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Cathinjoetown Jan 12th, 2014 09:20 AM


Watching the SF-NC game, my brother is officiating (#54).

janisj Jan 12th, 2014 01:19 PM

Ooh - that's exciting!

(Hope he wasn't the one who blew the touchdown call at the end of the first half >). but the call was reversed so no harm. :) )

Cathinjoetown Jan 13th, 2014 12:58 AM

No, thankfully!!

TDudette Jan 13th, 2014 07:35 AM


janisj Jan 13th, 2014 12:14 PM

<B>Mon. Oct 28 - The big storm, Checking out of 3 star and in to posh, Fodors GTG)</B>

The big storm started to really blow in late Sunday night - massive winds and gusts over hurricane strength. Trees down all over southern England - but the worst that happened to me was just a bit of lost sleep. Early in the AM some huge gusts apparently triggered the alarms of several cars parked near the hotel. About 3:30 or 4AM they started blaring and many were still going when I finally gave up and gout up around 6AM.

I went down for breakfast and the queues were again pretty long. After a quick bite, I went back up to finish packing by the time I got back downstairs -- all those people who had been queueing for breakfast were now queueing to check out. But I wasn't really in any hurry since it was still rainy outside. I finally checked out about 10:00 and by then the entire storm had blown its course and it was just breezy w/ fluffy clouds.

I'm moving to the Waldorf Hilton for my last three nights. I usually rent flats in London and when I don't, often use Priceline. But w/ just 3 nights 'in play' I didn't want to hunt for a flat and decided to splurge on an upscale hotel . I'd gone on to see what I could finagle - and got a really good rate at the Waldorf H. I love the location of the hotel so close to Covent Garden and such (though truth be told - it isn't really all that convenient if the tube is your main mode of transport. It is a bit of a hike to the two nearest stations).

I knew the room would be small - and many on line reviews comment on the rooms being small even for London. And what w/ getting a discounted rate - I KNEW I'd be in a broom closet - a </i>nice</i> broom closet but a broom closet none the less.

I took a cab from the St Giles to the Hilton about 11AM - long before their guaranteed check in time. But they had a room ready so I was able to check in immediately . . . and I headed up to my broom closet on the 6th floor. <B><red>OMG!!!!!</B></red> Not a broom closet at all. In fact one of the largest hotel rooms I've ever seen in London. And that was just the <i>bedroom</i> - that isn't counting the 9 X 16 foot bathroom (I measured :) ) w/ separate soaker tub and walk in double shower . . . and the 8 foot square <u>entry hall</u>. And did I mention the Chandelier over the super king sized bed?!! :D They just had to have made a mistake - this must be a £500 a night room . . . And I love it (but I'm probably spoiled and can't stay there again because the next time I'm sure it WILL be a broom closet)

The hotel charges for wifi - but is free in the lounges/lobby - go figure? So I went down and had drink in the lobby bar and caught up on some e-mail. Then I wandered over to Covent Garden and shopped/watched some of the buskers for a couple of hours - the day had turned out very nice and sitting outside was comfortable. Went back to the hotel to finish unpacking the few bits I hadn't gotten around to and then walked a couple of blocks over to the Coal Hole to meet up w/ jamikins, Bikerscott and Patrick_London. Julia_t had planned on joining us but work and trains didn't mesh. We had a really fun visit. There was some concern how everyone would get home since there was so much disruption due to the storm. I had the easiest commute by far - like none :) Just a couple of block stroll.

Next: <B>Research at the V&A, Fortnum & Mason, and several single malts (for purely medicinal purposes . . .

TDudette Jan 13th, 2014 12:38 PM

How nice that you met Patrick and the jamiscotts. When storms in other countries make the local news in the U.S., we know they're severe. What a great hotel room!

annhig Jan 13th, 2014 01:51 PM

jj - in the dim and distant past when i worked in London, when there was a Tube or train strike and I had to drive into London at stupid o'clock to get to work, I used to treat myself to breakfast at the Waldorf. It was so luxurious that I don't think they's even got a broom cupboard. your room sounds positively decadent. All that room to your self!

nice about the GTG - sounds like loads of fun.

janisj Jan 14th, 2014 12:28 PM

<B>Oct. 29 - Research at the V&A, Fortnum & Mason, and several single malts (for purely medicinal purposes . . .</B>

I have an elderly friend who has a small harbour scape that was a wedding present to his parents in the early 1900's that he thinks may be valuable. Supposedly painted by a Glasgow artist. I've tried to get him to take it to our local very good art museum that does occasional evaluation days (sort of mini Antiques Roadshow-esque) but he hasn't and thinks because I travel to the UK so often, I should be able to research it/learn for sure who the artist is, etc.

So - mainly to humor him, today I went to the research library at the V&A . . . and had a blast. I had to register and become a 'member' and was assigned a number. That little vinyl number held down a research station for me . . I had my own desk in the V&A :)

How things work - there are many on-line catalogs of various resource material and other things and you use terminals search your topic(s) and order items pulled from the stacks. They do a pull every 30 mins at the hour and half hour and there is really no limit . There are also lots of resources in the reading room itself- I found volumes (and VOLUMES) of directories simply displaying artists signatures - by country, by era, by medium, etc. Over about 3 hours I ended up pulling maybe 10 or 12 different books and things like auction records and gallery/exhibition catalogs from the turn of the century. In the lulls between pulls I went out to the museum cafe and ate / had some wine and visited a couple of areas I haven't seen in a while. But mostly I was in the library.

I didn't pin down Jack's artist 100% but got a good handle - and managed to eliminate the one he thought it might be. And learned the V&A has an open advice surgery the first tues. afternoon every month - so I can always try again.

From the V&A I went to Fortnum & Mason - I usually find something I <i>must</i> have in their gift department and like to buy teas in their decorated tins for Christmas presents. I found another enameled box - this one is a music box and is really lovely. Once that was decided - then I had to do some serious shopping. F&M has a minimum shipping fee to the states (I can't remember if it is £25 or £30 but around that) I always like to have my purchases shipped - even small ones since the VAT comes off the top and usually pays the shipping/insurance charges and I don't have to worry about losing or breaking it myself.

So I have this small-ish enamel music box - going to ship it - costing £25 :? So I went sort of semi-crazy . . . Got a small crystal desk clock (It is a glass sphere w/ the clock face at an angle so it is magnified and you can see the time from across the desk - hard to explain but really pretty), several tins of loose tea including two massive 250 gram ones, Christmas biscuits, Various shortbread, a really wonderful enameled mirrored compact, just loads of stuff . . . and even though there wasn't VAT on most of the food items, it still way more than covered the shipping. Ended up quite a large parcel - and cost the same to ship as if it was only the one small enamel box.

I had tea and an ice cream sundae at F&M and then headed back to the hotel. Earlier in the afternoon I had started feeling achey and thought I might be coming down w/ the flu or a cold or some other crud. So I stopped at a Boots in the Strand -they fixed me up w/ various meds I'd might need. I didn't want to go out that night in case I really was catching something so I ate in the lounge - another weird 'order whatever sounds good' grazing sort of meal - Chicken Satay, tiger Prawns, I think some sort of slider . . just kept ordering off the bar menu and it filled the bill - washed down w/ an 18 yo Macallan.

Was in my room in the fluffy robe the hotel provided before 9:30 and got a great night's sleep. Next day I was still feeling a little achey/congested but much better than the night before - Boots and single malt - I can recommend them for what ails you :)

Next: <B>National Portrait Gallery, Lunch in the Crypt, Benjamin Franklin House, and more medicinal single malts . . .

annhig Jan 14th, 2014 12:38 PM

Boots and single malt - I can recommend them for what ails you >>

there are few ailments that that combination won't fix, jj. I didn't know that about being able to become a member of the V&A - how lovely.

so enjoying your trip with you - keep it coming...

jamikins Jan 14th, 2014 12:48 PM

Really enjoying the report! the name The Jamiscotts!!

kerouac Jan 14th, 2014 01:52 PM

Did I miss something?

janisj Jan 14th, 2014 01:53 PM

To clarify - Anyone cam become a member of the V&A - but this becoming a member of the National Art Library. Just noticed on the website they call it being a Reader. They needed my passport and other ID and issued me a membership card.

That site shows the room where librarians/terminals/entrance to the stacks

I had a reserved desk in this room:

Nikki Jan 14th, 2014 05:29 PM

What a fun mission at the V&A!

latedaytraveler Jan 14th, 2014 06:05 PM

Hi Janisj,

Really enjoying your report, especially your research at the V & A. Although I am not a “scholar,” I am familiar with the process of becoming a “reader” because of my association with the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Boston Athenaeum, veritable research institutions in Boston. Your pic of the reading room at the V & A reminds me of those establishments. Good luck with your future researches.

Another place I hope to visit when returning to London is the LONDON LIBRARY near St. James Park, not to be confused with the BRITISH LIBRARY. A private institution, it is open to the public for tours on Monday evenings. Are you familiar with it?

I also relied on the kindness of Boots last June when I was suffering from a seasonal allergy for which they provided a remedy.

“Boots and a single malt” in a cushy hotel room sounds great to me. I am interested to know your take on the BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE on Craven Street near Trafalgar Square. I really enjoyed their “historical experience.” Continue with your medicinal remedies…

taconictraveler Jan 14th, 2014 06:12 PM

That library is so gorgeous! WOW, lucky you!

janisj Jan 15th, 2014 01:29 PM

<B>Oct. 30 National Portrait Gallery, Lunch in the Crypt, Benjamin Franklin House, and more medicinal single malts . . .</B>

My last day in London :(

After a big breakfast in the hotel dining room including egg benedict (quite a splurge but they gave me a discount card at the front desk so I think it came to £16). I walked down to the Benjamin Franklin house to book a tour this afternoon. I then I wandered over to Trafalgar Square to get a look at the big blue cock >) . . . It was a beautiful morning so I got a latte from the new cafe under the north side of the Square and sat outside soaking up the sun and people watching before going around the corner to the Portrait Gallery. It has been years since I've spent an extended time in the gallery - usually just a quick look-see or maybe the Tudors before heading to the restaurant. Today I think I was there 2.5 or 3 hours and really concentrated on more of the 20th century personalities.

Was going to eat lunch in the Portrait restaurant but only had about 45 minutes til my timed ticket at the Franklin house, so I popped in the Crypt across the street and had some sort of lamp hot pot (don't totally remember it now but know it was lamb and know it was tasty).

Then over to the Benjamin Franklin House - about 15 people were on my tour and more would have been quite a crowd. It seems they run it sort of on a shoe string but it is charming. Not like other historic bldgs and definitely not like a stately home. You start out in the basement w/ a few display cases and a video presentation. Then the group is escorted upstairs where most of the rooms are essentially empty and there is a lot of multi-media 'experience' including sound effects and disembodied voices. They covered a lot of territory and I learned a lot of details about Franklin, the rest of the household, and the Georgian era in London.

Apparently on Mondays they do architectural tours w/o the costumed hostess and dramatics.

I had planned on going to the theatre again tonight - but I leave tomorrow and still feel just a little under the weather -- not actually sick but achey and maybe a low-grade fever. So I picked up two sandwiches at a nearby Pret (one thing you can pretty much count on being near wherever you are staying -- Boots and Pret-a-manger). Went back to the hotel and had a special Glenlivet the barman recommended, up to the room, ate the salmon sandwich, watched telly and took a loooong bubble bath. Later I went back down to the bar and had another single malt (excellent medicinal properties :) ) and chatted w/ the barmen for about an hour.

Went back up, finished packing, had some tea and the Brie sandwich and called it a night. Slept like a baby!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I went down to check out and catch up on some e-mail/hometown news. The doorman came and found me in the lounge - my driver had arrived very early. He went back and told the driver to wait and I'd be out in 20 minutes - and at straight up 9AM I was on my way to LHR. another trip to London over - this one too short by half.

latedaytraveler Jan 15th, 2014 04:51 PM

Hi Janisj,

Great last day, not counting your indisposition which you medicated well. I really enjoyed the “historical experience” at the Benjamin Franklin House. No doubt, in addition to all of his ambassadorial successes, he enjoyed a surrogate family relationship with the owner of the Craven Street house, Mrs. Stevenson, and her daughter Polly while Franklin’s own common law family pined for him back in Philadelphia.

You brought back many memories of my own solo experiences near Trafalgar Square – Portrait Gallery, the Crypt Restaurant at St. Martin in the Fields, along with great sandwiches from Pret a Manger to be eaten back in your digs watching the telly if you choose not to eat dinner at a restaurant.

Excellent trip report…

jane1144 Jan 16th, 2014 09:38 AM

Thanks, as always, Janisj. I love your reports and always gain valuable tips and info.

PatrickLondon Feb 9th, 2014 09:43 AM

janisj, further to your notes above about researching your friend's painting, I'm just watching a programme about authenticating (or not) people's heirloom paintings where there is mention of this archive of images, complete with provenances and history:

janisj Feb 9th, 2014 11:23 AM

Oh - my goodness - what a fabulous resource. Thanks Patrick

I may be back this Spring so I'm putting that on my 'to do' list.

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