My B&B host had directed me to phone a particular taxi company on arrival at Gatwick. Of course I ignored this advice and went to the airport taxi service. 19 pounds she said. I was sure the email had said 11. I went back and re-read the email. It said, airport taxis will cost 20 pounds–call this cab company and it will only be 11. I swear I never read that part of the email. So I did what I was told.
The drive out to Waterhall Country House was lovely. Only a few minutes away but really out in the country. There was some bad news. The chef had put his back out and there would be no supper. Worse luck, I had been convinced by British TV that there would be a homey pub within walking distance of ANYWHERE in Britain. Wrong again. No pub within several miles. Aaaaaargh. So I went for a walk down the lane to think about what to do. I thought if I walked far enough I’d find something. Ha.
So back I came. I didn’t have breakfast that morning because of nerves and the snickers bar only lasts so long. I was HUNGRY. So I relented and let the hostess make me a sandwich. What would you like she said. Ham and cheese please. Sorry we have no ham. Ok. Cheese. With chutney? Yes please. And onion too please. Could you make it a grilled cheese?
She wasn’t sure how to do that and looked slightly horrified at the thought.
Just butter the outside and toast it in a pan. I could come do it for you.
Now she looked really horrified. oh no no no I couldn’t do that. And off she scurried.
Whatever. I was hungry and beggars can’t be choosers. This is what I got. Hunger really is the best sauce!! It was hot and tasty. I had a second one 😊 and a beer. In front of the Christmas tree. The next morning I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the shower. Just as I was about to charge down to reception and raise a stink I remembered the B&B in Yorkshire had a switch for the hot water on demand thingy. Ok. Working now.
Breakfast calmed me down. I love English fry ups. A full plate of protein that would hold me all day. Started with a most civilized bowl of grapefruit segments. Usually there’s a bowl of prunes and grapefruit and I generally have a bowl of each but no prunes. I keep saying I will stew some up at home but never do. However I may when I get home. Absolutely delicious!! It really put me in a good mood.
Off to the British Library. I spent a couple hours immersed in really really old manuscripts–the oldest was from the 5-6th century.
I saw THE Domesday book.
Then I wandered thru the upper gallery and saw such marvels as the Gutenberg bible, handwritten music from Mozart to Beethoven to John Lennon. Many more medieval manuscripts–the Magna Carta. George and I saw a copy in Salisbury Cathedral 25 years ago–I think there are only three copies in existence. And so many other things. A letter from Michelangelo, notes from da Vinci, manuscripts from Dickens, the Brontes, and other writers…so many I can’t remember them all. Really fabulous. And free (except for my special exhibit). Afterwards I just wanted to sit. So I tried to use the tap for the bus but my Canadian tap card wouldn’t work. Well back to the train station for advice and some sort of bus ticket. Everyone had an opinion but this one girl, bless her, had the best advice. She sold me a five pound ticket, Good for travel on the bus all day. So I just hopped on and off buses. Climbed up to the top-they’re almost all double decker and just sat and enjoyed the view.Well, enjoyed is relative. The bus drivers were all extremely friendly and helpful–and unbelievable drivers in that horrific traffic. But the city was sooo dirty. Is there a garbage strike?? Bags and bags piled everywhere, street garbage swept into piles in corners and just rubbish on the streets. And the people!!!! How can there be so many people??? I didn’t want to get off the bus. I didn’t want to walk on the streets. I was really stunned. In Austria, if there is a piece of paper or other garbage on the street (very seldom) someone will pick it up. I’ve seen extremely well dressed Austrian ladies run over to some random piece of trash and pick it up to dispose of it. It’s like it’s a personal insult to have rubbish laying around.
Anyway I drove down Oxford Street and saw the Christmas lights. I crossed Waterloo bridge and saw the big Ferris wheel and Houses of Parliament. What I really wanted to see was Tower Bridge. I thought I had the right bus and we drove and drove and drove. No bridge. I finally got fed up and got off the catch the bus back. Once off I looked ahead and saw….Tower Bridge!!!! So I walked the few blocks to it and walked across the Thames. Fabulous. All the lights were on and it just looked great. The Tower was just visible on the south shore. So mission accomplished, I set out for home. That took an hour and a half. But the beer was good and I stopped for a pasty as the cook was still laid up. Breakfast held me all day!!