Wednesday, January 4th, London

Sleeping OK but not long enough; missing shirt?; by Tube back to Leicester Square; much more enjoyable visits to the Galleries; lunch at the Greene King; finding the the Agatha Christie memorial; St Paul's church; the London Transport Museum; to Laird's Hats to look for a better bowler; to James Smith & Sons & finding a cool walking stick; by cab back to Gloucester Road; Boots; where can I ship some stuff home?; dinner at the Light of India

Best Western the Cromwell



It's now only 10:30 PM as I sit down to type up my notes from today. This might mean I get to bed, and perhaps even to sleep, earlier than I've been doing lately. I'm having a cup of the hotel's OK instant decaf coffee with a shot of Waitrose's French brandy at the moment.

I didn't fall asleep much before 2 AM this morning and slept fairly well until about 8:30 or so. I wasn't very hungry so I had one of my Slimfasts instead of going downstairs for breakfast.

I showered & shaved and after I got dressed I started sorting out the laundry I had had done yesterday, which I hadn't had time to do last night. I wanted to leave out only however many shirts and t-shirts I need between tomorrow and leaving for home on Sunday and pack the rest. I noticed that although I was pretty sure I had sent in six shirts, since that's how many t-shirts and pairs of underwear and pairs of socks I got back, I only had five clean shirts. I called downstairs to the reception desk and they said they'd check with the laundry for me. A few minutes later one of my friends at the desk called to say the laundry would be dropping my shirt off a bit later this morning, and she brought it up for me before I left.

I wasn't in a hurry to get started this morning, primarily because I didn't have any plans for this evening and didn't want to finish where I had planned on going and get back here about 3 PM with nothing to do the rest of the day, so I hung out here until about 11 AM. Once again I wore one of my sweatshirts under my heavy winter coat and I still had to zip both of them up as much as I could and even put my fleece gloves without fingertips on later to stay warm.

Today I went to all of the places I thought I might want to last night and added two more. When I took the Tube over to Leicester Square I was delighted to see the train was once again much less busy than it had been last week or even this Monday so I could easily find a place to sit.

Today when I went to both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery they were both much less crowded than they had been last week, and that made it a lot easier to see the buildings themselves and the art work in them.

After I left the Portrait Gallery I stopped for a very nice lunch at the Greene King up by the Leicester Square Tube station on my way past it.

When I had been looking at Google Maps last night to see how far it was from the National Portrait Gallery on over to the London Transport Museum I noticed that two other places I wanted to go were on the way, the memorial to Agatha Christie in the West End, and St Paul's church, a lovely Inigo Jones building known as "the actor's church" because it's the parish church for Covent Garden and hence also the West End.

When I got to the Agatha Christie memorial, there was a guy busking and playing guitar out there in the cold. He was pretty good, so I bought one of his CDs before moving on. I don't think I spent much time in Covent Garden or at the market there on either of my trips to London before and I didn't today, since I wanted to possibly do some very specific shopping at two specific places, but St Paul's church is right next to it. I was very lucky because I went into the church right before it closed at 3:30 PM but had time for a nice look around and to take some pictures in another very lovely church.

It was a very short walk over to the London Transport Museum. This is another museum that's more geared (pub only semi-intended) for children and families, with real buses, train and Tube cars for people to go in and out of. It's very well done, and even enjoyable for someone like me who just cruises through (again, pun only semi-intended) without reading all the display signage.

When I was here in London last year, I bought a "fashion bowler" at one of the hat shops I visited and forgot to take a look before I left home to see which one it was. I do, however, remember that it's a very rigid hat and not very comfortable, so I thought I'd check out the one at Laird's and see if their current offering is better and more comfortable than the one I have at home. I probably should have called to check stock because when I got to their Covent Garden store, their smaller branch, they were out. I'll have to call their larger Soho store either tomorrow or Friday; that's not far from Piccadilly Circus and the Tube station there, which is only a few stops from Gloucester Road.

I had a very little bit of difficulty making it over to James Smith & Sons because at one point the directions from Google Maps were "head SW" on such a street but I soon figured out where I needed to go and got there a few minutes later. I love this place–all they do is sell umbrellas and canes & walking sticks. They had some nice hand carved ones, but they're not that different from the one I bought in Ft William this Summer. They did, however, have one from a very nice piece of wood with a cool decorative acrylic handle which I bought and am having shipped home for me.

By this time it was only about 4:30 PM but well on the way to getting dark. I had also been doing a lot of walking and my knees were bothering me a bit so I caught a cab and had him drop me off at the Gloucester Road Tube station. I wanted to stop by the Boots and pick up some presents for my family and my neighbors who are keeping an eye on my house for me.

On either my trip here to London this past July or July of last year I had some things shipped home. I was pretty sure I had gone somewhere down Cromwell Road past Harrods but when I checked Mail Boxes Etc online after I got back here to my room I learned there's one around the corner and down a few blocks I somehow must have walked past without noticing several times on my trips here.

I hung out here until about 7:30 when I set out to have dinner and make sure the MBE was there and I could find it. It was and I did. The MBE really is around the corner, and only a few blocks up Gloucester Road. Closer to the corner of Gloucester Road and Cromwell Road is a lovely and very nice Indian restaurant where I had eaten on my trip here last year but not this past summer, the Light of India. I had planned on eating there sometime this trip so that's where I went tonight.

So what am I going to do tomorrow? I haven't decided yet, except for going to the MBE. My podcaster friend Alan, who does the Copperplate Irish music podcast which seems to have vanished both from iTunes and its own web page, is going to call me tomorrow morning and we'll see if we can meet up somewhere for some coffee or a pint. I'll figure out what I'm going to do tomorrow after that.

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