In this blog I will attempt to summarize the main activities during our recent visit to London:
Cambden Town Market: We went to the market at Cambden Town mainly because it was close (we were only 5 mins walk from Archway Station on the Northern Line) and because the kids would like it. They bought some funky things and we enjoyed eating in the open air market there.
The party: We had a party for 40 friends and family on Tues night Aug 6 at the rented house in Highgate. We catered this with kosher food, for which there was plenty of choice. We had platters of various kinds of food, including sandwiches, cold cuts, rolls and cakes. There was wine, drinks, tea and coffee. Altogether a nice spread. I tried to visit with all the visitors, that included some I had not seen for many years, such as my cousin Tony and his wife and David Ross, our former visitor in Bethesda.
Visit to the West End: We thought the easiest way to get around the West End was in the open top buses. We went to Green Park and caught the “Big Bus” from there. The narrative provided by the guide was lowest level with almost no serious historical information. We got off at Westminster and walked down Whitehall to the Abbey. Some of us went to the Abbey and some to Churchill’s bunker nearby. It was very impressive. We then went to Westminster pier and caught a boat down to the Tower. This was the best part of the tour. Then some took a tour with a very humorous beefeater guide and visited the Tower, the crown jewels and the dungeons, while others sat and had a nice cup of tea.
Visit to the East End: Naomi’s nephew Mark took us around part of the East End. We went with him to his pub “Macbeth” on Hoxton Street in Hoxton. This is an area of London that was dangerous for Jews, even though Mark’s grandfather actually grew up there, as it was a hive of fascist activity before WWII, but has now been gentrified. From there we walked past Shoreditch Church, built by Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral. I used to live on Brick Lane about 10 mins walk from this Church when I was a kid and used to play in its gardens. Mark took us to the “Overground” a new series of lines with air-conditioned (!) trains and we went to the Monument, a spire that commemmorates the site where the great fire of London started in 1666. In the City of London we found Bevis Marks Sephardic synagogue, the oldest in London that was founded in 1701. We stopped there for lunch since they have a famously excellent (and expensive) kosher restaurant.
Visit to Highgate cemetery: We went for a walk in Highgate and, of course, where did we go, but to the famous landmark – Highgate cemetery, where the famous and infamous are buried together. The most famous grave is that of Karl Marx (not related to the Marx Brothers) whose writings in “Das Kapital” changed the world. Since it was Shabbat and they charge an entrance fee, some of us could not go in, but when the guard saw us turning away he asked why and when we told him he waived the fee.
Wicked: My family thought we should all go to see the musical “Wicked” that is very popular. As far as I am concerned it should be popular with 5 year olds. I found it silly, predictable and the singing was replaced by loud shouting. We left during the interval, but the kids enjoyed it.
The White Rabbit: Mark, my wife’s nephew, is a food entrepreneur, he now partly owns a pub, a restaurant and a bar. The restaurant is called “The White Rabbit,” and is in Dalston, a place that was basically very down market when I was a kid. Now it is having a resurgence and Mark’s restaurant has been part of the cause for that. His innovation is to prepare food not in the usual style of starter and main entree, but in three sizes, small, medium and large. People then share the contents of these three sizes of dishes. At first I found it a bit strange to be sharing, but you get used to it. Some of the dishes themselves were strange, such as mellon balls with peas, but others, such as mackerel or chicken were regular. It was an original dining experience and the ambience of the restaurant was young and buzzy.
Cambridge: We lived in Cambridge from 1961 for three years and have very fond memories. Although I have been back a few times, this was the first time my family had visited. We walked around a bit, but it was sad that the colleges now charge for entrance. We were able to see my former college, St. Catharine’s, without payment. The highlight was getting in a punt and being punted up and down the river by a student. I don’t remember if there were commercial punting companies when I was there, but now it is a regular tourrist industry. It certainly was the leisurely way to see the “backs,” and everyone enjoyed it.
To be continued.