Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Monday, April 29, 2024. Misery Tour.


I rarely get a good night’s sleep, but after not sleeping on the plane - being awake for 24 hours or something - I slept pretty good. I called Gail in the morning and we went over the plan for the day. They were free after eleven and would come and collect us at the hotel. Hooray! We didn't have to figure out how to get to their house!

I got dressed and went scrounging. My sister's suitcase hadn’t arrived so she needed some things from the drug store. I also knew she wanted to try some pastries while in London, so I walked to Queensway - a busy street of restaurant and shops - and searched for Boots (a drugstore) and bakeries. Boots was quite a way up the street and that was my first goal. I needed to get the supplies and would worry about food afterward.

We had gone into a Boots on the Kensington High Street on Sunday evening, but didn't realize that they had an actual normal pharmacy area downstairs. The one we went into looked like a high-end cosmetics store, like Sephora, so we didn't find what we needed. The one on Queensway was less fancy and the pharmacy was apparent as soon as I walked inside. I found what I think I needed (many stupid things have different names, so you can't be sure all the time) and checked out. Turns out, it was the right thing. Woo-hoo!

I went back down the road toward Bayswater, looking for food now. I found one place that served several kinds of croissants and got two pain au chocolat. I then found a place called Mr. Power which had a dessert display window. I asked for them to recommend the best item they made, but the woman working there didn’t really speak English. Her brother came over and pointed to a few things. I bought an Opera cake and a raspberry cheesecake slice and headed back to the hotel.


Cynthia and I split the cakes/pastries, just to try them both. The Opera cake had coffee in it, so I thought it was disgusting. The raspberry cheesecake was ok, but not good enough to have again. The pain au chocolat was fine, but could have used a bit more chocolat.

Shortly after 11, Gail and Charles collected us in Charles’ convertible. Then they drove us all around town on the “misery tour.” It was a beautiful sunny day, but cool, so Gail brought a puffer vest for my sister to wear. She also supplied us with flatcaps. We both thought the caps were cute and decided we should buy some before leaving London.



(Some of the sights from the car tour.)

Charles' tour took us past all the sights, including the house on Avalon Road where Gail’s mom, Ruth (from singing Thursday) grew up. I think it was a council house (like a housing project) when Ruth lived there, but isn’t now. A house on that road is currently for sale for £2.1 million! Yikes! The Misery Tour took us over the bridge and we drove back toward Chelsea on the south side of the river.

(Avalon Road)

Back near Gail and Charles' house, we went to The Chelsea Arts Club for lunch. Gail is a member. She’s a portrait artist. Here's her website if you want to commission a painting. She does people and dogs! The Chelsea Arts Club has a strict "no camera" rule, so there are no pictures from the inside. For lunch, I had a cheese toasty with chips. Very nice. Cynthia had hummus which had pomegranate seeds in it. Gail took us for a little tour of the club and then we headed off to their house. While at the club, we did get in a conversation with a German woman, Elsa, and her American husband, mostly about how bad they think the US is. She made a particular mention of our homeless problems in the US, so my trip was colored by this for the rest of the time. I paid special attention, looking for homeless people and I have some thoughts now, maybe for a wrap up post.

Back at the house, we had a cup of tea and got to see Gail’s art studio. (https://gailgraham.co.uk/) Their house is cozy and inviting. It feels like people live there, not like a showroom, which is how a home should feel. While at their house, Gail supplied us with Oyster cards and gave us basic instructions on how they work, to make our subway trips easier.

Then we went to The Fox and Pheasant for drinks and snacks. This pub, which is walking distance to their home, is owned by James Blunt (You're Beautiful). It was packed! I asked for juice and was given large glasses of both cranberry and apple juice. Hooray! Large glasses and two of them! English people must be dehydrated, the drinks are so small.

(Me, Gail and Cynthia at The Fox & Pheasant.)

We ordered more chips (yes, please) and some cheese and mushroom bread. After the pub, Gail paid for a car to return us to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, there was still no suitcase. But at least things didn’t close at 6 on Monday…they closed at 8. We had some time to do some shopping for Tuesday. The hotel was about a mile from the end of a large, fancy shopping area, Oxford Street, so we walked down there to shop for clean clothes for Cynthia to wear to Stonehenge the next day. We went in a shop called Primark, which was open later than most, and Cynthia found some discount clothes. She said she looked like a retired ballerina in the outfit she put together.

By then it was dark and Cynthia was not comfortable walking back the mile or so to the hotel, so we took the Tube. It wasn’t crowded and a worker was able to help us figure out putting money on the Oyster cards. Marble Arch to Lancaster Gate and back “home.”


(There was a rat in the subway. It was licking the floor.)

We had to get to sleep because we had a coach (bus) to catch at 8:15 in the morning! That meant we had to be at the station at 7:15 and wake up by like, 6:15! I planned this…

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