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.
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.