Sunday, July 2, 2017
Battersea Park and Return Home
My last half-day in London dawned bright and unusually sunny and warm. After eating the odds and ends in our fridge (granola bars, yogurt and fruit with coffee), we spent quite a long while chatting with our landlady Jane whom we had barely met during our time in her home. She is a deeply interesting, very well-traveled person who has lived at length in the Middle East (Syria); but we had our packing and other concerns to deal with. With all my shopping stashed away and all my packing done, we got down to the business of calling for a mini cab to take me to Heathrow airport today and to take Shahnaz there tomorrow morning for her flight to Bombay. With that done, we set out for what we thought would be a bus ride.
Exploring Battersea Park:
Instead, with the sun shining so beautifully down upon us, we decided to go out and explore Battersea Park as we were just three minutes from one of its gates. It turned out to be one of our best ideas. We passed through the blooming rose garden and arrived at the lovely lake (which was used as a setting for the rowing episode in my favorite TV series of all time, As Time Goes By). How thrilled I was to have reached one more location from this series which I have been looking out for, through the years. There are rowing boats and paddle boats available for hire but we were not in an energetic mood. Instead we plopped down at the lovely café that fronts the lake and enjoyed the sun on our backs as we people-watched.
When we had sun tanned ourselves for over half a very lazy hour, we got up and went off in search of the Pagoda which is one of the many architectural features of this lovely park. About a twenty minute walk later, along shady walking paths lined with spectacular plane trees, we arrived at the Pagoda where we took many pictures. The gilded Buddha sits serenely inside overlooking the placid Thames that flows alongside. The Victorian red brick buildings of Chelsea across the river looked grand in the bright sunlight as barges and other river craft sailed slowly past. There were tons of dogs with their walkers, many joggers and loads of exercisers enjoying the glories of a perfect English summer’s day. How lucky we were to have enjoyed such splendid weather on our last day in London!
Soon, however, as all good things must come to an end, we set out for home, once again enjoying the shady pathways of the Park. We stopped briefly off at Little Waitrose so that Shahnaz could pick up some lunch and then we set off again homewards. Once at home, I lunched on the leftovers of my Curry Laksa from my doggie bag and a last chocolate eclair that I had saved. This meant that I was full when I reached Heathrow and did not need to look for food.
In less than half an hour, my cabbie turned up and helped me haul my suitcase into his cab as we were in a basement apartment and climbing the stairs to get to the top with heavy baggage required some manipulation.
After saying goodbye to Jane and Shahnaz, I entered the cab and began my last ride through the city. It was a very speedy ride indeed as we did not hit traffic anywhere. Such a far cry from my arrival in the city, just two weeks ago, when every road was clogged with traffic and I took almost two hours to get to Holborn from Heathrow.
Once at Heathrow, I was practically the first person to check in, got my window seat, checked in my bag and took my backpack on wheels with me to explore the Duty Free shops. I bought my share of alcohol, tried on makeup, sniffed at a range of perfumes and browsed through Harrods. With yet another hour to spare, I sat down to finish off the minutes for which I had pre-paid on my UK phone and called a bunch of friends who had entertained or met with me during my stay. Then, when boarding was announced, I left my seat and set off for the gate.
I had a most pleasant flight with a window seat that had the adjoining two seats left empty. This allowed me to stretch out and start blogging and when I felt my eyelids droop, to have a long good sleep for about two and a half hours. Before I knew it, it was time to touch down at Kennedy airport. I had ordered a shuttle service to take me back to Connecticut and it appeared on schedule. An hour and a half later, I was home in Southport, jetlagged and ready to drop straight into bed.
As always, it had been a brilliant two weeks in one of my favorite countries in the world. Although I have become accustomed to solo travel, it was a special treat to have Shahnaz for company on this occasion and to be able to share with her some of the wonderful places I explored for the first time and others that I can live in without a second thought. Travel is enriching, it is edifying, it is entertaining. And we had the best two weeks anyone can imagine with so much crammed into so little time.
Thanks for armchair-traveling with me and for being such a faithful follower of my blog. It is your company that motivates me to write it and to share with you some of the fondest vignettes of my global travel.
Until the travel bug next bites me…cheerio.