By Sri (Summer 2010)– From the Archives
Our family of five (back then the little one had not been conceived even in our thoughts) with us, the parents, and sis, started our UK trip, from London.
Despite being against the idea, on parental insistence, we ended up making the mistake of staying at a family friend’s B&B in the suburbs. Though the people were lovely and the stay there was very homely, we missed out on the feel of the city! The one-hour transit time by tube meant that we (meaning the parents) were more interested in getting back home than in exploring the nightlife downtown.
I had repeatedly warned parents to pack light… Little did I know that they would pack a world of foodstuffs, all because of some misguided vegetarian people who told them “You won’t get anything to eat”! I guess, most desis would understand how this goes, but it’s not that my parents have never traveled, it’s just that according to Murphy’s (bless his soul) law, the advice from friendly neighbors is always closer to heart than familial banter. Luckily, since that trip, and having to either lug most edibles back or gift them to people, they have been more receptive to my advice than following thy neighbor.
Anyhow, we were in London and out to check the touristy spots. Arriving from sweltering Delhi, our first impression of London was pretty sad, what with the heat waves engulfing the city. Eventually, we appreciated the bright sunshine, absent rain, and the opportunity to laze in the parks and be able to amble around town.
The high “touristy” points were a visit to the Tower of London, St Paul’s, Buckingham palace and Trafalgar square. Other than the former, most other stuff was appreciated from the outside, as we can only take so much of history and jewels and majestic lifestyles.
The Tower of London was partly eerie, partly tranquil, and worth the trip. The memorial at the scaffold had these words.
‘Gentle visitor pause awhile: where you stand death cut away the light of many days: here jeweled names were broken from the vivid thread of life: may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage: under these restless skies”The Tower of London
We got on to the HO HO bus and also did the “Thames river cruise”.. Our experience was mixed. You do get to see more of the city this way, but miss out on people interactions. River cruises are a great way to see more in a short amount of time, especially in the evenings when everything is majestic and lit up.
Hungry, after a day of walking, we ended up at Trafalgar Square, and at Sherlock Holmes pub on Northumberland Avenue. After the usual dark and ominous rumblings by Mum about the follies of drunk men, of orgies, and the potential unsafe trip back home, the evening was delicious with wholesome pub grub, filling the souls even of the vegetarians with soups of the day, pot pies, a side of a salad and beans and delectable round of ales, quenching our thirst.
Another great “foodgasmic” experience was the Burrough market, which we visited one evening!
We sauntered into a very famous cheese shop called Neal’s yard Dairy, where we sampled and bought a variety of “oh-so-yum” cheese n crackers!
From aromatic mushrooms including truffles, flavoured olive oils, vibrant fresh produce vegetables, meat, more cheese, baked goodies to tipsy afternoon with sangrias, ales and beers…it was just a “perfect day”, ala Lou Reed!
Spent another day shopping on Oxford and Park Street, a drag for the men but a highlight for the ladies!
Unfortunately, couldn’t see much of the theatre in London on this trip, but that ensured our imminent return.
From London, we hired our rental car from the same company we used in Spain, carjet.co.uk, and drove onwards to the Cotswolds, the heart of England…more about it in the next post.