Did anyone realize that the abbreviation for my blog is HoT? Because I only just recently came to this realization and in three days this blog will have been around for exactly 5 years!!!!! It started with the stories from my first foray into London. People liked to hear them so much that I finally wrote them down and put them on the internet. And a short half decade (interminably long slog through life) later I have come full circle to this city where all the best things seem to happen.
Though I didn’t manage it right when I landed I did eventually make it to Byron Hamburgers, which is a massive English chain and not exactly exclusive or secret, but they do happen to have the best malted vanilla milkshakes in the whole world. Then, with a milkshake induced smile on my face, I wandered my way over to Kensington Palace and Gardens to offer my congratulations in person that we are going to meet a new baby Cambridge in a few short months. I’m sure they noticed and appreciated it. Scoped out the Orangery and the maze for future outings before a mandatory stroll about Hyde Park. And as I walked past the imperious granite gaze of Queen Victoria in front of the Round Pond with the sun setting behind the trees and rooftops of the palace I experienced this clarifying moment of peaceful rightness. Like a weeble that had finally stopped wobbling; I found my center. And then I took my bus back to Shepherd’s Bush.
I’ve also managed to squeeze in a book event with one of my favorite authors and a wander over to Portobello Road to find something to put on my walls where I had my choice between Scarface movie poster or two hundred year old mounted bird. I decided to keep looking for room decor. I did manage to get lost in the wilds of Notting Hill, but I can’t be all that upset about it when it meant accidentally running into the entire Beckham family. “Oh, that looks like the Beckhams. That is because it is.” And then Romeo tried to do the thing on the scooter that Brooklyn was doing and fell over, and I was a nanny for way too long not to go pick him up and ask if he wanted a band-aid. He was fine and got up with a big grin and then his very polite father said “Thank you, appreciate it.” and pushed Harper along. Victoria even gave me a sort of half smile smirk which I decided meant two British Victoria’s had looked kindly upon my new enterprise.
Any visitor to London has seen the soldiers in front of the royal palaces, with their big bearskin hats, bright red coats, and cloppy black boots. If you have ever wondered what would happen should you cross one of these well postured fellows I will tell you. Some very obnoxious tourists tested the chain boundary today and the guard on duty responded with a very prompt (and loud) “Oi!” and stomped his foot. That’s it. The rest of us, cameras at the ready, were very disappointed not to have witnessed a bayoneting, but it was still very exciting to see the notoriously stoic soldiers do something slightly out of the ordinary. I discovered later that this was the back entrance to Clarence House (the official London residence of the Prince of Wales) and that I missed Prince Harry’s birthday party by mere hours.
A visiting friend had the brilliant idea to visit the BBC broadcast center and, to no one’s surprise (ok, the Chinese tourists were a bit taken aback) I took over the tour. What started out as a nice walk through of the old concert hall and taunting the weather man during his live broadcast turned into a fully mic-ed radio play re-enactment with sound effects. Then I intimidated the tour guide with my television experience and he let me read the in-house news broadcast. If the teleprompter is any indication I really do need to start talking slower. Once I got my media career off on the right foot I took a walk through Regent’s Park and ogled the penguins at the zoo. Then crashed some wedding pictures at Primrose Hill.
Later in the week I hit up every gift shop on The Mall – discovered the art galleries along the way that evidently everyone knew about but me – and revisited one of my favorite places in London, the National Portrait Gallery. If they let me I would sleep in there. I love staring at all those faces, from throughout human history, reading their stories, and making up the bits that are missing or just coming up with better versions in my head.
Soon I’ll actually have to spend my time studying and discussing and writing papers. It should be interesting to have the tables turned again and go back to being a student, but I’m looking forward to a year of someone else coming up with the lesson plans. And shopping for school supplies. Maybe more the latter. No, definitely the latter. Pens….
Anyway, I’ll keep doing some travel journal posts here and there but I do plan to also keep up with my usual ruminations and stories. And if you want up to the minute news and jokes and things remember to find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as subscribing to the blog.