To celebrate our wedding anniversary, we recently spent a pre-Olympic long weekend in London. We soaked up the atmosphere. Every famous landmark thronged with crowds of all nations and I’m sure no one realised what a wealth of excitement was to follow. I had meant to write a few lines about our break before now but, much to our amazement, we have been enthralled by the games ever since the opening and have spent many a happy hour glued to the TV. How proud we are of our country and how proud we are of our sportsmen and women.
Before taking our trip, one of my friends posted on Facebook “Have a lovely day.....not too many cakes though” and with those words ringing in my ears I was determined not to succumb to my passion of all things baking ........but how wrong could I be!
On arrival, we found that our hotel near Victoria was almost next door to a wonderful patisserie whose windows displayed the most tempting of cakes and this proved to be my very first London photograph! Could I give in to my current healthy eating plan.....well, I succumbed a little and hubby and I shared a sandwich and a slice of chocolate gateaux - having only half portions appeased my guilty conscience just a little!
A full programme of ‘London things to do’ was planned by me prior to our visit and so, on arrival, we set off and walked to the National Gallery, where I stumbled and fell at the entrance - what a picture that would have made! For pre-theatre dinner I had booked a table in the National Portrait Gallery’s restaurant and we were not disappointed. The restaurant has a birds-eye view over the rear of Trafalgar Square and the majority of London’s iconic buildings. The service was great and the food good – a hidden gem and one which I would recommend. Finally, we enjoyed a performance of ‘Sweeney Todd’. Phew, what a day!
On our second day we walked from Victoria to Green Park to see the Bomber Command Memorial – my uncle Alec, a Flight Engineer, was killed in WWII whilst on a Lancaster bombing raid to Germany. The memorial is awesome and it was a very moving experience to read the numerous notes that relatives had left about loved ones lost.
Our next ticketed event was a tour of Kensington Palace and, since it was another mild sunny day, we decided to continue our walk – Green Park to Kensington High Street. I haven’t visited this part of London for years and I was surprised to find that the department store Barkers had changed to a Whole Food Market. It’s a huge store, covering several floors, with the most mouth-watering displays of every type of edible delight – all organic, many items from small farms, and everything looking so fresh and tasty. Guess what I homed in on? You guessed it, the bakery.....
We enjoyed our leisurely and unhurried stroll though Kensington Palace and Gardens - full of enchanting exhibitions – before taking the Underground back to our hotel. We had walked miles and miles!
On Day 3 we took a pleasure boat from Westminster Pier to Greenwich – happily joining our fellow tourists waving to others on the bank-side and various bridges that we sailed under - and eventually soaked up the atmosphere of a very crowded pre-Olympic Equestrian area. Security was high and we were ‘frisked’ by the Army (a not unpleasant experience) before entering the National Maritime Museum, which proved to be another interesting and fascinating few hours.
The final stop before coming home was to sit – well, I was on holiday – outside Patisserie Valerie eating a tea-time treat and watching the locals go by. What a trip, what an experience, and what wonderful cakes – it’s a good job we don’t have temptations like this in Northamptonshire!