LONDON OBSERVATIONS

It has been almost three weeks since I’ve been back from London. It took me one week to recover from jet lag, which I’ve been told is ridiculous and abnormal. Meh. I’ve been called worse.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reflecting on the many things we experienced whether on purpose or accidentally. There were some things I didn’t share at the time because 1) I was too worn out in the evening to remember everything and 2) I was seriously trying to go to bed at a decent hour and not stay up until after midnight like we did in Wales. See, our routine was, walk, sight-see, eat, sight-see, walk, eat, walk, sight-see, drink, walk, walk, eat, sight-see, drink. As you may have noticed, there wasn’t NEARLY an appropriate level of drinking involved. However, the lack of adult beverages was hardly noticed as the sight-seeing was intoxicating enough. (See what I did there?)

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After the last sight-seeing of the day, Sandy goes to the room to download photos around 9:00 p.m. while I trip into the hotel bar, order a LARGE glass of wine and take it outside where I sit with my iPad and enjoy the 70 degree weather and British accents. It never fails to take until midnight to finish our personally assigned tasks. Why don’t we just put our tasks aside and enjoy ourselves? Because we are insane. Not “diagnostically” insane, but just bad enough to be detectable under close observation. For instance: Sandy was taking a picture of me, yet SOMEHOW the picture appears to be one of clotted cream and jam with me in the background. She apologized profusely while laughing hysterically.

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Since I am predisposed to point out adorable flaws everywhere I visit, I’ll begin with the inability of anyone in London to agree which side of the sidewalk to walk on. It should follow the rules of driving, I would think, but instead, it’s just random. Masses of people coming at you from every direction, determined to not move one inch to the left or right. It was like cattle. Dumb cattle. Dumb cattle that move in groups and suddenly stop in front of you, making everyone behind them smack right into each other so they can look at a map. Amy tells me this is because everyone in London (especially while we were there) was from a different country, so they just walk wherever they want.

Listen up touristy people: Walk or drive in the traffic pattern of the country you’re in. Not where you came from. My toes were so sore from releve-ing and contretemps-ing around people I felt like I’d danced the lead in Swan Lake while simultaneously participating in the Snake River salmon run.

Also, while I’m at it… STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE. (Not you, the people walking down the street in London.)

You’d think the darn thing was a slot machine about to pay off. I’m from the U.S. and even WE do not have that many people walking the streets paying no attention to anything but their phones. We save that sort of undivided attention to electronic devices until it’s safe. Like when we’re driving 70 miles per hour in our cars and eating a Whopper. Walking around with your face in your cell phone is just dangerous. Possibly because it makes me want to punch you.

Another observation. The service at lunch and dinner was great. Mostly. In some cases, the pre-established addition of 12.5% as the tip included on a diner’s check MAY have discouraged the wait staff from exceeding expectations. Bad choice, considering they had two Americans who are used to tipping 20% just to keep U.S. wait staff from spitting in their drinks.

Last observation: YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO WANTS YOUR PICTURE TAKEN IN FRONT OF SOMETHING. Take your picture. Take two. Then, for the love of GOD and all that’s holy, MOVE!!!!

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That is all. For now.

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LONDON DAY SEVEN: THE DISAPPEARING POST

Oh my GOODNESS! I was just glancing back through the London posts to try to remember what we did when. There is NO POST FOR DAY SEVEN! WTF?? I KNOW I wrote about Day 7. It was all about Hampton Court. The all day adventure. Then, the return to the pub (our home away from home) and the late night stroll to Westminster Bridge. This is totally ringing a bell for me, but I see no trace of it on the iPad, or on my laptop. If you read it and it somehow became deleted, then please ignore. Then again, this version may be vastly different from the original. After all, it’s been weeks since we did whatever it was we did.

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Let’s see. Since we were obviously on the Royal Tour, what with all the castles we’d been in, we HAD to hit Hampton Court. Plus, it’s where Henry VIII lived and where he ordered Catherine Howard’s head to be removed from her body. Like those Barbie doll heads little girls have that you can apply make-up and hairstyles to.

Anywhoo, this was about a 45 minute trip to Hampton Court via Tube and train. We had NO IDEA Hampton Court was as large as it was. OR that it had way too many people living in it at different times. Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII, William and Mary… There would have been plenty of room for all of them at once, really. The tour was possibly my favorite. No doubt due to Henry. Being in his chapel and knowing that people still worship there today was mind-blowing. Seeing the painting of his family I’d only seen in books was pretty amazing as well. Although if I had been his current wife at the time (which I THINK was Catherine?) I’d have been pretty ticked off that he put his late wife in the painting instead of me.)

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Throughout the tour, in my head, I kept saying, “Henry? Henry? Are you here? Come on, just one little sign. Pretty please?” He is obviously STILL not an accommodating monarch. I had zero goosebumps or shadow visions.

The gardens were gorgeous as well, but my feet weighed about 20 pounds each so I shuffled more than sauntered. Too late, we saw a horse-drawn carriage circling ahead of us as it took the SMART people on a tour of the garden.

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In the evening, we became desperate and daring as time was running out. Sandy wanted photos of Westminster Abbey at night and had convinced me that a ride on the Eye might be the perfect ending to Day 7. One out of two. She took some beautiful shots of Westminster from across the bridge. I took some iPhone images so as to not feel left out.

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We approached the EYE after that, but it was not accepting riders. It must have been under repair because lots of men were standing around looking at it and scratching their chins. Hey, I may be from out-of-town, but I know what it looks like when a man is hard at work. No matter where he’s from.

And thus ended Day 7. At least, as far as I can remember. I’m sure it also involved a glass of wine, a struggle with the iPad and a feeble attempt to stream photos from my iPhone to the iPad.

Someday I’ll figure out all this technology that is supposed to save us so much time but keeps me awake until after midnight while on vacation. (And then loses my post somehow.)

Now, back to real life and temperatures of 105 degrees.

LONDON DAY EIGHT: THE SHOPPING CURSE

On our last day, we really felt the pressure to accomplish some of the things we hadn’t yet. Therefore, we set off to the Borough Market, which was closed the first time we tried, in order to get the infamous grilled cheese sandwich.

And oh, what a sandwich it was. The cook dumped in mounds of cheese into a container, then would take the bread and scoop huge amounts onto it, and press it in a panini type grill. At one point, he would add the combination of red onion and leeks. He eventually wrapped it in tissue paper and handed to us, as our eyes bulged from their sockets. Heart attack on bread.

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We had to take pictures, because that’s the kind of dorks we are. Plus, we wanted to make everyone crave our sandwiches. Success.

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We browsed the market, which is amazing. It’s crowded, but smells and tastes like heaven.

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Luckily, Sandy spotted a Prosecco booth and I was able to take a bubblicious time out.

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Afterward, we hopped on the Tube and arrived at Selfridge’s. Because we like the TV Show, and Jeremy Piven. After purchasing some surprises for my husband, we hopped back on the subway for Harrod’s. There we purchased more surprises and fought through crowds that make the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade look tame. These excursions cost me dearly. Not financially, but mentally. I despise crowds AND shopping, so it was the perfect storm for me to totally lose it. Somehow, I managed to not freak out and Sandy realized the imperative was to get me to the hotel for a drink to calm my nerves. Sandy is very smart.

After a small glass of wine, we decided to knock out one more item on the to-do list and hit Trafalgar Square. Guess what? A million people were there.

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I became punch drunk and decided you all needed this joke.

Guess what?

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Chicken butt.

Sorry.

We ate a scrumptious dinner and retired to our rooms where we began packing for our return trip. Our greatest regret is that we never made it into a museum. Sandy wanted to see the Rosetta Stone. I guess another trip is in the future, with less of the Royal Tour, as Sandy calls it, and more theatre and museums.

We shall return.

Thanks, London. It was incredible!

P.S. We overheard two different women today shout, “S#!t!!” And neither of them was me!!!

Win.

See y’all soon!

LONDON DAY SIX: WAR AND PEACE

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I’m proud to say we once again braved the Tube and ended up exactly where we were going. Kensington Palace. This was the childhood home of Queen Victoria and the home of William and Mary. Currently, it also plays host to the Fashion Rules exhibit, which traces the history of the clothing worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.

The presentations are beautifully arranged and when we arrived around 11:30, there was not but a small crowd in the rooms. Following are some of my favorite pieces. All I need is a World War to eliminate bread and sugar from my diet and I might achieve a waist this size as well. If I remove a rib or two.

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Meanwhile, the other rooms are dedicated to two sad stories. One is that of Queen Anne, who lost 17 babies. She finally gave birth to a boy, William, who though rumored to be quite frail, danced and danced at his 11th birthday party. Hours later, he went into a troubled sleep from which he never awoke. Anne was broken hearted and went to her death years later knowing the monarchy would pass into the hands of a distant relative. It landed (after much passing of laws to surpass approximately 50 others) with her second cousin George I. He was 41 when he discovered he was in line for the throne.

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This exhibit was titled Anne’s 18 hopes.

The second tragic story is that of Queen Victoria. She was madly in love with Albert. They were married and had a veritable gaggle of children (9)! Unfortunately, Albert died rather young, at 42, leaving Victoria mourning for the rest of her life. There were even calls for her to abdicate the throne if she couldn’t snap out of it. She wore official mourning until she passed away 40 years later. They appear to be the first royals to be truly in love.

We stepped out of the gloomy story and into the garden where we were nearly blinded by the beautiful flowers. A couple of photos are below.

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After a short trip back to the hotel to catch our breath, we decided to fast forward to World War II. The Churchill War Rooms were a startling look at underground headquarters for the core of the the British Government during WWII. How these people lived and worked, day in and day out without sunlight, without knowledge of what exactly was going on outside, is astonishing. It’s like a land-locked submarine. There were signs announcing the weather. Warm and fine, etc. We became completely enthralled with the history of Churchill and had to rush the last of the War Museum before closing. The map room is on view, complete with a graffiti version of Hitler drawn on one map, and Churchill’s bedroom, where he reportedly spent only three nights, aside from his daily hour long naps that broke up his 18-hour work days.

We may have to return to the gift shops, where I found wartime slogan magnets and posters with helpful hints like, Eat Less Bread. There was also a modern take on the Keep Calm theme that directed, Sod Calm and Get Angry.

Strange. that’s exactly my tourism philosophy.

Meanwhile, strange spottings today: one was apparently what UK buddy, Dave, refers to as a hen party. The other is a look-alike of the week. A muscular Ben Kingsley.

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LONDON DAY FIVE: THE WORLD’S A STAGE

UPDATE 1:

Sorry – I am updating with photos and more details as I get a chance. This is going to be short and sweet. I’ll add details later as it is WAY past my bedtime and we have a huge day tomorrow.

This morning, or more like noonish, we went to Buckingham Palace. State Rooms, Mews, and Gallery. Photography was only allowed outside the palace and in the gallery, so I don’t have a LOT to share, but here are a few. Loved the mews. I intend to travel by carriage from now on. My favorite was the Scottish carriage, although the Aussie version has automatic windows and a heater.

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After fighting our way through the gift shop, (chaos), we grabbed a bite to eat near The Globe and went to see The Tempest. It was absolutely breathtaking! We leaned our sore bodies against the back wall and got swept away. I’d have been even MORE swept away if the 12-year-old boy next to me wasn’t texting and tossing his plastic water bottle up in the air.

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Overall, the day was marked by the fact that Sandy was even more short-tempered than I with other tourists. New candidates for most obnoxious? Russia.

We even managed to find our way back to the Tube and to our hotel without incident. Thanks, Amy and Dave for that!

Cheers!

LONDON DAY FOUR: MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR

Exhaustion hit last night, so when some sort of alarm went off at 1:45 AM that quickly turned off again, I couldn’t be bothered. Like a cat in a bath, Sandy instantly levitated from the bed, evidently concerned about fire or some such and kept talking to me and waking me back up until I asked her to look out the window and see if people were exiting the hotel. When she reported in the negative I sank back to unconsciousness without a worry. Today we discovered an alarm in the kitchen went off, but all was fine. Which is good, because I wasn’t going ANYWHERE at 1:45 AM. Somehow in the hub-bub, our clock alarm became unset, so, had we not ordered a breakfast delivery for 7:45, we would not have awoken until the call from our delightful tour guide, Jannine.

Breaking all records for showering, make-up and hair styling, Sandy and I staggered into the back seat of the van and fell prey to the soothing tones of what can best be described as a blonde Emma Thompson. I could swear our guide sounded just like her in “Love Actually.” I just hope she introduces us to her brother, the Hugh Grant look-alike.

Our tour today was laid out in a sort of triangle. We headed for the first stop, Avebury. The village of Avebury has a ring of standing stones running right through it. Many are missing, but small pedestal type rocks mark the places where they are missing. Here, unlike Stonehenge, we are able to touch the stones. A large ditch surrounds the inner circle. These are Neolithic ruins, and the process for raising them involved a great deal of ingenuity. Also unlike Stonehenge, these stones are not shaped to specifics. They are more organic looking, as if boulders rose to stand at attention. One third of their length is buried in the ground.

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As we left the field and made our way out the gate, Sandy took a misstep. By the time I whipped around, it appeared she had tumbled head over arse down the three stone steps. I have since been informed she merely SLID. There was no flipping involved. Although slightly damaged, she bounced to her feet and carried on. Bully for Sandy! I could not have recovered with quite the aplomb.

Next stop was Glastonbury, reputed burial ground of King Arthur and Guinevere. On the way there, Jannine pointed out the hedgerows lining either side of the road and told us many are being destroyed to take advantage of as much planting field as possible. There is actually a group now named “Save the Hedgerows.” I envisioned Hugh Grant earnestly speaking to me on the telly saying, “Join me and Save the Hedgerows.” I’m in, Hugh, I’m in.

At Glastonbury we visited the thorn tree, reputedly from the crucifixion of Christ that Joseph of Aramathea planted when he stuck his staff in the ground. (Joseph was an uncle of Jesus’ and helped him carry the cross.) According to legend, the tree weeps blood at Christmas. This is confirmed by a friend of our tour guide, who claims to have a cutting. How said cutting was acquired has not been answered.

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We also saw the spot where the bodies of Arthur and Guinevere were found. The woman had long flaxen hair, but when the priests touched it, it turned to dust. They moved the remains to another spot near the high alter, where a marker sits today.

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Next, we ventured on to Stonehenge. Approximately a jillion people were in line. Buses unloaded hordes of Japanese tourists and elderlies. Jannine skipped ahead to speak with the ticket agents, purchased two passes for Sandy and me, and we happily pushed our ways through the jumble to enter the walkway that leads to the stones, no doubt cutting half an hour off our time.

Awesome is the only word to describe this mystery. TV, movies and photos do not reveal the amazing sensation of being in the presence of the stones. Every angle reveals a new perspective that must be photographed. The stones are aligned so on the day of the summer solstice and winter solstice, the sun is perfectly aligned with the structure. Jannine said the people who constructed it must have watched for two years. They are fitted together like giant Legos, with knobs on the standing stones allowing the cup of the top stones to seat. Also, the stones used were not from this area. each portion of England has very distinct strata layers and within a fifty mile radius, you could have villages and fences made of gray stone, cream colored stone, chalk, etc. These stones, which weighed tons, came from Wales and another location approximately 50 miles from the site. Why haul stone from such a distance when they could use local stone? Who knows. However, you can tell why people are not allowed to tough them anymore. The green lichen are visible on the upper most part of the stones, but are non-existent on the lower 2/3rd.

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After snapping a ridiculous amount of photos and remarking on the way the clouds in England make us strangely happy, we left for the hotel. Our assumption about the clouds is that we see so few in Texas in Summer they seem romantic and mystical now.

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To entertain us on the way back, I asked about tourist behavior. Having experienced a number of obnoxious tourists at the site, I tried to get our guide to reveal the worst country of origin in her experience. As I determined, Germans are among them, as are the Italians.

Told ya’ so.

Tomorrow we go to “Buck House,” Buckingham Palace, and on the The Globe to see The Tempest. I look forward to viewing a play by Shakespeare in the exact manner Elizabeth I would have viewed it. Unless I fall asleep, which is possible.

By the way, if you visit, make sure you get a blue badge guide. They are certified by the government. Apparently around 1,000 apply each year and they are weeded down to 200, many of whom speak multiple languages. They are graded on knowledge, entertainment, and presentation ability. It is well worth it to get a good one and maximize your experience. Sandy and I were lucky enough to be able to book ours for a private tour, but group tours are available as well.

LONDON DAY THREE: HARRY POTTER AND THE EMPTY MARKET

The A/C in our room was fixed last night, which resulted in us huddled in our respective beds and suffering temperatures equivalent to a meat locker. We buried ourselves under every blanket available, afraid to touch the controls lest we spend another night in the 5th circle of hell. Sandy caved in during the wee hours and raised the thermostat, claiming her lips were turning blue. Eventually, we thawed and awoke at 9:00 to a slightly chilled, but overall more pleasant atmosphere.

After quick showers and an attempt to erase the puffiness under our jet-lagged eyes, we met Dave and Amy on the verandah and headed to the Tube for a trip to the Borough Market, home of the much coveted and even more craved grilled cheese sandwich. I even opted out of coffee, knowing the market would be bustling with vendors.

Half an hour later, to Sandy’s crushing dismay, our little tribe arrived to find the market closed on Sunday. While it made for excellent photography of the structure, it did little for our stomachs.

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We walked along the wharf, crowded with people, eyeballing various restaurants, but the chain variety didn’t tempt us until I became sullen and cross, at which time a pizza place arose like a mirage and we dove in, hoping to appease my hunger and brighten our moods with an infusion of bread and cheese.

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After strolling until I thought my feet were bleeding, we returned to the hotel, packed up Amy and Dave, and headed back out to make our 5:00 reservations for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – Harry Potter. This was a Sandy treat. I have to say, as an HP fan, that it was extraordinary. I’d have enjoyed it more if my feet and legs weren’t screaming at me to get off them, but it was wonderful all the same.

I am including a few pics, although Sandy has the majority. During the tour you learn how the film was shot, how much was green screen, and what was digitally created versus real. We saw the Common Room of Gryffindor, the Main Hall, the Weasley’s home and the Ministry of Magic. Also, you could jump on a broom and ride in front of the green screen as if you were playing Quidditch. Believe it or not, I did not do this, but I did enjoy watching the kids who did.

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We saw masks and amazing elevations and architectural drawings of Hogwarts and the village. At the end of the tour, you enter a giant room that has lights changing from dawn, to midday, dusk, and night over a large scale replica model of Hogwarts. It was breathtaking. The amount of work that went into the model was beyond impressive. In fact, it was a near religious experience.

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Of course, we had the usual Ann disturbances of OTHER PEOPLE, who often didn’t realize how close they came to being smacked and told to wait their turn, but overall, everyone survived unscathed.

Amy and Dave dropped us at the train, and we managed to find our way back to the hotel without incident, unless you count the reenactment of French Connection our cabbie performed through back alleys when he became annoyed with another cabbie and tried to beat him to the next intersection.

We ate a late dinner at the bar and are retiring in order to be semi-awake for our tour to the mythical stones of Avebury, Glastonbury and Stonehenge tomorrow, via our charming private tour guide. There should be much to report regarding the history of these locations. Apparently, to be rated with a blue badge, you must pass tests regarding these locations. I plan to know everything about them to tomorrow evening.

Special thanks to Amy and Dave for showing us around and making the first days of our trip so enjoyable. And for putting up with our vagaries. Everyone should have tour guides as patient and kind as these two.

LONDON DAY TWO: THE TOWER

Sandy and I were tired enough last night to go to sleep in a room that was approximately 80 degrees last night. Not exaggerating. Dave and Amy were expected by 9:30 AM to join us on a trip to The Tower. They were also responsible for deciding what sort of Tube tickets we needed for the week. After purchasing a 6 day Oyster card we made our way to The Tower, where much to our admiration of Rick Steves there was not a line to enter. Apparently being first or last to enter is the primo goal. Amy was in charge of the map, and our first destination was the Tower Jewels. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed, so I have no photos of the crowns,p acceptors, swords and orbs that had us bouncing up and down on or toes and Dave requesting that Amy not hold up her engagement ring/ wedding and to make a comparison. This was sage advice as some of the stones were 150 carats. What we wanted to know sort was how much some of these items weighed. We finally came across a plaque that told us one of the crowns weighed 5 lbs.

After our first trek down the living sidewalk past the jewels, Amy pulled aside a Beefeater who explained which crowns were used for what to this day and which crowns Charles and Camilla would wear. We were relieved to hear the crown for the Princess of Wales was actually kept in Wales, and that out of respect, Camilla would not wear it. After breathing a sigh of relief, we made the circle and went past the jewels again as Amy recited all her new found information.

We visited the Torture chamber, the Salt Tower and the gift shop, of course. Amy was a game hostess and posed for us in several of the displays.

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We hopped onto the tail end of a Beefeater tour and entered the chapel, where seated on the pews, we heard the tragic stories of Lady Jane Grey, Anne Boleyn, and Catherine Howard, all of whom were beheaded and buried under the alter of the chapel. Once back outside, I approached the green, where the executions took place, and photographed the memorial. By some miracle, everyone moved out of my way and I snapped a shot, but you’ll notice a pair of pink tennis shoes in the frame. I prefer to think that was a playful symbol of Lady Jane, executed at age 16 and Queen for 9 days.

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We skipped the White Tower in lieu of a cheeseburger along the South Bank, but will definitely try to return later this week.

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After lunch, we made our way across Tower Bridge and back the The Tube to locate Fortnum & Mason, where we had reservations for tea, thanks to Amy. We shopped a bit and picked up some souvenirs, tried on some fascinators, and then went to tea, realizing we should not have eaten so much at lunch.

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Tea lasted about 2.5 hours. The host became our friend the moment the cameras came out to photograph everything. “Is this your first visit here?” Christopher asked. “What gave us away?” The camera laden Amy and Sandy asked.

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After tea, we walked through St. James park back to the hotel for a quick refresher and on to the local pub. (Many of which were closed on Saturday night because we are in somewhat of a diplomatic district.)

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We finally found The Sanctuary open and piled into a booth to enjoy a pint or two before returning to the hotel it’s a promise to meet in the owning, but it too early. We have plans to find the Borough market and attain cheese sandwiches by noon. A worthy goal, in my mind.

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While we were gone, housekeeping noticed the sweltering condition of our room, which led me to believe I was having constant hot flashes. The situation has been corrected and we now sleep in a refrigerator. Sandy says she will not adjust the thermostat, even if she has to buy a cost and hat. Freezing is preferred to our humid sleep of last night.

Thanks to our companions today, it feels as though we are quite at home here. Instead of a frustrating day of finding our way around, it was quite leisurely and the company was just what one would wish. We are quite lucky, I dare say, to have Amy and Dave willing accomplices to our escape.

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LONDON DAY ONE: LET THE FOOD AND BEVERAGES BEGIN

Sandy and I met at the airport around 7:00 at DFW Terminal D and after passing through security with no fatalities, made our way to the Admiral’s Club. There we enjoyed a couple of drinks – Sandy a Sprite and me two glasses of wine – until we made our way to the plane. We were among the first to board in Business Class. This was deliciously different from our flight to London two years ago, on the way to Wales. That trip involved my knees rubbing against the seat in front of me for nine hours, and trying to sleep with my head on the tray on the back of the reclined seat in front of me. I’m not sure how I un-pretzeled myself after that, but I swore I would never be tortured that way again. I couldn’t move my neck for MONTHS.

Therefore, our investment in Business Class this time. Once you take a long flight somewhere and do it in Business or First Class, you’ll never go back to Coach. Not without tears and gnashing of teeth. We got situated in our adjustable recliners and were instantly handed a glass of champagne. We were also handed the greatest thing ever. Warm mixed nuts. This was an unexpected treat. A treat until the flight attendant scooped the bowl of nuts away from Sandy mid-bite and moved her on to the next course.

Around this time we learned the other flight attendant, (a.k.a. The Good One) was a wine drinker and who returned to us often. (Well, more ME than US.) Then, after we took off, our multi-course dinner was served. This too went well, except the scary flight attendant kept snagging Sandy’s plate while her fork was still moving back and forth between the appetizer and her mouth. The same thing happened with the salad and the main course. The only thing the woman didn’t snatch away was the ice cream sundae, which remained long enough for us to watch the last of it slowly melt. The rest of the flight was wonderful. I think I actually slept maybe 5-6 hours, basically undisturbed, unless you count your left leg falling asleep and getting that pins and needles sensation. But overall, it was heaven in comparison.

Once we exited the plane, Sandy kept referring to our last time in London and how we got to the train, etc. Since I had been nearly comatose the last time we came through Heathrow, I was no help AT ALL.

After waiting 2 hours to check into our room (time that was spent on the terrace eating the Sea Box and Meat Box and having a Kir Royal or two, we showered and changed, then staggered out into the perfect 75 degree weather.

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We strolled to Westminster where we immediately entered the souvenier store and then began snapping photos like tourists. Sandy is operating a new camera – the Cannon G15, so there’s a bit of experimentation going on. I was operating my iPhone 4S, which refuses to turn off unless its battery is completely drained. The attached photos are mine, as the internet connection isn’t working yet to download Sandy’s “professional” photos.

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This evening we had the requisite fish & chips and are turning in “early.” Tomorrow, friends Amy and Dave meet us and we head to The Tower. After I drown myself in coffee. At some point I’m sure we will be experiencing pub fare. A lot of pub fare. And a tour of London by those who live here.

So far, I have noticed the British seem to be stingier with water than the Mexicans and French are with ice. Dehydrated from the plane, I asked for a big glass of water and received a thimbleful that was never refilled. Is water short in the UK? Do we need to stage a telethon to save the water? Has anyone heard of a large glass around here that holds more than 4 ounces?

That’s all I know for today. Wish me hydration. And that the air conditioning in our room motivates itself to cool us at least as much as the cool setting on my hairdryer. Otherwise, I may break glass in case of emergency and enjoy the 60 degree night air just beyond my reach.

DEPARTURES

Counting down the days until Sandy and I depart Terminal D at DFW for Heathrow.

First, an update from the last post. (For those totally disinterested in my estrogen count, please move on to the next paragraph.) The gel that would keep me from having headaches and hot flashes can take a month to kick in, which should be around the time we board a flight BACK to the US. Send your best wishes and a taser to Sandy, who will have to deal with me abroad.

Now, regarding the trip: Over the past weekend I shopped until it hurt. (Which is about 5 minutes into it for me.)  Then I shopped through the pain. I must be going through my second or third childhood because I spent all my time in the Junior’s department trying on jeans and t-shirts. I wasn’t into clothes in high school, so now I want to be either punk or grunge. When I try on “normal” clothes in the Women’s Department I feel as though I am adorning myself in unfulfilled potential and crippling compromise.

So instead of a practical, responsible, mature person’s clothes, I purchased  what appears to be Lisbeth Salander’s slightly more upbeat sister’s wardrobe. I even almost purchased her boots.

bieber boots

I was saved when one of my fashion advisors made an astute yet traumatizing Justin Bieber comparison via text in response to this picture I sent pre-purchase. Even if I had  been able to brainwash myself out of picturing Justin Bieber as I strolled the streets of London, GOD did not want me to get those boots. How do I know that?

Because as we checked sizes, it turned out every single box of shoes had two different sizes in it, despite the fact they had obviously never been handled before. There was not a matching right and left boot in the correct size. Anywhere.

Maybe Tim Gunn is God.

And yet, I am still inexplicably drawn to those boots. Just like I was to Robert Downey Jr. when he was a drug addled mess.

By Sunday afternoon I was almost packed. Everything was laid out on the bed by category. I was so proud of myself I took a nice long break.

Five hours later, when I needed the bed to sleep in, it all wound up in a giant, unrecognizable lump in the guest bedroom. I guess that’s okay, as soon it will be a giant unrecognizable lump in my suitcase. And then in my hotel room.

Maybe I’ve just discovered the up side of jeans and t-shirts.

Clothes for packing