Day 3: London

I didn’t want to wake up now that I was finally in a real bed. Last night I slept on a plane, the night before I slept on a bus. It was terrible for me. I’m like that princess that can feel a pea under her pillow, except I’m much more sensitive. I could feel a lentil under my mattress. I don’t need my beauty sleep, you know, but I do like getting it. It’s rather wonderful to be refreshed.

So, I drug myself out of bed and into some clothes and then down the steps to the breakfast room. I would have done something to my hair, but breakfast was being served and my hair takes maneuvering. It’s not hard to do, it’s just hard to get right. I don’t want to be seen when it isn’t right. So, I just went down with the craziest bed head I think I’ve ever had.

Breakfast was massive. There was delicious apple cider, at least ten varieties of cheeses, croissants, brioche, every conceivable jam, several fruits, poached eggs, orange juice, tea, and more. My mouth was exhausted from the effort of chewing it all. Delicious, though. The croissants seemed homemade and were some of the flakiest I have ever had.

With breakfast out of the way, we made our way to the Highgate Cemetery to catch one of the hourly tours. I can’t recall what first put this on my radar. It could have been the legend of the Highgate vampire, but I’m sure it was something to do with the novel Dracula. One of the book’s pivotal scenes takes place there. It wasn’t an easy place to get to, we had to take a bus. You know how I feel about buses. They confuse me and they’re full of confusing people. Thankfully, everything went fine and we found the place we needed to be. We walked through a lovely park that was filled with people and were soon at the imposing gates of the cemetery. They were quite dramatic, I appreciated the flair.

[Every time I see a palm tree in London, I get pissy. I want palm trees!][Made me laugh. What a short period for humps.][Gorgeous wrought iron fences.][The entrance to Highgate Cemetery was wonderfully imposing.]

The whole place was gorgeously dilapidated, but before we could go inside, we had to pay a bit. I looked at the ten pound note and smirked that Charles Darwin was on such a common piece of money. Such a thing would never happen back home in America. There would be some protest and we would end up with Jesus on the penny or something. Americans are weird about religion. It bothers me, but this has nothing to do with the tour.

I don’t like tour groups because I think they’re usually full of sour prudes and pushy people and this is always true–aside from me and whoever I’m with, but this time, we got actual personalities. Portuguese vampires! They were swaddled in black, pale as could be, their eyeliner could have used some work, but they overall effect was magnificent. My applause to them.

I was most looking forward to seeing the Egyptian Avenue, and it was just as spectacular as I could have hoped. In the Victorian Era, when this cemetery was being constructed, ancient Egyptian motifs were all the rage. I hope that comes back into trend soon. Will I be responsible for it? I’ll do my best if it’s up to me. Anyway, the entire structure is designed to look like an ancient Egyptian temple, and it was quite beautiful. Down the alley were familial vaults with heavy iron gates and upside down locks. These inverted locks symbolized death. Outside the Egyptian Avenue was something called (not sure on the exact term now) Cedar Circle or Cedar Rotunda. It was a double lined circle of vaults that contained a pathway and a massive cedar tree. Quite a stunning effect.

The tour continued and pointed out all the most famous tombs: the lion, the dog, and the sleeping angel. I was most touched by the lion because they’re my favorite animal and I want one. This sculpture was so beautiful. It makes one a bit weepy. The rest of the cemetery passed by quickly. We visited the catacombs, which were on the list for restoration, they’ve suffered a lot of damage.

 

There was even a rather tame fox out on the tour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fox before.

It was a lovely cemetery and I highly suggest you visit. I’d still rather be buried in Père Lachaise, but if that doesn’t work out, this cemetery will do just fine.

 

On the way back we saw a chilled kitten and a poster for the new Jennifer Saunders penned musical based on the music of the Spice Girls!

After that we quickly returned to the bed and breakfast to find Jessica still unprepared to begin the day. Shame on her. So, after she finally prepped herself, we were back on the town. There were triplets on the train into London and they were teasing each other and their mother said, “Oh, punch him in the face!” I was amused. I’m going to be an awful parent.

We were early for dinner, so we went to Pierre Hermé, who makes the best macarons I have yet found. In fact, I’ve stopped my search for the best macaron because after eating his, there is no point. They’re all good. He makes such wonderful and strange flavors and I’ve never disliked anything I’ve ever purchased there. This time I had a box that had: chocolate, lemon, olive oil-mandarin, crème brûlée, and violet. They were all delicious, but the olive oil-mandarin was my clear favorite. It’s so unique and delicious.

It was finally late enough to eat, so we wandered around, looking for the pub Ma had heard about from a coworker called The Grenadier. I guess it is where the Royal Guards used to go when they were off duty. I doubt they still do. I didn’t see any. It is in the most difficult location in the world. It’s not on the main street, it’s on some little private alleyway that is very unassuming. We did finally find it and it was a charming pub. It was dark, there was lots of old wood paneling, luxurious wallpaper, and money stapled to the ceiling for some reason.

I had the mushroom rarebit and a pint of some bitter ale. I forget what it was called. I could barely understand the waitress. I’d always wondered what rarebit was, and this was as good a time as any to find out. What it was was thin slices of portobello mushroom covered in cheese and some kind of white, tangy sauce. Very good. Reminded me of the mushroom faux poivre I love at Djangos in Des Moines. Try that if you’re ever in town. The salad that came with it was good, too, and I’m not big on salads. I was rather impressed with the whole place…until dessert.

Jessica and I are very fond of crème brûlée, which is annoying because this is such a hit or miss dish. This one was very much a miss. It redefined what a crème brûlée was…but not in a good way. The custard was good, but instead of caramelizing sugar on the top of it, they just sprinkled brown sugar on top. Ummmm….gross. It wasn’t horrid, but just not right.

After we left the pub Jessica and I were #totesdrunk so we began to affect beautiful British accents. We spoke like natives. Native Australians, more like it, but this is a city of a million accents and I don’t think anybody could have figured out that we hadn’t been born in the city.

We got on the Tube and made our way to the White City stop so that I could finally see the BBC Television Centre. This historical site is where so many of my favorite shows (like Miranda and French & Saunders are filmed.) The BBC is changing studios and has sold the building to developers who, last I heard, were going to tear it down. This is a tragedy for television history. So, I had to see it because I would never have that chance again.

We exited the Tube and there it was before us in all of its glory. It looked just like I thought it would and I was delighted. I felt like Jennifer Saunders or Dawn French was going to walk out the gates at any moment. But they didn’t. If my beloved Joanna Lumley were to walk out, there would be nobody alive to type out these recollections.

 

There was a group of excited teenagers squealing and taking pictures with some people, so we went to snoop. They were a group of teenagers from a show called “Friday Download.” Jessica and I looked this up later and discovered that is a crap chat show for children. It’s awful. Don’t bother looking it up. I’m saving you the misery.

On the other side of the street were posters of the BBC’s biggest stars. I posed with Miranda and Dr. Who.

Jessica and I both posed with Catherine Tate in her Lauren outfit. We ain’t even bovvered tho!

It was basically the best night ever and was like going to Mecca. It’s too bad there weren’t any posters of Absolutely Fabulous. I would just pass out.

To continue on my Adoration of Jennifer Saunders Tour of London, we made our way to Piccadilly Circus to see the Piccadilly Theatre where the new Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever, is soon going to be performed. It’s written by Jennifer! I had to see the theatre as I’ll probably never get the chance to see the show in London. Hopefully it tours. I’m missing previews of the show by only a couple of days and it’s making me awfully upset. I wanted to see the singing and dancing and girl power. I sang an impromptu Spice Girls medley in the streets thinking it would lure Jennifer out if she were inside, but this failed. This also failed to lure Olivia de Havilland out of her town house. Perhaps I should rethink my strategy?

Feeling a bit peckish, as we always are on trips, we stopped by a strange shop called Donuts & Baguettes. What a peculiar combination. We each had a donut. They were alright, but not at all memorable. They were expensive, too.

After the long Tube ride back to our stop on the outskirts of town, we decided to get some more food because we were hungry. Stop judging me. I ordered a vegetable pizza from a chain called Flavas. It was actually rather good. It’s culturally enriching to partake of the culinary delicacies of a foreign county.

Good evening.

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