After the Rock and Roll tour, took a cab to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for dinner – again. And even though the concierge had called before hand, they were closed – again. Many others had shown up, too, with no joy. So off to steak house for dinner (porterhouse) and now back in the room, where I already did most of the packing. Went down to bar and brought up a lovely snifter of Hennessy brandy and am having one of the best NYEs ever – watching Mr. Bean on telly, the Royle Family Christmas Special on BBC iplayer, the Fireworks from Dubai and now Coronation Street. You have got to love it. Up early tomorrow for breakfast and then to airport at 9:30. Greg has no idea yet, but I’ve checked us in to the private lounge at the terminal, which should make our wait a bit nicer. Think of me tomorrow, on the plane for 11 and a half hours. I’ve brough my Nook, a real paperback and my needlepoint kit that I just bought, so should well occupied with those and the in flight entertainment. I am bereft at having to leave. Until next time, I’ll just have to close my eyes and think of England. Happy New Year to all. Will be doing longer posts of the points of interest I’ve mentioned in past trip blogs next year, which is now only 3 and a half hours away. Or 8 hours away for you in the States. Cheers!
Quick marched there and back – don’t worry, I took lots of snaps for you along the way. Okay, here’s the deal – I’m commandeering the Piccadilly Drawing Room as my bedroom and the adjacent Portico Drawing Room as my . . . drawing room. Lovely views over the Wellington Arch and room enough outside for a balcony. Happy to say that Apsley House was packed with visitors. By the time I arrived, there were no more audio tour handsets. I told the man not to worry, I was probably the one visitor there who didn’t need one. Off now to Tottenham Court Road tube station to catch the Rock and Roll tour. . . .
And I’m frantically trying to find a Rock and Roll tour of London for Greg. All those in cabs or minivans go off on days other than Friday. Sigh. Rock and roll – I ask you! Looks like a London Walk at 2 from Tottenham Court tube station. Also looks like I’ll be dashing out before hand to Apsley House. On my own, thank goodness. One must have solitude in order to properly – HOLY GOD – the smoke alarm in our room just went off and scared the living Hell out of me . . . . be still my heart . . . . where was I? Oh, yeah, solitude in order to properly contemplate the glorious triumphs and wonderous achievements of the Duke of Wellington. . . . . Going to try once again for dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, then back to the hotel to pack. Can I tell you how much I don’t want to leave? Life is oft times unfair, is it not? I mean really, if life were fair, I’d be living at Apsley House. I don’t know who else has more of a right to do so. The Wellesley family hardly qualify – they were simply born into it. I’ve earned it. I’d have my rooms overlooking the Wellington Arch. I’d sit at a table before the window every morning, watching the tour buses and black cabs go round and round as I smoked cigarettes and sipped my coffee from the official William and Kate tankard I bought in Buckingham Palace last night. Each day as I made my way downstairs I’d sneer at Napoleon’s statue and ask my man (one must have a man, no?) to arrange for tea at the Ritz. Or the Mandarin Oriental. Or some such. You’d all be invited to come and stay. It would be such fun. We could stroll Rotten Row and eat dinner in the Waterloo Chamber. And drink glasses of port round the fire. And play whist while dressed in Regency garb. We could try on Wellington’s boots and afterwards we could slip upstairs and raid the attics. Just imagine what we’d find in all those dusty trunks and boxes . . . . . Sigh. Rock and roll – I ask you!
So, I was walking from the hotel down towards the Mall in order to get to St. James’s Street. Thinking like a resident, i.e. what are these people doing here and why are they blocking my route, I then glanced to the right as a troop of mounted guards approaching – the Changing of the Guard. Yes, stupid, every day at 11:30. Oh, bother, thought I, until I realized that this would make for great video for the blog, and so I took some. Eventually I did get to St. James’s Street and Piccadilly. First stop Fortnum & Mason – bought xmas cards for next year. Then Hatchards, where I bought some re-issued, previously out of date Georgette Heyer mysteries. Then to Richoux Tea Rooms for lunch. Walked Jermyn Street, took (another) photo of the window at Whites, peeked in at Duke’s Hotel and toddled my way back to the hotel to pick up Greg and head over to the Palace. What an experice, from arrival to departure. We were truly treated like royalty. Will blog about it in detail soon – suffice to say that upon passing security, you’re offered chairs to wait in until the tour officially starts. So, I’m sitting there taking it all in (French windows, window treatments, rug, etc etc.) When I look to the right, and what is the first thing I see? Chantry’s bust of the Duke of Wellington – not kidding. Although this wasn’t planned as an Artie tour, it has certainly turned into one (yippeeee!) You’ll have to wait for further details on our visit, but it was really a treat. Even Greg was impressed/interested. Our guide, Dawn, was quite entertaining.
We got out two hours later and went for dinner. And Bacardi and Coke. Greg is emphatic that he’s done enough walking for one trip. Oh, boy, he has no idea – Victoria, Brooke and I typically do as much walking in just a single day as weve done this trip. And I spared Greg the tube experience, so we’ve been cabbing it. Truly, the man has no idea. In any case, this frees me up tomorrow so I’ll be heading to Apsley House (again) then Oxford Street and maybe I’ll sneak in a massage. What the Hell. . . . more tomorrow.
Update: Apsley House website says it both open and closed tomorrow. The chart of opening times says open, the calender of openings says closed. Tune in tomorrow – will I or won’t I visit Apsley House?
So . . . I was walking by the shop at the Royal Mews, went in to browse . . . overheard one of the ladies who work there telling a man that they are doing an unprecedented opening of Buckingham Palace today and tomorrow only. Private tours of the palace with a guide, 20 people per tour, champagne included. Reader, I booked us in for 4 p.m. today – woooo hooooo! What a coup! What an experience! What a treat!
Check in later for all the Palace scoop . . . . . . off now to Piccadilly to stroll a bit until tour time.