I arrive in England - Kenwood House
Since I have moderate fear of flying, the flight dragged hour by hour as I kept my eye glued on the trip map. Air New Zealand flew well, but that was all they did (granted, it's enough). Although I was supposed to have a window seat so I could keep my eyes on the ground, they gave me my bete noire, a seat smack in the claustrophobic middle of the plane. This agony I had to endure for 10 hours, with only the nastiest of food, no internet, and not a single watchable movie (Nemo? Juno? Hobbit?). But then I got up and went to a window to see, and there at last were the foggy islands. The first sight of them never fails to bring tears to my eyes, on this my 33rd trip, just as it was on my first.
Cartwright Gardens - where I usually stay in London
And then I was on the direct tube (Piccadilly Line) to Russell Square, looking out in the above-ground sections on a perfect London day. Low 70s, sunshine, fresh breezes, English greenery, the flowers of summer, buddlia and rosebay willow herb, oh so beautiful, and I have ten days of it stretching out before me! Reached my hotel, the George b & b in Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury, and had half an hour to wash up and get settled in my room before friend Ron Dunning (genealogist, musician, Austen family member) arrived. There's nothing lovelier than seeing a friend after a long journey, you feel welcomed and oriented straight away.
Guide, philosopher, friend - Ron at Kenwood
Ron, like the knight he is, promptly whisked me away on a lovely drive to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath - a more glorious greeting to England can scarcely be imagined! There I was, just like that, in the midst of Constable landscapes come to life. We had tea first, in the garden, iconic delicious English delicacies, egg mayonnaise sandwich and Victoria sponge. The house was simply beautiful, a stunning Adam house filled with Rembrandts and Constables and beauties as far as the eye could see. We followed this with a refreshing walk on the Heath, more views across grass and landscape over the city in the long distance. Then Ron drove me back to the hotel. Lovely drive too, through fascinating London neighborhoods, and there's no better companion than Ron for such a journey, for he has "the knowledge." We had a spot of Tandoori at my favorite neighborhood Indian place, and then I staggered back to the George, for some much needed and sound sleep!
Egg mayonnaise and Victoria sponge!