Initially, we didn’t plan to make this trip to England a marathon of touring, but our London Pass book listed so many compelling attractions. I think we hit half of them on this single Saturday.
How could I, a reader and writer of mysteries, pass up a chance to visit 221B Baker Street, the “home” of Sherlock Holmes? You know you’re in the right place because a uniformed London “bobby” complete with “flowerpot” helmet is stationed at the door. The first floor study overlooking Baker Street is maintained as it was kept in Victorian times. We didn’t do the museum tour although we did visit the gift shop where I would have bought a deerstalker hat if I didn’t already have one (yes, I do!). More evocative for me was the Baker Street Tube station. White ceramic subway tile, arches and alcoves, iron- and woodwork and tungsten lamps in their original fixtures create an ambience that harkens back to Sherlock Holmes’s day.
From there we walked through Regent’s Park, where people were playing tennis, cricket and football, exercising their dogs and generally enjoying this huge (410 acres), beautiful park. We emerged in Camden Town and the Captain, who had been avowing that he could never again live in London because it’s changed so much, said he could see himself living in Camden Town. Maybe he was mellowed by the pint he enjoyed at the pub where we stopped for lunch.
We then took the Tube to Covent Garden. There was a crowd waiting for the lift (elevator) to get to the street level so we took the stairs. All 193 of them. The equivalent of climbing a 15-floor building. We will NOT be doing that again! As we neared the Covent Garden Market, I spied an Apple store. Having just acquired an iPhone, I thought I’d see if I could find a pretty case for it. As much shrine as store, the place was three floors filled with tables demo’ing every possible Apple device, and jammed with people trying them out.
On to Covent Garden Market where, there being a little bit of winter holiday left, chestnuts roasted on a open fire. For shopping extravaganza, I liked Covent Garden Market better than Harrods. At the street level, the boutiques appear to be small, but stairs lead down to much more store. Not only were there scores of cool shops there were buskers — jugglers, musicians and magicians — to provide entertainment. I could have windowshopped for hours, but there was one more treat that we had been promising ourselves.
Time for high tea at John Lewis. “High tea” is different from cream tea, which is intended to be a snack (despite the substantial calories in the clotted cream and scones!). High tea is more of a meal. John Lewis is a big deparment store with a food hall, bistro and The Brasserie where we had tea, with little crustless sandwiches and tiny decorated cakes served on tiered stands. We could easily have split a single serving but our London Pass gave us a second at half-price. We ended up taking the extras and eating them for dinner while we packed for the next day’s trip home.
Tomorrow: one last treat