February 2020: London

As I have written previously, albeit not here, London is not necessarily my favourite place in the world, but it is easily my most visited destination outside my native Scotland. I like London’s buzz and vibrancy, its astonishing diversity, its fabulous array of cultural assets and – in a pre-Covid age at least – its huge list of offerings in the performing arts scene. The catalyst for my many visits is, of course, relative ease of access from all but the most remote parts of the United Kingdom.

While I have managed to maintain a pattern of up to three or four visits a year for most of my adult life, it looked as though a new record would be established in 2020. As we prepared to emerge from ‘meteorological winter’, barely a couple of weeks after our trip to Japan, Bruce and I had plans to visit the UK capital on three out of four consecutive weekends. This was the first of the three.

Saturday 22 Feb

Due to extortionate prices on all Edinburgh-London routes for the Saturday morning, I travelled south the previous evening and got a good rate at the ever-reliable Premier Inn LHR T4. I dropped my luggage at the Mercure Bloomsbury on Saturday morning and had a few hours on my own prior to Bruce’s arrival. I used this time to explore the Bloomsbury and Holborn districts on foot. I then strayed down to Aldwych and the east end of the Strand, and nearly messed up by hopping on a bus and promptly getting stuck in a traffic jam! Despite my ill-judged move, but appropriately enough in the aftermath of our ‘Japan in Winter’ trip, we met up again over a late lunch in a Japanese Izakaya in Bloomsbury.

After some more strolling around in the local area, we concentrated on getting to Wimbledon in good time for a performance of the musical Cabaret at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

Sunday 23 Feb

We had booked a12 noon to 1pm slot for visiting the temporary Top Secret exhibition at the Science Museum. Staged to mark 100 years of the British Government’s GCHQ agency, the exhibition was an interesting and thought-provoking look through the overlapping worlds of intelligence and security over GCHQ’s ‘lifetime’, including the emergence and importance of cyber security. We then took a bus to Shaftesbury Avenue and visited the Photographers’ Gallery before having lunch at a Vietnamese eatery in Soho.

Later, we enjoyed the comparative rarity of a theatrical performance in London on a Sunday. The Morning After was delightfully entertaining, putting a modern face on the concept of traditional British farce.