On this day we had the unpleasant chore of switching hotels. I had
booked the previous hotel in the city center on my own for two
nights, but the tour company booked us in the Novotel London West,
way the hell out there at the edge of Zone 2, next to Hammersmith
Station. The hotel itself was quite nice, as all the hotels have
been on our trip so far, and right next to a major tube station.
Still, to go from being 10 minutes away from all major attractions
to being 3o minutes away was quite a blow. So after moving luggage
to our nice new rooms (to be honest I was a bit tired of literally
not having any room to lay out luggage flat on the ground at the
B&B) we embarked on the journey to Hampton Court Palace. It was
disappointing.

 

If you go on tours of any great duration you soon start to
appreciate a good audioguide when you hear one, and this one was
absolutely horrendous. The narrators are pretending to be people
who lived in the palace in its heyday, and spend half the time
exchanging pointless greetings and conversation with other
imaginary people instead of actually telling you about the history
of the place. So we just walked around and read the posters on the
walls instead, and probably saved ourselves a few extra hours of
pointless standing around waiting for the precious factual bits of
the audioguide. And then went back to the hotel.

This was the day we fully realized the pros and cons of travelling
in winter. Our plane tickets and the cost of our tour were much
much cheaper, there were never any lines to wait in, none of the
attractions are crowded. It’s a wonderful time to appreciate the
beautiful places in peace and quiet, and compared to Wisconsin the
cold is completely negligible. But none of the splended gardens or
grapevines are in bloom. Hampton Court Palace’s gardens were on
the cusp of spring, there were signs to keep off the lawns because
buds were in bloom, some of them had even bloomed already …
which made it easier for me to imagine how beautiful it would be
in a month or so after I leave. It was a bit painful. Rinse and
repeat this torture for all the other palaces and gardens we
visited.

Dinner was at a pub close to our hotel, recommended by Ebis who
used to live in the neighborhood. When pressed, he admitted he had
never actually EATEN anything there, only did that thing people do
in pubs, but that it had a nice atmosphere regardless. The reviews
of it online were pretty good, so we headed off to The Queen’s
Head. Ha.

There are so many pubs in London by the way, the density of
restaurants in general is amazing, and I never thought I’d
actually be walking into a place called The Queen’s Head so it was
memorable just for that.

We had a Smoked Haddock and salmon pie with peas and onions, and
fish and chips. The pie was very good, with delicious mashed
potatoes nicely browned on top and excellent filling. The peas
needed salt and were off-season, but good after seasoning. The
fish had a lovely crisp, light crust but the fish itself needed
seasoning. The chips were the best thing of the meal, fried
perfectly. Plus there were 8 oz pots of mayo and ketchup on the
table, which is the only way to eat fries. CHIPS. Also came with a
delightful (I thought) pea puree.

*** London 2FOR1 Vouchers, from the daysoutguide.co.uk, saved us
15 pounds today on Hampton Court admission.