Before embarking upon this vacation, I had mentioned to Lynn and Lou that time would need to be set aside for sketching as we spent time together in London. They were totally flexible and supportive, and yet... when it came down to it, I chose to take a little break. The London segment of this vacation didn't produce a lot of drawings, but I'm very happy with what it did produce: good times with friends, and a new relationship with the city itself. For me, London is just too big and busy to make any sense of as a visitor. This started to change when L&L brought me to Borough Market on a Saturday morning. In Portland we have a very fine farmer's market, but Borough Market (while equally crowded) was very special and surprising.
Thai food, on a vast scale!
Bread and sweets! Do you see that fat stack of English muffins?
Finally L&L insisted we visit Neal's Yard Dairy for some cheese. This moment was to change my (cheese) life.
Turns out Neal's Yard is quite world famous, and the cheese we tasted and liked best (Montgomery Cheddar) happens to be the favorite cheese of many a connoisseur. A cheesemonger at our local cheese shop, Cheese Bar in Portland, said if he could travel anywhere in the world, it would be to Neal's Yard.
The entire Borough neighborhood is lovely, and (not surprisingly) was used for some scenes in Harry Potter. London as a whole is too much to take in, but this little neighborhood alone feels whole unto itself, and I could imagine blocking out the chaotic roar of Greater London for a few days to be a tourist in Borough.
Next we went on a London Walks expedition. L&L had been on several of these and enjoyed them all. We chose "Little Venice" and explored along the easily-overlooked canal system that winds all through London.
We ended up at The Prince Alfred afterwards, a wonderful pub and extremely English.
Inside it was all fancy wooden architectural mazes, so you had to duck frequently just to move about the bar, but once you got settled there was a sense of privacy within the comfort of the communal space. Quite alluring, really. I had the Young's Double Chocolate Stout.
That guy visible on the right? I like to imagine that's actually Mark Sheppard.
I did try to get a quick sketch but man it was complicated.
Later we went to the Anchor & Hope restaurant and had a really lovely and unusual dinner (including "Queen of Puddings") but failed to get good pictures. Highly recommended!
I would have only one more day in London, but by the end of this day my list had grown exponentially instead of getting even slightly shorter. That's frustrating in a way, but also a very good thing.