You'd never guess from reading this that most of my recent life has consisted of grading and encyclopedia entry writing. It looks busy, but it covers about a week-and-a-half of events.
I worked on honing my quick-tours-of-London skills when medievalist ajodasso brought her mother and sister down to London for the day. They thought they were only going to see the British Museum and the Tower of London. With an hour-and-a-half spare, though, it's worth dragging first-time London visitors around to Westminster, St. James Park, and Buckingham Palace. They may as well have the chance to say they were there. (Clarification: It was only the first visit for her mother and sister.)
At a surprise birthday party for a friend in a village near Colchester, we had a mini-York reunion with wibblepot, lazyknight, (among others), and lots of very elegant chickens, all organized by nuthouse.
C., admiring the Chihuly sculpture/chandelier in the V&A atrium, observed that it would get dusty very easily; no wonder museums must work hard to fend off charges of both literal and metaphorical dustiness. Soon after, we met zephre and J. for the first time. They were (are) over on a week-and-a-half tour of England and Wales, featuring lots of castles. We at a lovely lunch at Simply Lebanese (formerly known as Al Bustan). Afterwards, I gave into the temptation of the Hummingbird Bakery, an American bakery with a newer outpost right by South Kensington station. Had we known that their "Rocky Road Cupcakes" were more like cupcake-shaped rocky road bars, we would have split one. As it was, it was days afterwards before I needed dessert again.
fjm and I met up for a few hours escapism at The Old Express (French bistro) and the William Curley Dessert Bar (chocolate heaven), both in Shepherd Market, an impressively accessible bit of Mayfair tucked in near Green Park, human-scaled, if still affluent. I'd been wanting to go back to the dessert bar ever since my first decadent afternoon there. It lived up to memory.
C. discovered that Lancashire has a spirit. We met up with aca and easterbunny (who had handed over their young offspring to eager-and-newly-arrived grandparents for the evening) for decent Mexican food and a fun, lively Lancashire Hotpots concert. It was the band's first in London, and we'd only learned of them thanks to the wonders of the internet. They were wonderful to watch, dressed in de rigeur flat caps. They were both stereotypes and cherishers of Lancashire, balancing the modern with the engrained. One of them rocked out with a tambourine. Another had entertainingly wacky leg flourishes. I didn't recognize more than a third of their repertoire thanks to online pursuit of their music, which speaks well of their ongoing creativity. The tube back home left from Mornington Crescent, but there were no flowers or candles.
In an improbable bit of conjuration, I arranged a lunch party with Londoners with only two days notice. And everyone came. It was a gathering of people I don't see nearly often enough, from the long-lost dendarii to taldragon, who lives on the far other side of the city from me. J., who I thought was in Hong Kong, made it too, along with L. Even better, we realized we could borrow a chair from downstairs. We've never had six people to eat before because we only have five dining room table chairs.