We spent most of the day separately. Leslie and I had planned to spend Friday each doing what we wanted in London and would meet up at the end of the day. She needed to stop by the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre for a little business and then head to the Kew Gardens. Of course, the one day we split is the day she meets the British actor, Hugh Bonneville. Click here to read Leslie's story.
That same day was also the day London introduced its new cycling program (or scheme, as they like to call it). In partnership with Barclays, London is trying to alleviate the crazy traffic issues by providing bike stations throughout the City. This is similar to the Velib bikes in Paris. Basically, you pay an annual membership fee, pick-up a bike at a station located throughout the city, ride it to the station closest to your destination, and drop off the bike.
During the day, I passed by six bike stations, so it would have worked great for me on my walking route. However, I would need nerves of steel to ride a bike in London. There are no designated bike lanes, and I cannot emphasize enough how congested traffic is in London. But my hat's off to those hardy souls who brave riding a bike in London.
So, follow me as I spend some time wandering around London stopping by new and old favorites. First, we will tube it to Persephone Books which is not far from the British Museum. Persephone Books is a small publishing company, but wait, let's read their description:
"Persephone prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. The titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget. We sell mainly through mail order, through selected shops and we have our own shop."
For me, this is one of those, "Why didn't I think of that?", businesses. I love the concept and I love the style in which they execute their business plan.
This is the cute street in which they are housed--Lambs Conduit Street.
And this is cute Miranda (check out her darling blog) who helped me select SIX books (yes, I shipped them home). One of the books was for Leslie who instructed me to purchase, "a happy, happy book with a happy ending". Miranda was super helpful in filling that order. Which, by the way, the book selected was Mariana by Monica Dickens (Charles' daughter) and Leslie was very happy. In fact, you can read her review here.
So after a spending time browsing through this darling shop, I bid adieu and walked toward the British Museum. But of course, since this is London, there are lots of fun sights along the way.
I wonder if anyone has stopped to count or to take pictures of all the pretty fountains in London (hmmm, maybe I should do that?). This is one of a woman pouring water from an urn. Her face is blackened so it was hard to capture a good picture but the look on her face matched my mood--to be content in the moment.
Don't know if this building is filled with office space, residential apartments, or a mix. But the color of the stone is stunning.
Isn't it great that there is such a thing as the UK Tea Council?
Because it is such a pretty day, we are going to keep walking right past the tube station and revel in our surroundings. We will be rewarded.
See, it didn't take long to come upon something beautiful and mysterious. Where do these gates lead?
Just look at this gate. If we were in a tube we would have missed it! I asked someone if this was some type of royal residence but was told no, just the gate to an apartment building. My word, it is beautiful. Just entering those gates would reduce the stress of the day.
It's time for a break and with all of the steps and half-walls surrounding the British Museum, this is a perfect place to relax and do some people-watching (and to drink a luke-warm Diet Coke, me: Is it cold? vendor: of course, Miss).
Just around the corner from the British Museum is my favorite art gallery, Abbott and Holder. Several years ago I purchased from them two faded 18th Century water colors drawn by a French furniture shop. My sister, Lori, purchased a few more, and since then I've regretted not purchasing the remainder of the lot.
So, of course, a stop at this little gem was a must.
I plowed through three floors of lots and lots of stacked water colors, prints, etc. Nothing. But then Phillip, the manager, said he thought he had a few tucked away. I came. I looked. I bought. Five. Happy, happy.
After leaving Abbott and Holder I noticed the Robert Kime shop down the road. Notice the Royal Warrant logo on the upper left side of his sign. That means he has supplied goods and services to the Queen for at least five years. His fabrics would suit my home beautifully. Alas, I couldn't afford a pillow in his shop. But it's always fun to take a peak.
Interesting statue. Wouldn't work well in my home.
I love this ottoman. It would be perfect in my family room, don't you think? Sitting on top of that same rug, of course. The ottoman was over 2,000 GBP meaning around $3,000 USD. In other words, not in my home nor on its way to me.
After walking a few more blocks, I succumbed and took the tube to Oxford Circus (the absolute craziest tube station in London). But we are greatly rewarded as we exit the station, turn the corner, and there in all her glory is Liberty (not the statue, the famous London department store). Let's have a moment of silence.
Greeting us as we enter are bunches and bunches of the most romantic, welcoming, and heart-lifting flowers. In fact, the word "flower" does not do these pretties any justice.
I explored each one of the floors thoroughly taking my time and enjoying my surroundings.
Lamp shades galore.
And this good looking bunch.
By now it is 2:30 and we're ready for a little sustenance. How considerate to have a tea room and a cafe all under one roof. I opted for Liberty Cafe since i needed more than tea and scones. Wish I had a photo of that room with me seated upon a cushion surrounded by down-filled pillows, sipping my soup and drinking a cold soda with ice cubes (more than three floating on the top). Heaven.
Well, it's now time to start making our way back to the hotel to meet up with Leslie. But first, a walk through the park.
London has so many pretty parks that dot the city. Look on any London map and you will see roads laid out like cooked noodles but you will also see lots of green space tucked through out. What a treat to find something gorgeous to look at just when you need a little time out after walking, shopping, walking, and shopping.
Leslie and I met up for a quick dinner at Wagamama and then hightailed it over to the National Gallery of Art for its Talk and Draw class. We missed the first few minutes of the lecture but spent 30 minutes quickly sketching the painting we observed. Thankfully, neither of us took any pictures of our artwork so there is no proof of our skill level.
Next up: London Part 3