We did the works today. BF is disappointed we don’t hung draw and quarter at the Tower of London anymore. Well only Americans if they complain.
After having the first of our holiday 99 ice creams at the Tower and a rest underneath St Pauls Cathedral, we wondered across to the bridges and this is where the real disappointment kicked in; apparently London Bridge is depicted as Tower Bridge on American TV – not that I would have ever noticed.
After my rejection of all the probably suitable city pubs as being ‘not real’ I couldn’t find any where to eat along the Embankment and we ended up sitting in the sun at a coffee shop on the Strand feigning starvation. I’d worked at Fleet Street many years ago and this was a regular walk for me but I was still amazed there was nowhere to eat along this stretch of water with the London Eye in full view.
Energised, we covered Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Downing Street et all, where I think I was the more excited as although I’d been passed a few times when on business, I had never taken the time to take it all in. We make our way back to the hotel.
Although we were so close earlier, I sensed the fatigue kicking in so we start our evening by saying ‘hi’ to the Queen at Buckingham Palace and with appropriate photos taken, we embark on the second of my longer than expected walks in two days, this time to Piccadilly Circus in search of dinner. For someone who plays frantic sports at every opportunity, the man sure gets tired quickly! Still, I felt bad and promise we’ll go inside the first restaurant he likes the look of once we hit Piccadilly and back into civilisation.
This turned out to be a chain steak house where for some reason all the wait staff appear to be oriental but we were just pleased to be seated quickly, have a jug of iced water arrive and have a bathroom available. After all this we were completely rested and made many eye contacts with pairs of eyes in uniform but none appear to want to take our order. This was the BFs first experience of bad British customer service and ordinarily I would walk out and go elsewhere. After explaining if this was New York we would have been tucking into our meal by now, BF agreed and we leg it after our refreshing water to find a fantastic little restaurant hidden away behind Pizza Express, where at this stage I would have happily ventured. I forget what it was called but I’m sure I’ll find it again with the Pizza landmark. Three courses for under £10, good food and great, fast service. I had pate and I think he had lentil soup but I don’t recall the main courses but we were very happy. The desserts, crème caramel and sponge and custard, both for me, weren’t great but sure filled a gap. We were ready for a drink or two at a Soho pub before getting back to the hotel.
Friday Fish & Chips
We had hot buffet breakfast in the hotel each morning and the last day in London was meant to be chilled; no tourist attractions, just pop up to Baker Street and find fish and chips for Friday and eat in one of the parks. After Baker Street in the North West, always my favourite part of London we walked down towards Hyde Park stopping at M&S to research what the BF may spend his birthday gift card on. After coffee and chatting in the vastness of Hyde Park, where inevitably they charge to sit on one of the many empty deck chairs, I had to pop back to the hotel to use my laptop for a little work and then forgot to check the address of the local fish and chip shop before putting it back in hotel storage. The concierge told me it was right behind Gt Portland Street tube. It wasn’t. The lout sitting on a bench said it was straight up Gt Portland Street. It wasn’t. By now were nearly on Oxford Street. I felt sorry for dragging the BF yet again and promised this won’t happen when we’re back home in Birmingham tomorrow. We now have to get the tube back from the busiest station in London to get back from Oxford Circus to Regents Park. Still no fish & chips so now I am asking everyone I see that looks like they speak English. There is no town in England that you can walk 15-20 minutes on a High Street without coming across F&C. Both the florist and Evening Standard seller point us in the same direction and after one wrong move, we find it – the original one I had in mind and the one the Concierge meant to send us to. Right by the hotel – not Gt Portland St station! I ask you.
By now, we just want to sit and enjoy so we do. On the slightly wrong side of town with a view of boarded up shops on Cleveland Street with the GPO tower watching over, we have the most expensive traditional F&C served to us on the street, sitting in the sun. £20.
Then we walk to Regents Park and chill and chat for the rest of the afternoon before going back to the hotel to catch up on emails and relax in the Aston bar. We retrieve the luggage and even though it’s less than 10 minutes walk, hail a London cab back to Euston and our train home. We still get there early so BF discovers an M&S sandwich all by himself to keep him going. Another trip to the late opening M&S at the other end for milk and bread and then a cab home.
Home is where someone misses you – Jeremy Irons
The weekend was relaxed with just a little time in the wonderful Birmingham Museum, a coffee in the sun and a trip to M&S for the weekend’s food before heading home for BF to cook his chicken and spaghetti. I’m not big on meat, especially chicken, but this is the best chicken I have tasted. We spend more on the weekend’s food then I normally do for the whole week but I love it!
On Sunday I make a full Irish breakfast, complete with potato bread and is followed by a walk in the sunshine and a coffee by the fountain at Brindley Place and then we are home for me to cook the main attraction, Sunday roast. BF has picked turkey at M&S and I make my customary rosemary fantail potatoes and cheese cauliflower and leek bake – the dish that makes people who don’t eat cauliflower, go back for seconds. I’d made it in an equally badly equipped kitchen for Thanksgiving in Jersey to the same affect. But I am much prouder this time as BF really didn’t think I could cook – because I never want to – and he has seconds. So this is the joy of cooking.
I make the mistake of having my first glass and a half of red wine in an age accompanied by chocolate fingers and promptly feel sleepy after watching our joint favourite TV show, House.
A perfect weekend, all the usual stuff plus me cooking. Who knew?
Part 4 to follow