good life · travel

London Calling

We went to London!

Husband and two other guys from his office were invited across the pond to teach a workshop, and the spouses tagged along. The guys had two days of work, and we were there a week, so we had lots time to play. I thought it would be fun to share a few photos and stories (and menus, because eating is my favorite):

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Husband and I have been to London before. Husband’s brother worked there for awhile, so we made the trip back in 2008 before children. We were SUPER tourists that trip. It’s hard to believe how many sights we took in – museums, gardens, palaces, museums, museums, museums. This go-round, we kept our list small and didn’t stress if we didn’t get to everything. A big part of it was just being away together, so there was lots of walking and talking and hanging out.

London Eye Big Ben

This trip, I finally felt comfortable navigating transportation. (The Maps app on my phone helped!) But even with buses and the Tube, we still logged 18,000-24,000 steps a day!

Our fantastic hotel, The Zetter, is in Central London, so it was easy to walk many places. Our first night there, we wandered around in search of dinner (not an easy feat on a Sunday night – most places close up early). We lucked out when we found The Well. After finishing our dinner (Sunday roast of lamb for Husband, a butternut squash and kale dish for me, ending with a cheese plate and port), I told Husband that this was going to be our best dinner of the trip. It was a close call, but I still hold to my original assessment.

On Monday, Husband and I clocked over 24K steps taking in these sights: St. John’s Gate in Clerkenwell, Primrose Hill and Regents Park, The National Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. John’s Churchyard, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, the Jubilee Bridge, and a walk past St. Paul’s Cathedral. (So much for not being too touristy this time!) We met up with the California folks for dinner at our hotel (camembert with rosemary, grilled poussin for Husband, roast salmon with sampire and hollandaise for me).

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While the guys worked, the wives planned excursions. Tuesday was mostly shopping. We explored all 6 floors of Liberty (above), refueled with coffee and people watching, and continued on with more shopping. I only bought one thing for me – a black lace dress, something for which I’ve been hunting for months now.

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(Husband and me, wearing said dress at Wicked later in the week)

Thames Barrier at night

But Tuesday night, we had a special excursion. After a 45 minute cab ride through the city (which felt very similar to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride), we arrived at the Thames Barrier. We got to hear about how it was designed, how it works, and when it is used. We were all sort of geeking out, not just the engineers among us. I had no idea it even existed – very cool.

The next day, Wednesday, one of the gals needed to do some studying for a class she’s taking, so the other asked if I would take her thrifting. What an adventure! We ended up in East End at a thrift shop I’m going to call “rustic” – no clothes sorted in color order here! There were bins of jumbled sweaters and jeans, racks and racks of flannel shirts, and a bit of a smell that pervaded the shop. Still, my shopping companion found a fabulous denim vest, and then I spotted this:london

I couldn’t stop laughing! How on earth a University of Tennessee jacket ended up in the East End, I can’t imagine. I didn’t buy it – it was too big and had some ink stains – but what a riot! Made my day.

The Orangery at Kensington Palace

After thrifting, all the ladies met up, and we headed west to Kensington Palace for afternoon tea at The Orangery.

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I ordered the gluten-free option with berry tea (and champagne!) – all delicious.

Kensington Palace Gardens

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Afterward, we roamed the gardens and popped in for a fast tour of Kensington Palace. The docents were so friendly and full of stories, and the Fashion Rules Restyled Exhibition was a fun addition.

We rushed back on the Tube to get ready for dinner at Vinoteca. True to it’s name, the wine list was at least 20 pages, and the one-sheet menu was comprised of three courses with three choices for each course. I had parsnip soup (who knew? AMAZING!), Cornish hake (perfectly crusted), and cheese and jam for dessert.

Thursday morning consisted of touring the Victoria & Albert. Husband and I visited it in 2008, but we only had an hour that time, which wasn’t nearly enough. This trip, we had several hours, and I still missed an entire floor – the jewelry! But I loved the furniture and textiles and SO. MANY. CERAMICS.

That evening, we had dinner at Rose’s Thai before we went to see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria. So fun!

Friday was our other 24K steps day! We started at Parliament and walked up to Trafalgar Square, passing Big Ben and the clock tower, the Boadicea statue, and Westminster Abbey. Then we took the Tube to Hampstead Heath. I knew nothing about it, but I read here that it was one of the best walks in London.

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It did not disappoint. We worked our way through adorable little alleys lined with shops and restaurants.

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We explored cute neighborhoods with beautiful houses.

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And then we found ourselves on a wooded trail, a pleasant surprise in the middle of the city.

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It was a warm day, the sun was shining, and the views from Parliament Hill were just lovely.

After spending some time relaxing and taking it all in, we hopped on a train to St. Pancras/Kings Cross Station. (At dinner at Vinoteca on Wednesday night, I sat next to the engineer who organized the workshop, and he suggested that we plan a little trip here to see the The Meeting Place statue. He said we seemed like a romantic couple, and that having a cocktail in the shadow of the statue was a fairly romantic endeavor.)

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We ordered drinks at The Betjeman Arms and recounted the highlights of our trip. (And this photo doesn’t do the statue justice – it’s 30 feet tall!)

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After that, we went out to Leadenhall Market. (It was used as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films.) The market was filled with men (very few women) in suits and ties, having a pint – it was the same story at every other pub we passed after 3:00pm that Friday afternoon.

We went back to the hotel to meet up with the other couples and headed back out in search of meat pies and Guinness for dinner. We found them at The Butcher’s Hook & Cleaver (along with a ham, beetroot, and carrot salad, which was warm and yummy), and then continued on to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, where we descended multiple flights of stairs and navigated cave-like tunnels to raise a glass at one of the oldest pubs in London.

As we climbed into bed on our last night in London, we flipped on the telly to find an airing of Shaun of the Dead.

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It seemed like a fitting British ending to a super fun trip.

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I know reading someone’s vacation blog post can be like watching Uncle Bob’s Kodak projector slideshow of his trip to Yellowstone in 1982, so if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! This post is mostly just for me. I’ll be back to posting projects soon.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “London Calling

  1. I love your pictures. We’ve been there twice and your pictures make me want to go back. We still haven’t seen the Victoria and Albert.

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