There comes a time on any holiday when it's time to leave your Lonely Planet in the hotel room and not carry it around with you as a security blanket. I've reached this moment in London and with my nose no longer buried the pages of a travel guide, I've been able to look up and learn of a side of the city that may be too mundane for Lonely Planet but nevertheless was great fun for me to discover. I can also see oncoming red double decker buses and pedestrians much earlier and no longer have the near misses with them that mark out the really new tourists from the not so new.
A minor house keeping matter first. The loyalty card at McDonalds isn't stamped by the cashier. You need to peel the coffee bean sticker from your cup and place it on the card. I'm still eating porridge every morning for breakfast by the way.
The encore at Mamma Mia is a set of three songs for which the cast dress up in their best ABBA gear. Then, the entire audience gets up on its feet and sings their lungs out in harmony.
The National Gallery was my most favourite London icon to visit. Room after room of priceless paintings greeted me with every step. There's something very decadent about being able to walk so carelessly through this collection of pieces that define each era of early European art.
|The public eating area of the National Cafe. You don't seem to need to buy anything from the cafe to eat here but as you will see, it's hard not to buy a cake from the very impressive selection on display.|
|Take your pick from a fabulous selection of British classics await you for morning and afternoon tea.|
Using these plastic blue plates and the tongs provided, simply select the cake you'd like to accompany your hot drink.
I went a bit trigger happy to make up for the fact that there was room for only one treat on my plate and in my stomach.
The counter is manned by a barista and other very friendly staff who were preparing the cream and jam for the scones.
Too late about the scones though because I'd already chosen a fig roll.
Proper fig rolls are so different to the packaged biscuits I thought I loved. The biscuit is crispy and buttery and the fig filling is fruity and dense rather than being a sweet jelly that just smells of fig.
Coffees at the cafe are very good and reasonably priced.
I hope you're in the mood for food because there's a whole lot more frugal food news in this post.
For less than 4 pounds you can go to Boots and select a sandwich, snack (yoghurt or fruit) and a drink at any time of the day. For repeat customers, there is a 30p discount coupon for your next meal.
|A sticky bun and hot tea. What more do you need on a wet, cold and rainy London afternoon?|
Should you have an insane craving for cooked broccoli on your travels around Hyde Park, there is a Whole Foods on the Kensington High Street.
Walk straight past the brownies.
Step away from the pasties.
And turn around to the grains and vegetables units of the salad bar. There you can buy an 11 pound tub of nutrition and eat it in the restaurant area upstairs.
I have done a lap of London's spend department stores (except Browns which is proving harder to find than I anticipated) and have picked my favourite. Liberty. It is so beautifully and whimsically presented with the fresh flowers and quirky hand written signs around the store. Harrod's and Harvey Nichols are lovely in a standard big city glamour sort of way but Liberty has a charm all of its own.
Mothers to be, Liberty also has something the others do not.... their very own Bugaboo.
I am warming to the Soho area more and more each day. Mr SSG and I took a stroll after breakfast to Carnaby Street.
Just off the main clothing lane ways is an area where you can buy fresh fruit every day of the week.
|Today's 4 pound fruit haul.|
There hasn't been much shopping on the blog of late, has there? Don't worry, it's coming up very soon. I have pretty much done the sight seeing and cultural components of my holiday and have rediscovered my will to shop.