Safely returned from a highly enjoyable, much too short holiday trip to Britain's capital, the city of most astonishing museums, theatres and shopping possibilities, I believe the best words to describe my general impressions are liveliness
and unexpected brightness of colour
Most of my previous visits had taken place in early September. I remember houses and parks bleached and exhausted from August sun, the gerania (geranium?) baskets hanging down from our hotel porch worn out and tired. For some reason, I had expected London in January would not be that much different; only with wintry dullness replacing the summer's dust. Oh boy, was I ever mistaken...*g*
I realized the wrongness of convincing cavendish
to bring only a black&white film for his camera (he is more experienced and talented photographer, and also has got the way cooler equipment) as soon as we got out of the Underground. Even though it was just about 2.30 pm when we carried our suitcases from Marble Arch to our hotel, the Edward Lear, the weak, short-lived daylight made the neon signs of shops, restaurants and supermarkets appear all the brighter.
On my traditional "Welcome to London" footwalk, a freezing Cavendish bravely accompanied me all the way down to Covent Garden. After a short break at Pret A Manger
to enjoy the first English sandwiches of the year, Oxford and Regent Street seemed like one humming, pop up invitation card for unscrupulous consumption. Despite the beginning of winter sales, most shops were still dressed in their best Christmas and New Year's outfit. Velvet ribbons, glimmering christmas tree balls and light chains, reaching from one side of the road to the other. The toystore Hamley's
was overcrowded with parents in full search&buy mode and next to the entry employees in shiny, red uniforms blew soap bubbles into the air with soap bubble guns that looked like phasers.
We reached Covent Garden at dusk, and while the area looked as vivid and touristy as ever, most stands at Jubilee Market were already closing. Trying to find a seat in one of the nearby pubs to discuss our further plans for the evening turned out a rather futile activity, so we went back to Marble Arch to find sanctuary at a more quiet place; innocent and completely unaware that we were just about to face the beginnings of a trend which would predominate the entire holiday. The shameless abandonment of Culture for the sake of popular "feel good" entertainment *g*.
To cut a long story short, our cinema choice of the day was no black and white classic as Cavendish had hoped, but Love Actually
. Good, solid fun, featuring a gorgeous Alan Rickman, some more or less convincing plotlines and a likeable Colin Firth. However, the best thing about the whole affair was not the movie itself, but the fact that the cinema was located only a stone's throw away from Passfield Hall, the very student hostel at which we both had stayed in earlier years. Whereas the place itself may look every inch as rotten as it used to be, our trip down Nostalgia Lane was well worth the effort.
Some Bloomsbury roads are incredibly quiet at night. The zebra crossings in front of the huge Waterstone's (formerly Dillon's) all empty and wide and spacious. For minutes, no other passer-by, just traffic noises blowing over from Tottenham Court, and the yellow-blinking rhapsody of the crossing's spherical traffic lights.
If I had to pick just one memory from the entire holiday, I guess, this would be the one.To Be Continued...