Saturday 12th August 2017
Our last morning in Paris was spent at Culture Rapide drinking coffee and relaxing in the early morning sunshine before gathering our belonging and making our way to Gare du Nord to catch the 3:30pm Eurostar back to the UK.

IMG_2778As always Paris has been good to us; catching up with friends, meeting new like-minded souls, eating a vast amount of fantastic food and spending time in one of our favourite cities where the pace is gentle and the people are welcoming.

Arriving back in London is an assault on your senses. St Pancras is buzzing with the sound of kids running around and families waiting to board trains for a multitude of destinations.
We hoped on board a Thameslink train (direction Bedford) without checking that it stopped at all the stations on the line; of course it didn’t! We ended up getting off at the first available opportunity, which happened to be St Albans, turned ourselves around and took this gentle reminder that we were no longer in Paris, things weren’t so simple here and we must remember to check everything, twice.
Arriving at our hotel in Kensington about an hour later than planned was not such a big deal. We checked in, dropped off our cases and bags and headed straight out to see what the area was like.
Our hotel is just around the corner from the Olympia which had just closed its doors on a 3-day beer festival and you can believe it when I say everyone there seemed to have had a ‘merry’ old time; I’ve rarely seen such drunkenness in the streets of London. Everyone was in good spirits and as well as the beer, seemed to have indulged in odd head-wear (chickens, unicorns and frogs seemed to be the most popular and I bet the company that had the stall selling these were in good spirits too). Also at the end of the street we are staying on is the London publishing offices for Universal Music Group, home to some of the world’s leading writers and artists across a huge range of genres and sub-labels.
This time next summer they will have moved into a new building at Kings Cross / St Pancras: https://umusic.co.uk/umusic-blog/fourpancrassq

Feeling tired and not in the mood for a big night out, we stopped in at a local Pizza Express, had a quick bite to eat and made our way back to the hotel for the evening.

Sunday 13th August 2017
Everything in London seemed a little odd today.
We knew about the Sunday Trading By-Law that is in place in England, but hadn’t remembered it all being so strange. We popped into a large TESCO store near our hotel to pick up a few bits ‘n’ pieces. It was 10:45am and although the place was quiet (for a mega store) there were still a fair few customers filling their trolleys. We were about to make our way to the cash desk when “Bing-bong customer announcement: I’d like to remind customers that we are not able to process any transactions until after 11am on a Sunday. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Bing-Bong”.
I found myself asking “why have you opened the doors then? What’s the point in letting people in if you can’t serve them?”  I wondered if it was so people could fill their trolleys and be ready to hit the tills as soon as 11am arrived?
Problem was easily solved as there was a little coffee place (they were allowed to serve us due to only having a few staff members) with free WiFi – soon we’d be able to process our purchases and start our day properly.

Later we walked along to Kensington High Street before making our way to meet our good friends Joe & Martin for lunch at The Windsor Castle. The bar was originally built in 1826 and is now a Grade II listed building. They have a lovely courtyard space with outside bars. We didn’t spend much time inside, but it seemed to be very traditional with lots of real ale pumps and dark wood. I imagine in the winter it’s a wonderful cosy place to spend your time, but on a lovely summer day we were best placed at one of the picnic style tables out back.
From there we wandered through Holland Park which was incredibly busy so we didn’t stay too long. We walking through Notting Hill Gate, Regents Park and finally hitting Baker Street. By this point in the afternoon it was time for another coffee before a spot of window shopping and the occasional rest in parks along the way before finding somewhere to have our evening meal. We ate at Cinnamon Spice – cheap and cheerful but full of wonderful flavour and spice (just as the name might suggest).

Sometimes it’s easy to look at London and see only the good bits; beautiful parks, historic streets, great venues and a multi-cultural community where everyone is welcome.
At other times it’s easy to see the city as a difficult place; dirty and filled with people rushing to and fro, no time for manners or stopping to admire everything on their doorsteps.
Today was somewhere in between. The grass isn’t always greener and perhaps after 3 weeks away from home (and our home comforts) I’m starting to miss Edinburgh and everything that makes our home city so great.

NEXT UP:
Sacre Noir @ SINK! The Blueberry Bar, Shoreditch for Plugged In Switched On

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