London-I’m Back!

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Fox Hill B&B, Crystal Palace

 I’m back in London and looking forward to showing some of it to my husband Neil.  We’re staying at the only place I’ve ever stayed in London, The Fox Hill B&B in Crystal Palace.  It’s home for me after so much time spent here and Neil’s first time to visit our friends and the proprietors Sue and Tim Haigh.  This is such and interesting house and I always feel so comfortable and well taken care of.  A family home, so you can expect to encounter pets, grandchildren, newspapers and the general chaos of a family life.  I’ve read good and bad reviews of this and other B&Bs that I’ve stayed in, in many places that I’ve been.  I love B&Bs for this reason and I’m always surprised when I see a review that mentions that everything wasn’t perfect all the time or it wasn’t like such and such commercial hotel. People, get real, if you don’t like the homey feel of a B&B, don’t go to one.  Go to the Hilton where you can complain as much as you like online and it won’t make a bit of difference to them.  Don’t go to someone’s home where you’ll encounter everyday home life and expect that you’ll get anything else.  I try my hardest not to go to a chain hotel or a chain restaurant for that matter.  Unless you’re rolling in money, they’re all mediocre.  The one exception is when I’m driving from point a to point b and just want to get there.  If you’re going to a foreign country and want to learn something about the culture, go to a B&B.  Meet the people, see how they live, it’s really the only way to honestly get that experience.

Our first day in London was fun and exhausting, as it should be.  After taking the train to Victoria Station we started walking toward Buckingham Palace.  We walked past one of my favorite places for traditional tea, The Rubens Hotel, and then all around the palace.  We checked out the gate, the guards, the grounds, the Victoria Memorial, past St, James’ Park and all the way around the palace.  We then took off in the direction of the Parliament and Westminster Abbey, stopping at a small Italian store/deli for a delicious sandwich made with prosciutto and mozzarella at a sidewalk table.

 Just walking through any area of London you will see many iconic places that you’ve heard about all of your life, whether from books, movies, TV,  news or history class.   I always get a little thrill when I see the name of something that I’d heard mentioned sometime in my life.  Paddington, Wembley, Bond Street, Bloomsbury, Covent Gardens.  I love looking at the architecture, monuments, gardens, the different cars and road signs.  One thing that I noticed on my first trip there and subsequent visits is the lack of pick up trucks.  I’m from the West Coast and pretty much every man I’ve known, starting with my dad, had a pick up truck.  Of course I come from a long line of construction workers, which means most of the people I hang out with have something to do in that field.  My husband who, by the way, worked at a grocery store when I met him, also works in the construction business.  Neil asked a couple of workmen that he met on the train about how they go about doing business without a truck.  We were told that they either use the boot of their car or hire a van when they need to move bigger stuff.  You’re more apt to see Euro Vans about town instead of a pick up truck like we would use here.

After our lunch we headed down to look at the beautiful and historical Westminster Abbey and then waited in the long lines for the London Eye.  It’s a great way to see the city’s layout.  I feel it’s kind of expensive at £21 a person, but of course we paid because it’s something we wanted to do.  I’m not really complaining except as a reference for the reader.  I’m sure that it cost a fortune to build and maintain.  But it takes 800 passengers for each rotation,  32 cars with 25 people in each car.  It takes a half hour to go around and it doesn’t stop.  At last count, it takes more than 3.5 million visitors a year.  At the current cost of a ticket, and they have no discounts for seniors or children, that’s almost £74 million pounds a year. I just checked their website and the tickets have now gone up to £29.95!   I’m pretty sure they get an excellent profit from that and the corporation is very pleased.

I had only ever been at night, so I purchased the “360° Viewing Guide” for a couple of pounds and well worth it.  It shows the view of day on one side and night on the other.  In addition to showing many, many iconic buildings on the guide, it also shows the direction that you’re looking.  I found this very helpful because, as many times as I’ve visited, I have no sense of direction there, at all.  Unless it’s sunup or sundown, I haven’t a clue.

We left the eye and walked around a bit more, found a great bakery and picked up dessert, then headed back to Fox Hill B&B for dinner and a little TV with our friends.

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3 thoughts on “London-I’m Back!

  1. Lovely post again Linda. I think your B&B is just so lovely because you are friends of the family now. We’ve never sat with the family and watched TV, there’s always been a separate TV lounge for us mere peasants, and the proprietors only came out from underground to feed us, lol. We never even saw them make the beds or clean up. I think they were Wombles and came out after dark. We had loads of B&B hols when our kids were young, and it was always a bit ‘hotel-y’ actually. And the bit about the pick up trucks made me smile too because I can remember asking why everyone in America had one and why would they possibly all need a lorry! Isn’t it funny? We have made many a journey with a load of wood between me and the gear stick with the other end hanging out of the back window. We just open a door and pile it all in. Bricks, rubble, old tree stumps, our cars have seen it all. We are all too tight to buy another vehicle I think. Love your posts. Give me so many lovely memories.

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    • I’ve always liked the B&B experience myself. It’s more personal and not generic. I go to Yelp to look up reviews on any place that we’re going to visit. Especially restaurants, hotels, and even gardens or museums. It’s an app on my phone that not only tells what, how much, and where, but also has personal comments about people’s experience. When I read comments with horrible things being said, I usually prefer to skip those, I think it’s sour grapes. I realize that it’s someone’s perception, but I think a persons experience has a lot to do with their attitude and how they treat people themselves.
      I know, the thing about pick ups. There are some people here that buy them as a status symbol, there are some really nice trucks out there and they can be very pricey. In our circle though, we use them to haul any number of things. Neil couldn’t do his job without one, he hauls long metal studs and sheets of drywall, doors and things like that. He also pulls a trailer to haul his race car at times. If he didn’t use it so often I’m not sure we would have one though, the insurance is more costly and it doesn’t get very good gas mileage. Although with our gas prices so low, it’s fine at the moment.
      Thank you for your comments. I love that we can discuss the likes and differences of our two countries.

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  2. It’s great isn’t it? So many things that trigger memories and moments. I loved the B&B’s too. No housework and no cooking, and cheaper than hotels when you had a family. We also check out the foreign hotels on TripAdvisor and if you believed everything people say you’d never leave home. Usually there is nothing wrong with the place, you’re right it’s the people who want caviar at cat food prices.
    Builders here usually have vans, not trucks, probably because they’re cheaper, but for household goods, if things are too big for the boot we get it delivered by the shop. Those beautiful American trucks are very expensive and would get wrecked using them for their proper use, yuppies use them for fetching and carrying children from ballet class etc. ha ha ha. They’re nicknamed Chelsea Tractors along with Range Rovers and Shoguns, which are used for the same thing! Okay yah, dahling!

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