26 February 2008


Phew! Couldn't have squeezed much more into three days in London. Not enough time to take the Tube into the City today, so headed early to Heathrow for a Costa Coffee and a stationery store--a weakness of mine. Picked up some A4 paper and envelopes--just for fun--and a spiral notebook for more organized note making. I have such a variety of slips of paper from this trip--things I did, things I want to do, things to remember. . .

And, since Heathrow is a city unto itself, I head for the Post in Terminal 2 to purchase a padded envelope so that the Wellies get sent on their way to my three-year old granddaughter in Central Europe. No need to carry them to the U.S. and then pay way more to mail them back!


Also, Boots has several Heathrow locations and I picked up more tubes of the E45 moisturizing cream I discovered on this trip. I love it! Originally found it during my Tesco run to secure the shampoo, toothpaste, etc. that my no frills hotel couldn't provide.
A traveler's tip--check with the gate agent to see if there is bulkhead seating available. These seats are usually assigned at the gate. I was lucky enough to secure an aisle bulkhead seat, and ended up with an open seat on each side. Pure luxury in coach class!

Chicago is snowbound. A couple of feet--no kidding--fell the day we left for Europe, and then our village got another hit just yesterday. Sure wish I could take this London spring with me. It has been a delight.

25 February 2008


V&A Cafe, William Morris Rooms

Going to the theatre alone is not a problem--never hesitate. Once the production begins it really doesn't matter who is sitting beside you. Having seen Les Miserables in Chicago many years ago, I expected it all to be familiar. I loved it! And, it was such a different production--Victor Hugo's story remains the same, but each production has its own perspective. Theatre in London is the best! Just walking through Picadilly Circus down Shaftesbury Avenue at night draws you into the excitement of theatre.

What a lovely day... After securing tickets in Leicester Square I took the Tube back to South Kensington and wandered the streets ending up at the Natural History Museum and took in the dinosauer exhibits and human biology--each exhibit is geared to appeal to children as well as adults.

Couldn't resist tea and scones at the V&A Cafe again today and then on to Kensington High Street for some shopping. At Marks &Spencer I bought some strawberry Wellies for my small granddaughter and a black trench coat for myelf. Since everyone in London needs a raincoat, prices and selection are excellent. London is a great place to browse and window shop, but not the place where Americans should buy clothes or other fashion items. Prices and selection all around the U.S. are better.

Late afternoon, I ended up back at the Victory & Albert Museum--explored a few more exhibits, including the remarkable Ardabil Carpet in the Asia rooms and then the Cafe for a chance to rest up a bit before heading out for the evening. Turns out that the V& A Cafe reduces the price of their prepared foods late in the afternoon. Enjoyed a Sicilian sandwich and French-press coffee.

Just at nightfall, I reached Covent Garden and explored the shops--Octopus carries much the same inventory as the Pylons stores in NYC and Paris, and David & Goliath offers quirky and opinionated clothing. Had a hard time resisting the bookshops on Charing Cross Road, but it was time to walk toward Picadilly Circus and Queen's Theatre for the 7:30pm curtain.

Thinking ahead I realized that I would be late arriving at Heathrow for catching the Hotel Hoppa shuttle, so I made sure to have plenty of pounds so that I could take a cab. My hotel borders Terminal 4, so I thought, "What can a cab cost?" Plenty. Before we even reached the outskirts of the airport the meter was up to £12 . I jut reminded myself that it's "play money" and forked over the £15. I never felt afraid during my time alone, but I did think through safety issues to make sure I never ended up alone in a scarey place.

24 February 2008


 Armani rides the Picadilly Line

British Airways made good by providing a comfortable hotel room near Terminal 4 at Heathrow and two meals. I fell into a dead sleep last night--didn't even have the energy to turn off the lights or put on my pj's... Checked in, signed onto the computer terminal in the lobby to let family and friends know about my "delay" and went straight to bed.

Decide to keep the hotel room near Heathrow so that I don't have to touch my luggage for three days. £ gets me to Heathrow via the Hotel Hoppa Shuttle. The Underground Terminal is between Terminal 2 and 3, and the Picadilly Line takes me straight to Leicester Square to check out theatre tickets and has stops in both South Kensington and Knightsbridge.  £7 buys a Tube ticket that works all day. There are computer terminals in every terminal--20 minutes access for £2 .

The Sunday ride to South Kensington on the Picadilly Line takes only 45 minutes and seems much shorter because it turns out that Armani (with his mom and auntie) rides the Tube! It is, after all, Fashion Week in London with runway shows in the marquee adjoining the Museum of Natural History and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Arrive at South Kensington Tube stop and then a short walk to Holy Trinity Brompton with time to spare for the 11:00 am service. Nicky Gumbel gave the message and prayed for the U.S. elections. Impressed with the simplicity of the service--historical surroundings of the Anglican community, but a simple message with simple worship. It is easy to stay focused on praising and worshiping God.

The V&A is just down the block one direction and Harrods is the opposite. I choose culture first and discover quickly that all the museums in London are free. I soon get my bearings and head for the Fashion rooms on Level 1 then cross the John Madejski Garden for tea in the William Morris Rooms--English Black Tea and a scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam. I can die now. I have tasted perfection.
Two Australian guys, newly emigrated via Seattle, chat me up and we exchange Chicago and NYC food tips. One assures me that the local currency should be treated as "play money" or the constant reminder of the devalued dollar [$2 / £] will drive you to distraction.
After a quick trip to Harrod's Food Halls for some fresh fruit, I finish off the afternoon touring the British Galleries at the V&A.
Since the theatre is dark on Sunday nights I opt for Charlie Wilson's War at the Casino in Leicester Square followed by a walk through Chinatown and then the requisite Indian meal at Maharaja of India, 19a Charing Cross Road. Yummy chicken jalfrezi with basmati rice and Naan.

I can't stop smiling at how this is all working out.

23 February 2008



1-1/2 C Sugar
1-1/2 C Water
1 T Lemon zest
1-1/2 C Fresh lemon juice
Stir together sugar, water, and lemon zest Heat mixture to a boil, stirring constantly Boil 5 minutes, stirring often Remove pan from heat and let cool When cool, stir in lemon juice Transfer to a jar and refrigerate up to 3 weeks To use, mix together 1/2 cup of lemon syrup with 3/4 cup of water Garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint sprigs.

This is not the season for lemonade... But when flights are cancelled, you can either suck on the lemons of despair or you can grab those lemons, juggle them into the air, and squeeze the life out of them--making lemonade!

British Airways cancels their 11:40 am flight Vienna to London Heathrow for no apparent reason. Austrian Airlines is accomodating, but delays the takeoff and routes my baggage to Heathrow instead of Chicago O'Hare--an error I detect just 30 minutes prior to takeoff. Hm-m-m-m... I don't have time to collect my bags and make my connecting flight. Why not make the best of a bad situation and stay in London for a few days?