This (self-proclaimed) London-girl is back in TX, lamenting the fact that she had to leave after such a seemingly short visit…
Truly I feel as if London is the place I belong. My eyes teared as the plane alit from Heathrow’s runway to return us to Dallas, and I sadly watched the English countryside grow smaller as we traveled further and further away. The culture and buildings and people are so quaint…London is surely more beautiful at Christmas than even New York City. The city itself is cleaner and the people seem friendlier. I would move there in a heartbeat!
Our driver to and from Heathrow is a renouned Indian chef who has an extensive list of people for whom he has cooked, including, but not limited to, Princess Diana and other British royalty, much of the Hollywood crowd (ie Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, etal), and many mid-eastern royalty. He has even cooked for President Obama…I am not exactly sure why we were fortunate enough to have him drive us, but I certainly enjoyed my time with him. He has many stories to tell, and he did so during the entire drive to and from the airport. He has lived all over the world, and travels extensively.
I have been having a *smashing* time here in London! I spent some time in Hyde Park on Wednesday wandering about their holiday ‘Winter Wonderland’. I was not so far from Buckingham Palace, but decided not to walk the rest of the way there (I had seen it a couple of years ago after all…) and instead just took my time people-watching and scoping out the food stalls and rides. We had dinner at the Wolseley that night. It came highly recommended; however, I found the food to be quite traditional and ordinary. Please make no mistake, the food was fine, but it did not knock my socks off as did the food at some of the other places we have eaten. I would say the clientelle was generally an older crowd, perhaps many of whom were long-time customers.
Thursday was spent at Covent Garden. I took a tour of the Royal Opera House of London. It is generally filled with about 20 people; however, there were only 3 of us on the tour, so we had the place to ourselves…It is an impressive building. What the general audience sees of the stage and public areas is but a fraction of the actual building. They have an enormous area where they build the props for whatever show for which they are preparing. And they store the current sets assembled. Each set is on a separate ‘grid’ and they can move the floor to set up the stage without having to take apart/put together the sets for each show. This allows less wear and tear on the sets, as well as enabling them to put on multiple shows each week, sometimes even two different shows a day! After the tour I wandered about Covent Garden, enjoying the markets and outside performers while indulging in a hot cocoa. Lovely!
That night was the holiday party for my husband’s office here in London. We gathered at a club called ‘The Loop’. We did not have a formal sit-down meal, but rather a selection of heavy hors d’ouvres. The music was pulsating (translation: loud) and everyone seemed to have a good time. I rather enjoyed meeting everyone…it is a wonderful group of people.
Today my husband and I took the tube over to the London Bridge area and visited the Borough Market. It reminded me of Seattle’s Pike Place Market, only with even more character and charm. Lots of meat, cheese, and fruit stalls; fresh poultry hanging about (yes, feathers, heads and all)as well as venison and rabbits and other meats – again, looking fresh from the kill…I savored a mulled wine as we meandered through. And today was a day for my brown hat and gloves!!! It was a bit chilly out. A sign at the Porter and Oyster bar advertising a ‘beef, guiness and oyster pie’ grabbed our attention, so we wandered in only to discover they had stopped serving hot foods until 6pm (it was 3pm)…so we promptly seated ourselves in a nearby pub (called The Tavern) to wait it out…and it was well worth the wait…The pie was brought out(basically a beef pot pie) with 2 raw oysters on the half shell sitting next to it. The waitress told me to break open the crust and pop in the oysters for a couple of minutes to cook them. I, of course, quickly obliged…the steam poured out as I pulled apart the crust, and those two succulent oysters dove in, eagerly I have to believe. What a treat!!! My husband had ordered a Meantime Stout which I also sipped on. It paired so well with the beef and oyster pie…Mmm, Mmmm…