These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: London Edition

Me: “I just got back from a trip to London with my daughters.”
Her: “How I envy you – I love London!  The art, the architecture, the history…what did you like best?”

The Tower

Off with his head!

Me: “Oh, jeez, it’s hard to pick…”
Her: “How about The Tower of London?  Didn’t you love the Crown Jewels?”
Me: “We didn’t actually go IN the Tower.  But I got tons of pictures AROUND it.   When you think of what those ancient stones have witnessed.  And now this. That’s a DUDE.  Wearing capris.  With black socks and shoes?   They should have thrown Dexter Dweebly into the Tower for crimes against fashion.”

Her: “What about Westminster?  To think a place so steeped in history is still a vital part of the working government. Could you imagine working there every day?”

Westminster: Big Ben - yes. Wifi - no

Westminster: Big Ben – yes. Wifi – no

Me: “We were more interested in absorbing the general flavor of the place. Like this picture of Big Ben. Well, near Big Ben. I was 4 miles into my quest for a trash can at this point (which, as it turns out, they don’t have public trash cans because Britanicals are very private and proper, even about their garbage), and Liz stopped on the sidewalk to try get a Wifi connection.  We almost got trampled by the crowd when the little walk-guy light turned green!”

Her: “How did you like the London Eye?”
Me: “That was an amazing sight.”
Her: “You really get a feel for the scope of the city from up there, don’t you?”
Me: “Oh, yeah. I mean, I guess you would.  We didn’t go on it, we just LOOKED at it…from across the river.  I wonder if the carnies running it have better dental work than the carnies in the States?  I always say, if a guy can’t take care of his own teeth, how can you trust he’s gonna take care of a carnival ride that you’re risking your life on?”

camera 7-13 689Her: “Surely you went to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard?”
Me: “For sure! See that horse’s ass in that picture there? No, not her…the white dot above that lady’s head, kinda in the middle? That’s almost definitely one of the palace guards.  Couldn’t really tell from where we were standing. But it was so worth the trip over: changing subway trains twice, hiking down that street with all the construction and traffic and standing cheek-to-sweaty-jowl in the broiling sun along with 100,000 other royal watchers with their cameras and cell-phones held up over their heads in the hopes of getting a picture of SOMEthing…anything.  It felt so personal.”

camera 7-13 925

Hot dogs are called tube steaks in a place like this.

Her: “And the Victoria and Albert Museum?  All that wonderful art and history, and it’s free!”
Me: “Ah, the V&A .  Wouldn’t have missed it for the world!  Although, as it happened, we did.  Miss it.  We  popped into Harrods first since it was on the way from the Tube, and I got sidetracked by the meat department.  This ultra-swanky store, and they have a butcher shop inside – have you ever been there?  With the peacocks and the tile mosaics on the ceilings?  It’s the most beautiful thing I ever saw!  I tell you what, if the Piggly Wiggly looked like THAT, I’d be buying ground round just like the Queen, instead of my usual 3-pound chubs of 70/30%  hamburger.”

Her: “You didn’t get to experience the incomparable art scene in London?”

Real, genuine art.

Real, genuine art.

Me: “As if!  Of course we did!  Why, look at this genuine oil painting I bought in Portobello Road. I thought it was a medieval Duke or somebody.  When I got home and showed it to my hubby, he said, right off, “That’s Brad, the Impaler. ” Showed me a picture on the interwebz and, sure enough, it’s the spitting image of the original Dracula.  Imagine him knowing something like that.  I got it as a souvenir for my Mom, but decided to give her some English toffee instead, what with Brad being the personification of cruelty and evil and what-not.”

Her: “Surely you experienced the London theater- Shakespeare at the Globe?  Or one of the fantastic offerings in the West End, like The Phantom of the Opera?”
Me: “No way we would miss the theater.  We were leaning toward some Shakespeare (I had a coupon for 2-for-1 pitchers of Pimms at a club in Soho that was doing a piece called “Two Gentlemen Taming The Shrew As You Like It”), but we decided on the open air theater at Regent’s Park.  They let you bring in your own wine.  And while “The Sound of Music” isn’t British per se, let’s not forget that Julie Andrews, the original star of the movie, definitely is.”

Her: “What about Trafalgar Square? The National Gallery?”
Me: “I remember THAT vividly.  There were so many Italian teenagers on school trips milling about that we could hardly move.  Then we went to this restaurant to buy lunch for a picnic and use the bathroom, and what do you suppose?  “No public bathroom” they said. “Excuse me?” I said. “We’re not the public, we’re customers!  We just spent 20 quiddy-bobbers on sandwiches and weird lemonade in tiny bottles, and that’s more than $30 in real money!”  Still no bathroom.  Did you ever hear of such a thing?”

Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square. FYI, the bathrooms are right under the porch of the National Gallery, just over the shoulder of that Italian teenager on the right.

Her: “So you didn’t get to The National Gallery?”
Me: “Of course we did!  That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  Even though St. James Park, where we wanted to eat, was in the opposite direction, we had to hike all the way back from the restaurant in the midday sun, across the street, through Trafalgar square and past that tall statue of that really famous and important guy on a horse (I think he was Ricky Nelson), shove our way through the hordes of bored, Italian teens, all the while frying like lemmings in a concrete pan, just to use the bathroom.  The public bathroom was in the basement of the National Gallery!”

Her: “How about St. Paul’s? The Winston Churchill Museum? The Tate? Wimbledon? Surely you took a boat ride on the Thames?”
(Long, rather uncomfortable silence.)
Me: “Did I mention we were only there 4 days?  Including travel time?”

Her: “What DID you think about London?”
Me: “London may not have a lot of Wifi, trash cans or air conditioning, but they DO have Pimms.  And that makes up for everything.”

Special thanks to Billy-boy and Kay-Kay for scheduling the Royal Delivery around my vacation.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be asked to be Godmum, so I’m looking for deals on airfare to go back across the pond for the christening.

Thanks to my girls, Liz and Gwen, for being such good travel buddies.  To my hubby, Bill, for holding down the fort while we were away.  To my cousin, Ann, and her partner, Michael, for hosting us in Bath.  And to all of England, for being so, so spectacular.

Had an elegant time, guvna!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
This entry was posted in General Ramblings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: London Edition

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Thus, the appeal of the staycation…

    Like

  2. mistyslaws says:

    Well now I’m all nostalgic for London and want to go back! Can you try to swing a few extra tickets for me and the fam when you are summonsed to return by the Queen for the official Christening? Pip pip and cheerio, mate!

    Like

  3. Pleun says:

    I think you did London in the best way possible. I was there for only one day and decided to just go for lunch haha. And by the looks of it you had great weather, so no reason to go inside all those fantastic attractions, right?

    Like

  4. Hahaha! So funny! At least you can SAY you were there. Even if you didn’t DO anything. 🙂

    Like

  5. franhunne4u says:

    Sounds like one of my trips to London which were all longer – and still I did not go into the Tower or into Mme Tussaud’s – or watch the changing of the guards. You just worded it way more nicely than I ever could.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Don’t you feel like a bit of a tourist-failure for not hitting all the must-see attractions? I do.

      Like

      • franhunne4u says:

        I don’t – I feel more like a huge success – for avoiding all the touristic traps and rip offs (bought a Time out guide to London and they discouraged people from Mme Tussaud’s). I rather went to cheap guided walking tours (London walks in my case but there are others, I suppose).

        Like

  6. It does sound like you had a great time doing it your way … so to speak. You must feel like a real Londoner now.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Actually, I did like doing it my way. Just wish we had more time to see everything. Hey, I was just over at your place trying to comment when this damn tablet crashed…again. Just like in England – I like me old, dinosaur computer at work so much better than this new-fangled thing!

      Like

  7. Please say you got a tee-shirt.

    Like

  8. Oh one trip there isn’t enough. ( and that lack of trash cans is a bit of a problem)
    Thanks for taking us along

    Like

  9. lisaspiral says:

    Have really enjoyed the posts from London and this is the perfect synopsis of your trip!

    Like

  10. Aw, love the photo of you and your girls! All the photos were great, made me feel like I was right there with you searching for bathrooms and trash cans. So many amazing sights to take in, I’m sure. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to London, but now that I know there might be a Ricky Nelson statue, I’m sold.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      He doesn”t look anything like he does in those half hour infommercials for “gREAtest Rock N Roll Artists of the 50s”, but is was kind of hard to make out details way up on top of that statue.

      Like

  11. dorannrule says:

    Thanks for taking us along on this wonderful trip. I can tell from the slide show you had a fabulous time, even ir you d claim you only got close to things but never really saw them. 🙂

    Like

  12. pmahaney says:

    Sounds like vacations we take. We were witness to much but experienced little, however I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

    Like

  13. muddledmom says:

    Harry Potter Studio tour! Well that’s worth the flight over. Love the dude in the capris. That’s something you don’t see every day–and shouldn’t. Sounds like a great trip. I went nearly 20 years ago and remember having trouble finding public bathrooms. It’s like they’re too proud to pee.

    Like

  14. Elyse says:

    Peg, this may be one of the best ever posts.

    I have been a non-tourist in London, too. On my first trip in 1973, which my parents paid for, I was ordered to take pictures. But I was too cool and too artsy to go to a single tourist trap. I took pictures of the pigeons in Kensington Gardens. They were very attractive pigeons in a lovely park. I mean, not every pigeon gets to pose with Queen Victoria, right?

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Elyse< if it weren"t for the fact (FOR WHICH I'm thankful) that you're not dead, I could swear Gwen is the reincarnation of 1973 you. Several days she chose to sleep late instead of see the sights, and she was terrified of looking like a tourist. I didn't relish the cliche role, either, but you gotta do what you gotta do to see stuff!

      We had to catch a train at 12:20 from Paddington station the last day and they both wanted to sleep in and shower -can you imagine! I caught an early train to Portobello Road and was making my way back, against traffic like a salmon going to spawn, when the crowds started heading north at 10am. Loved it!

      Like

  15. So happy for you that you could take this memorable trip with your girls. Thanks for all the peeks.

    Like

  16. Blogdramedy says:

    Rick Steves is re-thinking his entire tour guide empire right now.

    Like

  17. Hey Peg — I’ve never read about a trip to London quite like this! Having never been there myself, I appreciate your candor about things such as the lack of public trash cans. I think sometimes these little differences give more character to a city than the big ones. Looks like you were busy, and had a great trip!

    Like

  18. Susan in TX says:

    We went about seven years ago. Seeing the Chelsea Flower Show was on my bucket list and far exceeded expectations. We also went to four street markets–food, fashion, flowers, and, of course, Portabello. And took long walks on the Hampshire Heath. We did manage to sneak in the Tower, the Eye, and Westminster . . . not to mention the four department stores. We loved the traditional stuff, but the other things are what I remember most.

    Oh. And we were told by a bobby that the trash cans were removed during the years of the IRA bombings.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I bought a peach at the top of Portobello Road, and was still carrying the slimy pit around when I got to the end. I heard that too about the trash cans, but that wasn’t until we got home.

      The flower show sounds fabulous! I’m a big thrift-store junkie, so I went to Portobello Rd twice. Wish I were skinnier so I could fit into some of the vintage and new designer fashions!

      Like

  19. Margie says:

    I so wish I’d been there with you – as your guide. I used to know where every free bathroom was!
    Did you take the ‘hop on/hop off bus’?

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It would have been great to have a knowledgeable guide, especially about the bathrooms! The only time we took buses was from Heathrow down to Brighton, and for the Warner Bro. Studio tours. Next trip we’ll do the double-decker hop on/hop off buses.

      Like

  20. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I adore London. I absolutely must get back there soon. I will. I want to rent a place in town and just walk and look and eat and drink. You know, people always make fun of the food there, but I never had a bad meal once. So glad you had a great time and thanks for sharing the pics. Ah, memories!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I thought the food was fine! I guess it depends where you go to eat. My daughter, who was there over a month and on a student budget, thought the food was lousy. But once Mom showed up and started buying, it got much better.

      Like

  21. ginweb.1@juno.com says:

    Pictures are marvelous! Thanks!

    Like

  22. You vacation like me. Sometimes “close enough” is good enough. No trash cans? I’m so confused. What if you drop your ice cream cone? You can’t eat it, and you can’t throw it away.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I ate a peach at the market and carried that damn, slimy pit through half the city, looking for a trash can!

      And you’re right, Thoughtsy. Close enough IS sometimes good enough.

      Like

  23. Another smug blogger writing about their nose-in-the-air travelling experiences. How original.

    Like

  24. Roxie says:

    Did he really say Brad, and not Vlad? That’s hilarious!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Nah, that was just me. He’s pretty smart, he got it right. And I was really impressed that he recognized the guy – I just thought it was a cool painting.

      Like

  25. Loved the pictures, Peg, especially the slide show. I want to go!!!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Go, Tar, go! Now’s the time – why wait? Lib was telling me last weekend that she wants to travel more, and spotted a fab price for a trip somewhere warm.

      Like

  26. susielindau says:

    When were you there?
    We did the cook’s tour since we only had one full day… The prices were ridiculous! We didn’t go in the Tower of London either. Sounds like you had a blast!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      One day? I felt pressured with 4 days. Everything was verrrry expensive, wasn’t it? The problem I had was, after a couple of days in England, I started thinking that pounds were the same as dollars – bit of a nasty shock when the credit card bill arrived, I must say.

      How many countries did you cover? We stayed in England but had a couple of days in Brighton and a couple in Bath before London. I want to go right back!

      By the way, your pictures are breathtaking.

      Like

  27. You saw London the right way given your limited time. Next time see some of the ‘hot’ spots.

    Like

  28. PinotNinja says:

    Now I’m jonesing for a Pimms Cup and a trip away with my mom, neither one of which are going to happen tonight. Thanks for that….

    Seriously, though, thanks for sharing your fantastic photos and commentary. I love taking a vicarious Peg-o-Leg international adventure!

    Like

  29. amelie88 says:

    I actually got into Westminster Abbey for free. Around 5 pm every day, they have this evening service called Evensong and you can walk in and attend the service to “worship.” I accidentally stumbled upon it when my friend and I showed up past closing time. It was interesting to see an Anglican service, and then hear them blessing the Queen and the royal family (it would be like the priest at my Catholic church blessing Obama or something). The downside is you can’t walk around at your leisure but hey, you can’t have everything!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I meant to do that, but didn’t have the chance. When we were in Bath I went for an early morning walk and stopped by the Abbey before the tourist stuff opened, just to sit, soak up the history and pray. It was lovely!

      Like

  30. Great post. I can relate, I was in London last year for three weeks but stayed 40 mins outside near Uxbridge, which is the last stop on the Tube. Much time spent riding trains, and I saw so many castles I can’t keep them straight. Was that Windsor, or Westminster? That kind of thing. The Changing of the Guard is overrated, especially since you have to get there at 2 am to see it.

    Like

  31. coastalcrone says:

    I would go back to London any time! Great post! I found your blog via Doran.

    Like

  32. HoaiPhai says:

    Ah, this story reminds me of a ~400-year-old building back home in Montreal. It was absolutely stinking in history and culture seeing that it was either the Official Residence or office of the Governor of New France, the head honcho of the French colonies in North America. You should see it, it’s splendid! Just go to the corner of St. Laurent and Rue de la Commune (in Old Montreal)… the building was an Italian restaurant, the last time I looked. Oh, by the way, you’d love Montreal because there’s a law that requires all eat-in restaurants to have customer-accessible bathrooms! So go to Old Montreal, have a panini, and partake of a “throne”… you might even see Cardinal Richelieu’s immortal words scribbled on the wall… “Ici je m’assieds, navré …”.

    Like

  33. HoaiPhai says:

    Unless you enjoy a the challenge of having fun amid -20° F temperatures, go in the summer or autumn. The spring is amazing but takes its time to show up and then there’s what seems like a two day flash foliation where everything goes from bud to 90% green. Another problem is it kind of smells bad in the thaw part of the spring.

    Summer is great — Montrealers have to pack in a lot of revelry into a few short summer months so there are back-to-back “festivals” all summer (jazz, Francofolies, Just For Laughs, Formula 1 races, etc. Go to http://montreal.com/tourism/festivals/). Special interest festivals aside, the best time to go would probably be a period including June 23 to July 1. June 24 is the big provincial holiday and July 1 is Canada Day.

    Bring extra money if you bring your car and drive it around the city and plan to park on the streets because you will get tickets. Parking signs are in French only and there can be eight or more signs on a single post telling you when you can and cannot park in a given area. Don’t even think about not paying your Canadian traffic or parking tickets because you figure that you’ll be back in the U.S. before the ticket ripens into a warrant and you have the nukes and the Mounties don’t have jurisdiction where you live. Our countries have reciprocity agreements so if you do skip out on Canadian fines, one day a very large State Trooper might inform you that your license has been revoked for non-payment of tickets. The bus and subway system is great and a good way to experience the sights, and smells, of a great city. Don’t worry about not being able to speak French (although locals will appreciate it if you try)… even the panhandlers and counter people at McDonalds are bilingual (or better). Remember, we’re pretty much like Americans except we are unarmed and have free health care so leave your Smith & Wesson at home and be sure to try the cookies at Felix & Norton.

    P.S. Don’t bring your unwanted old people to put them on the ice floes… we don’t do that anymore.

    Like

  34. So… I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m totally jealous of you, Peg…
    but…
    you know…
    I kind of am.
    Although I’m sure I’d have been thrown into the Thames for breaking-out my ‘cockney accent’. Skills like that have ‘international incident’ written all over them.
    🙂

    Like

  35. Mary K. says:

    Loved the pictures and commentary.

    Like

  36. My sole trip to England (indeed, Europe) involved multiple trips between my sister’s house and the nearest post office to ship her things back to the States. We did get out once, though! The Viking toilet exhibit amazed.

    I do still remember the trip fondly, even if the sights I saw weren’t the ones others expected me to see! :p

    Like

  37. JM Randolph says:

    This post cracked me up! I am so jealous that you got the Harry Potter tour! I went to London only once, for work. All but about 12 hours of it were spent inside a theater (where I did get a good picture of a dead mouse silhouette in the decorative ceiling glass). Once I got out of the theater, I stood in the way of some kids skateboarding, saw a baby breakdancing, and did NOT go up in that deathtrap Ferris Wheel thingie.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m with you on the deathtrap Ferris Wheel. Looking at it from across the river was enough to give me the heebie-jeebies.

      Along with the inside of most of the not-to-be-missed sights, I missed the breakdancing baby. Sounds like we both need to get back there right soon.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s