I had an early start yesterday thanks to Gus the Wonderdog, but I had always planned to get up early anyway because I knew that K & C would be coming to town, from Paris and Brussels, respectively. Both girls caught the Eurostar to London and that is a journey I must try someday soon. From Paris the journey is just short of 3 hours, and from Brussels it is much less than that. I maintain that any time I can remove airport queues and security screenings from a journey, it has to be a sensible decision.
So after coming back to my place to take a shower and get changed, I found myself on the train again heading back up to Marylebone. Talk about deja vu! It didn't matter to me though, because as we all know I love that neighbourhood. While I was waiting for the girls to meet me, I discovered another reason why I need to live there: Daunt Books. You must visit their online site by clicking here because the store (and the site) are fabulous - virtual tour included! The store features walls and walls of amazing travel books, biographies, as well as the usual works of fiction. I only called in because I wanted to read the blurb for the book they are currently advertising, West End Girls, by Barbara Tate. Needless to say I bought it, plus the re-released edition of Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade by Patrick Dennis; and the new Bill Bryson book, At Home. It's so crazy that I will hesitate and cogitate about the purchase of a pair of shoes or a dress, but will think nothing about spending cash on books. G.E.E.K. I know, I know.
With my wallet a little lighter, I met the girls for brunch at Cafe Luc on the Marylebone High Street. It calls itself a Modern European Brasserie, but whatever - the eggs benedict and mimosa that I had sorted me out perfectly. It certainly gave me enough energy to face the afternoon ahead, that's for sure!
The girls and I walked down to Oxford Street, past the boutiques and cafes that I love (and I think K can now see why this neighbourhood appeals to me). Oxford Street was a whole different story, however. It was a real case of "elbows out" just so that we could navigate our way through the gorgeous shops - designers like Ted Baker and Karen Millen. If money were no object I could have seriously done some damage in those stores; their autumn/winter collections are so gorgeous.
We gave up on retail and sat down at a cafe to catch our breath (aided by a couple of cocktails each, naturally). It was getting close to dinner time, so we tried to think of where we might like to eat. [Are you getting the theme of the day? Eating/Drinking/Shopping? Perfect for a sunny Saturday, no?]
We caught the Tube to Canteen on the Southbank, by Waterloo Station. We got there just as the pre-theatre crowds were clearing out, so we didn't have to line up or else squeeze on to the end of long dining tables (these are characteristic of the low-key vibe of the restaurant). Canteen specialises in British cuisine, so the menu has pies, fish & chips, Eton mess, and the like. I enjoyed bangers & mash for my main meal and then split a dessert with Kate - we chose the Eton mess (a mashed up pavlova, minus the fruit but with jam drizzled over the top of it).
It was a long day out but we did a lot of things and it was great to just wander, without any tourist agenda, and visit brand new places with K&C. It's a shame that they both leave London this afternoon but what a send off we had.