You know that sizzle of excitement you get when the world around you seems like a constant party? Well that’s how the city of London feels to me, so you can just imagine my elation when the trip we’d planned for ages finally came to fruition.
Last Wednesday I found myself sitting on the tube beside a demure blond lady with a miniature Pekingese poking out of her handbag, opposite a Japanese guy with the sides of his head shaved and the top pulled back into a plume of a ponytail; the couple on my other side chattering animatedly in French. Where else would I find such a pool of decadence, eccentricity and diversity in one place, less than an hour from home? I might love my rural life in the sticks, but I just can’t help dipping my toe back into the city from time to time – it’s infectious!
My first stop was to drop by my new publishers. They are located in Tabernacle Street which is apparently the ‘creative centre’ (I can’t be very creative since I had no idea where it was and had to do a Google search), in ‘The Old Fire Station’ complete with winding staircase and internal courtyard – an impressive start! This was our first meeting, since I wasn’t able to travel to London earlier in the year due to family illness, and what a lovely bunch of people I met. They spent an hour talking me through their plans for The Truth Will Out and even showed me their annual catalogue which my book will appear in next year; a very heady experience for any new writer, especially one who finished her second novel at the beginning of this year and threw herself back into the submissions den. I’ll always be grateful to Legend Press for pulling me off their slush pile and injecting life into book two. It certainly feels good to be following the road to publication again.
I left Legend a little later than expected and had to hail a cab (something I’ve always wanted to do!) to hotfoot it across London to Paddington where I had arranged to meet my very best friend, Stephanie. And this is where the fun and frivolity really began. This was Stephanie’s birthday treat and we’d planned to sample some of London’s tourist delights, starting with The Mad Hatters Tea Party.
Just off Oxford Street, the Sanderson Hotel is a modern venue offering afternoon tea, Lewis Carroll style. With a menu tucked into the folds of an old book (ours was Great Expectations) and a choice of apple pie or strawberries and cream tea to drink, you receive an interesting mix of sandwiches curled up like Swiss roll, carrot fondant and pea shoots, marshmallow mushrooms, tick tock sponge cake and various other cakes and fondants; finishing up with as much jelly as you want from Jelly Wonderland – some very interesting flavours there. The best of it is that they don’t expect you to eat the pile of food they ply you with in one sitting. The bill comes with a box and bag, so that you can finish the leftovers at home at your leisure!
Later we headed to Madame Tussauds (somewhere I haven’t been since I was a kid) and did the tour of their latest waxworks. There were some interesting models there including Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly and Robert Downey Junior as Sherlock, alongside the usual Royal Family and folks from No. 10 and it was fun grabbing those photo opportunities and taking a train ride through their waxwork representation of Old London Town. I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy the experience, but if you plan to go I would prepare yourself for the tourist throng. They don’t appear to have a number limit and as the bodies piled in it became very hot and crowded, and there were times when we waited in line for our pics and felt a little like herded cattle.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal in nearby Baker Street, before scooting back for the train home. All in all, a truly great day out with wonderful company. I can’t wait ‘til we plan our next jaunt, although I might stay over next time to avoid the jelly legs. Never realised there were so many steps in the big city!
I hope you all are having a great week, wherever you are.