On day four, Diane and I met our pal author Jo Manning in Covent Garden and went along on a London Walk of the area. I adore London Walks, the company has engaging guides and enough walks on a variety of topics so wide ranging that absolutely everyone who visits London can find a walk that will not only interest, but also delight. Because the Covent Garden area will feature on a few upcoming Number One London Tours, I wanted to make sure that my knowledge of the area was up to snuff. 

Covent Garden has a fascinating history, spanning centuries, and there is so much to see, if one knows where to look, point in fact the surviving herbalist’s sign below. From flower markets a la My Fair Lady to Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, the mind boggles at all who have trod here. 

If you’re in the area, do make time to explore the garden behind St. Paul’s Church, 
also known as The Actor’s Church

The tour included areas outside of Covent Garden, including the Strand, where we saw the Coal Hole.  I was first introduced to the Coal Hole decades ago by Dr. David Parker, then curator of the Dicken’s House Museum. Tip – don’t visit right at five o’clock as the place is packed then with City types wanting their well earned cocktail at the end of the day. The place is packed with atmosphere, like something right out of a Dicken’s novel, so it really is worth a visit. 

We also passed The Savoy Hotel, which has been on my “to do” list for the past five or six trips to London, but which I still haven’t found the time to visit. I’m dying to suss out the place and to have at least one cocktail at their bar. 

The tour also included a stop into Simpson’s in the Strand, the venerable restaurant venue which has figured large in both London and Royal history. But more on that later . . . . . 

The tour did provide me with a new shortcut from the Strand through to Covent Garden, 
so that’s alright. If only I remember where it is. 

We took in the Oscar Wilde memorial beside St. Martin’s in the Field on our walk. The statue is entitled A Conversation With Oscar Wilde. You can read about it here

When the walking tour ended, Jo, Diane and I went for lunch to the Duke of Wellington Pub in the Strand. You may recall that Victoria and I had lunch there during the Duke of Wellington Tour with Marilyn, Diane’s sister. And I’ve posted about my meal there with with Hubby – delicious lamb shanks. I realize that it all sounds rather incestuous, but the important bit is that the food is wonderful. 

A grand time was had by all!


Most people think that Victoria, Diane and I go out of way when in England to find all things Wellington, but it’s just not so. Oh, sometimes we do, like when I visit my antiques dealer in London or when we go to places like Apsley House and Walmer Castle, but you’d be surprised how many random Wellington’s there are to be found in England. Here are just a few examples, most of which were randomly happened upon. 
Above, my favourite antique dealer, Mark Sullivan, holding my latest Artie-fact
Above and below, National Portrait Gallery
Above Royal Chelsea Hospital
Above, the Duke of Wellington Pub, Sloane Square
Above and below, the Wellington Pub, Strand
Above Somerset House
Above, Preston Manor, Brighton
Above lobby, Royal Horseguards Hotel

Above, moored on the Thames
Above, Apsley House


If you’ll recall, the last post in this series ended with Diane and I finally making it 
through Trafalgar Square in a cab on our way to the theatre district. 
Leaving the cab in Charing Cross Road, we cut through Cecil Court to St. Martin’s Lane
and we came out at the London Coliseum, where we had tickets to see 
Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard, the musical. 
I knew that this limited run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical was a reprisal of the role Glenn Close had played to acclaim on Broadway in 1994. Still, as we waited for the curtain to go up, I couldn’t help but to think `this is either going to be really good or really bad.` I love the original black and white film of Sunset Boulevard starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden. I couldn’t imagine that it could be done any better. And a muscial in the bargain?
Reader, it was really good. No, it was fabulous. Glenn Close was Norma Desmond. 
Don’t take my word for it – watch her performance here.
After standing through several curtain calls, Diane and I left the theatre and walked 
up the street for an Italian dinner at Giovanni’s, located in Goodwin’s Court which, as we left the restaurant after a delicious meal, proved tres atmospheric at night. 
And so back to the hotel and bed. Diane and I were exhausted, as it had been a long day. 
In fact, it had turned out to be a Five Part day. Can you imagine?
Day Four Coming Soon!


When last we met, I was sitting in the Duke of Wellington Pub (affectionately known as the Duke of Boots) just off of Sloane Square, nursing my rum and coke after the Nigel Havers debacle (Nigel Havers!) Unfortunately, I had to leave the pub sometime, so Diane and I got a cab and prepared to head back across town to the theatre district, as we had tickets for a play this evening. 
Once inside the cab, we saw . . . . well, why tell you what we saw when I can show you?
Buckingham Palace, above and below.
Palace above, Victoria Memorial below.
The Mall, above, and the Duke of York column, below. 
Driving along the Embankment, above and below.
Heading towards Admiralty Arch with traffic at a crawl, above and below.
Through the Arch. Waiting to enter Trafalgar Square. 
Inching towards Trafalgar Square. Lucky if three cars get through on each light change. 
Red light again . . . . . Drummonds Bank, below.
Still in Trafalgar Square . . . . 
Yup. Still here. Oh, look, a lion!
Still crawling through the Square.
More lions . . . . honestly, we just should have gotten out and walked.
And we’re through! Finally. . . . frankly, I’m exhausted just reliving that drive. I’ll have to wait till the next installment in order to tell you which play we saw. 
I’ll give you a hint – Nigel Havers wasn’t in it. 
Part Five Coming Soon!


Through the entrance gates of the Chelsea Physick Garden. 
From Wikipedia: The Chelsea Physic Garden was established as the Apothecaries’ Garden in London, England, in 1673. This physic garden is the second oldest botanical garden in Britain, after the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, which was founded in 1621.
The location was chosen as the proximity to the river created a warmer microclimate allowing the survival of many non-native plants – such as the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain – and more importantly, to allow plants to survive harsh British winters. The river was also important as a transport route that linked the garden to other open spaces such as Putney Heath, facilitating easy movements of both plants and botanists. In fact the garden has always sought to achieve good communications with others working in the same field: by the 1700’s it had initiated an international botanic garden seed exchange system, which continues to this day.
Dr. Hans Sloane, after whom the nearby locations of Sloane Square and Sloane Street were named, purchased the Manor of Chelsea from Charles Cheyne. This purchase of about 4 acres was leased to the Society of Apothecaries for £5 a year in perpetuity.
Environments for supporting different types of plants were built, including the pond rock garden, constructed from a variety of rock types, namely stones from the Tower of London, Icelandic lava (brought to the garden by Sir Joseph Banks in 1772 on a ship named St. Lawrence), fused bricks and flint. 
In 1876 the Garden enlarged its educational aspirations by deciding to run a lecture course for young women who were training as botany teachers. At the end of the 19th century the trustees of the City Parochial Foundation agreed to take over the running of the Garden from the Society of Apothecaries. In 1983 The Garden became a registered charity and open to the general public for the first time.
After a spot of lunch at the Gardens, we headed back to Sloane Square. 
The day had gone exactly as planned and we had glorious weather throughout. 
However, not all things go as planned, as evidenced when actor Nigel Havers walked 
past me in Sloane Square on his way into a florist shop. 
“That’s Nigel Havers!” I cried, grabbing Beth’s arm. 
“Where? Where’s Nigel Havers?”
“There! In the florists!”
“Are you sure it’s him?”

“It has to be. It looked just like him. Nigel Havers!”

“I’ll go and ask him if he is, shall I?”
I looked at her agog. “You’re going to speak to Nigel Havers?”
Instead of answering me, Beth strode purposefully towards the shop. Diane and I watched increduously as we heard Beth ask, “Excuse me, but are you Nigel Havers?”
“Only sometimes,” Nigel Havers responded. 
“It’s him! Quick, snap a picture!” I ordered Diane. I was incapable of doing much besides thinking `Nigel Havers!’
Nigel Havers! Chariots of Fire! Downton Abbey! Lots of other notable roles!
“My friend would love to meet you,” I heard Beth say to Nigel Havers. 
And before I knew it, Nigel Havers was standing beside me. 
We shook hands and I heard myself say, “I just watched you in the stately home documentary.”
“Oh, yes?” Nigel Havers responded, visibly confused. I couldn’t blame him, I was visibly confused. Why had I mentioned the documentary? I had just watched it, it was true, but of all the things to refer to in his entire body of work!
For God’s sake, why hadn’t I mentioned Coronation Street instead? His character Lewis had won Villain of the Year when he was on the show. I watch Corrie religiously. And I go and mention a country house documentary! Come back, Nigel Havers! Lewis! But Nigel Havers and his recently purchased flowers were already halfway down the sidewalk. 
“You met Nigel Havers!” Beth said brightly.
“Yes, and I never even mentioned Coronation Street.”
“But you were right, it was Nigel Havers!”
“And it was all down to you, Beth,” said Diane. “I can’t believe you had the nerve to ask him if he was Nigel Havers.”
Beth and Diane turned to me with bright smiles on their faces, “Nigel Havers!” they cried in unison. 
“Yes, Nigel bloody Havers. What an idiot I am. Lewis. Coronation Street. For God’s sake . . . . oooh, I just saw you in a stupid documentary, Lewis. I’m an idiot, I should have . . . . . . “
I can only conclude by saying that shortly afterwards I found myself in the Duke of Wellington pub, downing a much needed rum and coke, thanks to Diane steering me in the right direction. Honestly, I’m still not over the whole Nigel Havers thing . . . . .  
Part Four Coming Soon!