London – Day 1

I do not know how I am still awake to be writing this. Why my body has not gone into shutdown mode I do not know. I had the worst sleep in my life, maybe three hours at most. Miss Pretzel Bitch who wanted me to do dental work on her, at least I assumed so by the way she shoved her seat into my lap, was of no help. I turned and twisted and contorted my spine into positions it should never assume, but somehow, I managed, and was actually not bothered much. It was the oddest thing, but I felt more alert with the little sleep I had than I usually do when I sleep for the usual seven.

As the rest of my cabin mates came round, I opened my porthole window and was blinded by the bright sun. It was like looking into a white hot fireball. As my eyes adjusted to the light I watched as we flew over the coast of Northern Ireland. It looks absolutely stunning, I will have to holiday there sometime soon.

We were served breakfast, then. I believe it was some kind of egg sandwich, but I’m not sure what it was really. It was nothing but sustenance, nothing that needed to be tried again. As I munched on my breakfast and washed down the dry, chewy bread with copious swallows of orange juice, I looked out over the water again. We had left Ireland behind and were nearing Wales. I was absolutely delighted to see wind turbines in the middle of the Irish Sea! What a great idea. Few things make me more excited than air turbines. I’m serious.

As we neared England, one of the first class stewardesses began gabbing away with an annoying passenger two seats ahead of me. She gave suggestion after suggestion and inside secret after inside secret (that any free guidebook would have given) and would not shut up. Exhaustingly chatty. She then offered the woman a bottle of Benadryl so that she could sleep through the night! Entirely inappropriate.

We flew lower and lower to the ground and I began to see roundabouts. Earlier I said that air turbines make me excited, well, so do roundabouts. They are so clever and ecologically sound and sexy. Yes, roundabouts are sexy. This video perfectly illustrates my love.

Our flight was about ten minutes early, so the pilot had to fly around in circles for some time, which was interesting. We were fairly close to the ground so I could begin to see the beautiful homes and shanties. Many lovely gardens. Then finally we landed.

Behind us was the dumbest man I have met in a good long time. He talked in a Michael Jackson like voice (no offense meant, but that is what he sounded like.) When we landed he stood up and began speaking to us. What follows is the dialogue:

HIM:    “Where are you from?”

US:      “Iowa.”

HIM:    “Iowa. Wow. You’re on vacation?”

US:      “Yes. Here for the wedding.”

HIM:    “Wedding?”

US:      “The wedding?”

HIM:    “Oh! You have family in England?”

US:      “No. The royal wedding.”

HIM:    “Oh, wow! Who’s getting married?”

It went on like this for a long time. I was glad to finally lose him in immigration. Speaking of immigration, I was beyond pissed when the guard did not even blink at my picture. If I were an immigration officer, I would not have let me in the country without a second form of identification. Then again, I would get so bored of that job after a day and half, so I would let anybody in probably.

Ma and I had a small spat at the Tube station to town when she acted like she did not understand how to use a credit card. American credit cards rarely, if ever, work in European vending machines, but there was no harm in trying. It made her mean. We finally got tickets from the booth and were on our way.

This was a long ride and there was a very annoying woman having a very one-sided phone conversation. What follows is the dialogue:

“Darling? Darling? Can you? Can? Darling, can you hear me? Hear me? Oh! Yes. I’m just leaving Heathrow. Fabulous. Fabulous.”

[I got bored for awhile here.]

“Yes, well when I was in Beirut, you know, I made acquaintances with the natives. Lovely people. My boys wanted to take the children at our hotel out to dinner, so we did, but they wanted to return the favor. I was not having my children go gallivanting off to some goat slaughter tent for a laugh.”

This was actually said. Goat slaughter tent. I know!

She finally hung up and I was able to pay attention to the outskirts of London. It is a lovely little shantytown out there. The houses all look as if they were built one room at a time with no real plan of keeping the architectural styles similar, so, they all look like a jumbled mess. It has a certain kind of charm, though. Lots of flowers were in bloom, too, so it was a lovely ride into London.

The hotel, The Trebovir, is absolutely charming. Spacious, by European standards, with very modern amenities and a plethora of outlets. A big step up from the last hotel I stayed at here, The Tavistock Hotel. Nasty dump of a place. Plus, they have a tea kettle built into the wall. Chic!

It was only 12:30 in the afternoon, so there was still a full day left to do things. I love doing things. First we stopped for a little bite. I had a cheese and onion pasty (my new favorite food) and an espresso at a nice little shop outside the Tube station called Gregg’s.

With the Royal Wedding tomorrow, we decided to go out and walk the route, pick a good place to watch and peek at all the lunatics that were burning with Royalist fervor. Or now that I think about it, they just wanted to be on the news. Good on them!

We left for Westminster, which is always a great place to start a trip to London, it is familiar to everybody and is a comfortable place to begin.

What are you doing here, Abe?

The Union Jacks were all aflutter along the route. It was so festive and patriotic!

I fully intend to build a house like this someday. It is everything I want.

And this statue will guard my house. Bitchin kitten.

We walked around a few quiet streets off the procession route and chatted with a very friendly police officer. She had the day off for the Wedding. She would have liked to work at it, but is going to sit in her apartment instead. She was inquisitive and polite, a trait that seems to be true for all the members of the British police. They are lovely people–for the most part eager and willing to be of assistance.

Every time I am in London, I see these lamp posts and I say to myself, “When did Chanel start designing for cities? I best invest…” I did some research and discovered that the interlocking C’s are not a Chanel original. They were the signature of Catherine de Medici long before Chanel came around. I cannot find this verified anywhere online, but I read it in The Secret of Chanel No. 5 by Tilar J. Mazzeo. Fascinating book, by the way. Anyway the British royal family has connections to the Medici’s so, there’s the double C.

Here is the entrance to Westminster Abbey where all the royals, celebrities, and boring commoners will pass through. Everybody was eager to get a view and take a few pictures before madness breaks out tomorrow.

At about this point, I discovered I had gone British and had begun to affect the accent. This always happens to me. Whenever I watch French & Saunders, or Absolutely Fabulous, or Miranda, or any of my beloved British sitcoms I start to mimic them. I hope I don’t offend anybody or have anybody realize that I’m faking it. There are so many variants of the accent though with the diverse population that I don’t think anybody would notice it.

I now present you with MEDIA FRENZY!

All the major news outlets were getting ready for the big day tomorrow. There were so many of them here and in the streets talking to the crazies, which you will see below.

Bets were being taken on the color of the Queen’s hat. What do you think it will be?

This woman has brought shame to my homeland.

Unfortunately, these masks were sold out everywhere. I couldn’t find anybody.

The British have hillbillies, too.

This man is crazy. The police woman told me that he is well known to them. He is not dangerous, just out of his mind. He was the first person to wait for the wedding and was profiled on Good Morning America. Because of this, he is officially the first celebrity spotted.

After the madness of this area, we took a walk on a quiet street called Buckingham Gate Road. It was filled with beautiful buildings and ancient trees. Very quiet and calm. I saw this schoolhouse which was built in 1688. To an American mind like mine this is absolutely ancient. I am charmed at the way antiquated buildings, many dating from about this time, are interspersed by newer ones. The British seem to appreciate their history, back home, we seem to just knock it over and build a skyscraper on top.

As we rounded the corner we came to Buckingham Palace, and with the flag waving proudly at the top we knew that the Queen was in. I was going to stop in and ask her where my invitation was, I’m sure it simply got lost, but surely she had more important things to do. Picking hats and such, you know.

There were many people mulling about but it was not insane. We got congested several times and came to complete standstills, but it was only passing and it was not too difficult to get where we needed to be.

Mother had to pee and when she saw this:

Her bladder about exploded with glee. Unfortunately for her, these portable toilets were on their way somewhere and were not about to stop for her. She about cried, so we went over to Green Park where she saw another set of toilets and befriended a child after they bonded over sanitation and toilet paper.

While she was doing this I was walking around the park. It was gorgeous. Beautiful trees and sunlight and pleasant people around a lovely fountain. Did you like all those adjectives? I studied the ruler I bought at Westminster Abbey that listed all the monarchs and waited for her.

Once she had managed to find a place to relieve herself, we went around the Victoria Monument back around to the street where we had entered. It was a bit crazier over here and many people, us included, had to skip off the path and onto the grass to get anywhere. So naughty. Then I had to snap a photo.

When I’m on America’s Next Top Model, Tyra is going to yell at me for always posing in profile like she did to Heather. I cannot help it that I have a good nose, Tyra!

There was a sunken park/lake area with gorgeous flowers, so, of course we went down!

This place is now one of my favorites in London. It’s so relaxing. I would love to come here on a nice day and lounge in the grass with a good book or just take a nap. Probably nap.

We still had many, many things to do so we headed up the road towards the Buckingham Palace Gift Shop. I passed my future townhouse:

Is it not everything you could ever ask for? That number! Gagging on it! This is going in my idea scrapbook. LOVES IT!

At the gift shop I bought myself a Buckingham Palace pen, a commemorative tea towel, and a tube of Official Royal Lemon Cookies, which are divine. I haven’t had a manufactured cookie that good since…well never. I would devour the entire tube, but thankfully I leave them in the hotel and I cannot nibble at them all day.

We took our purchases back to the hotel and stopped for a pasty at another shop. I had another cheese and onion one and it was good. Better than the other one.

Here is a view of the insanely long escalator only halfway down. I am positive these people put on a disgusting display of public affection just to ruin my shot and make it all about them.

We popped out of the tube station, and there it was–Harrod’s! Are we all squealing? Well, we should be. I had an absolutely enchanting time. We went to Ladurée, a famous Parisian teahouse, that has an outlet in London inside of Harrod’s. I have heard nothing but goodness about their macarons, so I went in and bought a box of six. I also wanted to get a copy of Ladurée Sucré, which is impossible to find. I was thwarted again by greedy shoppers and there were none left for me. Bitch face.

There was a display of wedding cakes in preparation for the Royal Wedding. They all sucked–except for this one. It was so intricate. The bakers made tiles out of piped meringue and then glued them onto the sides of cake with frosting. This is lazy genius. Piping frosting is hard. It is squishy and it moves. Once you pipe out a meringue and let it dry, it is hard and you don’t have to worry about it, unless it breaks. I applaud them.

After snooping about the teahouse we went on a browsing spree about the department store. We looked at the puppies in the pet store. Where there was the most adorable dog. He wanted the tennis ball so bad:

We snooped around a bit more and then headed off for the British Museum. It was supposed to be open late, but it was not. Pissy face. I love the British Museum–will have to try again tomorrow.

Since we had nothing much more to do, I decided to take mother around Russell Square Park, my favorite spot in London. It is a simple little park, but it is very quiet and intriguingly laid out. I loved eating a picnic breakfast here the last time I was in London. They had black tulips, too! I love them.

I love jumping. I also love trellises.

I showed her the hotel I stayed at and then we stopped in a little grocery store where I found my favorite guilty snack: roast chicken chips. I know–I’m a vegetarian, but I checked and it was all artificial so it is all good. SO GOOD.

We rode back to the hotel and went to a nice little Italian restaurant called Zizzi’s. They had the most interesting use of round discs of wood as decor. Ma had spaghetti and I had a dish called Fettuccine con Polpette de Spinaci. It was fettuccine with spinach balls. Very good, but too spicy for my taste. A pinch of red pepper flakes is good, a tablespoon is not.

To soothe my burning tongue, I bought a mint magnum bar from another little grocery store and enjoyed every bite. J’adore Magnum Bars! They are distributed nationwide back home now, so go and get yourself a box. You will be worshipping me for the suggestion. I have never seen the mint one back home, though, but it might be there.

Back at the hotel, I had to test the Ladurée macarons and I was both delighted and disgusted to find that they were beyond mediocre and not up to my standards. I have awarded myself the honor of best macaron maker in America and I take great offense in being charged three dollars for a bite of something lame that I can make at home for $.27! I had raspberry, chocolate, lemon, green apple, and passionfruit. The green apple was the only one that was interesting, but not worth it. Not at all. Disappointed face. But, the packaging was sexy.

Well, I’ve gorged myself. Got to get up in the morning to see the Royals. I am pretty sure Camilla will invite me to tea and I am super jazzed to wear me new Royal Wedding outfit. I’ll give you a taste (I’m sure this is more suspenseful then guessing who designed Kate’s wedding dress!)–sexy, modern sailor stripes.

Night, sweetie darlings.

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