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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From park to park

Today when I woke the sun was out in all its glory. It was a perfect touring and walk in the parks kind of day. After breakfast and doing some packing for my journey tonight I grabbed the number 3 bus today that wove me to Oxford Circus through Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly.

At Oxford Circus I transferred to a C2 took be through the back waters of Camden Town and Kentish where I caught a 46 to Hampstead Heath, one of my favorite haunts. While on the C2, I saw a tailor sewing in his shop. I had been looking for a tailor to mend my bag which was beginning to come undone and needed some immediate attention. I got off and he did a fabulous job and I was on the next C2 to Kentish where I caught that 46.

When I arrived in Hampstead Heath, near the hospital I strolled the streets and back alleys and direct myself to the Holly Bush Pub for lunch. This pub had been introduced to me on one of those London Walks. The place was relatively packed with older folks sitting around the pub drinking and eating snacks. Some women in front of me were getting sandwiches for a picnic on the Heath.

After ordering some soup and a cheese plate, I collected my half of Seafarers and found a seat with the ancients. To my far left was a very old Italian looking woman eating something and drinking a red wine. Next to her was a younger woman I suspected to be the daughter of the older couple at the same table. Across from me was an old man with a half in front of him and a plate of pork shavings. Next to him was a sturdy cane. Hidden from my view was another young woman with an older woman I supposed her mother. Oh was I wrong. I had just stepped into a lost scene of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. The young woman with the elderly couple had just fetched some more cream for her coffee. She then asked the other young woman near me if she wanted some of the cream for her coffee. The old woman drinking the red wine was meticulous in her eating habits. A forkful, a swipe of the napkin along her lips and then a dainty sip of wine. She would rest a couple of minutes and repeat these steps again and again and again till everything was gone at the same time. She had this down to a fine art. At one point the young woman next to her asked her if she was enjoying her red wine, to which the woman replied in the affirmative and said nothing more. The older woman of the couple with the young woman, looked over at the old man in front of me spoke to him, "David are you okay?" His response was, "I'm missing you, darling." There was a chuckle from all and she said, "You decided to sit alone, today, David." He grumbled and took a sip of his drink. The younger woman in front of me was eating prawns and shared them with the woman who spoke to David who then went on about prawns and her love of them. The young women were speaking to each other across the room and I surmised that these two ladies were nurses and the older folks were their charges. David spent most my time there staring at me. After my soup and cheese plate I was getting ready to go. The young nurse near me asked David if he was okay since he was just sitting there quietly and staring intently into space, then at his empty glass, then at me. "No, I'm not okay, I'm mentally disturbed." He grabbed his cane and rested his chin on it as the others ignored him and had their own conversations. It was time for me to leave and make my way to the Heath.

I followed a very indirect set of roads and pathways till I found a path leading into the Heath. It was much drier and less crowded than the last time I was here on New Year's Day. I followed the paths that crossed the larger paths or carriage roads. I stayed on the more rustic trail that wove around trees and brambles until I came upon a huge field littered with benches randomly placed to view trees, the city, and nothing. Each bench was in memory of someone and perhaps was at a place they particularly like to sit. I stopped at many of these benches to get a feel for these people. It was peaceful. Others were there for the same reasons as I and sat in silence or walked in silence as dogs and children ran around carefree.

I could see the Stark Tower from here. It certainly does dominate the sight lines in London. It does let me know where I'm staying as it is very close to my B&B. Sort of the way the World Trade Towers were my beacon in NYC. I followed more hidden paths much as Alice and crossed a street to return to the paths and found myself near town where I walked to catch a 46 to Lancaster Gate on Hyde Park.

I had planned on getting the 360 at The Royal Albert Hall which is directly across the park from Lancaster Gate. The walk through the park was grand as I stayed on the grass to rest my feet and legs from the pavement walking. My legs have been a bit sore this trip, especially after that huge walk I took my first day. I'm sure they are thanking me for discovering the buses. I walked around Albert Hall where Van Morrison is playing on the eve of my birthday in October for one night. What a hoot that would be to come over to see him.

When I found the bus top a 360 came in and I was on my way. At a couple of stops a three generations of women got on and the youngest one, about 4 was screaming and didn't stop. She was shrill and she stopped al conversation on the bus. I got off at the next stop and could hear her ailing and screeching as the bus continued on its way. The next bus was quieter with a mother reading to her child. So much more civilized. When I arrived back at the B&B, I stole myself to the garden to write.

The bus rides were amazing and so easy. The bus system here is so efficient and comfortable. I was able to see things I hadn't seen during my earlier trips, because we were underground. It reminds me that I'm not in a rush and it allows me to see the character and culture of the city. In addition I was able to see some great architecture. No dachshund sightings today.

I'm off the see Henry VIII tonight.

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