Time for friends

The last 24 hours have been spent in very un-touristy ways, but in ways that made our trip to London even richer.

After the British Museum, yesterday we headed to the National Theater to finally see our friend Marylouise in her London debut. The critics have been over the moon about her performance, and with good reason. We were joined by friends June and Alan, who also raved about her, and who got to meet her backstage.

As we were leaving, Bryan Cranston, who is also at the National, starring in Network, was graciously signing programs. Marylouise certainly had her fans too. (We just love hobnobbing with the stars.)

As for today, tradition has it that we spend a day while in London touring the treasures of the English countryside with June and Alan, also known as Lambert Tours. Their services are only available to a select few, of which we are delighted to count ourselves.

But today, the weather took over as the guide to our activities. Rain and damp cold made our original destination of a special manor house garden somewhat unappealing. What was¬†appealing was the lunch stop that had been planned at the Bottle House Inn, built in 1492 (!) and made into an alehouse in 1808. Today, it is a delightful pub, which offered some of the best food we’ve ever had in anything calling itself a pub.

Imagine a cold raw day outside, and a charming timbered series of rooms inside, complete with fireplace. It was not difficult to succumb to its charms and to determine to invest a fair amount of time there.

And then there was the food! Here are the tantalizing main courses:  Lamb rump and minted spinach Wellington; Salmon, cod and haddock fish pie; Lamb, Guinness and vegetable stew; and Chicken, bacon, leek and pastry pie. Just superb. All dishes were polished off.

Still, there was room for dessert. The star of that course was sticky toffee and pecan pudding with vanilla ice cream, though we also made room for raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake with fruit coulis.

What a wonderful meal to share with wonderful friends. That totally compensated for the weather and the chance to see more bits of English history. However, we did see the ridge on which the pilgrims journeyed on their way to Canterbury, so said Chaucer. That surely counts for something.

We end our trip to London loaded up with new memories, only a few of which involved museums. Tomorrow we become hard-working tourists again, as we head to Berlin and other points in Germany.

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