Easter Monday and I am visiting one of my favorite places. There’s a 24 hour petrol station just down the street and the famous (at least to aviators) 3 Magpies Pub is just across the way, which I might add was going pretty strong at 1130 last night. Sitting in one of the many hotels on the north side of Heathrow, I get an idea to share some with you.
As a cup of instant soup begins to brew, I wonder why this place is such a favorite of mine. It seems to be raining or chilly overcast every time I arrive here and my timing for what’s happening never seems to be quite right. There is always some event just missed or just happens to be the wrong day of the week to attend. This week’s example happens to be with the scheduled showing of We Will Rock You, a theatrical phenomenon created by original Queen Band member Brian May and fellow rocker Roger Taylor. For some reason the show is only available on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (??) And then there’s Westminster Abbey. I have been waiting to see this one attraction for quite some time. With it’s Byzantine Architecture, rich history and all its internal glory. West Abbey houses the tomb’s of much of British Royalty and I am very interested to see the tomb of Mr. Charles Darwin. The world recently celebrated his 200th anniversary in evolution research. And without digressing into a conversation on religion and evolution, let’s just say I would have liked to visit the Abbey.
Another place high on my personal list is The Royal Albert Hall, located off the High Street – Kensington station on the Underground train system. The Albert, like so much of England is rich in history. It was built during Queen Victoria’s reign and named after her one love, Prince Albert. It has been the venue for so many public and private shows, productions and musical events from tennis and boxing to classical music performances and the Royal Orchestra. It is a rich musical history which is of great interest to me and is an archetectual marvel in its own right with an all glass dome ceiling. It is not the operas or orchestral concerts but the work of David Gilmour, Sting and Mick Hucknel (Simply Red) which is of interest. To see in person the old pipe organ which Richard Wright sat and played for David’s ‘Remember the Night’ DVD. To view not just the Royal Retiring Room, the Queen’s Box seats or even to walk around back stage. I hope to stand high in the back of the theatre. Where the ‘cheap seats’ give the stage and show a completely different perspective, one I know all too well from my younger days.
I think one of greatest attractions to London is its many pubs. Not just for their charm but for the simple fact British people like to get together, share in conversation and a quick pint before returning home for the evening. The social aspect is long engrained in heritage and still thrives here today. Most travelers will tell you the food and dinning in England is comparatively expensive, but most pubs offer reasonable fare and their fish ‘n chips dinners are not to be missed.
London has so much to see and experience, it seems I continue to miss an opportunity to experience the rest of England. Although I once drove down from Mildenhall Air Force base with my wife, there have been no other ventures out of the Big Ben city. Although I have watched some luring golf matches and am familiar with their running marathon along the coast I have yet to make it out of the city. Oxford and Cambridge would be great day trips and I am certain the southern cities of Exeter and Winchester would be worthy of a trip. Even the relative short journey to Windsor would make for a beautiful day outing in July or August.
Overall, England is a wonderful place to visit. The Brit’s seem to inherently know how to extend a warm welcome. My experiences have been consistent – humble gratitude and cheerful hospitality given toward visitors and vacationers alike. If during your next travels abroad you can find connection through London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airports, you should try to line up a short layover (or pray for a weather cancellation), get out your mobile and look for what’s happening around London on Know2Go.
foto credits: neatorama, freefoto, ica-coop.