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Places We Go : Hangin' in London

Four days in London isn't much time to explore. For my trip last month, my mantra was just to take it all in after not being there for twenty-five years. Traveling with friends John&Jim was so easy-going. They, too, were content with just watching the world go by. Near our hotel in South Kensington, there were many mews (formerly horse stables) turned into homes. Of course, I wished I could tour each. That didn't happen, but here's what did.

I did want to visit the nearby Victoria&Albert Museum (1852) which is the largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects." Whew! I was interested in learning more about William Morris as I admire his wallpapers and textiles. John & Jim were good sports when it took us a while to find the small exhibit. One receptionist didn't seem too interested in that exhibit but told us not to miss the café, as in "DO NOT MISS."

Boy, was she right. Walking into the Albert Museum’s café "feels a bit like entering the inside of a Fabergé egg: No space is left untouched by the grandeur of gilded domes, ornate tiles, and ceramic wall reliefs. The first museum café in the world, the V&A’s original “refreshment room” reopened in 1868 as three separate refreshment rooms. Named after their principal designers:—James Gamble (above), Edward Poynter, and William Morris."

"Like Gamble, Poynter used glazed ceramics on the walls, mostly with a Dutch blue paint. The tiles were painted by female students attending a special porcelain class for ladies at the National Art Training School. The students were paid between six and nine pence per hour. This was an unusual public commission for women at this time." A Victorian afternoon tea is served on Fridays and available by reservation only. The tea is £30 per person, add £5 if you’d like a glass of prosecco (USD$45).

"William Morris was one of the most famous designers of the Victorian period, yet at the time Henry Cole hired him to design the what's now known as "the Morris Room", he was a relative newcomer. The young designer was 31 at the time and his firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., was relatively unknown. Morris, later famous for his championing of the Arts and Crafts Movement, suggested a scheme influenced by Gothic Revival features and Elizabethan-style panelling." (Quotes from V&A's website)

Here's me (with maybe 6 hours asleep in the first 48) having our "usual" breakfast at nearby Paul (a family company started in1889 in Northern France) in their South Kensington location. They are now in 47 countries but alas, only in DC and TX here. Please note I am eating fruit.

On one of our wondering days, we had a delicious deli lunch at the famous Selfridges. Did you see the three-season Masterpiece Theather series called "Mr. Selfridge? " Fun to see the real store the American started in 1909. It's the second largest store in England after Harrods. Another day, we walked through Harrods Food Hall.

I didn't buy anything in London but definitely admired the windows.

Another landmark I wanted to see was through this gate - St. Paul's Cathedral.

We attended Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral (completed in1710, designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren). I had only seen St. Paul's on TV, primarily when Charles & Diana were married. Evensong was performed by the Men and Boys Choir - beautiful!

John got us tickets to TINA (the life story of Tina Turner) prior to traveling to London. She did not disappoint.

Jim talks with a teacher leading her flock near Westminter. There were kids on field trips everywhere.

John on underground/tube to St. John's Wood where we crossed Abbey Road. We rode double-decker buses or took Uber when our feet got tired. I think our best walking day was about 18,000 steps.

I was excited to explore London's Chinatown where we had dim sum one Sunday morning. Besides eating dim sum, we ate in an Englsih pub, had Chinese, Indian, Italian, deli and I had my first Shake Shack hamburger (USD$17 including a Coke) in Covent Garden.

I was fascinated by this list incuded in every London menu. Whenever I would tell a server that I can't eat cilantro, they were careful to ask if I could eat something prepared where cilantro/coriander was nearby, etc. No one seems interested in the U.S. I'd never heard of a celery allergy but it turns out there is associated with a pollen allergy. After 4 days in London - next stop Paris. DecorBook is turning into a temporary travelogue. I hope you don't mind. I've just got a few more Sundays of travel adventure I'd like to show you. In the meantime, have a great Sunday!

P.S. In London, we saw only a handful of homeless and no one in a tent. At a few businesses, there were one or two workers having a smoke break outside. We noticed lots of green policies - always paper straws, electric double-decker buses, public restrooms (stores, restaurants, etc) with individual hand blowers at each sink. No paper towels. And absolutely no liter.


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