Back in London for a couple of days, wanting to be in the Ashes atmosphere. Will my luck for random tickets and events come through again, or will we be playing tourist for the day tomorrow instead of watching the first day at Lords? Time will tell!
After doing the Jack the Ripper ghost tour (awesome, by the way), mum had a hankering for a sundae or something ice creamy of all things! The exclaimation comes from the fact that mum doesn’t really do dessert or fancy sweet things. Me, on the other hand…….MORE than happy to oblige her craving! We found a 50’s style diner (Ed’s Easy Diner) just around the corner from our hotel room and shared a stack of pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup. Yummo!
It was my 44th birthday while we were in London. As a present, mum took me to the Georgian Restaurant at Harrods for high tea. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced high tea at Harrods once before, and adore their scones. For some reason I don’t seem to be able to perfect scones. I can cook. And am actually quite a good cook, having worked in cafes and restaurants years ago. However scones defeat me. So I always appreciate a quality scone! They did not disappoint. It is funny how memory can affect an experience. The best or worst of something can be made of a reasonable event, but our memory of the experience will taint it. The scones were as sweet, flavoursome and light as I recalled. They were accompanied by clotted cream and two jams – blackberry jam and a rose petal jelly. Just beautiful! A fabulous birthday lunch/brunch! We could not eat it all, so we requested to take the left overs home (ie for breakfast and arvo tea tomorrow), and before I knew it our wonderful waiter, Matthew, had brought out a little plate of some little cakes with a birthday message written in chocolate on the plate. A nice touch! Mum was quite bowled over by the rooms of the food hall in Harrods, so we went there again after high tea to ‘ooh!’ and ‘ah!’. Good thing we had already eaten our fill!
I think this may be part Paris/part London as it occurred on the Eurostar on the way back to London. Regardless. I surprised mum with an upgrade to first class on the Eurostar. This included a significant amount of leg room as we had a 4 seater table for the two of us. It also meant a breakfast was provided on board, and mum was able to read the daily English newspaper to read about the cricket preparations and whatever other news had occurred overnight. She quoted her father once again: ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing’, and asked me if I could be in charge of booking all of her urban train travel from Mordialloc to the city (hate to say, mum, but there is most definitely no first class on that train!). I read a few magazines (Time Out, Time, and the Economist), and enjoyed speaking some French for the last time in this trip to the train stewards. Such a beautiful language.
On our first night back in London we had organised to catch up with our friends, Ali and Winni-Mae again for a quick drink before doing the Jack the Ripper tour. It is always great seeing old friends like these lovely ladies. Each time we catch up it is like yesterday, yet there is so much news to share and hear. They had previously done the tour, so would not be joining us, but it came highly recommended. It was great. Only £12 a head for about an hour and a half walking tour of the area that the Jack the Ripper murders had occurred. Our tour guide, Lyndsey, was great. She had been doing research in the area for well over a decade, so knew the stories backwards. She was approaching it from a different perspective though, as she was seeking to clear the name of the most commonly named suspect, Sir William Gull. A great tour and very affordable!
One of the main reasons we came back to London at this stage of the holiday was to try to see a day of the Ashes at Lords. We tried to get tickets in advance through the ballot, to no avail. Sadly it was the same story here. We rocked up to the ground hopeful that we may be able to score a ticket or two. No luck. Scalpers were selling them for £300 each. I don’t think so! We did enjoy the atmosphere out there at the hallowed ground, and then decided to part ways for the day. Mum wanted to watch the game at a nearby pub, and I wanted to go to a running store called the Sweatshop. There is no extra room in my bags consequently. Awesome prices for running gear!
Although we did not get to see the day’s play inside the ground, we did organise to meet up with a few friends who had managed to acquire tickets in the ballot. Georgie, Jess and Laura are all friends who we played cricket with over the years at Brighton Ladies Cricket Club, now Brighton Districts. Mum, Georgie and Laura still play on and off for the team, and I filled in a few times last season after retiring many years ago. It was great to see the gals and catch up on their own travels as well as recounting some of our own adventures.
My first ‘grown up’ corporate job was with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, GlaxoSmithKline. I joined them in 1986 at the tender age of 26. I ended up working for them for 12 years. Why mention this? Well I joined the company not long after Glaxo and Wellcome had merged, before the next merger with SmithKlineBeecham. The work of the Wellcome Trust and of Henry Wellcome in pharmaceutical development is quite well known (for example, the tablet form of medication was invented by Wellcome. Previously all medications were in powder or liquid form). Less than two blocks from our hotel in Euston was the Wellcome Trust building and the museum dedicated to Henry Wellcome’s work as well as aspects of medicine today. I had not noticed it the first day or so, but spotted it when walking back from shopping in Oxford street. It was a must to look at. The exhibit of Henry Wellcome’s collections was fascinating. The artefacts ranged from mummified body parts to lovely old glass medicine bottles to ancient amputation saws to Chinese torture chairs! You can spend hours in the exhibit, yet it was not daunting in size. Mum also went and looked at the exhibit the following day after I had told her about it as her father was a pharmacist, and mum had worked in his pharmacy as a young lady, watching him mix all of his magical potions. This exhibition is well worth a look if you are around the Euston area.
It isn’t a trip to London without visiting Buckingham Palace or some other royal spot. On our way to Harrods we detoured via Buckingham Palace so that mum could see it. I had run past it earlier in the day, and had seen it many times before, but it is always worth a look. Mum loved the atmosphere around the Palace. Gorgeous gates, polite police, tourists were not stressed or pushy. There was a very large collection of media tents around the square outside the Palace due to the impending royal birth, so we knew that something was going to be happening soon on that front. The birth had not occurred before we left town, so there was no chance of picking up a royal baby souvenir!
Run #1: 6.77km. Just a quickie! It was 31 degrees this afternoon in London, so I was happy to be running just a short run. Mind you I felt great, and also as we are staying in a different part of town, there is surely more exploring to do! Anyway, not long after checking into our hotel, which is very close to Euston Station, I laced up and headed out through a couple of back streets in the direction of Regent’s Park. I guessed that running there directly and doing a loop of the outer circle before heading back would be pretty close to the 6.44km scheduled for today. Pretty close estimate! It was a very pretty run around the outer of Regent’s Park. A lot of shade from large trees in the Park, which was much appreciated. The outer circle is flanked by a mass of very grand houses, apartments and buildings. There was a lot of gorgeous Georgian style architecture to enjoy. Also on the outer circle there is a running track (see pic below), a trapeze school (!!), and the London Zoo. I did venture into the Park here and there for a glance as well, but plan on running a bit of a web through the Park on one of my other runs while we are here. It was towards the end of the city workers’ lunch break, so the Park was full of people enjoying the sun. Looking forward to exploring a little more soon.
Run #2: 7.33km. I won’t write much about this run as I essentially did the same run as yesterday, give or take, plus a few extra streets. The highlight was how gorgeous and cool it was after running in 30 degrees the day prior. Running in the morning is the way to go in the middle of summer! It is going to be quite a shock to the system when I get back to Australia and have to run in dark cold mornings again!
Run #3: 16.29km – the birthday run! I thought it was time to head back down towards the Thames one last time before I left London, so I planned a route that would take me there as well as see a few lovely sights. I started my run in the same direction as the last two – heading towards Regent’s Park, but kept going until I hit Baker Street. From there I headed down to Oxford Street and around to Park Lane (Monopoly anyone?), which I took down to Wellington Arch. Naturally, being so close to the Palace, I could not resist running along Constitution Hill and right past the front gates of Buckingham Palace. There were not many people around yet, so I did not have to wade through throngs of tourists. After a quick wave to Liz and Phil, I headed down Birdcage Walk. Handily the royal guards were doing a marching drill in their parade grounds on this street, so I felt like the show was put on just for me as there was no one else around at all. Cheers! Anyway, if you follow Birdcage Walk it eventually takes you past Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Still incredible monuments to look at no matter how many times I might run past them! I did stop briefly opposite the Houses of Parliament for one last look before I followed the Thames until Blackfriars Bridge and turned left. This took me up New Bridge Road/Farringdon Road/Kings Cross Road until I was up near Kings Cross station. I then headed back along Euston Road, past our street and into Regent’s Park for one last visit. It is one of the parks that is still looking green in the current heat wave, so it is very pleasant. This was my last outdoor run in the sun, so I was very grateful for the wonderful weather England had been having.
Next stop: Dubai again!