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2009 trip to England London

Aug 24

It’s done! The driving portion of our trip is complete. We turned in that vicious, back aching lousy shifting car into Avis. 18 days and two after leaving Heathrow we put 2,448 miles on the car, averaged 32 MPH and 47 MPG. Total rental cost was £438.17 GBP, about $720. About $200 more than the original quote but I paid extra for my wife as a co-driver (she never did) and the fuel option and the slightly increased dollar = pound conversion rate. No claims of damage and we were off in a cab to our hotel.

The Park Lane Marriott

Stayed four nights in late Aug 2009. Like another traveler I approached my stay with some trepidations but was pleased with my experience. I got the room through Priceline Negotiator and thought that might affect my room but it was nice and large with a king size bed. It was on the third floor and there was some street noise in the morning but I turned on the room’s fan and that blocked out most of the noise.

It’s close to transportation and eateries. We never ate in the hotel so I can’t comment on the food. There is a small hole in the wall snack shop just out the main door and down the left on N Row called Cardinals. One of the doormen told me they have nice snacks and pastries. The pastries are good so that became our breakfast bar along with one visit to McDonalds. Big breakfasts were almost tiresome at this point of the trip and some simple pastries and junk food were a welcomed relief, yeah, I’m tacky, I know.

We enjoyed our stay and I would definitely come again.

Aug 25

We are great fans of BBC’s show Cash in the Attic although we’ve been stuck on the first few years’ shows. I learned that Chiswick, the auction house frequently used on the show was having an auction today (I believe they have one every Tuesday) and we thought that would be fun. We were auction habitués in the 70s/80s but mostly small village hall auction around East Anglia. The “locals” pretty much hated when the “rich” American service people showed up (I don’t remember feeling very rich) and bought all their treasures from them. Even the American service people didn’t tell other Americans if we found an out of the way auction because we didn’t want the competition either!

Anyway off to Chiswick’s in a cab, THAT was an expensive mistake! Take the tube to Acton Town, turn right on Bollo Ln and walk for 5-8 minutes, turn left on Roslin Ln. and follow it all the around to Colville Rd. and you’ll see the auction house.

We were pleased to learn that “Cash in the Attic” was actually filming an episode for Charity and Susannah York was the person putting up the items for auction. Apparently the charity is for cancer research. Ms. York actually gave a pep talk to the buyers to generate interest in her items and most of them sold for respectable if not outlandish prices. Ms. York was looking decidedly frail so we wondered if she’d had a bout of cancer?

If you see it on “Cash in the Attic” I’m the handsome balding American in the black and white hound’s tooth check sports coat!!!

We actually both three items that we’d admired, including two nice oil seaside paintings (not old) and a Royal Crown Derby porpoise that was definitely not old.

It was an enjoyable day.

Aug 26

We walked, everywhere, a lot in Hyde Park. Has anyone else noticed how big and fat the pigeons are? I think I’ve solved that mystery of all the disappearing cats in London; feral, cat eating pigeons.

We walked to Harrods, we always go to Harrods and the cheap touristy gift items get tackier and more expensive and the expensive items get, well, more expensive. I refuse to ever go there again.

Aug 27

Last full day and we did the hard-core tourist stuff because I wanted to ride the London Eye and she wanted to visit St. Paul’s (she just read a book about that Wren guy) plus last minute souvenir shopping.

The London Eye, if it’s a remotely clear day, go ride. It was fantastic. It takes about 30 – 45 minutes and the view is terrific.

The last time we visited London we found the Princes Arcade with a number of nice shops both souvenir and ‘serious” gifts. Online it’s described as:

“Princes Arcade is an interesting old fashioned arcade located just off the major shopping street of Piccadilly at the heart of London. The arcade is Victorian in origin and contains a fine selection of boutique style shops and independent retailers selling a variety of goods. The arcade is very popular with locals as it offers a far more relaxed shopping experience than sticking to the main streets of the capital.”

That’s an accurate description. One shop, “John English Gifts” was nice. The gentleman running it, Brian, was very nice and fun to talk to. He had unique items that were nice and relatively fair prices. Ever since we lived in Britain my wife collected badgers (statuary, not the actual smelly beasts) and it seems harder and harder to find new pieces. We found one here in 2004 and found two more again this year. The arcade is a hundred yards or so down Piccadilly from Piccadilly Circus on the left heading in the direction of Green Park. If you go past the Royal Academy of Arts you’ve gone too far. Although just past the RAOA on the same side of the road is another arcade, the Burlington Arcade, more upscale that Princes, although I noticed that many shops that were there in 2004 are closed now.

We ate our last meal at a small restaurant called “ASK” which is on Park Ln. on the same block as the Park Lane Marriott. I can’t remember what I had if that tells you anything about it.

Aug 28

We left. We had made an arrangement with the taxi driver who initially brought us in to London from Heathrow and he took us for a flat fee that was £15 less than it’d cost us to get to the hotel. You might want to consider the same.
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