There was a wealthy merchant,….
Aug 1, 2014
|In London he did dwell
He had a beautiful daughter,
The truth to you I’ll tell
Oh the truth to you I’ll tell….
Great Britain, The United Kingdom, England, friends old and new, a wedding, a couple of concerts, and a few good meals. Life is good.
I flew into Birmingham (England not Alabama) and once again my good friends AJ & Michelle - were there waiting for me at the Airport. There is something really nice about seeing smiling, familiar faces when you walk through the exit door into the arrivals hall.
The last time I saw AJ & M was last summer on our week long holiday journey through the English country side. This time I was here to help celebrate their marriage to each other, which was to take place in just a few days. So here they were with a million things on their minds, taking time out to come get me and to hang with me. Nice.
After a quick stop at their home to gather some wedding things we were off to downtown Birmingham. Which, surprisingly enough, is a pretty cool place. I am sure it has come a long way since it’s days as an industrial hub. There are new hotels, refurbished canals, restaurants and clubs all over the downtown area which is dotted with some old and new architecture to make for a interesting skyline. The three of us enjoyed a steak dinner together and got caught up on all things life and love.
The following day I wandered the streets of Birmingham to get the feel for the city. I stopped and had a few good cups of coffee in some artsy cafe’s and had to have the Fish & Chips down near the market. The vibe was cool, easy, and fun.
Back in my hotel I had just enough time to make myself somewhat presentable and then down to dinner I went to meet up with AJ and his entire family! WOW! What an awesome treat (the meal and the company :-)). No really the meal was good, it was one of those Brazilian style steak house's were they carve the meat right off the long skewers table side. But the family was amazing. I had heard so much about AJ’s family over the years and to finally get to meet them all and to be treated like a family member is a memory I will always cherish. Michelle even snuck in and made an appearance.
This couple they got married, so well they did agree
This couple they got married….
The next day found AJ & M at the Chapel and me at the Spa. It is a lot less stressful at the spa…trust me. That evening though I joined the party and helped the newlyweds celebrate there union. What a fun night! I was again blown away with how wonderful their family and friends are. I got to meet so many interesting and loving people. What a joy. A must mention is the Wedding Cake….it was a cheese cake…literally. It was made out of wheels of cheese! I’d never seen such a thing and think it a marvelous idea. I may have to start a cheese cake wedding business back home? Oh yeah and on the top were little miniature replicas of the Bride & Groom! Very cool, and very delicious (the cheese not the little replica’s), especially the Stilton (I had never really tried a good Stilton before….mmmmm.)
The following morning I had to bid farewell for now to the loving couple. I was due to catch a train. So armed with a big chunk of leftover Stilton and a loaf of crusty bread, I hugged my friends goodbye and climbed aboard, next stop…London.
Okay so London is a wonderful place, and I had only just been here, or so it felt even though it was last summer already, and always worth another visit. My reasons for this trip were friends and music. I find those 2 things go together well. I met up with Kevin and we met up with Will and we all went to see Phil. Nice.
First I found my way to our extremely conveniently located hotel (I’m lying), that was right next to the O2 Arena (at least on google maps) but has a river - the Thames - between the Hotel side and the Arena side. So in order to get to the O2 (which is were we had 2 nights of shows to see at the new Brooklyn Bowl) you have to walk, catch a train, and walk some more… or swim! All very convenient :-)
The first night though we hopped on the Tube and found our way across the city to go visit my friend Will (of scuba diving fame), We met up with him at his parents house and enjoyed a cup of tea in the garden before heading out to a nice dinner. Nice to catch up with a friend in his own neighborhood and to get to meet his family was a joy.
Will traveled into the city to meet us the following day and we did the tourist thing for as long as we could. Then we retreated. That night I dragged Will to his first (and probably last) Phil & Friends experience. One of the musicians I like to follow - Phil Lesh - was playing for 2 nights at the new Brooklyn Bowl in the O2 and what a great excuse to meet up with Kevin overseas and do a little dancing and partying. There were Dead Heads from all over Europe there and it was a lot of fun meeting up with Heads who had not seen Phil since the Europe 72 Tour! Another excellent band JJ Grey & Mofro opened up and got the party started and then Phil took the stage and ripped it up. Lots of fun.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Our last day in London we met up with another friend of ours, Flavia, whom we know from NY but is now a local Londoner. The three of us had an amazing meal at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The crispy pork belly melted in my mouth….mmmmmm. Then I split off to go meet up with my good friend Clive (of Fiji fame) and to go see where time began. Clive lives in Greenwich and that is where we met up. He spent the evening, once again, as local tour guide extraordinaire! What a ton of fun. We walked and talked and eventually stopped by the Royal Observatory Greenwich - the place where the prime meridian is located. It is up top of a hill which is the highest point in Greenwich Park and perfect for a view of London as the sunset on the city. No night with Clive would be complete if we didn’t visit a traditional English Pub…. a very gentleman like thing to do. There we sat and told stories of life and travels and I had to pull myself away to catch the train back to my conveniently located hotel.
The next morning found Kevin and I on the Tube to Heathrow…..next stop…