Saturday, May 7, 2022

England Photo Dump: Day 1

Yes, you read correctly. England. In the 11 years since I began this blog, my number one travel dream has been to go to England and see all the Jane Austen stuff in real life. Now, it’s finally happening! It’s every bit as lovely and exciting as I expected, even if, at 27, I am unable to experience it with the exact same exuberance I would have at 17. The addition of years has made it much less scary, though, as does having a husband with whom to do it all. 

These posts are meant to primarily focus on photos and brief explanations of what is going on in them, but there may be the occasional anecdote. This is for posterity and for you dear readers, but also so I can have a handy link to share with family members who don’t all have accounts on the same social media. If you have questions about the trip, please ask them in comments, and perhaps I an do a Q&A post!


April 19th: London

One could say that my husband, like Frank Churchill, went all the way to London to get his hair cut. It would actually be quite true, except, of course, that it was not his only reason for going to London (but then again, it wasn't for Frank Churchill, either). 

Before, with rather longer hair than he usually has, because he went without a couple of haircuts in order to afford this one. ;)

This was actually our first appointment in London, and between landing a bit after 10 am and 2 pm when the haircut was scheduled, it was an absolute mad rush to get to our Air BnB, drop off our luggage, get a good enough wifi connection to figure out how to get to where we were going, and get there.

Truefitt & Hill is a very, very old barber shop that is rumored to have served Charles Dickens, among other famous people, and currently cater to the royal family. Caleb was relieved to finally go into a "real" barber shop where he could tell the barber he wanted a classic taper cut, and that they would actually know what that meant.

The interior was quite nice, and they had just a random bookshelf, so I approved.

...And after. Of course, the succeeding days will give you a better idea of the 
"after" look because he'll have styled it then.

Next stop, hat shop. It was important to Caleb to do the haircut and the hat shopping at the beginning of the trip, so he could wear both the rest of the time. It happened that this extremely old and prestigious hat store was just across the street from the barber shop, so we went directly from one to the other. As you can see, both are located on St. James's Street, which is located in Mayfair, the Fancy Shopping District. 

In the shop we met a chap called Paddy who worked there, seemed about our age, and we got on well with. When we left he actually thanked us for being good company whilst we were there. We were quite tickled.

Some famous people have been into the shop to get custom-made hats and signed these little pieces of paper that represent their head shapes. See if you can spot any familiar names!

And here is Caleb with his hat. It was a unanimous favorite-- 
myself, Caleb, and Paddy all thought it suited him the best.

This is just quite a random building in the area. I saw so many cool, old buildings after this, of course, that this picture seems a bit inconsequential -- except that I remember taking it with a sudden overwhelming feeling of "oh my goodness, I'm in London, this is so London, asdfasdghsdklfjlkj."

I mean... when you go to London you just have to pose in a phone booth. That's how it works.

We took a bit of a breather in St. James's Square (not to be confused with St. James's Park, which is much larger). 

Some important person on a horse

In Trafalger Square, I threw a penny into the fountain. An American penny. Hopefully we weren't cursed as a result.

This monument you see was a bit of a quiz for us. We are still not sure what it's all about. It appears to be a heaping of whipped cream topped with a cherry, which has attracted a fly, and some kind of drone/mini helicopter. Your interpretations are welcome.

For dinner, we ate at the "Cafe in the Crypt," which is actually in a crypt (hence the name) under the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. 

I was immensely pleased by their glass-bottled Coke Zero. Here in the U.S. I can only ever find regular Coke in glass bottles.

We knew we would both be pretty tired on our first night in London due to all our missed sleep, and yet we decided, regardless, to book tickets to Les Miserables on West End for that night. The almost-cheapest tickets they had, which would have some of the view blocked. But we both know the musical pretty well so it didn't much matter. It was amazing just to hear it all. However, Caleb did sleep some of the time. It was inevitable. He told me to pinch him once. I did, and he seemed offended.

So, don't get me wrong-- I loved the show. But on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being complete and utter disappointment and 10 being the level of amazement I expected it to be, the reality was more like a 9. I was sort of... "whelmed," being neither over- or under-. It seemed more minimalist than I was expecting, and I didn't love everyone's voices. Valjean was amazing, though. And Eponine did not annoy me, as some of them do. "On My Own" is my very favorite song, thus an annoying Eponine can sour the whole experience. Luckily, she was good. I got chills. (And NOBODY clapped after "A Little Fall of Rain," which is as it should be, unlike in the 10th Anniversary Concert recording. My goodness. Let's have a moment of respectful silence.)

We didn't have Chinatown on the itinerary, and yet we ended up walking straight through it on the way to the theatre. I've never been to a Chinatown before, so it was quite fun. 

The door handles at Sondheim Theatre. I love it.

After the show, we were quite hungry and popped into a Chinese restaurant. Then, on the way to the nearest train station, we spied a shop that was advertising in bright neon letters: "AMERICAN CANDY!" I was amused by this, so we went in. There we found Wonka bars, which I have never seen before. We decided to purchase one. I had gotten cash earlier from an ATM, and was the proud owner of a couple of Jane Austen £10 notes. I spent my first one here. In an attempt at being friendly and interesting, I told the cashier "I'm from America and I've never even found one of these before," to which he said... nothing, presumedly. He was sort of mumbling to himself, completely imperceptible, and almost acting as if I weren't there. I was very confused and uncomfortable. He threw a few coins down on the counter as change, which I took and left. Having not had a chance yet to study British coinage, I assumed that the two larger ones were worth £2 each, but upon review later, they were only £1 coins. I was quite put out at having inadvertently spent around $10 on a stupid candy bar. (I mean, it was good, but not that good.) Lesson learnt: never trust a small-shop London cashier who mumbles to himself and won't make eye contact. 


Amy Dashwood said...


I loved reading this and I think Caleb's new 'do and hat were quite spiffing. I am glad no one clapped after ALFOR. And I think the odd statue is meant to represent the Reality of Adult Life, which is to say that it is now your responsibility to buy your own ice cream and also protect it from bugs and helicopters. Which is Sad.

All in all, thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to more posts!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making this available! I’m enjoying seeing your photos and reading about the experience.

Unknown said...

Hi! I loved reading this post. I've never been to London and dream to go one day too, so I can imagine how you felt <3 I just wanted to say that I am so glad you're posting again. I have been reading your posts and being shy to comment since I was 13. I'm 21 now, and you can't imagine how many things you've gotten me interested in. I read my first Jane Austen because of you, also watched my first period drama, all at 15. Thankyou so much for everything you've done with this blog. Its a beautiful space on the internet that I'm so glad is still so alive.

Melody said...

Dear "unknown" friend,

I must tell you, your comment absolutely made my day! Thank you so much for telling me that! Being completely unaware of my more quiet readers ;), it's awfully flattering to know that my blog influenced you in this way, and that you still check back up on it eight years later! I would love to talk further about our common interests! Despite not blogging as much, I still adore meeting new kindred spirits online. Feel free to email me, if you wish, at [hidden]. :)

As for London, hold onto the dream! You have the ability to make it happen if you are determined. :)

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