London in April has been cold, apparently the coolest spring for decades. I can’t even imagine what the winter was like! I spent my first few days (8th and 9th) in Victoria just a stroll down the road from Buckingham Palace, thanks to the kindness of Dad’s friend Prof. Roberts. He laments that the Queen still hasn’t asked him around for afternoon tea yet (so rude).
Next stop was a few days in Camden which is a vibrant, crazy, hipster-ville. I stayed at a huge hostel originally set up in the 1940s for young women. Just down the road from Camden high street, Goldsmiths House is a dormitory-style hostel with small individual rooms and shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. It was pretty rad. Speaking of Camden, I had an incredible cheap dinner at Inspiral, a vegetarian wholefood cafe similar to Pilgrims. I devoured a delicious mixed plate of buckwheat, bean curry, broccoli, kale, beetroot and apple salad, roasted mixed vegetables with Brazil nuts plus carrot, seaweed and tamari salad. Soooo good. Also passed by Microsoft Sam at the chicken stall in the markets – he’s still there, Jacob, and as hilarious as ever.
|Delicious dinner from Inspiral, Camden (definitely missing Pilgrims)|
On Thursday (11th) I met up with Lyndsay in Watford just outside of London and went on a sprawling walk around the wooded canals. It was incredibly beautiful! We also explored some beautiful local churches with her friends, the Talbot family, and I ended up staying for dinner and sleeping over.
|Stroll through the woods in Watford|
This past week (12 – 19th) I have been a lucky guest at the Plaza on the River with Lyndsay and her aunt Mary. Seriously, check it out: http://www.plazaontheriver.co.uk/. Super swanky, smack-bang on the River Thames near the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Lyndsay and I have been squatting in the living room, enjoying fluffy towels and the huge bathroom. Living in hostels will never be the same. With such a fabulous central location, we’ve done so much this week, I’ll condense it down to my favourites, so bear with me.
We explored some seriously impressive churches, including St Paul’s and Westminster Cathedral, as well as the quirky All Hallows Barking Church. Climbed right to the top of St Paul’s via the Whispering Dome to get an excellent view of the city, while you couldn’t walk anywhere in Westminster without treading on someone spectacular (Newton! Maxwell! Everyone is buried here). In the crypt at All Hallows I touched the crow’s nest from Shackleton’s last Antarctic voyage. Seriously, the actual crow’s nest was just sitting in a corner.The things you find.
Had a fair share of museum days – standouts were the British Museum and the Natural History Museum, where Lyndsay and I wove our way through dozens of French school groups to gape at mummies and dinosaurs.
I’d better not forget the parks and gardens! Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and St James’ Park are all gorgeous, filled with flowers, small lakes and so many birds. Apparently roller-blading is experiencing a resurgence, with everyone out on skates on the sunny days. We also made the hike out to Kew Gardens and strolled through more than 300 acres of incredible meadows, daffodils and greenhouses filled with species from around the world. Lyndsay and I were well below the median age of most visitors, it has to be said. But it was jolly good.
|Daffodils! Kew Gardens|
We also decided to live it up and go to the theatre, ensuing in queuing for half-price tickets and a most excellent night at Jersey Boys, the musical based on the band, the Four Seasons. It was so much fun and the theatre was gorgeous. And of course there was plenty of other incredible experiences, including the Tower of London and the Globe Theatre, and general aimless meandering everywhere in between.