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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018

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Oct 8th, 2018, 12:58 PM
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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018

The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018




Part One: Overview and Undertaking

Mrs. P and I did the Spin and Marty routine (“What do you want to do, Spin?” “I don’t know, Marty, what do you want to do?”). So, after a few iterations, we decided on London. Also, Virgin Atlantic had a great fare, as long as we would do Economy Light – No refunds, no checked baggage, no seat selection before check in. Used the savings to buy two new carry-ons to meet the size and weight restrictions. Thank, you, T J Maxx!

I chose a hotel a block from the Earls Court underground station on a direct line from Heathrow and no steps to street. Blew the airline $ savings on a nice hotel, the Nadler Kensington. Originally had nonrefundible digs at the Kensington Indigo, but they let us cancel after they had a total AC/heating/ventillation failure that would not be repaired while we were there.

We planned to visit museums and tourist sites, go to a concert or two, maybe a daytrip to Blenheim Palace, do walking tours, see shows, and, of course, eat well. Most goals accomplished, except daytrips as we didn’t run out of London things to do.


Today’s Report: The Hotel:


The Nadler was very nice. Modern, in an expensive area. The street of townhouses next to the hotel had cars parked in front ranging from Beemers to a Tesla and a Bentley and a Maserati. Moneyed folks, conspicuously declared.

Our room was small but not cramped and fully functional. Nice modern bathroom, internet with a private router for each room in the place for secure internet, a very comfortable queen sized bed (I gotta get a new mattress now. Boy! It was comfortable). The rooms have a closet minikitchen (microwave, sink, fridge, basic dishes and cutlery, built in Britta water filter, electric teapot, a coffee thingy, etc.) One day we hit Borough Market and got fancy cheese and bread and designer butter, other days hit Sainsbury and Marks and Sparks for in room feasts and breakfasts made easy with the room’s facility. Very friendly and accommodating staff, too.


Nearby food sources: Several good restaurants, a Paul’s for bread, pastry, and sandwiches, a Pret a Manger, and the aforementioned M&S and Sainsbury.

Overall, with easy connections and a nice hotel, we had a great place to stay.
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Oct 8th, 2018, 01:13 PM
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On board for more. We've stayed twice at the Nadler in Liverpool and were thrilled. They had very good prices when we were there.
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Oct 8th, 2018, 02:25 PM
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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018

The Joy of Free Museums:

London is an expensive city, plus the prices are in pounds and look high even if they were in dollars. But, thanks to the taxes that cause the high prices, the state-run museums are free. They do have dozens of bins for contributing 5 pounds, but they can be ignored, if desired. And, since there is no investment in entry fees, we had no feeling that we had to see every thing in one exhausting go, ‘cause we can always come back, right?

So we visited the Victoria and Albert three times at least, I think. It’s a fun museum, with all kinds of displays. They also had special exhibits that were a lot more interesting than I expected. The one on “Fashioned from Nature” was both visually interesting but also pushed an environmental agenda of how fashion trends through time affect the natural world from which materials are taken to provide the fashion. Another special exhibit, “The Future Starts Here,” was a fascinating exploration of the design and technology that will shape the future, embracing science, design, culture, and more. Unlike the permanent exhibits, the special exhibits have significant admission charges, which were somewhat mitigated by using the two for one deals (I will explain in a later section). We would have liked to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit but it was sold out for the duration of our trip.

The British Museum was a must for me. I am always fascinated by the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon (previously known as the Elgin Marbles). Since our last visit 20 years ago, they seem to have lowered the marble sculptures to eye level, greatly improving the experience. With a museum this large, a plan of visit is a good idea, but what did we know about seeing highlights? Never fear, the museum map has a section called “Don’t Miss” which is like a scavenger hunt through the museum, sending us to a dozen spots with high impact displays. It took two hours, since you see a lot along the way, too, which I am sure was the idea. Everything from medieval chessmen to Assyrian Lions, to an Easter Island head to Benin bronzes and a thorn from the crown of thorns. When your empire spans the world, so does your museum.

We went to the Tate Modern, as we like modern art. The art was more intellectual political than decorative, so was a bit disappointing. I likened the place to the “Tate Too Modern.” Of course, if you go to the 10th floor, you get an open air panoramic view of all of London.



On the other hand, the Tate Britain on another day displayed a wonderful selection of art, from Rothko to Moore sculptures in abundance to Turner. Rooms full of Turners. I guess it’s more my kind of museum.

We really liked a less internationally famous museum, the Wallace Collection. It’s the result of a rich collector’s widow’s donation to the state. Particularly interesting were the remarkable collection of armor and more Canaletto views of Venice in one room than I have ever heard of. Also houses considerable exceptional furniture pieces, and a few Rembrandts of note.

We also enjoyed a few hours in the Science Museum (next to the V&A). Technology, materials, and more. It’s a museum for the art of technology and science, suitable for all ages, including scads of school kids having a good time. Actually, most of the museums had school kids an outings, and they were remarkably well behaved. Britain, you know. Computer fans will be impressed by Babbage’s second computing engine, the world’s second mechanical computer.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 10:19 AM
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I have to admit I like the Babbage engine and the printer they have built next to it. I also like the machine that shows how the economy works by flows of water that so impressed Harold Wilson that he thought it worked correctly (it doesn't) and is immortalised in a Terry Pratchett as the "glooper" where, on a flat world, of course, it worked.

On for the ride.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 10:34 AM
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Signing on for more. I gave up trying to appreciate modern art years ago and only visited the Tate Modern for the building.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 12:26 PM
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catching up.

I'm not a huge Modern art fan either but every time I visit Tate Modern I find at least something that convinces me I was glad I went.

Tate Britain on the other hand - I must spend 3+ hours every trip -- heck two hours just for the Turner's and ages in front of Carnation Lily Lily Rose
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Oct 9th, 2018, 01:58 PM
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Enjoying so far and looking forward to the next instalment. Stayed at the Indigo Earls Court on my last trip and really enjoyed the location and quick access to the tube.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 02:19 PM
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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018


Pictures for the previous part, if I can get them to post. I couldn’t yesterday.



View from the Tate Modern


Another view from the Tate Modern


Babbage's second machine. It's twice as high as a person!
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Oct 9th, 2018, 03:23 PM
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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018

What to do on arrival day while jet lagged and sore from the rotten seats on the plane.

So, now it’s Wednesday. Sleeping on the plane was difficult. Hard, narrow, short seats were a pain in the butt (literal meaning) and airline food was, well, airline food. After checking into the hotel and finding a nearby phone store for a SIM chip, we didn’t want anything taxing, so we headed to Hyde Park, entered its southwest corner and walked to the Serpentine Museum to see some art. It was closed while they set up a new exhibition that opened after our vacation. Bah.

So we walked along the park’s Serpentine Lake. There were swans, geese, ducks, and a rather cheeky raven or two. Mom’s walked kids in strollers. Dogs walked their masters. Beautiful weather. In London! Sunlight and exercise, a nice recipe for resetting the old internal chronometer, or at least that was what we told ourselves. Then we explored a bit of Bayswater Road where we had stayed years ago.

Suitably tired, it was hotel and nap time, after making dinner reservations via Open Table and setting an alarm.

A few blocks from the hotel is Couscous Darna, a Moroccan restaurant with a very Moroccan décor and an almost excessively enthusiastic owner/Maitre d’. Aps were chicken Pastilla and sauteed fresh sardines in a seasoned sauce. Mains: Couscous, of course. Merguez for Mrs. P, Lamb with prunes and almonds for me, vegetables in broth for both of us, and an excellent harissa. All ingredients, including the merguez sausage and the harissa are house made. Moroccan Rose and Red wines helped wash down the copious servings, preventing us from trying the enticing desserts (cardamom ice cream!). We were the only tourists in the full restaurant. Highly recommended, reservations advised.




Not bad for a first half day.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 09:43 PM
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The Shard from the top of the Tate Modern. Thin 💃
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Oct 10th, 2018, 05:16 AM
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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018

Thursday, a Full Day of London

Mostly over jet lag, we started with pastries from Paul (pistachio croissant, mmmm), then hit the V&A for a few galleries. Later on (in the afternoon?) we did a bit at the British National Museum. Also during the day we visited Covent Garden, but found the “shopping” to be both tourist goods only and overpriced (“You want WHAT for some Earl Grey in a colored tin?”).

We ate lunch at the Flat Iron near Covent Garden (they have several locations). It’s a single concept restaurant and it does it well. For 11 pounds you get a steak, green salad, popcorn (!), and an ice cream cone. The steak is boneless, fatless, gristle-less, tender, flavorful, and grilled to your liking. You get a superfluously sharp cleaver to cut it with. Add on the beef fat fried chips (wonderful), a steak sauce of your choice, and maybe a vegetable side. No reservations (stand in line or get a mobile page). Oh, and in the front window you can see them butchering a quarter cow, trimming away every non-meat component from the steaks. Recommended.

Somewhere along the line (a short one) we got discount show tickets at TKTSLeicester Square (the real booth in the middle of the square, not the “official” ripoff joints). “Strictly Ballroom” because Mrs. P likes dance. It’s Baz Luhrmann’s near-frenetic shiny loud pastiche of song and dance and a thin plot, well acted. Well, acted may be an understatement. Hammed up? But fun to see.

Afterwards, we had a post-theatre meal at Brasserie Zedel nearby. Down into the basement and suddenly you are in a massive French décor nightspot restaurant. A singer. A jazz ensemble. Energy. Friendly/proper staff. Mrs. P liked her cod with a sweet red pepper compote. I had choucroute garni (as good or better than ones I have had in Paris). We had to cut out without aps or dessert in order to get through the underground before it closed for the night as we had to take two different lines to get to the hotel during the Piccadilly Line strike. Next trip, maybe make this place an evening. Recommended.

A bit about the TKTS booth. You don’t actually have go there to stand in line. Their tickets are available on line for the same day plus the next two days. Because of fees, they are a bit shy of half off pricing, but London theatre is cheaper than Broadway theater. TKTS also will sell you some shows that are not giving a discount for only one pound over face, saving you a trip to the box office or the show’s own higher on-line fees. We had wanted to see King Lear with Ian McKellen, but it was essentially sold out months in advance and the prices for the remaining seats required a second mortgage. The Shakespeare at the Young Vic was sold out. Anyone who wants the most popular shows, West End or national theatres, should buy really far in advance or it’s “No Mormons For You!”

Last edited by AJPeabody; Oct 10th, 2018 at 05:20 AM.
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Oct 10th, 2018, 07:50 AM
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"trimming away every non-meat component from the steaks. " Non-muscle I suspect you mean ;-)
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Oct 11th, 2018, 01:18 PM
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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018


Friday

Saw the Tate Modern, mild disappointment as noted in my museum list above. Then walked to the nearby Borough Market. We wandered and bought supper: Two artisanal breads (whole meal with apricots and almonds, whole meal with caramelized walnuts, and, at Neals Yard Creamery, after tasting fabulous cheeses with equally fabulously stratospheric prices, settled an a St. Cire soft cheese and Welsh butter. (A later stop at our local Sainbury got us tomatoes and cucumber and cheap red wine.)

Lunch was at Tapas Brindisa, where we had five “small” plates of neatly devised Spanish style taste treats. Loved it. They have several branches around London. Highly recommended.

Off to Leicester Square, half price tix for a show. Kinky Boots. Really liked it. Great acting, costumes, music, and energy. Afterwards headed to the hotel and had our Borough Market dinner. Also tried chocolate bars. Sadly, Cadbury has been ruined by the corporate transfer to Mondelez, Galaxy was worse, and a crumbly bar lauded recently in the NY Times was junk.


Saturday

The highlight was a London Walk of Camden Town, and the Camden Locks Market. The highly enthusiastic guide pointed out the sites associated with British pop stars, an access to the site of the Dalek tunnels of Dr. Who, and the important aspects and history of the canal and locks and original market and goods transit sites of Camden Locks. We lingered in the market for a Cornish pastie and some liquid nitrogen ice cream. Bused back to central London, shopped without buying on Regent Street, and returned to the hotel to rest our feet.

If I can get the pictures to post there will be views of a Camden wall with what was probably not a Banksy although at first sight I thought it could be, and the ultimate sneakers.




Almost a Banksy, maybe?
And it's actually above the Dalek tunnels!




Sneakers that will get you beaten up on the basketball court


Dinner was our long awaited fish and chips. We went to Kerbisher and Malt. Impeccably fresh haddock for me, cod for Mrs. P, homemade tatrtar sauce, and perfect chips. The coating on the fish was greaseless, brown, thin, and crisp. The fries were brown crisp on the outside, soft inside, none of those pale limp things that used to be the British norm. Highly recommended. It’s a small place, reserve if you don’t want to wait or do take away.

Last edited by AJPeabody; Oct 11th, 2018 at 01:28 PM.
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Oct 11th, 2018, 06:41 PM
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I'm picking up on a lot of good restaurants and ideas and enjoying your TR very much. We saw Kinky Boots last year and really enjoyed it. I eagerly await your next installment. Thanks!
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Oct 11th, 2018, 08:16 PM
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I was in London exactly at this time last year. We had been there two weeks by this time and tomorrow left for Paris.

I love both British Museum and V & A. There was a special exhibit of Belenciaga fashions, showing his beginnings and growth through the years, as a designer at the V &A. I got my tickets online so we were set. Such great things to see.

I was not happy with the Cadbury at all. I got some M&Ms, at the huge shop in Piccadilly Circus and they were horrible. I LOVE M's but these were terrible. I threw them out and for me, that's highly unusual. They're nothing like what we have here. I'm not usually like that and get very impatient when people say "it's NOT like I have at home". Hope you all can forgive me, but they were not good.

We saw six shows, including Kinky Boots. Very fun show, had a good message, nice songs. Glad you like it. I love Leicester Square. The prices are awesome. I just paid 133.00 each for three seats to Bat Out Of Hell in San Franciso in December. I could see in London for about 30 bucks. Londoners are very blessed having that much entertainment available and at such great prices. I know, there are the "it" shows, Hamilton and the like that are way more, but in general, theater is great there.

Our stop was Green Park, Piccadilly line. I would NOT have been happy with a strike on it. By the way, did you use the new line? I saw a program on PBS about it's construction. An amazing feat. I think it would be open now. It goes down to the docks I believe. There was lots of work going on in the underground last year.

Fun to read reports and see what others like to do and how their interests and experiences differ from mine. Thanks for posting.
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Oct 11th, 2018, 09:07 PM
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>>I think it would be open now.<<

If you mean Crossrail (the Elizabeth line) -- not yet. Supposedly by the end of the year. Even then it won't be totally operational.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 04:11 AM
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The Peabody Papers: AJ and Mrs. Peabody Visit London, 2018

Sunday

When I was doing my excessive restaurant planning, I noted that in London, Sunday Roast was a thing. It also seemed that without advance reservations, we weren’t going to get one. It appeared that the two top places for British beef at a Sunday Roast were Blacklock and Hawksmoor, both with more than one location. Blacklock was a bit cheaper but fully booked up, so we reserved at Hawlsmoor, at the Seven Dials location as it is in theatre land, allowing for a matinee performance afterward.

Hawksmoor presented a full-on Sunday Roast. We each got a large plate heaped with food. There was what was billed as a 200 gram portion of 28 day aged roast beef (rare for me, well done for Mrs. P), a big dark brown Yorkshire pudding, four chunks of roasted potatoes, a roasted shallot (large), honey baked carrots, half a roasted garlic head, a mass of greens (possibly chard), horseradish sauce, and a sauce boat of gravy. It was a visual portrait of abundance artfully arranged. All the sides were very good.

Despite the abundant appearance, the meal also was somewhat disappointing, ironically. The beef portion seemed smaller than expected (the 200 grams = 7 ounces), probably based on an estimated raw meat weight, so considerably smaller due to aging and cooking loss, and worse, it included a thick edge of fat, maybe 20% of the finished product. The meat itself had some chew, interpreted as a bit tough due to less than sharp steak knives. (What meat restaurant has less than sharp knives?) The flavor was excellent, however disappointing the quantity. Also the Yorkshire pudding required the whole pitcher of gravy to combat its dryness. If I had to do it over again, I would order meat and sides from the a la carte menu at three times the overall price and stuffed myself. Or reserved early enough to get a table at Blacklock which seemed to offer two slices of beef. Oh, well, this was the first vacation in a long time where I didn’t gain weight.

Before dinner we hit the half price booth and snagged matinee tix for “The Comedy About a Bank Robbery.” Nonstop puns, action, broad farce, slapstick, gunshots, and more. The cast had multiple roles to add to the intended confusion. One actor even played “everyone else.” Great fun.

Supper was in the hotel, Camembert from Sainsbury (raw milk, of course), bread and butter from our trip to Borough Market, vegs from the fridge, wine. Our cheeses and bread and butter also was supplying a few breakfasts over several days when we didn’t feel like more pastry from Paul.

Sacked out early that night, felt pretty tired, for a reason that would become apparent in the morning.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 06:11 AM
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Beef should have fat on it and should be served very thin for a Sunday roast.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Beef should have fat on it and should be served very thin for a Sunday roast.
Agreed. This beef had a thick margin of fat, far beyond anything I would expect at any restaurant. The slice was cut thick, and the fat cap was thick and wide, making up a large portion of the slice. In retrospect, I think we should have made a mild complaint at the time and maybe got a second slice. Oh, well. The subliminal process in this whole Sunday Roast search was a bit of nostalgia for the old Simpson's, where Mrs. P and I ate on our honeymoon many years ago. As the reconstituted new Simpson's clearly is not the same, I looked for a substitute. In vain.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 09:59 AM
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I was also interested in the Yorkshire pudding, the classic should have raised edges that are crisp but a centre which is soft. How did that go?
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