Okay, so. Saturday morning I woke up to some nasty banging at like 630. Not happy. Furthermore, I was puzzled. What on earth can someone be doing at that hour that sounds like steel poles raining in the street? Answer: constructing the booths for the Christmas Fair, an all-day flea market/eat fest/dancing/singing/parading event that culminated in the official lighting of the Christmas lights on the high street at 430 that evening.
By the time I got out of the house, the party was in full swing. I registered to win a VW Beetle, then met the girls at the Swan Revived, where they were staying. We intended to give the watery eggs another go, but the restaurant was full. They must not get a lot of requests for breakfast there, though, so they were very accommodating and settled us in the sitting lounge. This was MUCH better as, immediately outside the window, we had the back of a girls choir from the local school. They were singing lame Christmas songs that we didn't know (and a few we did, but always with the UK melodies, not the ones I'm used to.) We got to hear their lovely singing AND watch the behind the scenes squirming of the back row AND watch the hungover guys in the upper flat across the street drink tea and dance to make the kids laugh. The teenage girls were followed by a little kids choir...maybe 6 -8 years old, and then the crowd made way for the dancers. Kids were adorned in all sorts of tinsel and reindeer antlers and jingle bells and holiday garb. One pubescent young lady still hanging onto some baby fat even sported a formal gown with spaghetti straps, in spite of the 40 degree temps. (Having once been a pubescent young lady with baby fat myself, I can hear her mother tell her to be sensible and put on a jacket, but I'm sure she felt pretty and grown up and knew that fleece would mess with the lines of her dress.) The kids did all sorts of polkas and reels and spins and things. "This," exclaimed Karen, " is my favorite sight ever!" It really was pretty funny. I liked the aforementioned princess a lot, and I was also fond of the sloppy, chubby kid who didn't dance so much as get dragged around by the tiniest girl in the group. Oh, and we learned that non-scrambled eggs were passable and the bacon was MUCH better than the bangers.
Took the train to London and arrived around noon. I'd made arrangements at the ultra-posh Landmark Hotel, which was absolutely amazing. Our room was huge, and the bathroom was the size of my current flat. The hotel's right across the street from Marylebone Station, so it was easy to catch the tube wherever. Did some browsing in Kensington, had a delicious tea at the Kensington Palace Orangery, and then walked through Hyde Park to Knightsbridge for some time at Harrods.
It was a total zoo. The sidewalks were teaming with folks. Like you had to walk in the street at times to find space. Harrods was about the same. Monstrously crowded, lots of tourists, things WAY too expensive to buy. It was fun to try on the expensive clothes, though, so we browsed and modeled things we could never ever imagine buying. Karen tried on this fab Marina Rinaldi plaid coat, and as she went to model it she put her hand in the pocket and found a bunch of pistachio shells. I ask you....who puts pistachio shells in a £1500 coat pocket? Who puts pistachio shells in a £15 coat, for that matter? I mean, come on....have some manners.
Went to Leicester Square and had dinner at a great pasta restaurant.
Day Two: Shopping in Covent Garden, then dinner at a crazy hip chinese place in Soho called Yauatcha. We decided that the restaurant's target audience are extremely tall, extremely thin people. Since the menu is primarily dim sum, I suppose this works...lots of little dishes can make a complete meal seem like way too much food, so that's perfect for skinny folks. (Note to Tim Commers: you would HATE this place. Imagine a Chinese Solera...) All of patrons fit the body profile (the three of us being the notable exceptions), and the bathroom mirror required you to stand on their toes to see your face. Of course, being a hipster joint, the chairs were short and the tables were low...probably meant to be floor height for their giant patrons, but just slightly low to midgets like us. We loved it, and felt very, very cool.
Day Three: More shopping, this time at Liberty of London. Darlene and Karen spent the afternoon on their own, and I went back to the hotel to schmooze and say thanks for the great rate. Quick dinner, then I took the train home. The Girls stayed one more night in posh luxury, then flew home in the AM.
'Twas a fabulous time, and JUST A TASTE of what awaits those of you willing to drop some $$ on a trip. FYI, although there was much mention of shopping in this particular itinerary, keep in mind that it's near the holidays and that's what it's about. We can do other things, too.
It's 6PM on Friday, and I want to go home. So, more next week. Hope you're happy and well.