I was only on the ground in London for two and a half days but that was enough to have three full meals of fish & chips and touch all the pretty fabrics at Sew Over It. In other words, an awesome mini-trip!
We took the overnight flight from LAX-LHR, which is usually our connection to farther flung places. Having Heathrow as the final stop made the trip seem faster and easier than usual. With carryon baggage only, we sailed through passport control and customs and were on the way to the hotel in a blink.
Artist Residence London
Address: 52 Cambridge St, Pimlico, London SW1V 4QQ, UK
Phone: +44 20 3019 8610
This cute little place was the coziest. The room was small but clean and it had a nice window and came stocked with a coffee maker and a kettle for a proper cup of tea. The bathroom was tiny but had the ultimate nicety: a heated towel rack in the bathroom. Heated towel racks are probably not a big deal but to me they seem very luxurious and fancy. Clearly I am easy to please 🙂
The hotel also has a nice-although-very-hipster restaurant at the ground floor. The millennials of London must also be spending their house payments on avocado toast as well, because it was on lots of menus! I was a Typical American and ordered a Diet Coke and it came in the cutest little mini-bottle. This seemed very Europe-y.
The hotel is located in a quiet neighborhood not far from Victoria Station. I would 100% recommend it, but be warned there is no elevator so if you don’t want to haul your butt up and down several flights of stairs you now have that info.
The Stuff We Did
The three non-fabric-shopping activities we planned while we were in town all ended up being thoroughly enjoyable.
1) B-Bus Afternoon Tea
This is a vintage red double-decker bus tour of the city that featured three custom gin cocktails and a whole spread for afternoon tea. I was nervous about spending so much money on a bus tour but it ended up being so much food it was a full meal, too, plus drinks! This was one of the things I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint. To get the tour with the gin drinks, look on their schedule for the Gin Lover’s Tour.
Details: B Bakery London Afternoon Tea Bus
Price: (For the Gin Lover’s Tour) £55
2) City Lights River Cruise
This same company offers a dinner cruise, but we picked the sunset river cruise which is shorter but fit in at the time we needed. It was super fun! We split a bottle of bubbly, yum, but I have to give a hard pass on the rather horrible finger foods that were passed (cold round pizza bites, anyone?) and we even danced a little bit which was beyond goofy fun.
Details: B Bakery London Afternoon Tea Bus
3) Tate Modern Context Tour
On every trip I try to book at least one Context Tour — it’s like taking a three-hour college class on whatever subject interests you. Each docent is a PhD-level scholar or a professional in that area of expertise and you get a small (or private) tour curated for you. They’re a little pricier than your average group tour, but the experience is so much better than any other tour company in the world.
Modern and contemporary art are my favorite styles of museum art, and the Tate Modern has an excellent collection in a stunning setting right near the river. Our tour was really excellent, and it ended up just being me and the Captain and our docent, Alan. We got a thorough overview of the building and the collection and even a recommendation for fish and chips.
Details: Tate Modern Context Tour
Visit to Sew Over It!!!
My one big “sightseeing” event was at the new Sew Over It store in Islington. I had a big old time deciding between all kinds of stretch cottons and jersey fabrics and a wild silver French terry. I also snagged three meters of some new Lisa Comfort fabric and a matching cardigan in navy blue. It’s the most cheerful, happy store and I wore my newly made Heather Dress like a big dork on pilgrimage to the shrine of sewing, and the Cap was patient and carried all my many bags and I was in seventh heaven.
Address: 319 Essex Rd, London N1 2BD, UK
Phone: +44 20 7326 0376
Every trip has some special aspects to it … on this one we danced together in public for the first time ever! I also used compression bags for all the fabric treasures and somehow we got it stuffed back into the carryon bags, so that was a miracle of alchemy and precision.
London is a HUGE place and it sparked lots of interesting ideas and conversations. What is remarkable to me is that pretty much everywhere you go, people are people. Parents are scolding their kids to just walk straight already, and couples are puzzling over menus, and folks are hopeful the rain lets up.
Travel is a great way to remind yourself that no matter what the news says, the world is full of basically decent human beings all just living their lives.
I am certain that by now I could have saved up and purchased a home and remodeled a kitchen twice over but I decided many years ago to save and spend on travel. There were a lot of years of solo trips, scouring the internet for bucket fares and traipsing out alone and I felt like a weirdo for much of that time. Everyone I knew back then was getting married and buying a house and having kids. But even when I got lonely (and I did get lonely), I still knew I needed to see something out there.
It was on this trip that it finally occurred to me that forcing myself to go out into the world, sometimes totally alone, pushed me to stop living in fear. I’m not scared of strangers or strangeness the way I used to be when I was young and sheltered. I’m more confident in my skills to make the best out of whatever comes my way. I’m capable and I know it because I have had to figure stuff out on the fly.
This is my main reason for trying to push people into traveling even when they don’t feel ready or feel like they have enough money or whatever. If you can make it happen, make it happen soon. The world is vast but it is also good.