Though I am writing this on the 27th of May, I have notes going back to the 19th that have not been posted. So, to get you up to date and get this travel log back on track, on May 19th, we decided to thank our host by cooking him a proper breakfast. Back bacon, which is quite different from American-style bacon, eggs, and yogurt with berries rounded out the food items and Duncan contributed by making smoothies. Everything was wonderful and helped get the day off to a nice start.
After breakfast, Duncan invited us down to the park across from his flat where the local Salvation Army Band was performing a free concert. The music was a little over amplified, but hey, a free show is almost always worth seeing. We toured the park for a bit while Duncan told us about its history. The guy knows something about everything in London, which makes for a killer tour guide.
Duncan’s next recommendation was a little more eyebrow raising – he wanted to take us to a historic cemetery. We made a quick stop at his flat on the way to the train to get ice cream, which unfortunately caused us to miss the train. With good ice cream in hand, nobody was terribly upset. Truth be told, we might have made it if I could run, but my ankle isn’t at 100% yet so best I can manage is a brisk jog.
We decided instead to attend a local private garden tour. Did I mention that Duncan knows something about everything? The garden tour was no exception. The gardens we were touring were actually the private yards of local residents that lived in beautiful homes in “old money” neighborhoods. They were also all members of a gardening society, so nothing that we saw was anything less than spectacular.
Every yard produced a handful of post card-esqe shots and in each one the owner was on hand to answer questions and offer a tour. About half way through the tour we stopped for “proper” English tea and cake. Or perhaps it was tea and biscuits. Or something like that – we evidently call each by the wrong name.
A very unexpected addition to the garden tour was the chance to see a still mostly-buried well that dated to the 100’s, as in about 100 years after the birth of the celestial teapot. During a prior excavation, workmen discovered Roman coins in the well. Historians believe that Camberwell, a borough of London, is so named because of this well – Camber Well. The name itself, Camber, which means “slant”, corresponds nicely with the belief that the Well held restorative powers for those with crippling diseases.
After the garden tour we came home for a late lunch of Seattle-style-ish hot dogs. I say that because they don’t have proper hot dog buns in London. Or Hot Dogs. Or Sriracha Sauce, for that matter. The only thing that we got 100% right were the onions, which of course were yummy. Even the cream cheese was different – Londoners call it “soft cheese”, which I don’t trust for a minute.
While we planned the next day’s outing, our host busied himself by tackling a small furniture restoration job on his patio. For several hours he stood on his patio and went “shhhck shhhck shhhck” with sandpaper. When I later asked about dinner, he seemed to have lost track of time from the sheer bliss of manual sanding. He also enjoys – truly enjoys – ironing. It was nice to know that we shared a kindred up-late-doing-odd-things spirit with Duncan. Minus the ironing.