While I wait for Emma to begin (I'm an hour behind on the iPlayer), I will write an update on my daytrip to London! Claudia, a close friend who happens to live at the other side of the world, e-mailed me recently with the good news that she would be visiting the UK this week! So I booked some super-cheap tickets with Grand Central to spend a day in the capital (which I am ashamed to say, I hardly know at all) and make the most of her being here!
I met Daniel at King's Cross, and we proceeded to Kensington to meet Claudia and Dan, where we ate and drank and wandered the day away, while catching up thoroughly on the past 2 years. The magic of the big city really captured me, and I found myself being taken in by it the way Paris, Munich and Budapest have each taken me in, one by one. I actually managed to be late meeting Claudia (I am never late unless exceptional circumstances get in the way); we had to stop every few minutes to gaze through windows into a different world: chandelier shops, mirror shops, private art studios, cupcake bakeries, pubs decked in flowers...the grandeur of Kensington was like nothing I'd seen before! But it wasn't a snooty, pretentious grandeur; it was magical, the kind of fairy tale grand involving princesses and palaces and things that just don't happen in real life.
After food and drink and a lot of conversation, we whiled the afternoon away in Kensington Gardens, where the colours haven't quite met the oranges and browns of York yet, but are still very yellow and green and alive. It was quite warm, and incredibly beautiful; the hubub of London had moved from the shopping streets to the park in the afternoon sunshine, and we were almost mowed down by people on bikes and rollerskates as we meandered along. The pace was much slower than I imagined, too; not the 'ratrace' (or metro boulot dodo, as the French so wonderfully put it) pace that I expected, even on a Saturday.
We ended our little reunion at the Princess Diana memorial, which was serene, and just as it you would hope it would be. Memorials can so often be a contentious subject, but this one to me is just right. It is moving, lively, loud in places and calm in others. People can paddle in it, sit on the edge in the sun, walk around it, or just look as they walk past. It looks on to a larger lake, and past that you can see the London Eye peeking over the trees.
When we'd said goodbye to Dan and Claudia, Daniel and I set out to Westminster Bridge to enjoy something of William Wordsworth. I hate visiting pinpoints of a city from its underground, so we went on foot in order to capture as much of London in one day as we could. We saw Buckingham Palace bathed in the beginnings of a lovely sunset, but unfortunately didn't make it as far as the Thames. Next time, for sure!
So lovely to see you both!!