In my last post, I left off at the point where Sandra Mettler and I stopped by my old stomping ground, the Duke of Wellington pub off Sloane Square. We were supposed to meet Ian Fletcher there the following evening and you can imagine my shock when Sandra and I found the pub deserted – the place was empty, locked up tight and even the signboard, above, was gone.
What the Hell? I thought. “What the Hell?” I asked Sandra. As soon as we got back to the hotel, I got on to the pub website and found that the old Duke of Boots was undergoing a renovation. And that it would be re-opening . . . . tomorrow night. Really, what were the odds?
Everything was falling nicely into place and, as it turned out, the entire next day turned out to be filled with all things Wellington. First, Sandra and I stopped in at Horse Guards
We timed our visit perfectly and so were on hand to watch the changing of the Guards in the entrance gates and to also see the Guards muster for the 11 o’clock inspection.
Exhausted by all the military hoopla, Sandra and I crossed over the road to The Clarence for a refreshing pause at a sidewalk table.
Afterwards, we headed up to Trafalgar Square and on to see my antique dealer, who had quite a nice little something for my collection.
Shopping was followed by lunch at Boulestin, in St. James’s Street.
Around the corner, we found the Beau surrounded by construction barriers on our way to Fortnum and Mason and Hatchard’s.
Some time later, we hopped into a cab and headed to the Duke of Wellington pub to meet Ian Fletcher – fingers crossed.
And . . . . it had re-opened! The sign board had been re-hung, the furniture was back in place and the Duke of Boots, as usual, was packed.
It wasn’t long before Ian arrived – introductions were made, drinks were ordered and from that point on, the conversation was pretty much non-stop. A goodly amount of time passed before I realized we’d better go on to dinner, and I suggested that we cab it over to that other Wellington stalwart, the Grenadier Pub, once the officer’s mess for Wellington’s regiment and just a stone’s throw from Apsley House.
The Grenadier was also packed, but thankfully most of the punters here were content to stand outside and enjoy apres work cocktails, while we went inside and were seated for dinner immediately. Sandra quipped that I must feel right at home in these surroundings, and it was nice to have old friends around me, both in print and in person, but to be honest, the Grenadier does a much better cheese plate than I do at home.
I suppose it’s at this point that I should make the obligatory mention of the Grenadier pub ghost. Rumour has it that an officer, caught cheating at cards, was beaten to death outside the pub and that his ghost can be seen standing in the sentry box, above. And it is nothing but rumour. The ghosts never appear anywhere near the sentry box.
After dinner, Sandra, Ian and I took advantage of the balmy evening and strolled the streets of Belgravia. It had been a good day. I’d spent it with good friends and I’d found a really nice Artie-fact to add to my collection. As we parted from Ian, Sandra and I turned into Eaton Square and headed home.
“Mista Hudson!” I called quietly. “Are you there, Mista Hudson?”
“Aye, I’m here, Mrs. Bridges, but that scamp Sarah is no where to be found. Go and ask our Rose if she’s seen her,” replied Sandra.
A grand day was had by all.