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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The weekend so far...

So, yesterday I was the first awake a bit before 7:00 AM meaning, I guess, that I'm aver the jet lag & back on schedule. The rule for the day was the first up had to deal with coffee. Remember, no coffee maker. I dressed & headed to Starbucks, they ARE EVERYWHERE, on the next road. It was, of course, raining but it was that soft English rain through which one can walk for quite a while without actually noticing that you're getting drenched.

I asked for a 'Box of Joe' to go. I'm so tired of being looked at as if I'd just stepped out of my space craft! They don't do that here. One of them actually asked, after I'd explained the concept of a box of brewed coffee and to go being take away, why one might want such a thing.  I spent 20 minutes trying to explain the reasons & occasions on which I've gotten one and at the end, he said 'wouldn't tea have been easier?" Resisting the urge to kill him (remember, it's not yet 7:30 AM, I've had no coffee and am beginning to despair eve having any) he finally told me that they had a french press for sale. This made the whole thing worth while & I was the hero of the day when everyone else finally surfaced an hour latter.

After lounging about for a bit, Christopher & Dennis did a nice breakfast of eggs & bacon then we were off by 11:00 to be tourists.

We headed to the underground to be told the train we wanted was shut for the weekend for repairs so we headed back up to get the bus to Portebello Road for the Saturday Market. Portebello Road is a long stretch of mostly antique & 'craft' shoppes and on Saturday, there are twice as many vendors set up in stalls on the pavement. This draws in what appeared to be 93% of the populace of London and is a great deal like trying to navigate Lincoln Road at 10:00 PM on Saturday night or McFarlane Rd on Saturday afternoon of the Coconut Grove Art Show.

There were a great many beautiful things to be had for reasonable prices (as long as you didn't convert from pounds to dollars) so Christopher dragged me away.

We all hopped on the underground and surfaced at Westminster where we purchased out Tickets to tour the Houses of Parliament and then went past St Stephen's Tavern to lunch at a nice little Italian place. After our meal, we did the tour of the Churchill War Rooms. These are the VERY fortified underground rooms adjacent to Downing street where the P.M. ans his wife, along with a staff of hundreds, pretty much lived and ran the war during the Blitz. It's run by the Imperial War Museum & mostly was left exactly as it was the day the war ended as if they'd just turned the key & gone. The bits that had been taken away were of course almost all found & returned. There's also a vast exhibit about the P.M. It was fascinating. Then, off to Westminster.

The tour began & ended in Westminster Hall which is what remains of the Old Westminster Palace. (Edward the Confessor moves the palace to that location in the early 11th century and the hall was added by Wm II at the end of that century.) A GREAT deal of history has taken place in that room and it was awe inspiring to stand on the spot where Cromwell & Guy Faulks stood their trials, Richard II was deposed, the coronation banquet of Henry VIII, and, not in this order but, Edward VI, George V & VI, Mary, Albert, Victoria, George & Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) lay in state.

The tour was informative and the rooms amazing. We started in The Queens rooms which were all done up in gold, moved through to The Lord's which were all done in red and then on the The Commons which were all green. The Commons was hit by a bomb in the Blitz & is not as grand but still very impressive. Also got a lesson on the Gov't which confirmed that they're making it all up as they go and still seem to make it work.

At the end of the tour, Dennis & Mark headed back to the flat to dress for the Ballet & dinner (which they enjoyed very much) and Himself & I wandered across Westminster Bridge until Himself realized that we were heading for the Millennium London Eye. I very much want to ride this thing & Himself very much doesn't so we headed for Knightsbridge to shop. Or to look at the shoppes. We strode about for a bit while I eyed Ferragamo shoes for only 650.00 pounds and a D&G coat for only 895.00 and Himself groused about not finding an Apple Store.

After about an hour, we headed home, had a drink, dressed and headed out at about 9:00 for a VERY nice meal at an Indian place a few blocks from the flat. It was a pleasant stroll (we took a very circuitous route stopping at EVERY shoppe on the way in my never-ending search for
 a) real honest-to-God Kentucky bourbon... everyone here carries Jack Daniels which as everyone knows, comes from Tennessee and is harsh & sour.
 b) ginger ale to put with said bourbon
The entire country seems to have a shortage of these two important commodities leaving me forced to consume Jack & water.
The Restaurant was AB FAB, the food excellent, and, they had bourbon. A very nice one of which I'd never heard. Ginger ale was beyond them.

Home and in bed by 11:00

Up this morning, dressed and off to church. I'd chosen St Stephens, Cromwell Road as it promised to be High Church, was nearish, and the website spoke of music. Arrived after a pleasant 10 minute walk to be one of 9 people, inclusive of the Altar Party, who sat through a low church service that seemed more from the Roman Missal than the CofE Prayer Book. I almost went out to re-check the sigh to be sure. Maybe that was just because it was the Feast of the Assumption. Th celebrant might have been in a  coma. It was hard to tell. Oh well, at least it was a beautiful stone church from the 1830's.

Back at the flat we're now readying to go meet Alec McCowen at his flat for lunch. He's a retired star of the British stage who knows everyone (including Dennis & Mark, who also know everyone) and has had quite an exciting career playing the West End & Broadway as well as touring extensively in the 60's & 70's & 80's. Should be a fun afternoon.

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