there and I missed him ..... the place was absolutely heaving & fit to burst. Despite the congestion I did enjoy Borough Market and hope to go back in May although I will go early am on a Thursday or Friday . Borough itself is a great place to stay in London , because (when the market closes) it is just enough off the beaten track to engender a feeling of residential London; it has some great places to eat / drink and yet it is walking distance /close to the Tate & Tate Modern , the Globe , South Bank and via the Millenium Bridge / Southwark bridge just a short walk to St Pauls and on to central London.
Just caught up with your later post , thank you for sharing your memories and of course to MC for more of her wonderful photos.
I think that would be a good place to stay. Were you in a hotel?
I think it is a great area too and I would definitely stay in the same area again. No we were not in a hotel. We had a two bedroom apartment as there were 3 of us one night and 4 another. It was good and I would stay in the same place again or another of the same company properties. Not for those looking for atmosphere , as they are modern but the advantages are several .... we had two bedrooms , two bathrooms , a kitchen with all amenities even a washer dryer/ dishwasher etc and a balcony all for about £75 per room per night. As I drove us into London the other advantage was on site car parking
Bargain, and with parking yet, lugg. Maybe it wouldn't be as difficult driving south of the river.
I made a stab at suggesting rental bikes as we walked along Southwark Road towards the market, because it seemed almost possible not to get killed on that stretch. My bike and cab suggestions were always overruled, and fast.
Yes, kerouac. Good point. I am too thin skinned even for the internet, so can not imagine having the nerve to put ego on the line on one of those chairs. I suppose the speakers have Divine Inspiration. Anyway I admire them for coming back year after year. The woman who resembles someone's sweet granny -- or from some angles Imelda Staunton -- has such a messianic look in her eye that I have never been able to focus enough on words to catch her drift. The hecklers do pick on women speakers.
Sunday morning I went to mass at the 13th century Catholic church St. Etheldreda's, that escaped the Great Fire of 1643 and was badly damaged during WWII. Stone walls, wood beam ceiling, painted statues of men and women in Reformation era dress: English martyrs I'd never heard of. From their website: www.flickr.com/photos/stetheldredas/8238798141/sizes/z/in/photostream/
There used to be a Palace there; Shakespeare has Richard III ask to have strawberries fetched from its garden.
MC had wanted to go along, until she heard the 0900 start time. It was Epiphany Sunday, and the sweet voiced old priest spoke of pagans coming to worship Jesus. "And now, tragically, paganism is returning to our own land." The church was maybe a fifth full, and as I lingered afterwards looking at windows and statues the choir was tuning up for the 1100 sung latin mass.