As the next attempt at my catch-up posting from past travels, I thought I’d go with London from my Chinese New Year trip in 2018.
I love London. Looking past all the recent issues with Brexit and various other problems the UK has been dealing with, London continues to be a brilliant city. Like other world-class cities, it has a ridiculously long history behind it that you can actually feel as you walk around the streets. It also has so many other things that I feel are important in life: world class museums and art galleries; right proper pubs; a plethora of bookstores of all shapes, sizes and subject matter; a healthy motorcycle culture. There are more I could likely mention but the point has been made, I reckon.
Let’s not forget that there are plenty of things to do and places to go that are outside the main city limits. Day trips are easy to do either via the general metro system, which is very extensive, or by hopping a train. I went to Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent on one day. I had been told it was an old town outside of London well worth seeing. Me being me, there was also a literary link involved: one of my favourite bookshops of rare volumes had moved out there from London. Adrian Harrington set up shop in the top floor of Hall’s Bookshop, who have been in the book business since 1898.
For those who have seen my previous post about my trip to the Netherlands in January, you may remember I mentioned being really excited about a treasure trove of Kelmscott Press books at the Meermanno Book Museum in The Hague. Well, my second day trip was out to Hammersmith where William Morris created the Kelmscott Press. Seeing (and being able to actually touch) the actual printing press where those books were created was pretty exciting. I know, I’m sure some reading this are shaking their heads, wondering “what?”. Like many things in life, you either get it, or you don’t. I won’t bother trying to make a convincing argument. For a bibliophile, it’s a big deal.
One final thing made this trip to London quite special. No, I’ll head you off there, it doesn’t involve books. Well, not directly. It does involve motorbikes and booze, though. Not at the same time. That would be foolish. With absolutely no preplanning, my brother and I were in London at the same time! Neither of us knew about the other’s travel plans until the last minute. He and my sister-in-law and another couple were in London on a weekend layover on their way back to Canada from Israel. The ladies had timed it in order to take in some of the London Fashion Week that was going on. So, the lads were left to fend for themselves. This being my brother’s first time in London, his one stipulation was that we head to a proper British pub for dinner. It was a Sunday, so this worked out perfectly for the traditional Sunday roast. After spending some time tromping about Spitalfields and heading to The Bike Shed (for the aforementioned motorbikes) I took him and the other lad left behind due to Fashion Week to the requested “proper British pub”. I had done a great deal of research and wanted to find something that was traditional and kind of in the middle of where their hotel was and where I was staying near Russell Square. I found the Lamb and Flag; a Georgian era (1714 – 1830-7. The exact end date seems to be a bit hazy) public house that was once the haunt of Charles Dickens (hence the tenuous link to literature) and bare knuckle fighting. Thankfully that last bit wasn’t in evidence that night. Food was et, drink was drunk and laughs were had. A good introduction for my brother to London.
I’ll let the photos tell the remainder of the tale.