Sun Is in the Sky, Oh Why Oh Why Would I Want to Be Anywhere Else? (London, Day 3)

“The sights that I’m seeing are priceless” — “LDN,” Lily Allen

The day had an auspicious start, because I didn’t wait for Death Tub to warm up all the way and I subjected myself to a lukewarm shower. I also made the mistake of trying to get the laptop charger to work, which was nothing more than an exercise in frustration. But Kristen talked me down from the ledge (again), and we had a wonderful day.

The sun was shining as we walked from our hotel to Caffe Nero for our usual breakfast. We passed Brook Green Park on the way.

Brook Green Park

We took the tube to Westminster and took loads of pictures of Big Ben and Parliament and the London Eye in the sunshine.

Big Ben, Parliament

Me, Big Ben

London Eye

We also took some video (Kristen’s idea) of Big Ben chiming at 11, which is significant to us because it’s the time most of the pubs open.

We crossed Westminster Bridge and stood in the queue for about five minutes to buy tickets for the London Eye.

London Eye

We had thought about ordering tickets online, but we didn’t know what the weather would be like in advance, so we thought we’d risk it and just get tickets the day we were there. Luckily, the line was short and moved quickly, although we could see the ropes they used to extend the line for busier days.

After a quick but important trip to the bathroom, we walked over to the Eye itself and got right on.

And up we went.

River Thames, from London Eye 1

London Skyline from London Eye 2

London Skyline from London Eye 3

The pods held about 20 people. We had several German tourists in ours, including a family with a toddler. Initially, I was not looking forward to spending 45 minutes in a small enclosure with a young child, but it only cried once for a couple minutes, so we all survived.

I wasn’t as freaked out by the height as I thought I would be. I felt pretty safe in the enclosure. I even found the courage to look down at one point.

London Eye, looking down

We passed the halfway point, and got even more views of Big Ben and Parliament.

View from London Eye 8

View from London Eye 11

View from London Eye 15

Just after we passed the top and were descending down the other side, there was an announcement that we were stopping and had to reverse direction. Nobody was upset at the few extra minutes we got to spend with the glorious view. We didn’t reverse directions for long, though, and we were on our way back down.

At one point, they announced they were taking a picture of our entire pod, and suggested that we all gather on one side. Nobody moved from their current spots.

The pods kept moving slowly as we got off and the next group got on. They had it down to a science.

I’m so glad we went on the London Eye. I was initially a little nervous about it, but it was a great experience, especially with the sun on our side. We had great timing, too– it started to get a bit overcast just as we stepped off the Eye.

London Eye

We walked underneath the London Eye and made our way on the south bank of the Thames, towards St. Paul’s.

River Thames

Before we got too far, we decided we needed more nourishment to fuel our journey, so we stopped into Doggett’s Coat and Badge, near Blackfriars Bridge.

Kristen and the Doggett's Menu

We started with a couple pints– Kristen with the Thwaite’s Nutty Black, and me with the Isle of Purbeck’s Thermal Cheer. I did ask for the Ginger Tosser (with a saucy comment from the bartender), but in a stroke of luck, they were out and I fell in love with the Thermal Cheer.

Kristen ordered fish and chips, which was accompanied by mashed peas and potatoes, while I ordered the chicken and cranberry sandwich. Both meals were excellent.

Doggett's Food

We ordered another round of pints, and were feeling pretty good by the time we stepped out of the establishment. I might have been so happy that I broke into song.

We passed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the National Theatre, the Millennium Bridge, and the Tate Modern.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

St. Paul's and Millennium Bridge

We also passed by Vinopolis, Southwark Cathedral, and the Golden Hinde. Finally, the Tower Bridge came into view as we approached the HMS Belfast.

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

I absolutely adore this bridge. They were doing some restoration work on the south end, but that didn’t stop me from taking 50 pictures of it anyway.

Tower Bridge 2

Tower Bridge and me

Kristen and I got a little loopy and tried to take several pictures of ourselves with the bridge in the background.

Me and Kristen

We also got to see the bridge raised and lowered, so that was pretty cool and unexpected.

Tower Bridge 4

A very kind woman took pity on our futile efforts to capture ourselves with the bridge.

Tower Bridge, me, Kristen

We walked across the bridge towards the Tower of London. By then we were pretty knackered and we had reservations for tea at The Ritz later that evening, so we took the tube from Tower Hill back to Hammersmith. Kristen had a cup of coffee in Caffe Nero while I trotted back to the room with a Chai Latte to go so I could change into more tea-appropriate clothes.

Yeah, we thought having some caffeine before tea would be a great idea… until it was time to go to sleep.

We took the tube to Green Park and discovered that the trains are extremely cosy between 5 and 7 p.m. due to rush hour.

We were early for tea, so we took a look around some of the shops in the area, although most of them were closed.

Single ladies (and gentlemen seeking gentlemen too), a word of advice: Stop into Marks and Spencers Simply Food on Piccadilly between 6 and 7 p.m. as there are many handsome men in suits bringing home dinner. Never have I seen so many good-looking, well-dressed men in one place. Wow.

We wandered up Bond Street and looked in the windows of shops with things we couldn’t afford (hello, Prada). Even at the haute couture level, the ’80s influence was inescapable. Perhaps they’re the ones starting the whole thing and it’s trickling down to the other shops. I just don’t need any more skinny ties, pleated pants, or bubble skirts in my life. Pleated pants are unflattering in any era.

It was close enough to our tea time, so we walked back in the direction of The Ritz. We checked our coats and were escorted to our table while a quartet played in the background. It was amazing. The decor was very detailed, and it reminded me of Wynn and Encore in Vegas with the brown accents and the diamond patterns in the ceiling– just really lush.
There was gold leaf on the chandeliers, and a giant bouquet of lilies in the center of the room.

As expected, they had great service and an attentive staff. They adjusted the table to keep it from wobbling, and one of the servers recognized that we had switched our tea pots (for some reason, we’d thought we’d get only one pot per table instead of per person, so Kristen ordered my initial pick of the Darjeeling First Flush just in case, and I ordered Earl Grey for her when they asked me what I’d like).

We started with a glass of champagne. Due to the wonders of the internet, we were able to get the champagne tea for the price of the regular tea (37 pounds).

They brought out an elaborate set of dishes with three tiers. The bottom tier held the sandwiches:

  • Egg salad with sprouts on a whole wheat bun
  • Cheese with sun-dried tomato bread
  • Cucumber with white bread
  • Ham and butter
  • Chicken and butter
  • Salmon

The sandwiches, except for the egg salad, did not have crusts. They were about 1/3 the size of a regular sandwich, so they were very filling.

The middle tier was initially empty, but they brought out scones to place there when they brought out the tea. They also brought Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam. It was heavenly. Clotted cream was not at all what I’d pictured. It was more like the love child of butter and cream cheese, with a little sweetener, and I was addicted.

The top tier contained a variety of pastries– a chocolate and vanilla puff, a yellow pastry, a napoleon, a mixed fruit tart (all which, sadly, went uneaten because we were so enamored of the scones). We did make room for a chocolate layered cake and a raspberry cream tart, which were both fantastic.

Completely full (I almost said “stuffed” but realized that would have different connotations in the UK), we waddled back to the Green Park tube station for a train back to Hammersmith. We had thought about a post-tea pint, but had no room.

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4 Responses to “Sun Is in the Sky, Oh Why Oh Why Would I Want to Be Anywhere Else? (London, Day 3)”

  1. John Says:

    Excellent piece, love the photograph of Brook Green.

  2. Michele Says:

    Thanks so much!

  3. Armelle Vergucht Says:

    Hello Anita,
    I work in a webdesign agency in London and we are working on a website for an association which wants to protect Brook green a green space that you took a picture of.
    We would like to use the picture of Brook green you took when you were in london.
    in small; I give you the link to the design:

    It’s the layout only and the website isn’t live yet.

    Would you accept us to use this picture as it’s for a charitable cause as you can read?
    We will be able to take pictures of the Green later on this year but at the moment the weather has been so bad for the last 2 months without any blue sky that it would be nice to have this picture for a while! As you can see on the other pictures there has been even snow!

    Thanks for your help
    Kind regards
    Armelle

  4. Michele Says:

    Absolutely– you have my permission to use the photo.

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