Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Traffic Jams

I had two quintessential English traffic jams today.

I had an appointment at Cranfield around lunchtime and I took the country backroads. When I reached the village of North Crawley, I had to pull aside to the let thirty horses and about twenty bloodhounds pass. You heard me. Thirty horses and twenty bloodhounds. It's not-hunting season. Since they banned hound use for hunting last year, there are regular displays of hunting support in the villages around the countryside. People openly defy the law, and villagers stand and wave/cheer when they parade through the town. I'd seen pictures, but never actually seen the real thing. They were all smiling and laughing and seemed to be having the time of their lives. I'm not a hunter and I hate horses, but even I wished momentarily that I could join them in their chase.

Then, midafternoon, I headed into London for an early evening cocktail/dinner thing hosted by one of our hotel chains. I got into the city just in time to cram myself into a Victoria line train to get me down to Oxford Street. It was a nice night and I had some extra time to kill, so rather than transferring to the Central, I went above ground and walked in the throngs. I love crowded streets in London. You hear every accent imaginable. At one point I even think I was surrounded by Americans. Street vendors sell all manner of crap, fascinating stuff to stop and look at along the way. Need a Union Jack thong? Got it. A dog collar with Scottie dogs all over it. Okey doke. A glass bong in the shape of a cobra. Roger that. You name it, you can find it.

Realised I'd forgotten my lipstick at home and so I popped into Selfridges and begged the nice lady at the Trish McEvoy counter to save me. Not only did she set me up with a berry lip pencil and a gloss called "pretty," she helped me touch up my makeup just because.

Ended up right on time for cocktail and dinner at the Home House, a members-only dining club that is housed in a lovely 18th century townhouse on the edge of Portman Square. It's quite unassuming from the outside, but inside it has lovely double-spiral marble staircases and frescos and chandeliers and decorative plasterwork. Dinner was delicious. Asparagus with black truffle vinaigrette, beef wellington, and a bramley apple tart with cinnamon ice cream. Fabulous wines. Gracious hosts. Excellent evening, all in all.

Even had good train karma, catching a Virgin fast train at 1040. Not only does it get you here in half the time, it's a higher class of drunk than you usual Silverlink service at that time of night. At not one person near me was eating Burger King. Always a plus.


Beth said...

How very British. And I'm very jealous. I bet you're loving your time in London.

Melinda June said...

Isn't that just a day?