"No, Sir, when a man is tired of London,
he is tired of life;
he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."
I didn't get tired of London--but my feet were tired, I missed my kids and my husband and my suitcase was full, so I had to come home. :)
I got home Sunday at around 5 pm (midnight London time) and lasted until about 8:30 p.m. before I crashed, then I woke up at 2 a.m. (9 a.m. London time), bright-eyed and ready to go. Fortunately there were about 1000 items in my Google Reader so I whiled away the dark hours by catching up on what you all have been doing while I've been gone. I had to have a few short naps to get through the rest of the day but I managed to go to bed at a normal time and only woke up a little early this morning, so I think I've shaken my jet lag and I'm back to normal now.
I downloaded my photos this morning so I have a few favorites to share with you:
One of the reasons I wanted to go back to London so badly was because I spent a semester there in college in 1998, studying at the BYU London Centre. That was probably the most FUN four months of my entire life! I made lovely friends, saw amazing sights, learned lots, and didn't have to worry about a darn thing. It was wonderful, and I have so many fond memories of my time there that I still, 12 years later, have dreams that I'm in London. I was eager to revisit this happy place and curious to see how accurate my memories really were. In this photo I'm standing on the steps of the Centre, just before we rang the bell and went inside for a quick look around and to find my photo in the album of past group pictures. I was also tickled to find that my memories of the neighborhood are quite accurate and it looks very much the same as it did then.
On Tuesday night, my mom and I went to see Billy Elliot. We'd both seen the movie and liked it, and I liked the show more than I even expected. The boy who played Billy was excellent--it's got to be a lot of work to basically carry an entire stage musical at the age of only 12 or 13!
Linda, I thought of you the whole time I was there! It was hard to decide what treasures to bring home but I ended up with this adorable oilcloth Christmas apron and this set of tea towels in a perfect jadeite green. My mom bought a darling purse and I may regret not buying one too.
On Friday we visited the Museum of London, but I purposely planned our route to take us to King's Cross station just so we could visit Platform 9 3/4. We searched but couldn't find it (it's actually between 8 and 9, rather than 9 and 10) but my mom was brave enough to ask someone who directed us to it. We met another American Harry Potter fan there and took turns posing with each other's cameras. Thursday night was the big Harry Potter 7 part 1 movie premiere in Leicester Square, and we were within just blocks of it but didn't know! Too bad--we might have braved the crowds to see if we could have caught a glimpse of the movie's stars!
For this trip, we did something different--we rented a flat rather than staying in a hotel. Lodging in London is notoriously expensive and the one we found was more expensive than we'd hoped, but it turned out to be really wonderful and I think it was really worth the expense. It was right on Pall Mall, about a four-minute walk to the Piccadilly Circus tube station, a slightly longer walk to Trafalgar Square and just down the block from St. James's Palace. Across the street from our building were some of the most exclusive and hoity-toity men's clubs in London, including the Athenaeum. On the ground floor of our building was a business that sells superyachts, for the uber-wealthy for whom a regular yacht is just too dinky, I suppose.
Access to our flat was via five flights of stairs or the tiniest elevator I've ever seen. I think I've been in bigger phone booths! My mom and I barely fit at the same time, and whenever we rode I had a mini-panic attack from envisioning getting stuck in there, as most times we were entering or leaving the building in the morning or evening when nobody else was around. When we left with our suitcases we had to go one at a time and I had to send our bag of trash down by itself, because I would have had to carry it on my head to fit it into the lift with me and my suitcase and carry-on!
I didn't take as many photos as I had intended, a fact which I may regret later. Honestly, the weather was pretty yucky and gray and frequently windy and rainy--not exactly ideal photographic conditions, not to mention that it's hard to hold an umbrella and work a dSLR camera at the same time! I'll just have to be happy with the photos I took and hope that my memory holds up.
And couldn't Prince William and Kate have announced their engagement a week earlier? Viewing the aftermath of that would have been fun!