Good evening discerning readers. All is well here in London town. Finally have a minute to catch my breath and update on the last few days (also I have just found where the Business Centre at the hotel is).
Tuesday was our travelling day, so there isn't all that much to report. We spent the morning packing than spent a little time with a couple of mum's friends. At the airport a few more people turned up and it was quite a big farewell.
Odessa airport is not what you'd call the latest in aeronautical facilities. In fact it's little more than a shed. When we lined up to get into the main part of the airport it became obvious that a little door opened and a couple of people at at ime were invited to proceed. So we lined up and waited our turn. Just when we were thinking the Odessa authorities had let us off easy, without any bastardisation to speak of, a special little moment happened.
The door opened and the man in charge told us to come through. J and I went through but mum stopped in the doorway to say her final goodbyes. The fat slob on door duty looked at her and said "well, if you're not going to come in..." and slammed the door on her, literally, as she was standing half way in. Luckily for her (and all involved really) she didn't notice and simply pushed the door and came through. I wanted to belt the moron over the head but I was worried about what may have happend if we caused a stink.
Anyway, the flight to Vienna was uneventful, as was the flight to London. We arrived in London in the early evening and proceeded to sit in traffic for what seemed like four days on our way to Charring Cross and the Charring Cross Hotel where were to be staying.
After dropping off our gear we decided a quick walk was in order as well as a quick bit of dinner. One thing London is not short of is places to eat. There are at least 487 different types of franchised eating establishments and most of them are represented around our immediate area. My darling sister J, being a foodie and all, knows the best places and we were quickly ensconsed in what some say is the best fish and chip eatery in London. It's not flash but it is good.
Having eaten our fill of haddock and hand cut chips, not to mention a bowl of mushy peas (which I have to say are not my favourite thing in the world) we moisied on home, with a gelato in hand for dessert.
Yesterday we started with breakfast at nearby Leon's (a quick, healthy institution around here) and then spent some time in the National Portrait Gallery which is just up the road. How nice to absorb some top notch culture before proceeding to my favourite passtime, shopping. My requested first stop of the Dr Martens shop proved futile. Not only are the shoes no longer my cup of tea but the staff were too cool for school and not very helpful, I guess all those piercings must make it difficult to look like you may be interested in serving your customers.
Good old Marks & Spencers were more receptive to our custom and soon I was happily purchasing two new pairs of pants, I mean trousers (if you say "pants" here people apparently think you're talking about underwear). Being horizontally challenged I do love a shop which provides pants/trousers in short lengths, meaning I don't need to have a foot of fabric taken off the bottom.
Then it was time to sit in heavy traffic on the way to our "surprise", afternoon tea at The Berkley Hotel in Knightsbridge. This place is famous for its Pret-A-Portea Afternoon Tea which is changed seasonally to reflect the fashion on the catwalk. We started with delectable little finger sandwiches and proceeded to a three tiered stand of gorgeous morsels, each made to look like some fashion item, including a green marzipan handbag filled with chocolate cake. It was outrageous but stunning, both visually and gastronomically. Not to mention the beautiful Paul Smith crockery...
After some window shopping along Knightsbridge we took a taxi home for a tiny bit of rest before our next event: Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. This production starred Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup. Let's put it this way, as entertainment this play is really hard work. It was 2 and a half hours of intellectually hard slog. For those familiar with it there is very little action as such, just a lot of dialogue. There were many nodding heads and droopy eyes in the stuffy theatre.
But the acting, oh the acting was wonderful. I can't begin to tell you how good those stalwarts of the stage were. Yes we may know Stewart and McKellen from the X-Men movies and from their various other film work, but this is altogether different. Their power on stage is awesome and Simon Callow, who is one of those people whose name you wouldn't remember but who you would all know from his many films, including Amadeus, is stunning. It was a very special treat to experience them live on stage.
Of course it was now after 10 pm and we were hungry. What better way to finish off a day of London culture and exquisite food then with a late night supper of McDonalds?
This morning we again breakfasted at Leon's because it's just a great little place for an easy, cheap breakfast. Then we set off for The Courtauld Gallery which is just down the road from us in Somerset House. This is a beautiful place in itself and the exhibition we viewed was just an extra bonus. I'm not that much into art but I know what I like, and I liked a great deal of what I saw today.
Then it was back into a taxi for another highlight, lunch at Maze Grill (a Gordon Ramsey restaurant). We were dropped off in Grosvenor Square and enjoyed a meander around the lovely little park before lunch. I especially loved the memorial to 11 September which is located in that park, presumably because the US Embassy, in all its glory, is across the road.
Now I am aware that Mr Ramsey is in all sorts of hot water for insulting Princess Tracey Grimshaw in the land of Oz but as far as I am concerned all is forgiven. Lunch at Maze Grill was a wonderful experience. For £18 each we enjoyed a beautiful three course meal and you just can't argue with that for good value. The service was perfect, the restaurant decor just right and the food was really superb. 9.5/10 my dear Gordie.
Nothing like a bit of exercise after a big meal and we got ours by doing a few hours of Olympic standard shopping. All the big department stores are there in Oxford Street but we made the biggest impressions at Boots and at John Lewis. Oh, how I love a department store.
We returned home exhausted but soon found the strength to pop out for a quick bit of pizza and risotto at Zizzi (another London food institution). The food was OK but the noise level was brain splitting so I won't be rushing back there (the fact that I live in Sydney notwithstanding). A nice long walk around the Embankment Station area and over the Golden Jubilee Bridge rounded off our evening very nicely, thank you very much.
Now it's 11 pm. Mum and J are upstairs, probably in bed asleep. I am very tired and looking forward to another big day tomorrow. It's getting very close to the end of this big adventure and I am almost ready to come home. I miss my babies very much, all three of them.
Hope all is well in the land Down Under. See you all very soon.