How many girlfriends do you have that would spend 20+ hours getting from Boston to London to spend five days with you? Well I can proudly say that my friend Donna Quirk did just that. While at work on the day she was to depart for what should be a 6.5 hour flight to London she was notified that her flight had been cancelled. She spent hours on the phone, mostly on hold, to Norwegian Air with no resolution. So the trooper she is just left work and headed to Logan determined to get on a flight. Donna is very ingenious and cleverly booked a flight to Paris. Arriving late to Paris she missed her flight on to London but undeterred she took the Eurostar. Twenty hours later this gutsy, determined woman showed up at our doorstep so that her friend would not be alone in London while Jim is away in Iceland with daughter Emily. We chilled out with cocktails and snacks that night allowing her to unwind from the grueling journey. Friday at 4am Jim left for Iceland. Donna and I awoke a few hours later and headed via train for Windsor.
We visited St. George’s Chapel where Meghan and Harry were wed. After that we toured the State Rooms and had a special connect with a guard who liked us so much that she allowed us to skip the queue of what seemed like hundreds and lifted the rope allowing us to enter the special viewing of the Queen’s doll house exhibit. We had a lovely sidewalk table lunch at a Pub then returned to the Chapel for Evensong sitting in the choir seats where Royals sat just days before.
On Saturday we awoke early and had a nice three mile run before taking the train to Richmond to explore the ever-changing and beautiful Kew Gardens. We then tubed back to Central London for high tea at The Goring Hotel. This was a recommendation by Donna’s brother Mark who researches cool and untouristy things to do when he travels. The Goring Hotel is where Kate Middleton and her family stayed the night before her Royal Wedding to Prince William seven years ago.
That night we watched the movie Notting Hill in anticipation of our next days adventure. Once a year the private and secret gardens of London are open to the public. I purchased tickets ahead of time and our prime choice garden destination was Rosmead Garden in Notting Hill. This was the scene in the movie where Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts climbed over a fence to enter. We did not have to climb over the fence, as a matter of fact we were greeted by a gentleman who lives there and he opened the gate early for us. The other gardens were hard to find and a poorly designed guide map left us too frustrated to explore any more. We aborted the tour and walked home clocking nine miles for the day. We watched Four Weddings and a Funeral that night, also starring Hugh Grant, continuing the British movie theme. Monday we had another great run along the Thames then walked to Kensington Palace where we enjoyed seeing the special exhibit of Lady Diana’s outfits from some of the most iconic moments of her life.
We then proceeded on a tour of the royal palace museum which highlights the life of Queen Victoria.
The remainder of the day we explored beautiful Hyde Park.
That evening we had another beautiful sidewalk table dinner before going to The Savoy Strand Theater to see a spectacular standing-ovation performance of Dream Girls. Our evening ended with drinks at The Savoy Hotel.
Tuesday we took the train to the tony village of Hampstead which is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations. It has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the UK. Jim and I stayed here at a friends flat after running the London Marathon in 1999. It was a nice walk down memory lane for me.
We slipped into a vintage clothing store where I snagged a real bargain paying only 60£ for a brand new pair of Alexander McQueen dress pants. We had lunch in Primrose Hill at a Greek restaurant recommended by the vintage clothing store sales girl. Primrose Hill is another affluent charming village that I will take Jim back to. We returned home to meet up with Jim who had returned from Iceland. For Donna’s last evening we relaxed in our lovely apartment with a light dinner and watched another Brit movie called Love Actually starring, you guessed it, the British actor Hugh Grant. Wednesday morning the three of us did a four mile run along the Thames then went out to Breakfast at our favorite breakfast deli in West Kensington after which Donna left for the airport. It was a wonderful and memorable five days. Thank you Donna for the effort you made to get here and the great memories you left me with.