Thursday, May 6, 2010

The In-Laws Week One: London

We had planned it since Christmas, and thankfully it came along quite soon: Louie and Suzanne came to visit with their friend Florence at the beginning of April. We spent the first week of their visit in London, and the first few days with their British friends Kitty and Richard, who they met on a rafting trip some years ago. They live in Yorkshire (more on that in the next post) but keep a flat in London to visit every now and then.

The first night we played it easy (their flight in had been delayed by several hours), met Kitty and Richard at their flat in Farringdon (just north of St. Paul's), and made our way down to Gabriel's Wharf on the Thames for dinner.

On our way, it turned out that London was putting on its best face for its new visitors. As we approached St. Paul's Cathedral, we noticed a strange white fluff in the air. Nearer, we could tell they were feathers. Why would there be feathers floating around? We saw the answer in due course: a massive pillow fight had just been waged on the steps in front of the cathedral. We've heard of this before: every year, London holds a free-for-all pillow fight somewhere in the city — a kind of youthful flashmob.

There were also dozens of people dressed up as cats (why? I have no idea) and plenty of street performers around the Millennium Bridge. Such a city is never boring.

The next day was Easter Sunday, which we started off by playing on the lions in Trafalgar Square

and visiting the National Gallery.

I'm sure I've written about this here before, but the National Gallery has to be one of my favorite things in the city. I've probably been about a half-dozen times or more, but it never gets boring: every time there's something new to see or an old favorite to revisit. Truly a wonderful place.

From there, we made our may to St. Paul's Cathedral for the Easter service, stopping along the way in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a literary pub on Fleet Street that was the favorite haunt of Dickens, Conan Doyle, and, on his visits to London, Mark Twain.

We started off Monday with a walk through Harrods (well, parts of it anyway) and on our way up to the British Museum, we stopped off in Hyde Park for a photoshoot with the daffodils.

Spring has been late this year (as I write, full-fledged summer still seems weeks away), but for the beginning of April, it did manage to look spring-y enough.

The following day, we went to Windsor Castle (more about that in a future post) and Kew Gardens. It was a wintry day — cold, windy, and a low white sky — but Kew was fantastic as always.

Plus the weather didn't matter inside the greenhouses.

We also visited the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Borough Market, and the Tate Modern. All wonderful times in a wonderful city with wonderful people. I love it when people come to visit as it gives us an excuse to get out and do more touristy things.

So on Friday morning we said farewell to Florence, picked up our rental car, and headed north.

There are many more pics of our week in London — and our trip through the rest of England — in the facebook album.

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