I live for the day when I step off the boat-train and feel its dirty sidewalks under my feet. I want to walk up Berkley Square and down Wimpole Street and stand in St. Paul's where John Donne preached and sit on the step Elizabeth sat on when she refused to enter the Tower, and like that. A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with preconceived notions, so they always find exactly what they are looking for. I told him I'd go looking for the England of English literature, and he said: "Then it's there." 
Helene Hanff wrote that in 84, Charing Cross Road and it is a quote that sums up my love for London in a way I can't really quite explain. Though, to be honest, I am not sure I have been to the England of my dreams until I cross the Atlantic on a ship and take a boat-train into London, preferably while wearing a full-skirted dress, wearing a hat, and carrying matching luggage.  In actuality, I arrived in leggings and an oversized sweater with a backpack on my back and ended up wheeling my suitcase through the Underground after finding out the Heathrow Express wasn't running on Christmas Eve even though we had been sold tickets for it. And then parts of the Underground weren't running because they were working on the lines. It took us a long time to get to our hotel.

london underground

But it didn't matter because we were in London and that was enough to make me happy. The weather wasn't perfect, it was December, but it was still better than the weather at home. Our kids, who were staying with their grandparents, kept telling us about the single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures they were having which made the days in the 40s seem downright warm. Anyway, I am not sure London really knew it was winter. We walked through the parks and saw things blooming. Imagine, a winter with bits of color still around. In New England, we won't see any possibility of a bloom for months more.

rain spotted rose


winter blooms

It was a quiet week which is what we wanted. We needed a break and some time to rest instead of a vacation where we ran from place to place. There was a lot of sitting in coffee shops and wandering through bookstores. In other words, it was pretty much perfect. I'll write a separate post about my book purchases.

london park

We came home and picked up the kids. They had a good time despite the weather and the cold Celia came down with. We jumped back into everyday life with a vengeance. But we had memories of quiet and peace and time together. I immediately started planning dream trips to Edinburgh and York and London. Always, London.

london kensington

london pretty door

Because London, the London I dream of, is there. The London of literature and history and gardens. The London of crowded Undergrounds trips and quiet parks. The London of cobbled streets and modern buildings. All of it will be waiting for me when I return.

london embankment winter fair


  1. Here in the far SW of England at this time of year it's even milder; daffodils were blooming before Christmas 9(though the ones in my garden, and the daffodils there, are late this year). One of my favourite places in London is Gough Sq, home of Samuel Johnson, and the statue of his cat Hodge outside. Don't think i can attach my photo here, so here's the Wikipedia page which has an image of it:

    1. Daffodils in December? Obviously, I am living in the wrong place. I like the statue of the cat. That is the thing about London, there is always something interesting around the corner.

  2. Glad you enjoyed your break. Winter photos can be very atmospheric!

    1. We did have a good time. Vacations are just never long enough.

  3. I'm so glad your break was what you needed! So awesome that you're able to pop over to London now and then to restore your inner workings, so to speak.

    Happy new year!

    1. It was exactly what we needed and so relaxing. It is too bad that regular life isn't a bit more like vacation.