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.
Day three in London began much earlier than the day before as we hopped on the District Line and headed to the Tower of London first thing. The view of the entire thing as we emerged from Tower Hill station was spectacular, with Tower Bridge and the Thames in the background. Our London Passes got us in the gate quickly and we wandered around a bit while awaiting the beginning of the next guided tour, an amazing must-do, in this tourist’s opinion. Our Yeoman Warder’s name was Jim and he was brilliant, filling us in on the history of the Tower, from the bits we knew to the many that we didn’t. Our tour began in what was the moat – now filled and covered with impeccable grass – moved on to Traitors’ Gate, and then many other sites before ending in the chapel. After, we made our way next door to the Crown Jewels, overwhelming in their beauty and quantity, and then we had a lovely lunch in the café before exploring some more on our own.
We then walked up to Tower Bridge and caught a bus (our first one and, unfortunately, not a double-decker one) to Borough Market where we wandered around the stalls. This California girl couldn’t resist buying a tiny loaf of sourdough bread (it wasn’t really sour at all by Northern California standards). We then hopped the Jubilee Line to Covent Garden where we wandered around the Seven Dials area, a nice little happenstance for me since The Seven Dials Mystery is my favourite Agatha Christie novel. My feet were threatening to detach themselves, so we popped into Shuh so that I could buy a pair of Toms (I didn’t bring any of the three pairs that I have at home), which will probably remain one of the best purchases of my trip. I wore them out of the store and my feet have thanked me ever since. A stop at Neal’s Yard Dairy got us some lovely goat cheese and then we hopped on the Piccadilly Line at Leicester Square.
We got off at Hyde Park Corner and wandered through the park for a very little ways (it’s a very big park and I plan to spend a day wandering all around it when I get back to London), turning around at the Serpentine and making our way back. Along the way, I saw my first bluebells, something that’s been on my list to see while I’m here for ages since we don’t have them at home. They were beautiful and there were white ones scattered amongst them as well. As we wandered through them, we met two very friendly – and hopeful – squirrels. Unfortunately, we had to disappoint them, since our sourdough bread and goat cheese were to be saved for later. We made our way back to the Tube and then to the Blackbird, the Earls Court pub that we ate at our first night. They did have the smoked fish pie this time around and it was very good…and very rich. C’s friend then met us there and we visited for a bit before we said goodnight and headed back to the flat. I’m still hoping to venture down to West Wittering tomorrow, so we’ll need an early start to catch the train from Victoria.