Tuesday, January 19, 2010

London Sunshine

 I wasn't sure what kind of weather to expect in London.  They had a terrible time of it in December, I think it was the coldest weather in 30 years, which disrupted travel and closed the airports.  It also caused havoc on the Eurostar "Chunnel", the channel tunnel which connects the UK to France.
I checked with weather.com which said to expect it to be cold and clear, but they have lied to me before.  I was delighted to arrive to a better than forecast day, with clear and sunny skies.
I was ready for Sunday brunch at Baker and Spice, my favorite cafe for breakfast.  My friend Jacquie and I were tired after working our flight, but decided to head out immediately to make the most of the day.  We took the London Underground (the tube) to South Kensington and walked from there.  I have been lost in this area before, but with our map and our keen navigational sense (yeah, right!) we managed to find the place.
I am glad that we didn't resort to hailing a cab, because we saw some interesting sights along the way.

This is the Michelin Tyre Store that was opened in January, 1911, as the first permanent headquarters in the UK.  It has been preserved and is now a restaurant and shops.  Read about it's history here

I also learned that the Michelin man has a name, which is Bibendum, and a motto which means "now is the time to drink".  What is there not to like about that.  You can read more about his story here

After a few more twisting turns we arrived at Baker and Spice.

Jacquie ordered  a cup of cocoa and I ordered a frothy latte.

I also ordered a bowl of their rich creamy porridge (oatmeal) with honey. I was first introduced to this cafe and to their wonderful breakfast/brunch menu by my friend, Alisha, when she lived here.  I always liked oatmeal, but I never knew it could be such a   delicacy till I tried it at Baker and Spice.  Thanks, girlfriend!


After we were warm and well fed, we headed toward Sloane Square and the Tube station there.  After a few more turns, we found our way to the center of the square and the statue of Venus.  The fountain was turned off due to the freezing weather, but it was beautiful anyway.

The historic Royal Court Theatre is located in Sloane Square (seen behind the fountain to the right).  The photo below shows the stage door, by the Sloane Square Tube Station .
If you are interested in it's history click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Court_Theatre

The scary thing about the Sloane Square Tube is that the River Westbourne runs directly over the station in an iron pipe within a gray conduit.  I've traveled under rivers before, but this sort of  blows my mind.  If you want to know more about this interesting river, use this link.

We hopped on the tube and headed for Westminister Bridge, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames.  We walked along the Thames Path with all the other tourists and enjoyed the sights and the sunshine.

I have taken many photos of the London Eye, but I have never had light like there was today. You can really see the size and scope of this huge ferris wheel,
also know as the Millennium wheel.  History here                 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Eye

We walked to the Embankment Station and thru to Villiers Street to Gordon's Winebar.I have been a fan of this oldest winebar in London for many years, and it always pleases me to be there. It is dark, smokey, and cramped. You have to stoop down to enter the cellar, and you sit on rickety chairs at a shared table.  Most any hour of day or night, the place is packed with people having a great time.

There is a hearty and adequate menu of pubfare and some really good cheeses.  My favorite thing is the casks behind the bar filled with aged port, sherry and madeira.  I enjoy all of them, but my favorite is the "Old Wood Tawny Port".  We polished off a beeker (or two), a perfect finish to our day in London.


gnesbittcmII said...

Maryann, I felt like I was in London with you and Jacquin. The pictures were wonderful. Ever thought of blogging for a travel agency on the side. You would be fabulous!!! Can't wait until we are off again on a new adventure.

Thanks for sharing... see you soon.

Ms. G

Claricia Calvillo said...

Mary Ann, Noe and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog on Spain. We'll be touring Spain in June, and your blog was a wonderful and exciting introduction to the magnificent sights that await us! You have such a great writing style, and your pictures are awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. Abrazos, Claricia