London: Day One, Sun Aug 14
Of course I didn’t sleep very well, typical for the first night of a trip. Too wound up, too tired, disorientated.
We got up at about 7am, showered and dressed, and decided to try out the continental breakfast room. Breakfast isn’t included with the room but is available for 13.50 pounds. The food was tasty. Richard had a bowl of raisin bran (I won’t capitalize the name because who knows what brand it was), a slice of ham, and slice of cheese. I had ham and cheese on a slice of wheat bread and a blueberry muffin. Remember the elusive blueberries in the muffin on the plane? This is where they were hiding. Everything was delicious. One of the staff was very helpful showing me how to use the coffee machine but it was more complicated than I expected. It would be an exaggeration to say you need a master’s degree to operate it but let’s say that it could probably be covered in a weekend seminar. We won’t be going back - - if we’re going to pay 13.50 pounds for breakfast I’d rather go somewhere and have my coffee made by someone who knows what they’re doing. Am I too difficult?
Our friend Mark was coming to pick us up at 2pm - - we had about four hours to waste so we went for a walk and checked out the shops and restaurants down the street. Made a few notes for places we’ll want to have lunch or dinner later in the week. We also found a park, went for a little walk, and found a shady bench.
A handsome, sinewy young man ran past us. Richard said, “I’ll be right back.” Ha ha ha.
ME: I’d like to find an internet café nearby. Is that something from the 90s?
RICHARD: Why do you need an internet café?
ME: I need to send out my Diva/Mensch pair on Wednesday. And I should do a CDA for Anne Heche. Or should I wait to pair her with Salman Rushdie?
RICHARD: I saw on the news this morning that he’s off the ventilator.
ME: So, it should be any day now, right?
RICHARD: No… he’s being taken off the ventilator because he’s doing better. He’s able to breathe on his own.
ME: Oh…! I was mixing up “being taken off the ventilator” with “pulling the plug.” I guess they’re different.
A little boy, probably four years old, zoomed by on his scooter. He stopped in front of us, turned around and hollered at his mom, “Mama, Mama, blah blah blah” in some unidentified foreign language. The mother approached, pushing another child in a stroller. The boy on the scooter went on hollering at her. She smiled wanly and gave him a thumbs up, which is International Mom Sign Language for, “Yes, sweetie, that’s fine. Go ahead, crash into a tree, I really don’t care.”
Back to the hotel. We laid down for a while, might have fallen asleep a little bit. I made Richard a cup of instant coffee (which made him think of his late parents, aw), I had a cup of PG Tips tea. When in Rome, right? We tried an episode of *Murder, She Wrote* but it was too convoluted. The writing credit was for someone allegedly named Tom Sawyer. Are we really supposed to believe that? We switched to that old standby, *Friends.*
Mark came and picked us up at 2pm. He and Richard have been friends for 25 years, they met in the travel business. We’re good friends with him and his wife Claire and have watched their son Harry grow up. He’s now 11 years old. They live in the suburbs, it was a treat to get in a car and go out of town. And it was very generous of Mark to pick us up.
I’d never been to their house before - - a lovely house with a marvelous garden (aka back yard). Claire does a lot of gardening and have us a few tiny tomatoes fresh off the vine, which were incredibly delicious. Their friend Collette came over with her 14-year-old son Charlie. Charlie is a major theatre kid so Mark knew that he’d be interested in talking with us. He had seen three musicals in the West End the week before: *Grease,* *Dear Evan Hansen,* and *Anything Goes.* We talked a bit about shows we had seen in NY and the shows he has in his future (I’m jealous that he’s seeing the West End revival of *Cabaret,* which is supposed to be dark and fabulous).
Mark’s mother came over, that was such a treat, neither of us had met her before. She’s adorable, a real charmer.
Claire put out quite a spread: cold cuts and cheese, bread and breadsticks, two kinds of quiche (bacon/cheddar and broccoli/salmon), pizza, seafood salad, couscous salad, a feta/red onion/tomato salad, tomato and mozzarella, and I don’t remember what else. All so delicious and perfect for a summer afternoon. The seven of us had such a lovely time.
Here's a picture of Claire and the spread:
And Collette and Charlie:
Oh! Mark made cocktails when we arrived - - I don’t think I’d had an Aperol spritz before. So fantastic, I’ll definitely be having more of those. Richard would use three words at this point: glug glug glug.
Harry made dessert, some cakey concoction topped with a creamy business and dollops of strawberry jam. Here's a pic of Harry and his grandma, another of Richard and the dessert tray.
And the whole crew:
Mark called us an Uber which took us to the tube station about ten minutes away. It was a half hour to get back into the city. Every once in a while in New York you get on the subway and the car you’re on doesn’t have any air conditioning. This happens rarely, probably about once a month, maybe not even that often. Well, in London there are entire subway LINES that have no AC. Which is pretty uncomfortable when it’s 90 degrees a humid.
No surprise - - we skipped dinner. I’m sure we watched a little something on the telly when we got back to the hotel but I don’t remember what. We were in bed around 10pm.