London: Such Fun!

After sleeping for quite a long time, I was in a better state of mind about the apartment. In the sunlight, it wasn’t as awful as I thought it had been the night before. It’s not beautifully appointed like an apartment of mine would be, but it functions. I’m driven a bit crazy about the ridiculously large entrance hall and all the wasted space that’s there. If the owner took it out, she could have a much more spacious kitchen and bathroom. Plus there is a massive terrace, but it’s annoying to get out onto because you have to leave the apartment and go into the hall…I would add a door to it so that I could use it at my leisure. I’ve discovered, though, that people aren’t quite as sensitive to their surroundings as I am. I stamped on the ants, ground some coffee beans, brewed coffee, figured out how to do the laundry, and was rather happy to be doing those simple domestic things. I love apartment living. I always have and I always will. I need to get an apartment of my own. I love being in charge of a little world that can be easily maintained…not a giant country estate that takes more money and time than I have. Oh well.

When Jessica had woken up, we went over to Tesco — now that it was open — and wandered around looking at all the British specialties. I saw some elderflower gin that I simply have to try. I’m crazy about elderflowers and I’m mad about gin, so maybe I’ll pick a bottle up soon. I had intended to buy a SIM card so that I’d be able to use my phone, but that proved to be much more confusing than the website had suggested, so I gave up. I’ve never had a cellphone in Europe anyway…I’ll just have to go through the crippling withdrawals of not using one constantly.

With our shopping done, we got on the train and began the long journey into town. I really don’t care to be so far away from all the attractions as I don’t like sitting on a train for forty minutes twice a day, especially in the summer when the Tube becomes a sweltering, sweaty, stinking mess. I shan’t complain too much about it, though.

One thing that I’ve always loved about Europe is how civilized their escalators are. Instead of stepping on and immediately stopping, the Europeans will stand on the right hand side and let people climb up on the left. That’s just so nice and it makes so much sense. I don’t really understand why that’s not part of our culture back at home.

After the lengthy journey, we were in my favorite part of London: KENSINGTON. Kensington is absolutely flawless because it is peaceful and it has Portobello Road and Kensington Palace and palm trees. There are big beautiful palm trees all over the place and it makes me just sick with envy.

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IMG_7204I would do awful things to get a palm tree back home. Allegedly, there are people who have figured out how to overwinter a certain Chinese variety of palm tree and have been successful in Des Moines. This is absolute witchcraft to me, but I must try it out. I would be on top of the world if I could look out the window and see a palm tree.

We were in the area because we wanted to get into a more sophisticated part of town and because Jessica wanted to go to a restaurant that the people she watches on the Internet are crazy about, Nando’s. It’s a chicken shop, but there are several vegetarian offerings, so I was willing to go.

We walked right past it at first, but on our way back up the high street, we managed to see it and went inside. The restaurant is a bit confusing the first time because you are escorted to your seats with a menu, but then you have to go to the counter to order. This wasn’t explained to us, so we were awfully concerned why the waitstaff was so slow. We finally figured it out and I ordered a veggie burger with chips and a peach iced tea. When I ordered the tea, the gentleman behind the counter fell in love with me. He kept telling me how good the tea was and what a good choice I’d made and how much he loves the tea. It was very good tea and I’ve also fallen in love with it.

I'm in love. 😻😻😻

A post shared by Benjamin Phillips (@bdphillips) on

I haven’t found it in the shops, yet. I hope that I’ll be able to find it again somewhere or maybe order it on the Internet. You can find almost anything on the Internet.

The food was all right, I wouldn’t call it a gastronomic triumph, but it was far from awful and Jessica was very happy to be there. It was amusing to watch her nearly cry from eating hot sauce, though, so the entire trip was worth it.

From Nando’s we made our way to Kensington Gardens, my favorite park in London. It’s so beautiful, but I was stricken with terror on the way in. All over the park are these lovely trees covered in pink and purple flowers that I’m incredibly allergic to. Fortunately, I didn’t react to them at all this time. When I was here before I couldn’t breathe because there was so much mucus in my nose and pouring down my throat and my eyes were filled with tears. I was very happy that this incident was not repeated!

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We went into Kensington Palace to see little Prince George…but I guess you just can’t invite yourself over like that. Rude. Instead we went to the gift shop and I fell passionately in love with the Kensington Palace china. I love it even more than my Royal Albert with the hand painted Moonlight Roses which I used for my outdoor dinners with riparian entertainments.

After that we went to one of my very favorite places in all of London, the SUNKEN GARDEN!

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I have been obsessed with this place for years. Robin Roberts reported here before the Royal Wedding got into full swing and I was immediately in love with it. When I went to London a few days after that segment I was so happy to see it myself. I’ve wanted to recreate it at home for years. I have a place for it…I just need to do the work, and figure out how to dig that pond. It’ll happen in time, I’m sure.

Jessica and I wandered through the park and watched a squirrel eat peanuts and that was good fun.

We weren’t entirely sure what to do with the rest of our day, so we decided to go to the British Museum for a bite to eat. There is a very nice restaurant there and also a few cafés. Along the way, we stopped at Oxford Circus to look at the BBC Radio Studios. Those Internet people that Jessica likes so much do their show there and my beloved French & Saunders record their holiday specials at this studio, so I was glad to see it.

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Back on Oxford Street, I saw my favorite shop, MUJI!

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They sell the most wonderful Japanese stationary. Very minimalist and lovely. I had an enchanting time wandering around one of these stores in New York City earlier this year, but we didn’t have time to look at this one…and we were real tired of walking because our feet were about ready to fall off from exhaustion. I walk a lot, an awful lot, but these new shoes of mine are a tad too small.

We happily got back on the Tube and headed to the British Museum. The lifts in the Tube were delayed, so we decided to climb up to street level — the equivalent of fifteen stories — which was SUCH FUN. When we were on the street, we found the British Museum, which closed the second we got in. SUCH FUN. We were a bit pissed off, so we found some free Wifi and looked for somewhere to get a nibble since we were parched and absolutely spitting feathers — that’s my favorite expression.

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We went over to Starbucks since we were going to pass out from dehydration. I really should just start carrying a water bottle, but I absolutely hate carrying things when I’m out and about. At work or at home, I have no trouble carrying water from room to room, but going miles and miles and miles is no fun with a liter of water in hand all the time.

With lime refreshers in hand, we were much happier, even though I’m pretty sure that my foot was literally falling off. Such pain, but I tried to ignore it. We had decided to go to Covent Gardens because it was open late…but when we arrived we weren’t in the mood so we began the long walk to a new Tube station. The one we had arrived on was closed. SUCH FUN!

It took ages, but we made it back and went over to Tesco for some food. We made alfredo, which we make about fifteen times a week in Europe. It’s delicious and simple. After dinner, we went out on the terrace to sit in the cool air. There were some snails out there, which I thought was gross. I don’t care for those things, but Jessica was in love and she picked them up and started to play with them. She’s strange.

After that we went in and somehow I stumbled and hit my toe. It didn’t really feel like much, but there was a sharp and intense pain in it. As the evening progressed it turned purple and red and swollen and more and more painful. SUCH FUN. I looked up the symptoms and I’m pretty sure that it’s fractured.

Even though I was exhausted, I still had a bit of jet lag, so it was difficult to get to sleep, but I managed.

 

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