Thursday, January 5th, London

Mailboxes Etc; asking for some more laundry bags & slips; morning off; Temple Church; lunch at a Pret a Manger; Savoy chapel; "Roman Baths"?; the Gallery at the Courtauld Institute; by cab back to the hotel; dinner at Garfunkel's; waiting for my podcaster friend then taking a bit of a walk to look for somewhere to have a pint

Best Western the Cromwell



I had a wonderful day today.

After I had breakfast downstairs, I came back up to my room long enough to put on my fleece vest, sweatshirt, and heavy winter coat before I went out to run my errands. I first wanted to stop by the Boots. I had bought several things there yesterday I was going to send home for presents (some of Boots' own label aftershaves for my brothers Michael & Tim and my nephew Nicholas) and wanted to see if they had a couple of them still in stock for myself. I then came back up here to pick up the bag of stuff (including some Irish perfumes I had bought for my sisters-in-law Renee & Jill and my niece Chelsea) I wanted to take to Mailboxes Etc to ship home. I was somewhat surprised and disappointed to learn that because they were small bottles of liquid I couldn't ship them but can take them with me in checked baggage. This won't be a problem because my heavy winter coat was in one of my suitcases and although I definitely won't need it when I get back home to S Florida on Sunday afternoon I will need to wear it here on the way to the airport, and I can wear it back home until I get to my private ride back to my house. The guy at MBE wrapped the items in bubble wrap for me, though, so nothing will break & leak in my suitcases on the long trip home.

I'm planning on having one last load of laundry done Saturday so I have to pack very few dirty clothes. I was out of the laundry bags & forms here in my room, so when I came back in I asked for them at the reception desk. They were out but were going to have housekeeping drop them off for me. When I came back to my room it was being cleaned so I just dropped my stuff off and didn't even take off my outer wear before going down to the lobby until my room was done. While I was here, though, another of the women from housekeeping came by with a laundry bag and two rolls of toilet paper but not the laundry form. Neither she nor the woman cleaning my room seemed to speak English well enough to understand my telling them what form I actually needed. I thought it was funny but I mentioned it to the person at the reception desk when I went back downstairs and when I came back up the right form had indeed been left for me.

It was about 10:30 AM when I came back up again. I sent Alan, my podcaster friend who does the Copperplate Irish music podcast (which had disppeared from iTunes and its usual online home), letting him know I was back in my room if he'd like to call and he did. We arranged to meet here about 8:30 this evening and would either have a pint in the very nice bar area on the ground floor or check out a couple of the pubs here in my area.

From then until a bit after noon I worked on where I wanted to go today and did some work on my lists of what's been played on the podcasts I listen to and keep track of. Alan's Copperplate was back online. (He told me this evening there'd been a bit of a problem with the podcast server host.)

I decided that today I'd go to several places that are fairly close to each other, checked their hours, and looked online to see where they are in relation to each other and how to get there and back. I wound up going to most of them, and only forgot one. I really enjoyed walking around another area of London I haven't spent a lot of time in on any of my two other trips here, and all four places I went to were ones I'd never been to before either. They were, in order of when they'd close, the Temple church, the Savoy chapel, the "Roman baths", the gallery at the Courtaud Institute of Art and the Victoria Embankment gardens. The gardens are the only place I forgot to go to.

I've often heard and read that the Temple church is one of the most unique and most beautiful churches here in London, and it's indeed one of the most unique and beautiful ones I've been to anywhere. I really loved it and was very impressed. It's also one of the oldest churches I've ever been to anywhere, being originally founded by the Knights Templar. Almost five hundred years after its founding and long after the fall of the Templars the area became the center of the legal profession and legal education in London. I even went up the scary (to me) and uneven stairs to the exhibition area in the dome with views all around of the space below.

On the way to my next location, I stopped at the first Pret a Manger where I could find a small table to sit at to have lunch. I forgot they do toasties (grilled sandwiches) there so I had a pretty good premade one with some very good banana bread.

The Savoy chapel, or to give its whole official name the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, is smaller and also a very lovely space. It, too, is very interesting. It doesn't belong to any denomination but only to the British royal family, specifically the Queen, her predecessors and her eventual successor. The people working there when I got there about twenty minutes before they closed at 4 PM were very pleasant and welcoming, and I really loved the place itself.

The next place I went is one of the oddest and most obscure places I've been to anywhere and was a bit hard to find even with Google Maps. It doesn't help that there are no signs anywhere announcing where you are. The place was the not really Roman and not really baths Roman Baths. There's not really a lot to see once you're there, just a couple of dark windows. When I was there today there was some construction scaffolding in front of them. I couldn't see anything through the windows but then I remembered that one of the web sites I had looked at mentioned to look for a switch on the exterior wall that turns on the light inside. At least I can say I've been to one of London's strangest tourist sites.

The last place I went to, the Gallery at the Courtauld Institute, was slightly hard to find only because I was still along the Thames when I brought up the directions how to get there. I was walking along in front of this big building, Somerset House, when the directions said "Turn left". I didn't at first believe or understand the directions but soon found the directional sign outside that directed me through the building, out into the huge courtyard that still has the skating rink (sponsored by Fortnum & Mason) and through to the street side where the Institute and Gallery are. The Courtauld gallery is a lovely if small place with a very nice and very impressive collection. There were a lot of pieces I liked very, very much.

I had planned on taking the Tube back here but I exited the gallery onto a major street where I saw lots of taxis so I caught one back here instead. I hung out here in my room until about 6:45 PM to go across the street to have dinner at Garfunkel's where I had a very good bit of chicken grilled with herbs and served with some of the best spinach I've ever had. I popped across the street to the Tesco Express to pick up small bottles of juice, milk and sparkling water and one of the mixed berries bowls. I could have gone to the very nice Waitrose as well, but the Tesco is much smaller so I could get in and out faster.

I came back up here to drop of my purchases and to use my own bathroom before going back downstairs and outside to wait for my podcaster friend, Alan. Alan was a bit late, almost not until 9 PM, but that was OK. I had nothing else planned for this evening. We could have had our drink in the hotel's very nice small bar area but we were both bundled up and it was a lovely if cold evening so we headed off around the corner and down the street. We at first went past the Stanhope Arms which is a still nice but older pub to try our luck at the Hereford Arms, the nicer, newer place I'd been to a couple of days ago. The Hereford was too busy and loud with a younger crowd. Not only could we not find an open small table the place was so loud we couldn't have heard each other to chat anyway. We headed back here towards the hotel but stopped at the Stanhope Arms just to see if we could find a free table and did indeed find a smaller table in a quiet corner away from the main bar area.

I've been listening to Alan's voice and his podcast for many years now and have always enjoyed it and his company. I really enjoyed meeting him in person when I was here in London the July before last and unfortunately due to his having been away for most of the time I was here in London this past July until the couple of days before I flew home and my having to wait on gettng my laptop fixed we couldn't get together then. It was fun meeting him again on this trip. After we each had our pint, I walked with Alan back up here to the hotel and around the corner to where he'd been able to park his car and watched him drive off. I told him to drive safely since I hope to hear his voice on his podcast again next week.

I then came back up here to my room and have been typing these notes since then.

I have another and my last concert at St Martin in the Fields tomorrow night so I think I'll try and go several places not too far away from there first. There are several free tours of the gallery at the Guildhall in the afternoon. I also want to stop by the Monument to the victims of the Great Fire of London which is open all the time since it's outside, although the interior does close. Visitors can climb all the way to the top of the interior but there are also monitors on the ground level showing a video feed from the camera at the very top.

I might also go to some other churches, a couple of which I've been to before–St Mary at Hill, St Mary le Bow, and St Sepulchre without Newgate.

If I'm in the area and have time, I might also stop by the London Coliseum, another of London's old large theaters primarily to take pictures. Or maybe I'll just head on over to Tate Modern which I didn't go to on either of my previous trips here.

And that's it for tonight. I'm going to watch one of my streaming programs and get to bed.

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