Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 23

Final salmon sandwich trip tally: 17
Distance flown: 10,702 miles

*apologies for this post being a day late – I was completely shattered after a VERY long day of travel*

I woke up on Day Twenty-Three on my last morning in London, wishing I could pause time and stay a little – or a lot – longer. Sadly, I couldn’t, so I said goodbye to the flat just before 10am and made my way to Paddington one last time with PJ in tow where I grabbed the last salmon sandwich of my trip and then caught the 10:25 Heathrow Express to Terminal 5. After checking PJ and going through security, I headed to British Airways’ South Lounge, curling up in a comfy chair with a cup of tea for an hour or so before I caught the transit out to Gate C65.


It wasn’t long before it was time to board and the A380 pushed back from the gate pretty much on schedule, although runway traffic at Heathrow meant an inevitable wait to take off. But we were eventually airborne. Settled into my Club World pod, I watched Sing during the main in-flight meal, rewatched How to Steal a Million (because I adore it), and then managed three hours of sleep. A Call the Midwife episode, Ratatouille, and a light meal later (part of which was smoked salmon), the Airbus touched down in a rainy San Francisco nearly eleven hours after taking off from London Heathrow.





After a short wait in customs and baggage claim, I caught BART to Concord where Dad was waiting to drive home through the heavy rain.

It never gets any easier to say goodbye, but I’ve had another absolutely amazing adventure that added more stars to my travel map. A massive “Thank You” to everyone who has followed this latest round of wanderings. I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on this little bliggity blog.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 22

Distance travelled: 5 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16

Day Twenty-Two was my last full day in London and the last non-travel day of my trip so I decided last night that I would cram as much wandering into it as my energy level would allow. I was ready to face the outside world just before 10am so I headed to Paddington to catch the Circle Line to Westminster in order to catch the River Bus down to Greenwich; I visited the Royal Observatory there on my last trip, but the weather was so wet and windy that I didn’t spend much time exploring and since I travelled on the Underground, I spent quite a bit of time on the three lines to get there and back. So, I thought a trip down the Thames in the sunshine would be a nice change in mode of travel. Once I’d alighted at Greenwich Pier, I spent some time wandering through the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College/University of Greenwich, glimpsing the Royal Observatory atop its hill and knowing I wouldn’t be trekking up there again this trip.




Anticipating grabbing a quick bite at Costa, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a Bill’s just down the street so I decided that that would be where I enjoyed the last lunch of my trip (and I did). After a yummy meal, I checked in for tomorrow’s flight (*sniffle*) and then meandered through Greenwich Market to the Cutty Sark before heading back to Greenwich Pier to catch the next westbound boat. 





I had intended to to disembark at Westminster Pier and take the Tube to Sloane Square so I could visit Saint Columba’s Church on Pont Street and then walk through Hyde Park and back to Paddington, but time and waning energy meant adding Saint Columba’s to next trip’s list of things to visit. So after hopping off the boat at Westminster, I caught the Jubilee Line to Green Park, made my way to and through Hyde Park (where the bluebells were out), and grabbed a final Costa panini at Paddington Station before heading back to the flat to do some packing. 


There will be one final post for tomorrow since my journey isn’t quite over yet, but as always, my time here has flown by and I’m not ready to say farewell. But it’s been another wonderful trip.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 21

Distance travelled: 6 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16 (still…although I did have a bagel with salmon spread, so…)

My plan for Day Twenty-One was to revisit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a place I’ve visited on my two previous solo trips and is probably one of my favourites. I managed to get up and moving and functional early enough to be ready in time to head to Paddington by 9:30, catching the District Line to Earls Court where I changed to a Richmond-bound District Line train, finally getting off at Kew Gardens, the Tube stop only a short, scenic walk from the Victoria Gate entrance. Although I’d visited twice before, the sheer size of the gardens and their seasonal changes mean there’s always something new to see, so I made a point of wandering paths and areas that I hadn’t on previous visits. I was so very glad I did when I came across a badger sett along the southern border (although the fluffy inhabitants were napping for the day); I saw quite a few other badger setts later on in areas I’d explored before, but without seeing that first one and its sign, I’m not sure that I would have known what they were.





There’s always an interesting juxtaposition at Kew as you walk through nature, often quiet except for beautiful birdsong…while every twenty or so seconds a jet goes roaring overhead with its gear down on its approach to Heathrow. Anyway, a little while later, a flash of blue in the woodland was something I had been desperately hoping to see on my visit: bluebells. I’m just a little bit obsessed with them as that particular bluebell isn’t found in North America at all (Virginia bluebells are a different plant) and a bluebell wood in bloom is a wondrous thing to behold. My first UK trip was in April and May during the height of bluebell season while my later two trips have been about a month earlier. Last year, I missed them completely so I was crossing my fingers that they would begin to emerge before I head home to the States on Thursday. Luckily, the bluebell gods smiled on me and while there weren’t the huge swatches of purplish blue that there will be later in the month, there were quite a few of them out and about throughout the gardens.





After going ga-ga over the bluebells and wandering through the rhododendron dell – which I always leave with the opening of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca running through my brain (“The rhododendrons stood fifty feet high…”) – I made my way to the Orangery for a bite of lunch, sitting outside to enjoy the cool weather while constantly being monitored by a magpie who would hop around on the umbrella above me and then peer down over the edge (I think he was eyeing my brownie). Side note: A sign in the rhododendron dell explained that scientists have found that the poisonous nectar of the invasive plants is toxic to honeybees (Read more…).










When I’d finished, I wandered over to Kew Palace and its Queen’s Garden before continuing on around the rest of the perimeter to the Alpine House, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, and the rock garden before passing the Palm House on my way back to the Victoria Gate and the garden shop in search of any new bluebell swag.









Successful, I said goodbye to Kew and walked back along Lichfield Road to the station to make my way back to Paddington, grabbing some groceries for dinner at the station’s M&S before heading back to the flat. Tomorrow is the last full day of my trip and I’ve a bit of an idea of how I’ll spend it.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 20

Distance travelled: 5.4 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16

I managed to stick to my plan to make an earlier start to Day Twenty and was on my way to Paddington by 10am to catch the Hammersmith and City Line to King’s Cross and then the Northern Line to Camden Town. A short walk from the station found me at Camden Market (an adventure inspired by C’s visits there during her trip) where I wandered and wandered, somewhat overwhelmed by its size and the number of stalls and shops. Eventually, I found the shop I was specifically looking for, one that specialises in vintage eyewear. Still coming to terms with the fact that I need specs (six months in and I haven’t quite accepted it yet), I thought perhaps I could find something fun and different, but just fun and different enough that I would actually have the confidence to wear in public when necessary. If the size of the market was overwhelming, it was nothing compared to the number of frames and the variety of styles featured in that shop. I wandered around for a little while on my own, amazed just by the number of cat eye frames – let alone all of the others – before a very nice chap helped me to pick out a pair (not cat eye but rather fun). As I’m heading home in a few days, I bought them without lenses and will take them in to have prescription ones put in when I get back.


I wandered through the market for awhile longer and after grabbing a bite – or two – to eat from the limitless options of food vendors, decided to make my way back to Paddington for a bit before it was time to head out to meet another friend for dinner. She’d made reservations at Rules in Covent Garden, considered London’s oldest restaurant and where parts of Downton Abbey were filmed. Catching up over delicious food was the perfect way to end the day, although it went by much too quickly.


Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 19

Distance travelled: 4.3 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16

I decided last night that I would spend Day Nineteen at Hampton Court Palace. I headed to Paddington around 10:30am and caught the District Line to Wimbledon where I then caught the train to Hampton Court. I spent a couple of hours wandering around, dodging strollers and selfie sticks, but stuck mostly to the gardens where there were fewer people (because I just didn’t feel up to “peopling” that much today). 






Walking along the canals in the Great Fountain Garden, I stopped to watch a heron and was surprised when two rather large koi swam by (somehow, I don’t think they were on its lunch menu). 



A little further along, I found myself being followed by a couple of ducks (I told them I had no duck snacks, but…) and near the bridge at the far end of the North Canal, I encountered a mum on a Sunday outing with her six ducklings, six waddling fluffy balls of adorableness. 






After watching them for quite awhile (Mum didn’t seem to mind), I decided to slowly make my way back through the palace to the train station, stopping to browse in the palace shops along the way. Two trains later, I was back at Paddington where I grabbed something for dinner and headed back to the flat. I’m going to try to get an earlier start tomorrow and hope to spend the morning/early afternoon exploring Camden Market.

Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 18

Distance travelled: 3.5 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 15

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Day Eighteen other than I had an absolutely wonderful time visiting with a friend who took the train into London to meet up. I headed for Paddington Station just after 9am and caught the Circle Line to Tower Hill where we met up at the Starbucks across from the Tower of London. We spent a few hours chatting and laughing and fangirling but the visit flew by and we eventually said goodbye, she caught a train home, and I caught another Thames Clipper at Tower Millennium Pier. I disembarked at the London Eye, bought an ice cream cone, and wandered along the south bank of the Thames, crossing the river at Waterloo Bridge. 




I then made my way through the Victoria Embankment Gardens, pausing to enjoy the sunshine and the scenery before catching the Tube at Embankment Station to head back to Paddington.


Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 17

Distance travelled: 6.75 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 15

When I finally went to bed last night, I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do on Day Seventeen. There was rain forecasted so I considered visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum since I never have, but when I woke up, the weather app showed that the rain would be moving out around 10am. So I decided to stick with my other plan of wandering east along the Thames starting at Embankment Station, something I had attempted to do on my last day in London last year but was foiled by wind and rain. Today I only encountered mild wind and very brief sprinkles so it was a much more successful excursion. 


I walked along the embankment until I reached the Millennium Bridge – spanning the Thames between St. Paul’s Cathedral and Shakespeare’s Globe – which I crossed and then crossed again so I could continue along the north river walk. 



After having my pic of the Shard photobombed by a pigeon…


…I eventually reached the Tower of London and while I didn’t visit it this time (I have twice before), I sat and had lunch at the neighbouring Pret. 



After lunch, I headed up to Tower Bridge to enjoy the view and the sunshine, but a back/shoulder ache from carrying a purse that I don’t know how to not fill with too many things and the beginnings of a headache led to the decision to catch a ferry at Tower Millennium Pier back to Westminster (since Oyster Cards are valid) and then the Tube back to Paddington. 





After a stop at Sainsbury’s for groceries, I made my way back to the flat for some caffeine and headache meds.