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When people find out we were lucky enough to spend a year in London, they usually ask “how did you like it?”  My answer is always “We loved it and still miss living there.”  The follow-up question is usually “So, what didn’t you like about it?”  That’s easy ~ doing the laundry. That may sound trivial (and it is) but doing laundry in a washer/dryer combo machine that doesn’t vent is frustrating. Clothes wouldn’t dry for days. Yesterday, while attending a cocktail party, a woman asked me the usual question “how did you like living in London?” but she got a shocked look when I said how much we loved living there and she followed up with “What exactly did you like about it?”  Hmmmmm….let’s see…”EVERYTHING”  

It got me thinking about our upcoming trip back to the UK in July. We’ll only have a week in London and a week in Scotland. There are so many places we want to re-visit. As much as I like to travel by the seat of my pants, I know we’ll regret not going back to see our favorite places and restaurants. A prioritized to-do list is necessary.

DAY TWO: 

Since we’ll be staying in our neighborhood, Marylebone, we’ll want to visit our old haunts. It’ll be easy to spend the whole day in Marylebone. It’s such a vibrant and beautiful part of London.

London: Marylebone High Street

Marylebone High Street ~ so many restaurants and shops all leading to either Regents Park or to Oxford Street

London:Daunt Books Marylebone

Best book store EVER ~ Daunt Books. Loved their author visits (wine served)

London St James Church Marylebone

The beautiful and Gothic St James Catholic Church ~ our “home” church while in London

London St James at night

…and it’s even more stunning at night

Wallace Collection at Night

The Wallace Collection is my favorite museum in London. It’s so cozy and intimate. I can imagine what it must have been like to be invited over as a friend of the owners to see the marvelous collection back in the mid to late 1800s. I visited so many times when we lived there (it was only a few blocks from our flat) and every time I left, I was already figuring out when I could get back to see more of the collection.

London Church alleyway

London Grotto Passage, W1

Lots of alleyways in Marylebone (and all around London). I love walking through them especially at night.

London Friday night at the pub

Local pub just off the High Street

London Royal Academy of Music

I knew two people who attended the Royal Academy of Music and I walked by it nearly everyday but never went to a concert there. Hopefully we can see a performance there.

London Thank goodness they have these as reminders

…and hopefully the directional signs on the road will help keep me from getting run over by aggressive cab drivers.

London Primrose Hill.jpg

A walk up to Primrose Hill in Regents Park to see the great views of London and of course to people-watch. Lots of buff athletes or the occasional one with his pants too low. I was photo-bombed.

London, Regents Park Station Underground

London US Ambassador's residence in Regents Park

Would love to spend a few hours walking around Regents Park

The pressing question is: Do we go back to our favorite restaurants or do we try new ones? Hopefully we can do both. One we’ll go back to is on Marylebone High Street close to Daunt Books ~ Topkapi. YUM! Lots of vegetarian options, meat eaters were happy and it has a lovely wine selection.

London Marylebone Topkapi

Day two will have us venturing out of Marylebone…

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Old Marylebone Walking Tour

After spending the morning at Camden Market, we were enjoying the outdoors too much to go back to the flat so we met up with London Walks on Oxford Street for a 2 hour tour of Marylebone, our London neighborhood.  We didn’t really meet on Oxford Street which is crazy crowded on a Saturday in December, right before Christmas.  We waited on Stratford Street which is just off Oxford. Here’s what we saw as we peeked out to Oxford Street:

Oxford Street on a Saturday

The tour started off a little rough when the guide asked if there were any Americans on the tour.  He then asked who the 8th president of the US was.  Hmmm… I went through the first six ( Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, ?).  John got Jackson as the 7th and then we couldn’t think of … Van Buren.  Ugh.  I need to study my presidents again ~ if nothing else but for the Pub Quiz.   His reason for asking ~ Van Buren lived on Stratford Place for a short time (1831-1832).

Peter was our walking guide (he’s in the white hat in the photo) and, as with all the other London Walks guides, I was impressed with his ability to tell such detailed stories all from memory (dates, names, locations) without once looking at a reference sheet. A tour of Marylebone wouldn’t be complete without the Wallace Collection and Peter didn’t disappoint.  I’ve written about the Wallace Collection before and it still remains one of my favorite museums in London.  The building was originally called Manchester House, after the 4th Duke of Manchester who had the house built between 1776-1788 because duck hunting was good in the area.  From 1791 to 1795, the house was used as the Spanish Embassy and the side street next to the house is called “Spanish Place.”

Peter our London Walks

Marylebone got its name from the St Mary’s Church and the church was situated on the Tyburn bourne (stream).  If you were to look at a map of Marylebone most of the streets are straight and developed on a grid like pattern. But Marylebone Lane stands out as an exception since that is where the stream flowed. Although the stream in this area is now hidden underground, take a look at the photo below and imagine the road being the stream:

Marylebone Lane  Also along Marylebone Lane, you’ll find shops and restaurants like “The Button Queen” which is dedicated to all things buttons:

If you need a Button

A famous resident from Marylebone is Octavia Hill who was instrumental in helping the poor with better housing and was the co-founder of The National Trust.

Octavia Hill

The house she lived in was next to this narrow Grotto Passage:

Grotto Passage, W1

I especially enjoy walking around Marylebone at night ~ as with most of London, the lights add a certain air of romance and elegance.

Hertford House (Wallace Collection) at night

Hertford House (Wallace Collection) at night

St James Catholic Church at night

St James Catholic Church at night

Durrant Hotel in Marylebone

Durrant Hotel in Marylebone

 

There’s a restaurant in Marylebone called “Odin’s Bistro” which has been in the neighborhood for years. Everytime I walk by the sign I think of the Cromwells, a very nice couple we know from our time in Northern New York.  They recently had a son and his name is Odin.

Odin's

When we first heard we were moving to London, we researched the neighborhoods and got a lot of advice from those already living here.  Many people assumed we would want to be further out in a bigger place with a yard but, we couldn’t be happier with our smaller flat even if it doesn’t have a yard or an extra bedroom. The location is perfect for us, especially since we’re only here for one year.

 

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London: Walking in Marylebone

I love walking around London which is a good thing since we don’t have a car! Each evening after dinner, John and I head out for a walk around our new neighborhood, Marylebone.  I avoid Marylebone-High street and head over to the lesser walked streets. Don’t get me wrong, the High street is great for shops, pubs, restaurants and people watching but there’s so much history around every corner.  I like exploring new streets and alleys.

Each of the mansions/big houses had a mews behind them to house the horses.  Those mews have been transformed into flats and are super cute places to live.  We looked at a couple of them for us to rent during our year here but they were a little too cozy for us. Didn’t think our American sized sofa and love seat would fit up the stairs.  Here’s a mews behind the very large St James Catholic Church (we went to mass there last Sunday):

On my wandering, I came across The Wallace Collection ~ just the building looks fabulous to me and there’s no entrance fee!  Have marked that down as a London Must Do.

Throughout London, there are signs on the houses stating if someone famous lived there.  I’ve started taking photos of the signs so I can look up the names and see what their contributions were.  Hopefully it doesn’t creep out the owners of the house when I’m snapping photos up close.

On a morning walk, I stumbled onto the “Devonshire Arms” pub established in 1793.

I had no idea Ghost has been made into a musical. Not sure if I would go see it but it does look romantic:

These homes across from the Regent’s Park entrance are so beautiful and what I consider quintessential London:

For this evening’s walk, I’m dragging John and Logan on a “Ghost Walk” near St Paul’s Cathedral.  It’ll be dark, rainy and maybe there will even be a bit of fog rolling in…

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