Subject: UK 2001 part 1 (long)(extracts only)
September 20 - 21:

Found the Airbus, bought a ticket and landed at the Cottage Hotel, Euston Street, London by about 10:45. The hotel is a small one, not too expensive, some en suite, some not, television, no phone in the rooms though there was an intercom in mine at least. Of course the room wasn't ready that early so I left my luggage and decided I needed more in my stomach than just the juice and biscuits that were served on the plane for breakfast. Around the corner, on Euston Road and in the same building as the Euston Square hotel is a café, Giovanni's Sandwich Bar. All day breakfast, very reviving. Had a bit of a chat with Giovanni while I sipped my tea and then headed to Liverpool street train station to sort out a week's transport pass for the train next week when I'm traveling back and forth with Nikki. Turns out that the pass I bought which I wanted to be useful for London busses and the underground included a 6 zone transport pass. Very convenient!

The hotel room was in the next building from the one where the desk and breakfast room is. I have a key for the building as well as the room. Thankfully my bags were dragged up to the room on the second floor for me. No lift, narrow staircases. Narrow continued to be the order of the day. I expected small but dear Heaven the room couldn't have been more than about 8 feet across and it held two single beds! I chuckled, thinking Chris and I would be sleeping together even though that wasn't in the plan! My friend Chris was supposed to be joining me for the weekend, arriving tomorrow afternoon, and this hotel was the one he has stayed at a few times. Anyway, the room is very small, bathroom equally so but functional and with a shower door not a curtain so no danger of flooding the place like at the Dolby in Manchester. I liked the way they got the beige curtains to match the damp patches up in one corner! But over all, though the room could have used a coat of paint, it was still better than the one we had at the Inverness Court, the carpet was clean and the sheets and bathroom were immaculate. That's really all that matters.

September 22

The breakfast room in the basement of the main hotel building is very pretty, lots of china plates on a shelf that circles three sides of the room, windows on the front and back walls with plants on the sills and more china, plates and jugs. Some old cabinets. The wooden tables are covered in pink and blue with standard issue crockery. Breakfast was a bit on the meager side with one egg, one rasher of bacon, one sausage, toast, and a half of a small tomato, warmed (and fresh not canned thankfully). There was juice and tea and cereal available as well which I didn't have.

I decided I would go to the Museum of London at the Barbican for a couple of hours this morning. I had been there once before in 1993 and really enjoyed it though I was in a bit of a rush and jetlagged during that visit. I got off the underground at Moorgate and had a wander through the Barbican complex, discovering a lovely old church, St. Giles Cripplegate. It was closed on weekends but a sign I was able to read through the window in the door informed me that a church has been on that site for about 1000 years. It seemed that this church had survived the 1666 fire so aside from restorations, I think it must have been over 300 years old. The ages of buildings here is a never-ending source of amazement to me. Canada is so *new* by comparison!

The Museum of London contains the history of the city of London from Roman times through to the 20th century, all told through artifacts found from archaeological excavations and museum pieces over the years. There is jewelry, furniture, paintings, prints, clothing, ceramics. There are reproduced rooms, dioramas and models. It's really fascinating and you could spend all day there. Admission is only £5 and the ticket is good for a year as well. I did the upper level which ends at the Great Fire of London 1666.

Across the street from the hotel is a pub, the Jolly Gardener. The weather has turned out to be absolutely summery so I went across, ordered a plate of spaghetti Bolognese and took it and my beer out to a picnic table outside. The food was really good, and beer hit the spot as the sun warmed my bones and lifted my spirits somewhat.

I had a brochure that I picked up in the lobby and discovered this weekend is the last weekend for an 19th century art exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art titled From Ingres to Matisse and also the first weekend of an exhibition titled Rembrandt's Women. The first exhibit, in a brightly lit gallery on the top floor, had a number of Impressionists including one that really struck me called Coming in
>From the Field by Breton. Three women walking barefoot with the taller of the three in the middle embracing the other two while the shafts of wheat are bent gently in the breeze along the sides of the road. That spoke to me of the friendship between myself, Tracey and Josephine so I bought a postcard for each of us. The Rembrandt show was in a series of older, darker galleries featured sketches, drawings, etchings and paintings of women in Rembrandt's life. It was fascinating to see how he viewed them, from maternal to erotic, regardless of body type or age and all of them were curvaceous to varying degrees.

Leaving there I walked along Picadilly and admired the architecture. That is a repeating theme in my journeys. I love buildings and am constantly branding myself tourist as I walk along gaping up at them, searching for ornamental touches, unusual shapes and rhythmic patterns in the structures. There are a lot of airline offices along Picadilly and I passed the Burlington Arcade, a Victorian covered shopping center. I decided to have a browse and let me tell you, that is the ultimate window shopping experience!!! The shops are very exclusive with, no doubt, prices to match. The far end comes out on New Bond street with it's plethora of designer shops such as Armani, Ferragamo, Tiffany's, Chanel, Ralph Lauren# you name it. Way out of my league.

My quest for a cup of tea ended in a Pret a Manger shop and I bought a sandwich to take back to the hotel room to supplement the fruit I had from yesterday. Diane Johnston