After my Mayfair Stroll, I returned to the hotel in order to get properly dressed. The Hubby, but this time, was awake, but still in bed.
“You look comfy.”
“I am comfy,” he agreed, using the remote control in order flip through the UK television channels.
“Do you want to do something? Go out for a bit? I want to do a few things on Piccadilly.”
“Hon,” he began, looking at me properly, “Go and do whatever it is your heart desires. Really. I’ll be just fine here.”
“You’re going to stay in the room? In London?”
“I’m perfectly happy here. I’m not at work, so this is a vacation for me. Look, your idea of a vacation is different than mine. We both enjoy laying on the beach. We both enjoy a cruise. We don’t both enjoy walking around London from morning till night. Go. I’ll be just fine.”
“You won’t mind if I don’t come back for a few hours?”
“Just be back in time for dinner.”
By this time, I’d not only gotten properly dressed (an actual outfit in which all pieces were meant to be worn together, at the same time) and put my make up on. Finished, I put my coat on and I grabbed my purse.
Walking to the door, I hesitated. “Caffe Nero is just at the corner, as you know, and two doors down from that is Tesco Express. Oh, and there’s a Marks and Spencer Just Food a block down on Piccadilly. And Shepard’s Market behind us, where they have pubs and restaurants.”
“Go. Have fun. I promise not to have starved by the time you get back.”
Needing no further prompting, I scurried out the door and was soon at the corner of Half Moon Street and Piccadilly, where Fanny Burney/Madame D’Arblay lived.
I headed down (up?) Piccadilly towards the Green Park tube station . . . .
. . . . . . and headed for St. James’s Church as I wanted to take some time to contemplate Mrs. Delaney’s grave, located inside. Unfortunately, the church was locked up tight.
So, I walked back the way I had come until I reached Hatchard’s bookshop.
Since I had no timepiece on me, I didn’t check what time I entered the shop and so I can’t tell you with any accuracy how much time I spent inside, but I can safely say that it was two hours, at the very least. My favorite bookstores, hands down, are the antiquarian variety. Oh, to be able to browse the stacks and the piles of dusty tomes, arranged higgedly piggedly, never knowing what treasures are awaiting discovery. I have brought home suitcases full of used and antiquarian books after every one of my visits to England but, alas, it’s now becoming more difficult for me to find titles I don’t already own. Of course, there are thousands of titles I don’t yet own . . . . . but for the sake of sanity and space I’ve imposed restrictions on additions to my research library – the Duke of Wellington, Queen Victoria, George IV, Georgian, Regency and Victorian diaries and letters and a few more obscure areas of London interest.
Next to an antiquarian bookstore, give me Hatchard’s – three floors of bibliophilic bliss conveniently located on Piccadilly, where it has stood since 1797. The contents of the shop, however, are decidedly 21st century. Here are just a few of the books I bought:
Being now both older and wiser, I had the clerk ship the books to my home, instead of having Hubby lug them around England over the next few day. Besides, this way he’d have no idea that I’d just spent several hundred pounds on reading material.
My very next stop was Fortnum and Mason, only a few doors down the street from Hatchard’s. Whenever I’m in London around Christmas, I like to stop in and buy my Christmas cards for the following year. Upstairs I went, only to find the entire holiday section already decimated! There was not a single box of cards remaining – and this was just the day after Boxing Day. Crushed, I headed over to browse the hats and purses, before making my way back downstairs to the food court, where I poked about for a bit before realizing that I was, in fact, famished.
Fortnum’s has at least three restaurants in which one may eat anything from an omlette to foie gras, including the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, but being a creature of habit when in London, I headed outside and a few doors down the street to Richoux Tea Rooms.
Typically, Richoux is an island of calm where one can order a civilized dish of tea and rest up between stops at the varied emporiums of Mayfair.
Alas, this was not to be . . . . after ordering my cream tea and pulling out a book to read, I could not help but overhear the conversation of the two gentlemen sitting next to me. A pair of Cockneys who were, obviously, brothers, it seems they chose Richoux in which to meet in order to catch up and regale one another with their opinions on various subjects, including inflation – “Old dad’s overcoat would cost you six thousand pounds to have made up today.” One of these men took himself to be a world traveler, who unfortunately made easy with his opinions on various places and people – “Switzerland’s not bad, especially Zurich, but the Jews are such dodgy geezers.” Now, I typically don’t go in for butting into other people’s conversations, and I refrained this time, but I did treat the pair to a raised eyebrow. Not that it mattered a wit to either of them, for the same brother went on, “Of course the Germans aren’t like us, but they’re awright.” I asked for the check and left before he could continue on to the Japanese, the Belgians, the French or the Armenians. Gas bag . . . . . .
I decided to head back to the hotel, making a pit stop in the Burlington Arcade in order window shop and appreciate the architecture.
My next stop was Boots Pharmacy, where I stocked up on all the essentials one can’t handily get in the States – their No. 7 skincare line and industrial strength hairspray, amongst other trifles. Then I headed up Clarges Street towards the Tesco Express, but I was brought up short when I passed a place called Burger and Lobster. Looking in the window, I saw tables filled with people chowing down on platters of lobster. Delicious looking lobster. There was a bit of a line at the door, but I finally got inside and asked the gentleman at the podium if I might see a menu. What ho! This was just the sort of place the Hubby would appreciate. I was told that there was no menu – they only served three things, to wit burgers, lobsters and lobster rolls. Genius! When I asked if I could make a reservation, I learned that not only are they a restaurant with no menues, they’re also a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations. First come, first served, I was told. I began to wonder whether or not they had waiters or if one had to bring their own apron and tray . . . . . . On I trudged to Tesco Express, where I purchased essentials for the hotel room in the form of a good sized bottle of rum and a six pack of Coke.
I’ll leave you here and will pick up Part Four soon. I must say, I can’t believe that I managed to cram enough into a single day in London to warrant four parts to this post, but looking back on the itineraries that Victoria and I typically set for ourselves, this agenda was a cake walk. And time does fly when one is having fun . . . . . . . .