01 June 2009

The Cookes visit London!

Saturday, 23 May
Mom and Dad flew in to Gatwick Airport at 7:10am, and Andrew met them outside of customs with the StreetCar while I did some last minute cleaning back at the flat! They dropped off their luggage, took a quick tour of the flat and we headed out to breakfast at Del Aziz, a nice little restaurant in our neighbourhood. After breakfast, we too the Tube to Notting Hill Gate to go to Portobello Road Market and wander around and do some antique shopping. We lunched at the street vendors (it’s not like street meat, though; the vendors are very good) and then went to a little pub called the Earl of Lonsdale for a pint.

After wandering around the market a bit more, we headed home to clean up and get ready for mass. We took the bus to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, a church that Mom read about in the Birmingham News ages ago. When we arrived, Andrew and I saw our friends Becky and Josef McGuigan and introduced them to Mom and Dad. After mass, Andrew walked around the church taking some pictures (though you weren’t supposed to take pictures in the church) while Mom and Dad and I stood outside chatting with the McGuigans.

We hopped in a black cab and went to dinner at the Churchill Arms, Andrew’s and my favourite Thai restaurant.

After dinner, we walked over to the Windsor Castle pub around the corner (one of our favourite pubs in London).

Sunday, 24 May
The next morning, we took the bus to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

We wandered around the museum for a while and then headed out to go to the Reject China Shop, only to realise that it was closed; I mean closed down – that’s the economy for you! We grabbed a sandwich at the grocery store and ate it on the Tube on the way to the Tower of London, where we took a Beefeater’s tour. Afterward, Mom and Dad went in to see the Crown Jewels while Andrew and I sat in the courtyard and relaxed for a bit!

Next, we walked across Tower Bridge and along the Queen's Walk on the Thames. Then we stopped by Vinopolis to have a look at the Scotch shop.

We saw Shakespeare's Globe.

We crossed Millennium Bridge and then took the Tube home to rest a bit before taking a walk around Fulham / Parson's Green / Chelsea with the dogs. Then we headed back to the flat to drop off the dogs and had dinner at Fulham Mitre.

Monday, 25 May
On Monday morning, Andrew and I had a bank holiday, so we went with Mom and Dad on an Evan Evans Tour to Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge. The first stop was Windsor Castle, where we saw the Queen’s dollhouse (wow) and took a tour of the State Rooms before wandering around the grounds. We all agreed that you really need a whole day to fully explore it. We were so rushed to get back to our bus on time!

Next stop on the tour was the Roman Baths in Bath. It was really an amazing sight. We could also go into the Pump Room, which was much smaller than I imagined it when reading all of Jane Austen’s novels! We tasted the water in the Pump Room; if you drink a full glass, it’s supposed to make you look 10 years younger! Andrew and I both got ours down, though it was tepid and tasted of sulphur. I was definitely not pleased by it, though!

The last stop on our tour was Stonehenge. There’s not much to see there, but the audio tour was interesting, and the scenery was priceless, especially on a day as beautiful as that one…

We returned to London around dinner time, and since Andrew had to work the next day, he went back to the flat to relax a bit while I took Mom and Dad to have dinner in Chinatown in Soho, and then we too the tube to Piccadilly Circus to see the lights at night.

Tuesday, 26 May
The next morning, Andrew went in to work, and Mom and Dad and I took the Tube to Green Park where I showed them my office. We walked through Green Park to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, only to discover that it was blocked off. None of the police blocking off the Palace seemed to know whether the changing of the guard was happening.

After waiting nearly an hour, it didn't happen, but we walked down the Pall Mall where we watched the guard doing a parade practice instead!

The Pall Mall ends at Trafalgar Square, where we admired Nelson’s Column and the wonderful fountain display. We had lunch at the Silver Cross pub on Whitehall and then walked down to see Andrew's office at Embankment, where we actually ran into Andrew as he was grabbing lunch!

Next we took the Tube to Westminster and toured Westminster Abbey.

We saw Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Then we took the Tube to Sloane Square, near where Andrew and I used to live, and went to the yarn shop in Peter Jones department store. We walked up the King’s Road to the Chelsea Potter pub where we chilled out and had pints until time for our ghost tour. We went to St Paul’s Tube station where we met Sean, the tour guide for the "Ghosts of the Old City" London Walking tour. It lasted much longer than we expected, and all the nearby restaurants were closed by the time we finished, so we hopped off the Tube a Leicester Square and had lunch at post-theatre diner before heading home and crashing!

Wednesday and Thursday, 27–28 May
This was the morning that Mom and Dad planned on taking the train to Bristol and spending the night at Thornbury Castle. I had to work that day, but I took some time off that morning to make sure they made it to the train station and got their tickets squared away right. They were leaving from London Paddington and taking an overground train, which can be really overwhelming if you don’t know where you’re going! I saw them all the way to the platform and then went on to work.

They were supposed to spend the day wandering around Bristol, and then grab a cab from the train station to Thornbury Castle. However, after telling me countless times when I was younger not to talk to strangers and NEVER to get in the car with strangers, they hopped right into a car with strangers who drove them to Thornbury and dropped them off at the castle. Apparently they had started talking to this young girl at the train station, asking her about buses and taxis to Thornbury and where to eat, how to get to Bristol, etc. She answered all their questions and then wandered off to find her ride. A few moments later, Mom and Dad were apparently still wandering around and looking lost, when the young girl and her mother came up and offered them a ride. The young girl had previously lived in the US and had run out of money at a bus station when some nice Americans bought her dinner and gave her some extra money. She was paying the nice gesture forward by helping my parents!

Mom and Dad had a lovely stay at the castle. They raved about the castle, the grounds, the room, the food, to the point where I want to go stay there! The next day they made it all the way back to London Paddington, and to Fulham Broadway, and to our flat all on their own! I was so proud! They had lunch at the Fulham Mitre and went for a walk around our neighbourhood on their own (I was still working from home) and then came back and took a nap before taking the dogs on a long walk before dinner.

I cooked roast beef slow cooked in Guinness, stuffed onions, Yorkshire puddings, and a rhubarb crumble for dessert. It was a lovely dinner (though the Yorkshire puddings were more like biscuits).

Friday, 29 May
The next morning I took off work, and Mom and Dad and I had lunch at Del Aziz again before taking the Tube to St. John's Wood and walk to Abbey Road to see Abbey Road Studios and the famous crossing. After several tries, we finally got the picture!

Then we took the Tube and wandered up Oxford Street. I realised we were going to be around Chancery Lane around lunchtime and thought since we’d be there that I’d check to see if my friends at the Law Society were available for lunch or at least to pop in and meet Mom and Dad. So we went to our old haunt, the Knight’s Templar pub on Chancery Lane, and Sandra and Anika met us for lunch there. I think all four of them got a kick out of each other!

After lunch we tried to walk to St Paul's Cathedral and got a little lost. It was 1:30, and the last tour was supposed to be at 2pm, so we ended up just grabbing a cab to make sure that we weren’t late. Once we arrived, we discovered they had cancelled the 2pm tours (without deleting them from the online schedule) so we’d missed the last tour. We begged the lady to let us join in the 1:30 tour late (by this time it was 1:45), and she actually did. Not only that, she gave us each a £1 discount! We got to see the Quire and geometric staircase (both of which are closed to the general public). Then we wandered up the stairs upon stairs upon stairs to the Whispering Gallery and then up even more stairs to the Stone Gallery! Unfortunately the Golden Gallery (the highest one) was closed for refurbishing, so we headed down after that. I was proud of Dad for making it all the way up, though, despite his fear of heights!

After we finished touring St Paul’s, we headed back to Fulham and bought some beer and pretzels to enjoy while lounging in our garden. After Andrew got home, we met the Frasers for dinner at Belgo Centraal, a great Belgian restaurant famous for its huge selection of beer and mussels!

After diner, Mom and Dad and Andrew and I wandered over to Trafalgar Square where I’d read that day that they’d just added lights to the fountains. We went into Albanach, a Scotch bar, and had one last drink with Mom and Dad in London.

Saturday, 30 May
Saturday morning we took the StreetCar and dropped Mom and Dad off the airport. We really wished that they could have stayed at least one more day! We so enjoyed our time with them and were very sorry to see them go.

1 comment:

geo said...

Wow! I'm impressed at your ability to do so much in such short time. Well done, Kelly! It's great to see that your parents got to enjoy the wonderful weather and all those cool places. I bet they will never ever forget their UK adventure.