I've been battling a cold all week, starting with a heavy head and now progressing to a chest cough. I haven't felt really ill with it but the coughing is keeping me awake and really annoying me. The bed in the hotel is a bit firm for me so between one thing and another, I'm not sleeping that well so I feel a bit rough in the mornings. Once I get going though, I'm not too bad but I still find I get tired sooner.
We just made it to breakfast this morning. Had a look at the maps and it looked like there was a Toy and Model museum around the corner so we tried to find it. We didn't but looking it up on the web, it's supposed to still be there. I wonder if we didn't walk past it, thinking it was on a street off Craven Hill instead of right on it. We did spot a Chinese restaurant though that we figure we'll try tonight for our farewell dinner.
We headed to Paddington station and discovered that there are no airline check in desks there anymore. Too bad but I think I'll still take the express to Heathrow tomorrow. Our first mission of the day was to figure out the route Graham would take for the coach station tomorrow so we took the tube to Victoria and managed to get there without any wrong turns. We then thought, ok, *I* thought we could walk through the back of Victoria station through to the front but we got turned around in a shopping center when we were looking for a toilet. Things aren't always well signed and I always seem to end up going the wrong way or the long way around and end up walking so much farther then I need to, especially when I'm tired or cranky. Which I was because of the cold.
Anyway, we found it and then sat and had a hot drink at a coffee shop in the shopping center before doing a bit more sight seeing. We walked up to Buckingham Palace and then through Green Park. Weather is semi-cloudy and the sun is warm when it isn't windy. Even then it's not really cold.
We found ourselves walking along Piccadilly and looking in the pretty windows of Fortnum's but we didn't go in. I must do that one day. We were looking for a place to have lunch and spotted a café sign up a side street called the Offshore Café (Sackville Street).
It looked like a good menu with fairly reasonable prices for that part of London so we went in. They have a nice variety of items, from all day breakfast offerings, Lebanese dishes, vegetarian options, burgers, salads, etc. The café isn't big though there's some seating at long wooden tables in a plain room downstairs. The main café is very nice with mirrors and interesting artwork and things on the walls. I'd recommend the café though and I think I'd like to go there again if I'm in the area.
From there we strolled up Old/New Bond Street, window shopping in the designer and very expensive shops. Bvlgari, Cartier, Donna Karan, Armani, Chanel and Versaci… all the big designer names and then some. And we didn't see anything in the windows that wasn't elaborate, vulgar, tasteless or outrageous and none of it would be anything we'd ever buy even if we had the money. Graham said he preferred Camden High Street! It was interesting to see where London's elite shop just for curiosity's sake. I really did think I'd see all these wonderful things in the windows that would have me drooling. Maybe there might have been some nicer things inside in showcases or something but nothing I saw in a window enticed me into the shop. Isn't that what window displays are meant for?
We arrived back on Oxford Street wondering where to go now. As I said, I had almost decided against the Wallace Collection but we weren't far from it and Graham thought it would be interesting so we walked the few blocks north to Manchester Square to find Hertford House where the collection is housed. This was the home of the 4th Marquess of Hertford who was the man who amassed most of the collection in the mid 1700's while living mainly in Paris. Nice thing was the free entrance! We really enjoyed the museum, a much more reasonable size than the V&A. Even then, there was so much to look at and you couldn't take it all in after awhile even though there's only two floors.
We left there near 5 o'clock and went into a café on Baker Street. We really didn't know what else to do at this point and we weren't hungry yet so we went back to the hotel to rest our feet for awhile before dinner.
The restaurant we found on Craven Hill earlier that day was called the Mandarin Restaurant, just a few blocks from Paddington station. The restaurant is small, and would most definitely be called "minimalist". There was nothing on the walls except a couple of prints that were black with Chinese writing on them. There are about 10 tables with two of them large and round to hold 6-8 people. The waiter that took our order was Italian or Greek I think which was a bit different but he might actually have been the owner. I have to say the service was very good and the food was excellent. We rolled ourselves back to the hotel after 9 and spent our last evening together.
In the morning, I headed for Heathrow and Graham to the tube. Our visit again always seemed too short.