Derek James vis­its the cap­i­tal

Vis­i­tors ar­rive from far-flung cor­ners of the globe to taste the de­lights of one of the most ex­cit­ing cities in the world. For us, it’s a short train ride away. Derek James writes about a trip to Lon­don and re­flects on a pre­vi­ous one.

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Iwas stand­ing on the pave­ment out­side our ho­tel a few weeks ago when it dawned on me I had been here be­fore ... when I was a just a lad.

This would have been in the 1950s and we had been stay­ing in an­other ho­tel on the same road.

There had been a man with a bar­rel or­gan and a lit­tle mon­key sit­ting on his shoul­der. Not the sort of thing you for­get.

And there was also a chap wear­ing a trilby hat, smok­ing a cig­a­rette and look­ing up the down the street. Sort of chap my dad would have called a ‘spiv’.

The high­light of my visit to Lon­don with Mum and Dad all those years ago was stay­ing in the ho­tel on my own when they went to see South Pa­cific, and watch­ing Wells Fargo in the TV lounge. We hadn’t got a TV at home. Any­way, back to the ‘spiv’ . . . My dad had parked his car out­side the ho­tel while we went back to check we hadn’t left any­thing be­hind and when we re­turned he had gone and so had my mother’s hand­bag from the front seat.

There was a right ker­fuf­fle. It was a quite jour­ney back to Nor­folk.

Funny how I can re­mem­ber things which hap­pened 60 years ago but not last week!

Any­way, my wife and I were ‘up the smoke’ re­cently and booked into the Radis­son Blu Ed­war­dian Blooms­bury Street Ho­tel, a grand name for a fine up­mar­ket place to rest your head while en­joy­ing the sights and sounds of dear old Lon­don Town.

There is, and al­ways will be, some­thing very spe­cial about our cap­i­tal, but while I was work­ing there in the 1960s I never had the time, or the in­cli­na­tion, to go sight­see­ing. That was for tourists.

To­day I am a tourist and I can rec­om­mend the his­toric Radis­son in Blooms­bury Street as the per­fect place to stay. It has a great charm and is in a won­der­ful po­si­tion.

It is just a few min­utes walk from Tot­ten­ham Court Road un­der­ground which is a short and no change jour­ney from Liver­pool Street.

The staff are chirpy and cheer­ful, the bed­rooms stylish and comfy and the whole place has a wel­com­ing at­mos­phere. The din­ing room is called Steak & Lob­ster and we did try, for the first time, lob­ster. Won­der­ful.

From the mo­ment you step out­side the ho­tel you are in el­e­gant Blooms­bury and just around the corner is the mag­nif­i­cent Bri­tish Mu­seum.

We had never been be­fore and I was won­der­ing how much it cost to get in ... noth­ing. It’s free. I was quite taken aback.

There was a prob­lem. One visit wasn’t enough to take in all that this win­dow on our world of­fers. We loved it. There is so much to see and the peo­ple who work there are friendly and help­ful.

Covent Gar­den is nearby and in easy walk­ing dis­tance are all the at­trac­tions of the West End. The shows, the build­ings, the shops and so much more.

The River Thames, Big Ben, the Houses of Par­lia­ment, West­min­ster Abbey, the Lon­don Eye, Buck­ing­ham Palace and, I al­most for­got, Pri­mark. (Only jok­ing. Mind you ...)

Back at the ho­tel we no­ticed one of those lit­tle mes­sages on our pil­low.

It quoted Os­car Wilde who said: “Oh, I love Lon­don So­ci­ety! It is en­tirely com­posed now of beau­ti­ful id­iots and bril­liant lu­natics. Just what so­ci­ety should be.”

It still is.

We will be back. Prices at the Radis­son Blu Ed­war­dian, Blooms­bury Street, 9-13 Blooms­bury Street, Lon­don WC1B 3QD, start from £215 per night. The web­site is radis­son­blued­war­dian.com/blooms­burys­treet and email res­bsh@ radis­son.com and the tele­phone num­ber is 020 7636 5601. It’s worth the money – es­pe­cially if you hunt out the at­trac­tions which are free such as the Bri­tish Mu­seum.

The Blooms­bury Ho­tel.

An iconic Lon­don sight, Tower Bridge.

I love trains and Greater Anglia runs reg­u­lar ser­vices ev­ery half hour from Nor­wich and Ip­swich and, of course, you can also hop aboard at Diss or Stow­mar­ket. Fares start from £10 ( one way) but need to be booked in ad­vance. For more in­for­ma­tion about all the deals on of­fer and the best-value fares of­fered by Greater Anglia, visit www.great­eran­glia.co.uk A view over the Thames show­ing Big Ben and the Lon­don Eye.

The Bri­tish Mu­seum where there is so much to en­joy … and it’s free to en­ter.

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