We woke up early, still a bit off the usual time scale, and decided to get out and explore the streets before peak hour’s surge of commuters became something we had to factor in. We started off by wandering around Piccadilly and up towards Oxford Street. At one point, we passed Stephen Fry, who was clearly returning from some form of morning constitutional exercise. Sarah managed to keep me from accosting him or photographing (or both), which I’m sure he’d have appreciated absolutely not at all.
We walked up Baker Street, looking at the little stores and food options before checking out the impressive façade of Sarah’s old workplace! We also snuck a photo of 221B Baker Street, which is surrounded by a lagoon of Holmes-themed stores, bars, restaurants and pubs.
We then walked up to Regent’s Park, taking in some of the greenery and the huge array of roses that have been cultivated there. It was nice to get a bit of tranquillity and while London isn’t lacking for green places to relax and take in some natural beauty, this was something else. It’s a huge space and while it would have been fun to see it all, we had other plans for the morning. We grabbed a quick sandwich to take with us and jumped on the bus to Hammersmith.
We got off at Hammersmith bus station and walked across past the church and the appropriately named Kettle + Crust café, to Hammersmith bridge. It’s an imposing sort of structure, that looks a bit like someone remade the Golden Gate bridge in green, with a giant bike chain. The tide was out, so the Thames looked a little dreary, bordered by grey/brown mud and reflecting grey but rainless skies above us.
Sarah used to live out here, so we walked up the Thames towing path, where teams of horses used to drag barges up and down the river. We looked in on two of her old addresses, which you can see from the Thames path.
We continued on, crossing Beverly Brook and reaching Putney, before turning around and going in search of a possible snack at Barnes. We walked past the sports grounds, passing the wetlands and ending up on the Barnes high street, although the pub wasn’t open yet.
We then got word from my friend Louise that she was free for lunch, and jumped a bus back through Hammersmith to meet her at the Ritz for something to eat. On the bus back, we read from the Metro, picking up some amusement and looking at upcoming things to do this week in London.
We got to the Ritz and it took about five seconds for a terribly polite staff member to come over and ask if I knew about the dress code. Louise had already asked what we were wearing, which can best be described as backpacker-chic – sneakers, t-shirt and comfy pants. So when we arrived, she’d rung ahead, asked where we could go in the Ritz, and we trooped down to the bar area for a catch up over champagne and club sandwiches. The food was okay – I can see the appeal of the Ritz for flash and panache, and it’s definitely an environment where you feel served. We went for a walk through Green Park afterwards to kickstart our digestion, and then dropped Louise back at the Ritz with many hugs and a lovely engagement gift to take back to our flat.
We did another couple of errands, then came back here to prepare and change for dinner, which was at the Savoy Grill – a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and courtesy of an engagement gift from the Montgomery arm of the family. We made our way down to the Strand and found ourselves very well looked after by an army of polite and very personable staff. I had duck breast and potatoes while Sarah had a stunning looking steak, with a South African chenin blanc that definitely worked in our favour! The staff also brought out a little plate with chocolate and a strawberry spelling out congratulations to us, which was a nice touch to finish.
We decided to walk back to our flat, and threaded our very full bellies through the theatre crowds until we made it back to the flat, where we promptly passed out from a very long day’s walking and some very good meals.