01/12/2010

LONDON IS LONDON


Thursday, November 25th


We left, my friends and I, resigned to the idea that we would have to cope with terrible weather: for days the weather forecast had been telling us that freezing temperatures and snow would expect us in England.
But nothing would have stopped us. Nothing indeed. And we left for London after travelling by car, bus, train, underground from our different home places and, especially after standing at the embark gate for 2 hours because of a delay. Two hours’ delay for flights is something rather average. Only one always hopes in exceptions! We arrived in London and again we took a train + bus and got to  our hotel quite late at night, half frozen for the bitterly cold temperatures. I insisted with my friends, all wool clad from head to toes that  I didn’t need gloves, scarf or a hat because living in the mountains I’m used to cold and do not usually use them. I had to surrender after two days and buy at least a pair of gloves since that cold weather was unbearable!
Once in the hotel, we were exhausted, freezing and dreaming  of being sleeping under warm blankets but our stomachs claimed their rights: what about some spaghetti?
 Day 1 over. No snow in London. Lucky us!

Friday, 26th November


On Friday we woke up to a surprisingly sunny day. Our plan was to travel to the countryside for a picturesque trip. Wwhat better weather, then? We happily took a bus to Marylebone station, then a train to High Wycombe then a taxi to … Turville! What a lovely picturesque place! An enchanting village where peace quiet and fresh air welcome you in the middle of nowhere! Well, actually it is in Buckinghamshire but neither the funny but kind Indian taxi driver knew where it was.  He needed help to find it! What can you do in Turville? Very little indeed and life must be everything but stressing there. The village is much loved by TV and film companies. It is smaller than we’d anticipated, but certainly lovely. 
What did we do? Walked, stared at every little familiar corner, door, path and alley, entered the little church, took a lot of pictures, got our shoes dirty with mud, laughed a lot and , last but not least, ate delicious fish and chips in the local pub. (Sigh!) In the afternoon? Oxford Street. Shopping, shopping, and shopping. Actually I hate it but what wouldn’t you do for your friend? It can be even less boring with friends . Just a question: is London administration in great financial restraints too? The Christmas lights were just the same I had seen last year on TV!
Day 2 over. No snow in London.  Lucky, indeed!

 Saturday 27th November


 On Saturday our goal was Hampstead, a beautiful area of London located 4 miles north-west of Charing Cross. It is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for the large and hilly parkland Hampstead Heath. It is also home to some of the most expensive housing in the London area, or indeed anywhere in the world, with large houses selling for up to £50m . 

The village of Hampstead has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom. Were we looking for a wonderful house in London? Not yet. We live in hope to win the lottery though. Were we in search for a very rich husband? Not indeed. Too late for me . While my unmarried, happily single friends wouldn’t mind finding one. 
Actually, we just wanted to visit the parish of the place, St John's-at-Hampstead. What a beautiful church! Perfect location for any kind of religious ceremony, from weddings to funerals (Sigh!)
Lunch in the park of the church at Covent Garden. Our sandwiches were so good that we were surrounded by hungry fat pigeons! We finished them quickly (the sandwiches, not the pigeons) because they were good and we hungry, but especially because we didn’t like the company and it was tremendously, bitterly cold. My hands were purple and ached. That’s when I surrendered and bought a pair of pretty, quite Regency style gloves. 
Then, we walked in the streets nearby Covent Garden in search for Henrietta Street. A plate on the wall reminds the  passer-by that Jane Austen lived there in 1813-14
Early in the afternoon we were in the crazy crowded frenzy of Piccadilly Circus. We had to meet an English friend of one of us, Christine, in the luxurious tea room at Fortnum & Mason’s (since 1707) The lovely lady arrived on time and we had our tea with scones and cakes. Delicious afternoon. So British style. Though I had a very good hot cappuccino very Italian style with my English scones. And strawberry jam.  After a couple of hours there… shopping, shopping, and shopping again!
Day 3 over. Again, no snow in London. 

Sunday 29th November


On Sunday we visited The National Portrait Gallery . The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. You can explore over 160,000 portraits from the 16th Century to present day. Think of any famous British  person you know from history to the arts, from the 16thcentury to these days …


 you’ll find their portrait there. Jane Austen? The Brontes? King Richard III? James Joyce? William Shakespeare? Queen Elizabeth or Bonnie Prince Charlie? They are all there. At the moment you can also visit the exhibition “Thomas Lawrence. Regency Power and Brilliance” .
In the afternoon? Try to guess… Shopping, shopping and shopping!
Day 4 over. No trace of snow. What lucky girls!

Monday 29th November

On Monday,  we sadly packed all our stuff,  had a half British- half Italian breakfast,  faced a strike of the tube workers and took our way to the airport. Incredible but true,  there was only a bit of traffic on the surface and there were plenty of buses running. London is London, not Rome!
Even that last day, with a cloudy sky promising snow …  Not a flake in London. Not until yesterday, when we were  back home. 



What a pity it didn't snow... It could have been the perfect excuse to stay on …


By the way, did you spot any familiar place apart from Westminster with Big Ben? Really familiar?  Pardon? Where am I in all those places?  Behind the camera, of course! However, more pics  (unfortunately of me too!) and words next  (RA) Friday!

14 comments:

TeeTotallyNot said...

that sounds like a lovely weekend indeed. pity they always have to end... bet you're already planning the next one though, eh? :)

Traxy said...

Ohh so you've just been to London! How nice! :) Sounds like you had a good time, even if you missed the snow. Then again, it's a bit cold and wet now, so you're probably better off for leaving before the big chill! Thank you for sharing your experiences. :)

Did you see the Austen and Brontë pictures? Wasn't the Austen one tiny? Did you also go to the National Gallery as well and saw Monet's waterlilies? We were thinking about it, but couldn't be bothered to walk around such a big place and search for that one painting (or two, as van Gogh's Sunflowers is there somewhere too), when all I really wanted to see was the Brontë pictures at the NPG next door! :) Such a shame you weren't allowed to take pictures inside. :(

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@TeeTotallyNot
Yes, I'll go back very soon in fact. You'll read about it I hope!
@Traxy
I've been to the National gallery at least 3 times so I didn't go back. Yes, I saw the Monet's there. I especially like his Westminster painting exhibited there which was my avatar before. And yes, I saw the tiny Jane Austen and the portrait of the 3 Bronte sisters made by their brother as well asone of emily alone. And many many others! Of course, I couldn't take pictures inside.
Is it even colder than before these days? It was incredibly chilly while I was there! OMG!Hold on and ... take care, Traxy!

Judy said...

Glad you had a good time, MG! It's really cold now and there's a lot of snow in my area, East Anglia, and I think in London too, so you just got away in time - though it sounds as if you wouldn't have minded being delayed!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Judy
I wouldn't have minded , indeed. But, as I have already said, I'll be back in a month. We have awful weather here in Italy too! The sunshine in Turville was so idillic. Incredible! Thanks, Judy.

Mystica said...

I envy you the National Gallery visit. This is something I would love to see. That and the V&A. I did both but its been too too long!

phylly3 said...

Lovely MG! Hahaha! My daughter was in London at the same time! Of course even if you ran into her neither of you would have known the other, but it is still a coincidence! What hotel did you stay at?

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Mystica
So you must go back, Mystica. There are so many places I still haven't seen in London. And in Rome too!
@Phylly
Really? A coincidence, indeed. My hotel was in Gloucester Terrace. But London is so big and crowded! I hope your daughter enjoyed her stay.

Debs said...

Your pictures are fabulous and I'm so envious of your weekend in London visiting all those interesting places.

We've got snow here at the moment, which is very rare in Jersey, and the schools have closed and buses stopped so it's going to be interesting trying to get to work. It does look gorgeous though, but not as fun as London sounds.

maribea said...

Oh Maria Grazia what a nice telling of your staying in London. I've been there several times myself but there's always something to do. I'm also planning to move again to UK for work. I'd love it, but ...there's but a thing: I suffer from cold and wet. So I will have to be very patient and find very warm gloves and scarves and so on!!!
Welcome back and thanks for sharing with us this experience!
M Beatrice

JaneGS said...

You've given me some great ideas for my own trip in late March--tea at Fortnum and Mason's and a walk down Henrietta St. in particular as well as the National Portrait Gallery.

What a great break you had--glad the weather held out for you, and thanks for the travelogue.

Laura said...

Oh, sounds a great fun and I can't recall if you mention it but did you have snow? :) I'm planning to go to London one of these days (in this life, if possible LOL!)

I'm sure you had your eyes open wide while visiting Turville. God knows I will, in hope to stumble with TDH stranger strolling to nowhere in particular.
Thanks for that wonderful review.

Musa said...

Turville looks familiar somehow? :)

Thank you for sharing your lovely trip to the UK with us. I'm feeling nostalgic - last time I visited London was over a decade ago.

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