Sunday, March 15, 2015


People have strong feelings about London. British people, old timers, new arrivals, visitors.

Except for me. I just tend to avoid it. Yes, I must sometimes pass through it (witness the two pass through trips recorded on Ocean), but most of my trips to the UK have entirely omitted this great big city from my consideration.

The reason for it? Well, you could say that I like other parts of the UK much better, so why waste a day here? And, London is so damn expensive! But, too, I think for me, London is a bit of a fairy tale. I passed through it as a kid (and promptly forgot it) but I really opened my eyes to it when my own children were very small, especially when my older girl was very small -- just turning three -- and she and I (pregnant with the second girl) had many wonderful weeks making day trips to the big city to see the museums while her dad worked in the libraries up in East Anglia (Cambridge). I walked that little girl to pieces then! Up and down, in and out of the Tube, in and out of museums, accompanied by wonderful kid books explaining everything from modern art at the Tate to the mummies in the British Museum.

So why touch a golden memory? Why go back at all?

Well, as always, I hate to form these rock solid opinions and not give cities a chance. When my younger daughter told me she wanted to visit Berlin with me a few years ago, I balked, but she, having the stamina to stick to her desires while I wilt and falter, insisted that we put Berlin on our travel map and I am so glad we went! (Even as I still don't regard that city as a chipper place to explore. Forgive me. My history is what it is. Perhaps I remember too well a visit to East Berlin when there still was an East and a West Berlin.)

When I planned this March trip to Europe, I was, of course, looking for decent weather. This is tricky: you can hit glorious skies in many parts of Europe now, but some hold a greater likelihood of rain -- day in, day out rain, the kind that drips down your collar and chills you inside and out -- it's best to avoid it. I picked two regions that hold the promise of a lesser likelihood of rain and the first is right here in England (yes, I'm serious!) and the second? Well, that's next week's story (and a rather predictable one, so don't go making wild guesses -- it's south and it's in France).

I could have gone straight to my English destination today, but London tempted me just a tiny bit. For a Sunday afternoon. Why not? (Even though it took me forever to find a hotel I might actually enjoy rather than just tolerate, given my budget.)

So after a terribly ordinary and very late flight from Detroit to London, I hopped on a train to Paddington Station in city center (or should I affect the British and write centre) and from there, walked, marveling how when you alight from the airport train in Paris, you immediately know you're in Paris and when you alight from the airport train in London, you immediately know you're in London.


 My hotel is a mere twenty minute walk from Paddington and I have two comments on that short trudge: first of all, I was delighted to see that England already has this to offer:


But secondly, the good weather I am slated to have (according to the weather maps) does not begin until Tuesday. It is in the mid forties now and the skies are pouty and bleak and I am cold. 

Never mind. As I check in to my small (but expensive for me, though okay with a prepaid special rate) hotel, which is very close to the Marble Arch, hence its name -- the Arch, not to be confused with the Marble Arch hotel next door, where I first went, to be greeted with blank stares! -- I am served a warm cup of peppery ginger tea and immediately I am reminded how the British solve many of life's crises with a cup of tea.

The hotel room is small, but warm and cozy...


... and the views are, well, very U.K.! Note, too, that it has started to drizzle and my optimism told me to leave the umbrella at home, as the forecast only spoke of a drizzly day today and tomorrow.


Oh, I shall go out, I must go out, I want to go out -- eventually. But Hyde Park -- a mere two blocks away, is at the moment uninviting and I just made myself a cup of coffee and opened my laptop.

Maybe later, when the drizzle gives a pause. For now, I'm enjoying my first hours in England from the warm quiet of my hotel room.


  1. Ah, daffodils! And what, magnolia stellata? Maybe - she's the earliest of the beautiful sisters. And peppery ginger tea! Your Ocean entry today is so evocative of "cozy".

    I'm so good at cozy. ;) Yesterday I read all day long. Rain was my excuse. I thought of you, and how much you would have accomplished instead.

    I look forward to in England.

  2. You visit London and Charles and Camilla are on their way to the USA. How opportune. Enjoy your short visit in London and your cream tea and scones. Haven't been there yet, hoping to get there before the threat of their leaving the EU becomes fact. Such a sweet story of chaperoning your daughter. Fond memories. Was a different time though for travelling. Probably safer back then. Snowdrops are just starting to blossom in Germany. Enjoy your travels. Looking forward to your return. Alles liebe.

  3. I really needed this trip (with you) right about now Nina. (see my blog of today). I want to be anywhere but here and London would be perfect. Pour me a cup of that ginger tea... and I don't care about the cold and rain - that's how I like England the most! Atmospheric!

  4. Nina, enjoy your time in London, and England! (We'll be in London this summer, so I adore this little peek at the city.)

  5. Having spent my childhood in Seattle, amid the drizzle and foghorns, I would feel right at home with you, right now. It sounds lovely - and the blooms makes it even more wonderful!

  6. Uh oh, mid-40s is cold?! You weren't supposed to tell me that! I can tell you're over here because you suddenly have 5 comments and it's only 9:45 in the morning!

  7. Mid forties and windy and gray with the occasional drizzle is cold, unless you're dressed for it. :) There 's a reason why people are wearing their winter garb! And yes, regan, my posting schedule switches to early morning here (most of the time). So that as you typed this comment, I was already editing and publishing the next post!

  8. Brings back memories of a couple of weeks in London when Snowdrop's dad was a toddler. He loved rides on the Tube and we all loved pubs with gardens where little ones were welcome. As likely you recall, travel with young ones makes for great conversations with strangers. Have fun!

  9. I know, you're right, Nina. I don't foresee the time when I will retire my blue, puffy coat. I know it will come, but perhaps not until we're on our way to the U.S. in mid-May!


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