We flew into London which was swathed in a greyness which I have heard has barely lifted over the past 6 weeks. We whinge a bit about our endless sunshine but I know most Londoners crave a blue sky and the need to squint their eyes when they go outside and relish any sign that it is going to be a sunny day. We trained it to Islington- Highbury and walked to our London digs. It was an AirBnb in Islington close to where our children are living. After the decadence of the aDLER Hotel in Innsbruck, our London flat was a shock to the system. It was a bit mouldy, a bit ordinary and had a saggy double bed – but it was close to family and that was all that mattered. We walked into Clerkenwell to meet the kids at a London pub and it was lovely to see them looking so well.
First London night at The Eagle, Clerkenwell
The main reason for coming to London in the colder (wetter) months was to see the London Christmas lights and they didn’t disappoint! Down most streets and on most buildings were sparkling lights and Christmas trees – London takes Christmas very seriously.
London ‘does’ their Chrissy lights well…..very well!
The other significant reason for a November trip was to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. 40 years – it rolls off the tongue so easily and to be honest it really seems like yesterday that we were standing in the backyard of my brother’s new Ascot home ( which he and his wife had generously made available for our wedding and reception) taking our vows.
Sweet young things 40 years ago
40 years later
But for it to pass so quickly – it must have been a hoot and to produce three beautiful children, it must have been a blessing.
Our wonderful kids gave us a voucher for the beautiful Palomar Restaurant in Soho and also two tickets to Les Miserables on Covent Garden. This is our favourite live show and this production was very special. Thank you very much xx
Spectacular eggplant dish and yummy dessert from Palomar Restaurant
Off to Les Mis!
Over the course of our stay, we did lots of walking around London – The Regents Canal Walk, around Bath to watch Soph play netball, to Buckingham Palace for old times sake, past 10 Downing Street and then had lunch at the pub opposite (Bob got his pork pie there). We ‘did’ the Natural History Museum, went to the top of the Shard (again another great birthday present for Bob from the kids) and saw St Paul’s lit up at night.
Regents Canal walk
St Pauls at night from the Millenium Bridge and at the top of the Shard
We went to Maltby Markets and had some of the most delicious market food ever and walked down one side of the Thames across the Millenium Bridge and up the other side of the river. Every day in London was easily 25000 steps!
Maltby Markets – Delish!
One of the special trips we had planned to do was to make a day trip to Folkestone on the train so we could walk from Folkestone to Dover. It’s part of an architectural walk called ChalkUp 21and seriously we were so lucky to get to do it. It had rained every day in Dover since the start of our trip (I studied the weather app every day) and after 17 days on our second last day in the UK, it was predicted to be fine and gloriously sunny – which it was – but it started out at 4 degrees but warmed up slightly as the day progressed. As you can see the not only was the weather spectacular but the scenery was also.
We started the walk at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Folkestone and then walked along the ChalkUp21 path. It isn’t very clearly marked so take care (you’ll hear why in a moment).
The Battle of Britain Memorial, Folkestone
The problem with being the only sunny day in 3 weeks of rain is the path was very, very muddy and ever so slippery so it was a slow and slightly hazardous walk.
Real mud but they washed up well after the trip!
We managed to take the wrong path thinking the path went down to the ocean and we would walk along the edge of the water. But sadly the walk goes along the top of the cliffs and we had to climb right back up to the top. It was the first time that I actually wondered how I was going to do that because the climb down was so difficult. But the climb up was dead easy compared to the slipping and sliding of the descent.
The White Cliffs of Dover – If we hadn’t taken the wrong path we wouldn’t have seen this view. A bit daunting to climb back up to the top again!
Personally I think the Seven Sisters walk we did last year was much more scenic, but I felt a great sense of achievement completing this walk and making it to the Dover Train Station and sitting down for a scone and hot chocolate. But I am a little regretful now that I sent Bob to check out the start and finish line for the (offical) English Channel Swim because I didn’t think I could take another step to go and look at it. It was a very long walk that we had finished and my feet were killing me.
The best part of the trip was knowing that Mike had secured his own accommodation in London. He arranged it on our second last night and that in itself is quite a feat as demand for accommodation is fierce. We celebrated at his local to say goodbye.
The funniest thing about this trip was by the time we had to depart London, I had grown quite attached to our little mouldy, saggy apartment and was sad to say goodbye to it, but there will be another trip – that’s what happens when your kids “Do London”!
London last night at Mike’s new local pub, de Beauvoir Arms
That is the last of the travel blogs for the moment. I had to write it today because a patient asked me a question about the trip and I struggled to remember what we had done that was special. And while there is lots more that we did in London, these are some highlights and will give us lots of lovely memory prompts in the future. I apologise for the self-indulgence and boring you with all my personal blogs but it is my diary (sort of). At least I’ll never lose it and know exactly where to find it!