Friday, 11 June 2010

London June 11, 2010

Our London trip was really nice.  Poor Joe had to work Thursday and Friday and despite  being only 35 miles from the store it took him a total of five to five and a half hours a day to commute because of the London traffic.  It was horrible!  He didn't realize when he picked out the hotel that it was going to make him go through the middle of London to get to the stores.  The traffic through the city is just about as bad as you can imagine.  They even have a congestion charge so that if you go through that boundary in the city you are immediately charged £8 ($13) a day.  All done by cameras somehow.  You have to call THAT day and pay the fine too.  Of course his work paid for it.  I was just giving you an example of how they try to discourage people from driving down there.

I, on the other hand, took the tube (located a couple of blocks from our hotel), and a 45 minute ride, into the city. My first stop was Harrods.  Having heard about it for so long I wanted to see for myself.  It is the most amazing department store I have ever seen!  It has been owned by Mohammed al-Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed who was the man Princess Diana was with when they both were killed.  After owning it for 25 years, he just last month sold Harrods to the royal family of Qatar for £1.5 billion!  The store covers 4.5 acres and has seven levels allowing more than 1 million square feet of selling space.  The decor and the displays are dizzying.  The escalators have an Egyptian theme with sculptures and carvings that cost Fayed £75 million.  There is a Dodi and Diana memorial too.  The sales people are perfectly groomed, dressed all in black and looking very stylish. They stand at the front of their department, hands behind their back waiting to answer any and all of your demands.  There is also a doorman dressed in top hat and tails to welcome you into the store! For fun you should go to and click on "Harrods 360 degrees".

After leaving Harrods I decided to walk down the street to Kensington Gardens.  It is one of the Royal Parks and home of Kensington Palace where Princess Diana lived.  It has 275 acres of wide walkways with gardens, memorials, water fountains and statues.  One of the attractions is a huge playground with a Peter Pan theme complete with a huge wooden pirate ship and beach.  This was built in memory of Princess Diana.  I had a map and it didn't look too far.  After walking for about 20 minutes and not even getting close according to my map, I decided it was just too far to walk.  About that time I realized that we had been using those walking maps for several days where everything was within walking distance.  Having a real map put a slightly different angle on distances!  

So, my romantic idea of getting a sandwich and strolling through beautiful gardens was replaced by me walking back towards the big city, getting off the beaten path and lost. I ended up in a pub in a small alley, eating a club sandwich, being waited on by an Irish kid named Malachy, who lives in London, but grew up in New Jersey and had an American accent!  Actually Malachy was a very nice kid.  Off and on during my meal we talked, and he pointed me in the right direction to the main streets of London's shopping district.  When I left we shook hands and I felt like I'd made a new friend.  

Suffice it to say that most of my first day was spent walking, walking, walking throughout London.  It was fun but tiring and I was worn out by the time I rode the tube and got back to the hotel.  As soon as I got back I got on my computer and planned my next day, including which stores I wanted to go to and what tube stops they were near.  Joe got home later and he was worn out from the commuting he had done!  He left Maryland traffic behind and has been spoiled by his 20 minute commute to and from work here.  He was reminded of how much he hates sitting in traffic.  I don't know if he'll ever be able to go back to commuting like he used to.

Look out London because I've now mastered the tube and the sky is the limit!  I had a much better day my second day because of it too.  I just need to figure out the buses now because I'm pretty sure my tube ticket works for them too.  But there are a million buses all going different directions, quite confusing.  I'll tackle that next time.  I shopped till I dropped.  Mostly window shopping except a couple of presents for my sisters.  Oh yeah, I found a pair of shoes I couldn't resist too.  But not too much damage, much to Joe's delight.  I had to get back at a decent time to meet Joe and get ready to go back to London for dinner and the play.

The best part of the whole trip was seeing Les Miserables on Friday night.  It was in London's west end which is where most of the theaters are.  Up and down the street the signs are all lit up with what they are each showing.  The seats were £74 ($100) each, but worth every pence (penny)!  I cannot begin to explain how fantastic the play was.  We had great seats and it was the best thing I have ever seen.  The acting couldn't have been better.  The music was so beautiful that it brought me to tears four or five times!  And those of you who know me, know THAT IS NOT LIKE ME!  Joe enjoyed it as well.  I can't say enough good things about it.  As luck would have it we were sitting next to an American lady from Connecticut and her granddaughter.  Her granddaughter was 12 years old and lives in Boulder, CO.  She spends the summers with her grandmother and they travel together.  Lucky granddaughter!  They were very nice.  You could tell the lady was cultured.  She was a retired music/drama teacher and familiar with tons of plays and art museums.  What an education her granddaughter is getting!  Anyway, she has seen Les Miserables many times and said this was a great production.  I heard her sighing several times during the show.  She said if there is nothing else we do, we have to go to the play Warhorse.  She and her granddaughter said it was just breathtaking.  I saw a trailer for it online and it looks really good.  So that is next on our play schedule.

After a long day in the city and riding the tube back and forth twice, (once during the day and then back again for the play) and Joe working and having the commute too and then going back into the city we were both completely beat when we got back to the hotel around midnight.   We came back home Saturday.  We were both tired and wanted to relax over the weekend.  

Next week I have to work in Joe's office!  Stop laughing!  I admit I have gotten quite used to my lady of luxury lifestyle.  However, I do my own house cleaning and have to iron all of Joe's clothes now, which used to go to the dry cleaners.  And you know full well I have cut the grass three times!  I cook all meals, pack his lunch...let's see what else.  Oh yeah, write this blog, work in the yard, walk to the post office.  I could go on and on.  Anyway, I am devoting one whole week to his office to help out while they are shorthanded due to vacations.  Besides Joe told me it wouldn't kill me!  

A quick thank you to those of you who comment at the end of my blog.  I read all comments and appreciate them very much!  And if you want to become a follower, please do.  I promise I won't sent you any spam mail.  Thanks for reading and pass it on!


  1. I am so glad you liked the musical...cause you are going to have to see it again :) I can't wait to come visit! And what in the world are you going to be doing at dads office? It seems kind of strange that random people are allowed to come in and work...even if you are the boss man's wife. You will have a great time though! I'm sure plenty of people will be teasing you and your American sayings!

  2. I have been enjoying your blog so much. Your writing style is a delight and your history lessons fascinating. We are all green with envy, I'm sure. Keep up the good work.

    P.S. I've trying posting a comment before without success. It always asks me something I don't know how to answer. Maybe this time ...

  3. Hey K&J - I really like to go hiking for my walk here at home. I go to Senaca Lake and walk the trails and I can't wait to walk the trails over there. Go get a compass...good to have to go with your map...Da...:):) The play sounded wonderful too....Love the Pics, beautiful scenery...But we would love to see you guys in some Pics too...

    Cheer & Love
    Mike & Anna

  4. I Love the music for Les Miserables and would love to see the production. I'm sure that seeing it in London was really satisfying. You are so brave to just head out into all of those tubes and buses and find your way around. I do not think I would enjoy all of the crowded city but it would be such an adventure.
    Keep posting!!! Lori Graybill

  5. Theater in London holds a special magic. Since you seem to enjoy walking, look into the Walks of London. I presume they still have them, although I lived there in the late 70'sand early 80's. They have a Jack the Ripper walk, an Inns of London walk (this is the court system)and many others. The Ripper walk takes you to the places involved in the case and the Inn walk includes the wig maker for the barristers and judges. London alone has so much to see and do. Another interesting place is The Commonwealth Institute. It has (or had back in the days I was there) information and displays about all the various commonwealth countries.