This time last week I was winging my way to London … after being driven to Enniskillen (thanks Dee) … bus to Belfast … cab to Belfast City Airport … plane to Gatwick … train to Victoria station … cab to hotel in Westminster.
Took about 7 hours door to door … will now always fly from Belfast airport instead of Dublin. It’s organised … calm … friendly.
Unlike the 7th pit of Hell they call Dublin Airport.
Arrived at Lisa’s hotel around 5pm and we went straight to the bar for some champagne to celebrate. We have been friends for 32 years and getting to see her is always a treat.
Lots of chat and catching up and laughter.
Lisa was working during the days of my visit so I got to wander and then meet her for afternoon tea or evening cocktails in town.
Because we were up at 7am each morning and I was walking most of the day around London … sleep hit us near 11pm each night.
On Tuesday I walked for hours and hours around Oxford St and Regent Street and all the wee streets off them. It kept raining so I got to duck into heaps of shops.
I walked to those streets via Parliament buildings … beautiful architecture.
Then there was the London Eye … I didn’t go on it but Lisa said it was really amazing … and the views …
I have a particular talent for getting lost … I always know I’ll find my way … eventually. I get to see places I didn’t intend to visit … fun.
And with usual Oz panache … Priscilla comes to town!
I bought a book in a small design shop … just because I loved it’s design aesthetic. It’s called How to Make Almost Everything … and provides instructions on remaking stuff using everything from paper to concrete.
I was drawn to the interesting writing and visuals and layout … here are a few examples from the book.
I was due to meet Lisa in Liberty in the early evening and went there early for a wander … I got inside and pretty much subsided into a couch … my feet and legs and back and … everything … were soooooo sore and tired.
I bravely pulled myself together and wandered in the bag section … so many beautiful things to look at … I didn’t want to buy them … even if I had the money… which I don’t.
I love the fact that there are people in the world who create and design beautiful objects … and Liberty is full of them.
Caught up with Lisa and we went immediately to the Liberty Cafe.
Lisa said ‘do you want a glass of champagne Liz?’
Liz says ‘no thanks … we have some wandering to do and I’ll be good’
Waitress turns up and says ‘ can I tempt either of you with a glass of champagne?’
‘Yes please’ says Liz
Yup … all the strength and backbone of a worm!
We had a fortifying glass of champagne and the happily wandered Liberty for a few hours. It’s a really beautiful place … all wood panelling and just wonderful things to look at … and touch.
My poor feet couldn’t take the stairs so we kept going into the lift … here’s a photo of Lisa and me in one of them.
I was very taken with the chandeliers … bit big for the cottage?
didn’t mean to go all arty … me taking photo of me and chandelier in mirror … I thought I was looking directly at it … lucky I didn’t walk into it!
I bought a lovely ring and Lisa bought doodads for friends.
We then went off to a bar for some champagne …
and then a tasty Italian meal … had a glass of wine in a bar nearby that was doing a happy hour … and were asleep in the hotel by 11pm.
Wednesday was sunny and I was ready to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum.
What a beautiful building.
Love the typeface and design of the V&A logo.
I looked at the line to buy tickets for the Hats exhibition (and I felt 15 pounds was a bit much) and went straight to the gift shop.
Bought a few presents for friends and just enjoyed the wonderful design.
Then I decided I’d better go see some of the exhibits … it would look a bit strange if I went to the V&A and just visited the gift shop.
I stayed on the ground floor (my feet refused to go anywhere near stairs) and delighted in the Asian, Islamic, Indian & Chinese exhibits. Some beautiful pieces and so very old.
Gotta say … much as I liked the exhibits in the V&A … my brother Marc did a much better job of interactive design for the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. Now that is a visit worth making … truly magnificent.
After the V&A I turned left and just kept walking …
… came across Harrods … may as well pop in says I to me.
I love the Food Halls and bought friends a few treats from there.
I then took myself to the Laduries Cafe at the back of the Sweets section of the Hall.
I had tried to find Laduries when I visited Paris in July last year. It is famous for its tea and macaroons.
I ordered China tea with violets and an orange blossom macaroon.
Best money I ever spent.
What a taste experience … beyond yum … moving into mmmmmmmmmm
I bought a gorgeous tin of the loose leaf China Tea with violets and am sipping it as I type this blog post.
Then I caught the lift up to the 4th floor which houses … The Pet Kingdom … I kid you not … rooms and rooms of things for our pet … a pet cafe … a pet concierge with dog seats and beds for them to rest in … a pet bed section … all full of besuited staff … sorry Coco … no sparkles from Harrods … way too expensive.
I was due to meet Lisa for afternoon tea in the Mandeville Hotel … and my feet just couldn’t carry me … so I popped into a cab … and got the first London cab driver that talked to the customer.
The Mandeville has a very small room done in a kind of baroque contemporary style that I enjoy.
Marc … does this remind you a bit of the Scarlett Hotel in Singapore? Love that place.
I particularly liked the resin mirror frames and the cord couches.
Lisa turned up and we relaxed for a wee while …. then it was off again to walk and wander.
She wanted to pop into Viv Westwood shop and then walk miles to Patrick Coxs shoe shop.
Viv’s was fine but not great …. then we walked and walked and … got to a point where I was whimpering a bit … just a bit …
Lisa took pity and hailed a cab … love her to bits.
And the cab drove for another 10 minutes!
Got this picture from the cab (special menu on my camera allows me to make moving shots look like stills) of the big horses.
Arrived in the street … Patrick Cox shop had shut down.
But Jo Malone (perfume) was open.
It’s my fave perfumerie and I buy them when I have money.
I picked Pomegranite Noir for Lisa … she loved it. And she bought me a bottle for my birthday (as well as my plane ticket and hotel accommodation and champagne … great presents … amazing friend) … so I’m restocked with Jo Malone.
Lisa had a work dinner that night so I ordered in room service and watched a little TV … and fell asleep around 9pm.
Up at 7am to say bye to Lisa and then I started the 7 hour trip home.
The Gatwick Express Train was nearly empty and Gatwick Airport was fun to wander around and no problem lines of people looking stressed.
Bye Bye London
I had an emergency seat on the Flybe flight … all seats are 2 x 2 … and received special instructions from the flight attendant on what I had to do should we crash (they don’t use those words … I think she said … if there is an emergency …. hmmm … crash).
I just kept smiling as I imagined myself pulling off the door and twisting it around to throw out the empty space (I read the instruction sheet) … yeh right.
Got home around 7pm and went straight to Mags to collect Coco.
She was pleased to see me (Mags and Coco) but I think Coco just loves being with Mags and all the other dogs.
Having said that … she’s stayed pretty close to me since I got back.
Friday was the start of my 8 month Organic Food Growing course at the Organic Centre in Rossinver … an hours drive from Ballinamore … and still in Leitrim.
I woke up exhausted but excited to be doing the course. I have a lift with a lovely woman called Liz who lives near Bawnboy.
I’m writing about the course on a Page at the top of this blog.
I’ve volunteered to photograph and document the course for the Rossinver Organic Centre crew.
Like the people and am learning heaps already … which isn’t that hard given how little I know.
Coco and I slept all day Saturday and into Sunday.
Yesterday was spent cleaning the cottage and my yard and then visiting the Hamills with treats for the kids.
And now it’s Monday and I’m delighted to be home.
It was a special treat to spend time with Lisa … and it’s just wonderful to be home again.
Lots to do this week … including St Patricks day tomorrow … I’ll be photographing the parade in Ballinamore.
Happy birthday to Derek for tomorrow.
Hope you are fab dear reader.