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Monday, August 29, 2011

And back to London

Up at six, bathed, breakfasted & out of the house by half seven. At E’burgh Airport at half eight. Pulled out of a line of lots of people to the counter to check in at nine as the flight was at quarter to ten and we’d never have made it through the line by then with only two people working the counter. Security was a breeze. At the gate just in time for boarding. Uneventful flight. Easy Jet will nickel & dime you to death selling you every thing, including charging two pounds fifty for a cup of hot water & a Starbucks Via packet (Starbucks single serve packets of instant) but, they also, along with cologne, perfume, and just about anything else you can think of, sell coach & train tickets in-flight so we got them. At 30% less than advertised on line. 
Landed. Shuttle to train platform. Train from Luton Parkway to St Pancras/King’s Cross. Underground from St. P. on the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus (packed,) change for the Central Line to Marble Arch. Walk a few blocks along Park Lane at Hyde Park and we’re at The Grosvenor House. Himself said “this room’s alright but the bed is horrible” yet he’s soundly sleeping on it as we type!
After checking in (yes, they had a room available when we arrived three hours before check in) & freshening up we headed around the corner to a pub for lunch. Turned out to be the same as the one where we dined in South Kensington one night which, turns out, is a chain with about thirty pubs in London. They’ve bought & taken over pubs that were run down & in trouble, given them a good refurbishing and have a pretty good product even though one hates to see the end of the individually owned, family run ‘Local.’
After a trip back to our room to get what someone, who shall remain nameless, swore was an English Heritage Foreign Visitors Pass, which,turned out to be a brochure about them with the receipt from Housesteads Roman Fort (Hadrian’s Wall... last week) stapled to it, we went to Apsley House, the ancestral home of the Dukes Wellington. It’s pretty much still the way it was when expanded in the early 19th century with a fabulous collection of dishes, silver, swords, and art, most of which was given to the first Duke after he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. 
The seventh Duke, who inherited upon the death of his nephew, consulting with his son who agreed that they couldn’t afford to keep up the house, let alone restore it (it had been badly damaged when a bomb hit the building next door,) gave the house and most of the collections & furnishings in the public & state rooms, to the Government with provision of a small apartment for the family in the house, after WWII. The current (eighth) Duke still resides there with his family occupying about three rooms at ground level, four in the lower level, and five on the top floor (that would be the third in the US but is the second here.) Not a bad ‘small apartment‘ that The Government takes care of as they own the building. And of course, he has the right to use the state rooms for special occasions, like Christmas dinner, the kids wedding receptions, that sort of thing.  
After, we left just in time to get caught in a terrible rain. we arrived back at Grosvenor almost drenched. Himself is, as I said earlier, napping while I do this and soon we’ll  bathe & dress for dinner, which I think will be here in the Hotel as it looks like the rain may be settling in for the evening. Up early (5:00AM) to get to Heathrow and head home. 
I’ll report on dinner from the airport lounge. 

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