Days 318 to 321 - London Calling
Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
221Trip End Jan 08, 2012
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Where I stayed
Kath & Simon's Place
Instead we searched for inexpensive flights around northern Europe and ended up going to London.
Originally off our list for this trip (Eli had been twice before) Mia has always been keen to go and we could see a couple we'd met climbing Mount Kilimanjaro whom we'd gotten on very well with.
In fact we ended up staying with the New Zealand fellow and Canadian gal; though both have been living in London for a number of years impacting both their accents :). One small example is the very 'British’ "ya know what i mean" uttered rhetorically, that persists in catching Eli off guard whenever he tries to confirm that 'he did-know what they meant' while they have already moved on…
We arrived and met our hosts at the pub. We dropped our bags at their place just long enough for them to hit the floor. Then we went to their local pub. Mia was giddy with each passing double decker red bus and traditional 'London Black Cab'. Fish n' Chips and wet pints of (cold) beer –long gone are the days of serving room temperature beer. Very civilized.
The girls went sightseeing (Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square etc.: Piccadilly Circus was her fave) while the boys joined a New Zealand couple at an international rugby game. A few beers later (for the fellas) and some mulled wine (for the girls), we met up for dinner at a cozy upstairs pub complete with red ‘velvet’ booths and carpet galore. Traditional pub grub for everyone!
The next day our hosts took us to High Tea to thank us for coming to see them (!) – such generosity. Champagne was an afternoon indulgence for the ladies while the men opted for the metero gin & cucumber martinis!
We snacked on seven varieties of delicious little sandwiches- with the crusts cut off of course – before undertaking, the piece de resistance: scones with clotted cream and jam. There is some contention among aficionados of tea culture as to the preference to apply the cream or the jam first. After a rigorous comparison of both methodologies arriving at the conclusion that is definitely better with the jam applied on and after the cream…who knew…
At our ‘Tea’ seating there was a large group that included a baby. The little one wasn’t the issue rather the uncle or grandfather type who insisted on shaking a rattle in time (sort of) to the piano player. Yes there was a piano player at High Tea; had you assumed a harpist or cellist?
Oh, and the tea was great too!
Everyone from the surrounding tables began casting dirty looks in their direction which soon elevated to ‘tutting’ (curiously British pseudo-speech clearly demonstrating contempt). One of the patrons next to us eventually got up and asked (told) the guy to cut it out. When the patrons next to us got up to leave he curiously seemed to give US a sarcastic goodbye…
One night to say thank you, Mia went shopping and cooked dinner for our hosts. Eli scurried about acting as sous chef, dish pig, bus boy not to mention good company of course. Lasagna, garlic bread and caesar salad were enjoyed by all before a delicious ice cream dessert.
We explored the city, walking across London Bridge (which is commonly mistaken for) Tower Bridge. London lived up to its rainy reputation. After a pinty night (one of a few) at ‘The Wellington’ pub downtown we rode home on the bus. It was very full and when a guy went to squeeze into a seat next to Mia she pleasantly warned him that someone had left some chicken bones littered about the seat. He remarked laconically (and humorously): “you’re not wrong”.
After an admin day escaping the rain we rode the tube (it really is a round tunnel) to meet up with a friend we’d met diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia back in January. It was very nice to see her and incredible to share our stories while battling amazement at the paradox of time. Eli ordered the bangers and mash with mushy peas to round out his tasting of English cuisine.