Well, we’re on the last leg of our “inspircation”. After we leave London, it’s home we go!
It was quite a travel day to get here today from Dublin. We work before 4 am, took a taxi to a teeming Dublin airport, flew to Bristol, took a bus to the Bristol train station, took the train to Paddington Station, then took the tube to Oxford Circus Station, then walked ten minutes to our hotel. Whew! Even as I write that, it seems a lot. The only thing we didn’t do was ride in a boat.
Marcie was excited to arrive in Paddington Station—here’s a photo of her posing with the popular bear:
The good news is that everything on the trip went without a hitch (I don’t think we even got lost, other than momentarily walking the wrong way once we got out of Oxford Circus) and I even had time to write while sitting on the train, occasionally lifting my head to watch the English countryside whipping past.
Despite this long travel day, I was desperate to get out into the city as soon as we got settled into our hotel. I have been here several times before, but I wanted to show my mom (who has never been here before) and Marcie (once before) some of my favourite corners.
And the first of those favourite corners is Cecil Court, a little street just off Leicester Square. We walked the whole way down, passing through Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square first.
We eventually arrived at Cecil Court, much to my joy (and relief; I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sniff it out again). Cecil Court is a short lane (pedestrian only) that the home of the early film industry (just as it says on the plaque below).
These days, the street is home to many book shops, including ones that sell first and early editions of books such as Harry Potter, Gone With the Wind, and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Many of these editions are signed. Yes—you can spend hundreds of pounds here. Scratch that. Thousands.
The shop called Marchpane celebrates British children’s literature—one could shell additional hundreds of pounds here. The owner is a quiet gentle soul who indulged Marcie as she examined old editions of Alice in Wonderland plays that are far out of our budget. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass seem to be specialities of the shop.
I did end making a humble but beautiful purchase, spending 25 quid on a print of an Alice in Wonderland illustration, which pretty much made my day.
Oh, and the store is also decorated with daleks.
After leaving Cecil Court, we headed on to Fleet Street, admiring the architecture and buzz of the city, and found the courtyard down to Temple Church, which is an old church built by the Knights Templar in the 1100s. We could not go inside, but I had done so on a previous visit, and there I saw the graves, with effigies, of some of the Templars. Today, we could just explore the courtyard and see the beautiful door.
Nearby, but on the other side of the street is Ye Olde Chesire Cheese Inn. This is another favorite place of mine in the city, partly because of its cozy feel, and partly because it oozes history—literary history. It was a regular haunt of Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Mark Twain, just to name a few.
The pub consists of several floors of narrow cozy floors, with winding steps and dangerously low stairs connecting each. You can enjoy a brew in one of the cozy alcoves and imagine the old greats pontificating there.
The pub is also the setting of the recent children’s book The Chesire Cheese Cat, which I read and enjoyed this past year. (I highly recommend it.)
Down the lane from the pub is the former home of Samuel Johnson. We didn’t go inside, as it was past closing time, but I did get a picture of his door knocker, which after all, is all part of my important role as a collector of all things door-related.