Saturday, December 12, 2015

Winding Down

Things are ending.

Biggie and Gary have gone home (with various misadventures compliments of Virgin Atlantic). Ben has been to Portugal and back. We've said good-bye to all the students and administrators at a lively dinner in a Kensington Italian restaurant. Glasses were raised, compliments given, and one student toasted Phil, noting that he was known for giving a three-minute break in a three-hour class: "Enough time to go, but not to wash our hands!"

Before Biggie and Gary left, we decided we had to try a Sunday Roast, a dinner that is offered on Sunday evenings by nearly every pub in the UK. I did a little research and we settled on the nearby Wilmington Pub, which turned out to be exactly the right choice.
The roasts (pork, beef, and chicken) were delicious, and the Yorkshire puddings were as big as our heads. And there was sticky toffee pudding for dessert. I have become a little obsessed with sticky toffee pudding -- those who dine at our house, you are forewarned!

Phil went on a walkabout with Cynthia yesterday to see three of Nicholas Hawksmoor's six London churches. Hawksmoor was a well-known eighteenth-century architect who helped design St. Paul's with Christopher Wren (among many other Baroque buildings). They went first to Christchurch Spitalfields, then on to St. Mary Woolnoth.

They stopped by the flat to pick me up,  and we had some tea and then set off in the rain for #3, St. George's, in Bloomsbury. To our dismay, the church was closed, but there was an exhibit in the basement (along with, strangely, a Museum of Comedy and a Pilates studio), describing the building and rebuilding of it, and we photographed the exterior. Horace Walpole described the tower, depicting a lion and a unicorn and topped with King George in Roman dress, thus:
When Henry VIII left the Pope in the lurch,
The Protestants made him the head of the church,
But George's good subjects, the Bloomsbury people
Instead of the church, made him head of the steeple.
Then we walked to the Lady Ottoline for mulled cider, a lovely invention (well, one of us had a martini). We had to sit upstairs because there was a very loud Christmas party going on downstairs. Christmas parties are a Thing here -- every single business apparently has a Christmas party at a pub, starting at the very beginning of December and continuing all month. The parties feature reindeer horns and golden crowns and Christmas crackers and vast quantities of booze. The lunchtime ones usually don't end until around 7, and the after-work ones go on until the pubs close. It is VERY difficult to get a seat in a pub in business-friendly Clerkenwell these days.

Finally, we stopped at the Vietnamese place where we first ate when we arrived in London. We dined on monkfish, prawns, and goat, which may alarm some readers but was truly delicious.

The next morning we returned to the Wilmington to have brunch with the ever-generous administrator John Harrington, who made our whole London sojourn possible. It seemed a suitable way to close the semester.

Now there are half-packed suitcases scattered around the flat and, just as before we left, no way everything will ever fit into them (only more so. That damned cape!) We plan to go to the Tate Britain tomorrow to see the Pre-Raphaelites and eat Indian food on Brick Lane, then drop off our belongings at Heythrop. And on to Turkey, if it has not gone to war with Russia by then. Wish us luck!

Our pubs for the week:

excellent Sunday Roast, excellent brunch
a beautiful Victorian pub with Chimay on draft

the spectacular -- and spectacularly loud -- red tin
ceiling at the Viaduct
around the corner, reflecting the diamond
trade a block away

No comments:

Post a Comment