London Town

January 2003

Saturday morning I was off and running to the Portobello Road market. Me and thousands of other visiting Americans. My natural aversion to being among Americans in a foreign country aside, I felt uncomfortable in such a touristed place. This may be Britain, but terrorists know a target when they see one. I found a couple small silver items and pressed my way back through the hoards to the tube.

I'd booked tickets for the "Bond, James Bond" exhibit at the Science Museum in advance. I thought it was too silly to miss. In fact, it turned out to be rather stressful, with computerized quizzes and trivia to study. And not enough computer terminals, so one had to wait in line to access them. I came away feeling frustrated.

Also on my silly museum list was 221b Baker Street, actually located between 234 and 236 Baker Street (something about the addresses being redone in the 1930s by "the men in bowlers with briefcases" -- according to an employee). Surprisingly, in a display case of vintage jewelry among the Holmes and Watson junk I found two brooches that love.

Saturday night I met up with my equally spur-of-the-moment co-worker Tina and her boyfriend Matt. We met at Vinopolis, City of Wine, advertised as a museum with wine tasting. The museum was hysterical -- some old bottles, pictures of famous vineyards, reproductions of vaguely wine-related art. We were issues extra tasting coupons because the audio tours were not charged up. Who needed the audio? Clearly everyone in the place was there to drink. When in London . . .

Sunday turned out to be a good day for shopping, and I lurched back to my hotel with a heavy bag of British chick books and goodies from Fortnum and Mason.

On Monday I plotted out a six hour walking tour in the rain. St. James's, Mayfair, and Trafalgar, Victoria Embankment, The City, the Tower, and St. Katherine's Dock all saw the soles of my wet, tired feet.

A couple hours of that was inside the National Gallery. I could easily have spent a couple more (on another occasion).

Robert Falcon Scott memorial in St. James's. Scott and his team were the second to reach the South Pole and died on the way back.

Lost and found in St. James's Park.

Something happens here, you just have to sit in the chair with the deerstalker on.

221b Baker Street. Museum? Souvenir Shop? Home of arcane creative anachronists who don't get that Holmes was a fictional character? Hard to say, Watson.

The manekins of Watson and Holmes, peeking down from a hatch in the attic, are far more lifelike than the mushroom farmers in the Loire.

Feeding the birds in Regent's Park. Hey, where did those Canada Geese come from?

Copyright 2002 Mia's Mar Vista News. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction by permission only.