Taste of London: British Invasion, Day 6

[UPDATE:  I started this, like, a month and a half ago, and I kept meaning to circle back, but sleep as been in short supply basically ever since we got back, and no sleep means no energy means no focus means no posts.  In fact, this is the fourth time I’ve updated the “Update.”  It’s not really better currently, the sleep, but I’m powering through.  For you.  Even though I know “you” is approximately three whole people.  All three of you are very special to me.]

 

And so, my friends, we have (at very, very, veryveryvery long last) come to the end.  This is it–the last thing (I think) you’ll have to read (or not) about London for a very long time.  Let’s just get down to it, shall we?

I had hoped to make it to the early morning service at the chapel in the Tower, but alas, we were not moving that quickly.  Instead, we opted for a 10:15 Mattins service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  (Not because we generally make a point of attending church while on vacation–I’d originally wanted to go to the Tower because it was give me an opportunity to see where Anne Boleyn was buried, and one of our hosts had recommended St. Paul’s.  It’s a London landmark, and this was a chance to view it in action [and for free].  Plus, the choir and the organ are supposed to be very impressive, and the Mattins service is almost entirely choral, so.)  So, we set out on foot (in a fairly meandering fashion).

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This is also the cathedral they sing about in Mary Poppins, btw. During the “Feed the Birds” song. Don’t know if it’s actually the one IN the movie, but that’s the reference.

(Yes, he really WAS NOT supposed to do this, but I think we can all agree that the organ in this place is on point.  Jon apologizes for thinking he’s above the law, as usual.)

The inside is incredible, and the choir and organ were, indeed, something to hear.  The Reverend did give a short homily (?) toward the end of the service, during which he touched on the Orlando massacre.  It was…I don’t want to use the word “nice” because clearly not, and I don’t want to use the “moving” because it seems trite, but it was comforting to know that people across the world were touched and affected by what happened in Orlando.  That particular tragedy hit home for me (not that they all don’t, but more than usual) because of the community at which it was directed, and while a church service certainly doesn’t undo the damage, it was encouraging to hear someone in such a powerful position with such a large public to speak to stand up and say “This is not okay.  We’ve got to love each other more and try to find a way to stop this.”  (Of course, he said it much more eloquently than that.  I’m paraphrasing–wildly.)

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We didn’t get to see as much of the building as we would have on a weekday, but I would say we got to experience it, which is almost as good.

The bells are worth a listen, too.

Thoroughly sanctified, we pondered our next move.  Taste of London, our last scheduled event of the trip, started at 1.  I looked at Jon and said, “Can we walk to Taste, or should we find the nearest tube station?” He looked at his phone and said “Eh, I think we can walk it.”  I should have known then, you guys.  I should have KNOWN.  When all was said and done that day, we had covered 13 miles on foot.  Ten of those…were before lunch.  Jon was wearing sneakers.  I was wearing–flats.  Not heels or anything, and they were good quality, walking around flats that I had purchased for the purpose of this trip, but still.  I was thinking they’d be good for covering a couple miles at a time, not you know, five times that.  I am, clearly, the trooperiest trooper who ever trooped.  Full stop.

And so, we walked:

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And I only wanted to kill him a little bit.  (Never trust Long-Legs McGee when discussing travel distances.  Ever.  He will screw you every single time.)

Blessedly, we did eventually arrive at Regent’s Park and use our VIP tickets to find seats, shade, and champagne.

This picture does not even begin to do justice to how crowded and muddy this event was. This was the second of only two days that it didn't rain while we were in England, and the ground at the festival was a MESS.

This picture does not even begin to do justice to how crowded and muddy this event was. This was the second of only two days that it didn’t rain while we were in England, and the ground at the festival was a MESS.

Sunday also happened to be our 12th anniversary (which was how we justified the VIP upgrade to ourselves, which thank god because freaking 10-mile hike), so we sipped champagne and tried to take the perfect, smug, old married people selfie:

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Suh smug. Suh married.

Once either of us felt like moving again, we took turns venturing outside of the VIP area for food, while one of us stayed and held down the table. We tried a couple of dishes from Duck and Waffle, one of London’s more “buzzy” restaurants at the moment.

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We also tried some Indian food, including kangaroo (because I’m pretty sure Indian food in London is about as close to Indian food in India as you’re going to get without actually going to India.  #colonialism, also the kangaroo was similar to goat, for those that are curious), and then we tried some upscale fish and chips because London.

Then, we got all “let’s join in,” and we participated in a cooking “class”, which is not normally something we’d be down for (we’re much more the kind to sit back and cynically judge than participate), but you know…vacation.  We were set up with this fancy induction stove top, a wok, and several prepped ingredients, and then this “celebrity” chef (which he probably is, but he’s British, so we’d never heard of him) walked us through making two simple dishes–a scallop dish, and another one with shrimp, I believe.
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It was really a showcase for the AEG products being used and this guy’s wok cooking school, but it was fun, if a little cheesy.  (I get very uncomfortable with “audience participation” moments.  Soooo much cheese.)  They were giving away three immersion blenders (or stick blenders, as they call them), and so if you shared your experience on social media with the right hashtags, etc., you were entered to win.  Jon shared a pic of us at our station and said it was our 12th anniversary, and we were from Kansas, and low and behold, we now own an AEG immersion blender.  I mean, we have to keep our outlet converter in the kitchen just to use the thing, and it quickly became a huge pain in the ass to carry around the event, but whatever.  Still worth it.

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Blender in tow, we grabbed a couple more drinks, a little more food, and then visited some of the various vendors, picking up some stuff for ourselves, and a few gifts for people at home.  And then it was time for the walk home… Heh, no.  We took the tube.

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This was as close to actual Baker Street as I got, so we'll go with it. Considering there IS no actual 221B Baker Street, it's really just a good, if you ask me.

This was as close to actual Baker Street as I got, so we’ll go with it. Considering there IS no actual 221B Baker Street, it’s really just a good, if you ask me.

And now, Watson, for a little light bondage. Very good, old chap.

And now, Watson, for a little light bondage. Very good, old chap.

Back in Bermondsey, we dropped off the ol’ stick blender, and wandered along Berdmonsey St. proper for a bit, contemplating dinner.

Street art on Bermondsey St.

Street art on Bermondsey St.

We finally decided on a little Italian place recommended by our host, Ian.  They had cheap, Neopolitan style pizzas, and a good house red, so we settled in at a table for our last official “London” meal.

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Post dinner, we picked up a bottle of red at Sainsbury’s and took ourselves back to our rooms, where one of the house cats, Mocha, joined us in starting “Orange is the New Black” season 4 (which we still have not finished…) and various packing duties.

He was resigned to our attention, at the best. Typical cat.

He was resigned to our attention, at the best. Typical cat.

The next morning, we once again braved the tube with baggage (on a Monday, too, which I’m almost sure made everyone hate us that much more), and made it to Heathrow more or less in one piece.  I also continued my reign of being the most flabbergasted tube user ever, and up’d myself from yelling out “Oh, what the HELL?!” while getting stuck in a turnstyle to actually yelling “Oh, shit!” at, like 8 a.m. when I almost fell backwards down a very full escalator because I was trying to keep my suitcase from digging into my knee.  This time, however, I did not scare small children.  I don’t think…

And we made it home. The end.

Pimm's Cups in the US of A. I told you Jon would make them as soon as we got home...

Pimm’s Cups in the US of A. I told you Jon would make them as soon as we got home…