Sunday, 28 October 2012

Tourist

I love being a tourist in London. I no longer care about the cool, tucked away places but unashamedly head for the bright lights of the West End; I want shops, restaurants, museums, galleries and more shops. Yesterday I met up with one of my oldest and best friends for a day of chatter and culture and eating.

I was up bright and early and on the train at 7 am in the cold dark. I was accompanied by two magazines, a coffee, an almond croissant, a bag of crochet and many hours of Radio 4 podcasts on John's iPod. I wanted to make the absolute most of my two and a half hours of time to myself.

I saw snow around Lincolnshire as the sun was rising.


I admired the new and improved Kings Cross Station - what a difference. A light space that you want to linger in, rather than the previous dark, oppressive space that made me want to run away.


We had a late breakfast at The Delaunay. I think there is something so decadent abut going out for breakfast. This was everything we hoped it would be; lovingly cooked, beautifully presented and very, very tasty.


To Tate Britain next as we had tickets for the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition. Despite being held in an overcrowded and overheated room, the works were luminous, exquisitely rendered and looked as though they were lit from within. 


Then the rain came so we went to John Lewis on Oxford Street (to shelter, you understand).


Then on to Islington to visit the knitting shop Loop. I had (overly) high hopes and was expecting something really special but found it disappointing...untidy, badly lit, terrible access for pushchairs and pregnant ladies, confusing signage, no prices on so many things. All my years in retail kicked in and I found myself desperate to give the whole shop a jolly good sort out. It's not a patch on my local yarn shop, Baa Ram Ewe. It's comforting to know that not everything is bigger and better in London. After the shock of Loop we had to go to The Hummingbird Bakery for overpriced cupcakes and a cup of tea.


Then dinner, followed by a mad tube dash (so many escalators, so little time!) to Kings Cross station for my train back to Leeds, caught with only minutes to spare. 


A fun and memorable day. I am still tired. We spent today with some old friends and their two small boys. We ate homemade bread and soup for lunch and had hoped for a walk in the afternoon but it was raining. Instead, we lazed on the sofa and watched television and drank tea and read magazines and crocheted. I commented to John on how very relaxed we are with these friends, how no-one feels the need to entertain anyone, and John pointed out that we were all at university together, so we are all quite adept at sitting around and drinking tea in each other's company. Then John made pie and mash for tea and I made sticky toffee pudding. We ate it as it got dark outside.

Autumn is here.


36 comments:

  1. What a blissful sounding weekend. There is something wonderful about London and doing things that you don't usually do. I always try to head to Liberty for a visual treat. I know exactly what you mean about the relaxing company of old friends. We plan to do just that next weekend. Have a good week x

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    1. We didn't have time for Liberty, more's the pity, but John was mighty relieved I didn't add to my Liberty fabric stash.

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  2. What a fun weekend with friends! London looks like such a lovely and exciting city. We also had homemade bread with chili for dinner. I love warm, fresh bread when it's cold out. And your toffee pudding sounds yummy, too! Have a great week!

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    1. The toffee pudding is so yummy (and probably quite fattening too!) - I am looking forward to leftovers tonight while watching tv.

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  3. Sounds like a very perfect day to me! London, Im completely in love with that city... and add old friends to the mix? Perfection!

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    1. It was so much fun - shame I can't indulge more often!

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  4. Sounds like a very busy but very lovely weekend, i have to know were your hummingbird cupcakes good?
    love jooles x

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    1. Yes, I am happy to report that they were very good indeed. Expensive, but delicious.

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  5. Hello Gillian,
    What a lovely post! You fitted in a lot, what with the train journey. The exhibition looks good. Hasn't Kings Cross changed! I used to travel through there a lot. I admire the effort, I am very bad at pushing myself (to cosy at home!) - I should! Your Sunday sounds like the other half of a perfect weekend! Have a good Autumn tea-party with the children!
    Ivan

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    1. I too need a large carrot dangled in front of me to leave the house and go anywhere exciting, but I'm glad I did!

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  6. Sounds perfect! A day to yourself. Every time I plan a day in Paris it gets scuppered by sick children or a working husband. xx

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    1. Oh yes, that happens here too. If the kids are well it usually means that I am ill instead.

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  7. Oh great day! We stayed in London in November for a wedding a couple of years ago and I felt exactly the same way - I headed to the touristy places and Covent Garden on a dark afternoon with the Christmas tree on, sipping mulled wine was just perfect. And just like Karen said, a visit to Liberty is always inspirational. Shame about Loop, I would have thought that place would have been amazing. x

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    1. It is a shame - but I have a renewed appreciation for Baa Ram Ewe, so it's Leeds 1 London 0! Mulled wine in Covent Garden...lush. I will have to get my gluhwein kicks at the German Market this Christmas instead.

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  8. What a wonderful weekend you had. I bet the exhibition was amazing, you lucky thing!
    Lisa x

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    1. It was really great. I wouldn't have gone if my friend hadn't suggested it, but I'm so glad I went.

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  9. Sounds like a fantastic day, I agree with you, sometimes some of the best service we get is from those little, independent shops! Ada :)

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    1. Absolutely! They can gladly have my yarn money.

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  10. What a wonderful weekend. Your day out in London sounds perfect, but a shame about Loop, I've heard good things on other blogs about it so I would have expected more from it too.

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    1. Me too - that's why I felt so cheated! Maybe it was just me. Or maybe I am spoiled by my local yarn shop.

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  11. What a great sounding weekend Gillian! Hope you enjoy half term this week too :-) Hazel x

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    1. Thank you, and you too. Put your feet up before Champ arrives!

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  12. What a lovely weekend you've had ... Kings Cross looks amazing ... we haven't been to London since the little ones were born ... the renovations were just starting then ... they have made it very impressive ... I have a hankering to go again ... so Loop wasn't as expected ... how disappointing ... you expect a certain standard, don't you ... best stick to the reliable locals :) ... Bee xx

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    1. We'd like to take the kids to London one day but were waiting till they were both our of pushchairs and out of nappies. I think next summer we can try. I want to take them to things like the Natural History Museum and the London Eye!

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  13. Dear Gillian
    I am so envious about the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition! We looked into train tickets but found the cheapest for us when we wanted to go would have added up to £150.00 and we didn't feel we could justify it. I did go to the major Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Tate in 1984, so I shouldn't grumble really. I just love the amazing bursts of colour in the paintings although I seem to remember being just a bit overcome by it all in 1984. Sounds like you had a good day out despite some disappointments on the shopping side.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. I don't think I could have justified going all that way just for the exhibition, but it was really good, glad I saw it.

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  14. I love having a day out or sometimes a weekend in London too, I've been down a couple of times this year to see friends, it is always comforting to feel not everything is better down south though!
    http://ahandfulofhope.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Yes, indeed! I like to go, but I also really like to come home.

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  15. looks like a marvellous day! I like the revamped Kings Cross too, such a huge improvement. I haven't been to loop, it's a shame it was disappointing, I hate it when that happens. I'll have to go and see the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition too, that sounds gorgeous x

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    1. Borough Market is next on my "want" list.

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  16. Sounds a fab day, Gillian! Sorry you found Loop a disappointment but if Baa Ram Ewe on your doorstep is better at least you have the better deal within easy reach! E x

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    1. I know you loved Loop, I remember your post about it last spring. Maybe I caught them on a busy/off day?

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  17. what a lovely day! i'm so envious that london is a mere 2 hour train ride away! i spent three days there many years ago. it was wonderful and so expensive. i'd love to go back with my husband, but a day (or trip) with my best friend would be amazing too. the closest big city to me, other than the one i live in, is a 4 hour drive away. almost too much to do a roundtrip in one day. i'll just have to live vicariously through you...

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    1. You know, to me, a two and a half hour train journey seems like LOADS but I guess compared to four hours that's nothing! We Brits do have a very different attitude to distance to Americans. I think half an hour is a bit too far!

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  18. What a lovely couple of days, complete contrast. Sounds like a fabulously hectic day in London doing lots of fabulous things with your BFF, and then a snoozy relaxed day at home with friends. Brilliant!!

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    1. It was lovely. A mother's respite day. Sometimes you just need them!

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