December 11, Sunday: London
An Early Start:
Ever since I had arrived in London in late-July, I had been promising myself that I would attend Sunday Mass at Westminster Cathedral--the Catholic Church on Victoria Road (not to be confused with the more-famous Anglican Westminster Abbey). This would be the day I would go to the 9.00 am Mass--which involved leaving my friend Raquel's place at 8.15 to make it in time.
Mass and Christmas Market at Westminster Cathedral:
Mass was wonderful. There was a visiting delegation of people from Italy and a bunch of Filipinos who conduct the services. I received Communion and at the end of Mass left, quite unexpectedly, to poke my head into the Christmas Market that they said was on in a Hall behind the church. I ended up finding about four DVDs of the British TV shows I have been collecting as well as two scented candles and with those items in a bag, I hurried off to meet my friend Roz for breakfast.
Breakfast at Dominique Ansel Bakery at Victoria:
My friend Roz and I had agreed that when I returned from my travels in Israel and France, we would meet for breakfast at Dominique Ansel's Bakery at Victoria. Raquel and Jonas also decided to join us there and as I stood waiting for a bus to get me there from Victoria Road, I hoped I would not be late. I called Roz to tell her that I was running late and then along came a bus. I was at the spot at 10.20 only to find that Raquel and Jonas had arrived there and that Roz was keeping our spot in the line.
As is pretty well-known by now, Dominique Ansel, the Parisien patisieur took New York by storm when he invented the Cronut--a cross between a croissant and a donut. I had eaten one of these the day I took the coach from Victoria to Leeds and I had loved every last crumb of it. This time, with a Hazelnut Croissant in my hand, I have to admit that it was not quite as good as I expected. Roz and Raquel were also quite disappointed. Raquel found (as I did) that the hazelnut flavor was much too mild and Roz simply felt that there was too much going on with the concoction. With hot chocolate and coffee to wash our treats down, we had a lovely chat and then left. Roz said goodbye to us as she left for her next appointment after wishing us both Very Happy Holidays.
Off to Jo Loves:
Being on Elizabeth Street, I had decided that I would pop into Jo Loves, the perfume store on the same street and that I would take Raquel there with me and introduce her to the place. It was packed. I could barely get a foot in but somehow Raquel, Jonas and I managed to squeeze our way in and try out some of their offerings. I finally left with their ten perfume spritz sampler which would allow me to try them all and then buy a bottle of the perfume of my choice. It was a lovely idea and a delightful way to enable patrons to choose the fragrance that worked for them. I resolved to try the ten fragrances over the holidays and then buy the bottle of my choice when I returned to London again.
Off with Jonas to the Museum of London:
The next stop on my agenda was a quick nip into the Museum of London in order to see the golden coach of the Mayor of London before it disappears for the next four years for renovation. Jonas, Raquel's 10-year old son, was keen to go with me and it was with him for company, that we bid goodbye to his mother and set off by bus and then Tube for the Museum.
We arrived at the Barbican soon enough and walked the short distance to the Museum of London. We had a very nice time getting there and after inquiring exactly where the coach was, we set off to find it. While there, I had the most bizarre experience. I requested a 20-Something to take a picture of Jonas and me standing by the coach. She told me that she was busy (she had been gazing at a display and doing nothing else!) and could not. I thanked her and said that I would try to find someone else. She replied that she did not like my attitude! I should have realized then that there was probably something wrong with her (mental illness being such a silent affliction!). I responded, "My attitude? I'm not sure I know what you mean." To which she suddenly flared up and said, "You're flirting with me! Stop flirting with me!" Okay, that was it. I had caught a nut job in full throttle. "Flirting with you?" I laughed. "Don't kid yourself." To which, she let out a stream of foul language despite that fact that I had a little boy with me. "Mind your language." I said. "You are in the company of a child." And with that, we walked away and found another sweet family whom we then requested to take our picture. Poor Jonas, the most timid little boy in the world, was shaking and it was all I could do to calm him down and tell him to try to overlook an unhappy woman who was probably having a bad day.
Off to NYU:
From the Museum, we took the Tube and made our way together to Tottenham Court Road so that I could get to my office at NYU where my suitcase and other belongings had been stashed. I was keen to get a hold of my computer and I carried it back with me to Raquel's home to which I was then headed. Jonas, by then, had grown deeply exhausted and adamant about going back home. The entire morning had been too much for him to take and our encounter with the crazy lady, had ruined his mood.
So back on the Tube we went to Maida Vale and by 3.00 pm, the exhausted Jonas just flopped on the sofa with the telly while I sat with Raquel and chatted.
Making a Gingerbread House:
I was quite content to spend the evening at home with my friends and when Jonas invited me to make a Gingerbread House with him from the kit that his mother had bought him, I was delighted to comply. Not only would it allow me to continue to spend time with a kid I love, but it was the first-ever gingerbread house I would ever make and I was keen to give it a go. The next couple of hours flew by as Raquel got a spot of dinner together for us in the dining room. We sat down to eat pasta, meatballs, a delicious salad and cheese and crackers while having a nice chat with the entire family in attendance. And before we knew it, the day had ended and it was time to hit the sack.
Until tomorrow, cheerio...