Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Day One: Arrive London

My journey from Adelaide to London took 31 hours, door to door. That is pretty good, given I went via Melbourne. I did that deliberately to avoid a change of plane (and terminal) in Dubai. Instead we had a simple refuelling stop of about an hour and a quarter, leaving early and arriving in London 45 minutes ahead of schedule. It was a good flight. I finished a book and did quite a bit of embroidery - as well as getting about 6-7 hours sleep. I thought the food was good - sensible, modest serves. I really enjoyed the small mushroom linguine. Heathrow was relatively efficient apart from a bit of a wait for luggage. My painted flowers did help with identification, but didn't speed the bag along.

The drive from the airport to a hotel always leaves impressions. Today the traffic was light. The numerous luxury car headquarters I noticed on my last visit were nowhere in evidence on the route we took.                                                                                      There are odd things - like a 24 hour Tesco.
The stand-out feature this time were the apartments being built - huge blocks that I didn't photograph. Amongst them are elegant rows around Kensington, Paddington.

The trees are still bare. There was little wind. It was 33C when I left Adelaide and 6C when I arrived in London.The first time I visited London, in August 1968, Winter in Australia, Summer in England. It was warmer in Sydney when I got on the plane that it was in London when I arrived and the first thing I did was buy a coat. Today the absence of wind helped to allay the shock. By late in the afternoon, it was, however, raining.

Baker St hasn't moved

and Madame Tussauds has lost none of it's attraction

The Royal Academy of Music is still impressive and Regent's Park still an attractive space even with the trees still bare.

I chose The Wesley Hotel purely because it was the closest I could find to Euston Station which is where I need to catch a train the day after tomorrow. My room met my expectations, It is quiet, clean, comfortable and compact, with a small desk, a giant bed and a very limited view.

What I hadn't expected, is the history. It was originally the Methodist International Centre (MIC) one of a series of places set up by the Methodist Church at the instigation of Hilda Porter, a missionary returned from service in the Far East, who was horrified that accommodation in London often openly refused people on the basis of race. Conscious of the hospitality she had received overseas, she campaigned for the Church to set up comfortable and affordable accommodation for overseas students studying in London. The MIC fulfilled this function for 60 years.

Now, as the Wesley Hotel, it endeavours to maintain a social change philosophy in keeping with its Methodist roots. It bills itself as the "First Ethical Venue in the UK" , working for sustainability, socially responsible  business and supporting a number of charities around the world. This added an unexpected interest to my stay.

HI kept myself awake until I had an early dinner in the hotel, hoping to sleep well tonight. I completely forgot to bring or take Melatonin tablets this time. Dinner was pleasant - duck with pureed sweet potato and bock choi, chocolate ice cream and mango sorbet.

The restaurant is crisp and modern, obviously patronised by city workers.

I planned my day and a half in London as R&R rather than sight-seeing. Given the weather, I plan to stick with that and have a quiet day tomorrow. The focus this time, is largely in the Lakes District.

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