London: Day One

Well, it was an interesting day in London yesterday. I’ll get to that in another post, but I’ll write about my first full day in London first.

Kensington Palace. Kate and Wills didn’t invite me in.

The weather was beautiful on Tuesday – absolutely perfect for going for a walk. It is spring and the sun was out, so I wandered up to Kensington with an intention of going to the high street. I walked past Kensington Olympia and found the Design Museum, so had a quick visit there (where there was an interesting exhibition on Russian soviet propaganda). I had then booked a haircut in Earls Court – half the price of Dubai and they actually knew what I wanted – so walked there, past all the beautiful old row houses in Kensington. I realised that Earls Court exhibition centre had been demolished so my memories of the area based on that landmark were a bit hazy, but still managed to find Freddie Mercury’s last house, Garden Lodge, something I’ve always meant to do in London. It was very close to the other houses on the street. I can imagine Freddie would have not been an ideal neighbor.

After a successful haircut (such a relief!) I wandered back to Kensington High Street, where I intended to go to Kensington Palace. Unfortunately, so did everyone else, and the tickets were soldour. Instead, I walked through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and viewed the old favourites.. the Albert memorial and Royal Albert Hall.. before coming across the (rather disappointing) Princess Diana fountain, where a family were racing rubber ducks. The weather looked like it was going to pack in (but later recovered!), so I slipped out of Hyde Park and into Harrods. which was the quietest I’ve ever seen it. I bought myself a requisite bag of tea, and wandered through the floors, finding the garish Egyptian escalators and the creepy memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. I’m surprised it is still there, given that Mohamad Al Fayed sold Harrods to the Qatari government in 2010, and one of the memorials is called ‘innocent victims’ – apparently because he claimed that the Duke of Edinburgh had a hand in the ‘accident’. Very weird. The inclusion of Diana’s lipstick stained wine glass is particularly creepy.

Harrods seemed a bit more lowbrow than when I first visited about 10 years ago. I remember being really worried the first time I went there because they were checking people at the door for appropriate clothing. No more! I even managed to find an area where they were selling… of all things… apartments in Dubai. Who goes to Harrods to buy an apartment? There was a big model of Downtown Dubai, and tourists and locals were commenting how beautiful it looked. I quickly pointed out it looked nothing like that, and that the developments were all planned, before I got a dirty glare from a very important salesman. I decided it was time to scuttle out of Harrods.

My opinion was not welcome.

I wandered up through to the Wellington Arch and Green Park, viewing the RAF Bomber Command memorial on the way, and traversing Piccadilly. By this stage, I was getting distracted by the resident squirrels in Green Park, and feared I was going to be late to meet Oliver at Elephant and Castle at 6.30. I sped up past The Ritz and Piccadilly Circus, grabbing the Bakerloo line out to South London, which was very different from my last visit – entirely gentrified. We had a fantastic dinner at a place called Mercato Metropolitano, where a bottle of wine was about the same cost as a glass in Dubai. Afterwards, I was back in Hammersmith in about half an hour, which made me realise how lucky I am to be able to stay with Anita in such a prime location.

23kms later, I had traversed quite a way through London! I was definitely ready for bed.

PS: If you are looking for more photos, I’m quite a prolific Instagram poster. You can find my Instagram profile and photos on the sidebar on the right.


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