She’s a Brick House,Or My Family’s London Vacation

August 6, 2019

My daughter had an opportunity to visit London for her work. London is easy for me to visit now that I am living in Italy. So, guess what? My daughter brought Maggie, my 8-year-old nipote, granddaughter to London with her! Hoorayyyy!

I flew to London Heathrow and met my girls at 9:00 and the adventure began.

Since my daughter, Stephanie, needed to be outside of London, we chose to stay in Ealing, West of the city and an easy Tube ride into the city. 

I really did not care where we stayed, or what we did. I just wanted to be with my girls. 

We checked out our neighborhood. There were so many beautiful homes.

The age, the style, it was all so enchanting.

And so full of BRICK. I couldn’t help but hear that old song by the Commodores: She’s a Brick House, running through my head. 

The first night at the hotel was a bit of a nightmare. The air conditioning was not working. We could not cool off. The pleasant man at the front desk kept insisting that the AC was working, just give it time. None of us slept and Steph had to leave the next morning for work.  Luckily, the establishment gave us a huge upgrade to a suite with two air conditioners.

We decided to go shopping for Gluten Free, Cow Milk Free foods to fill the refrigerator and an adult beverage for us. 

While walking to the shopping area, we found this place,

The ever so old North Star Pub.

In a shopping area full of beautiful old brick structures.

We brought all the goodies back to the hotel after a quick lunch and then just hung out for the evening.

The next morning, Stephanie needed to go to work but M and I enjoyed the morning in our room. 

Then, we did a Nonna and Maggie thing, we went to a movie. We took our first Tube ride.

And went to see Aladdin.

This was our time to spend together, just the two of us. Maggie wanted to talk, to play games, to sit in the air conditioned room and the just be together. That’s all we did the first day together. 

While my daughter continued working the next day, Maggie and I headed for the London Eye. Thanks to Stephanie, we were in the fast lane for boarding the huge ride. From the London Eye you can see The House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham, plus Big Ben and more.

Here’s what Big Ben should look like. 

Here’s what we saw—something is always under construction, always. 

We were right above the river.

On a sunny, glorious day. The ride takes about ½ hour and you do see so many buildings and boats on the river.

Here is the swings ride in Jubilee Park below us. We decided it was just too high.

I usually skip the touristy places like the Eye, but we did enjoy it.

When we came back to earth, we were ready for Lunch. 

After a Hot Dog (without bun) with Chips we were ready for more fun. After all, there was a Shrek Adventure right there and Toothless, the Dragon was part of it.

If you are traveling to London with kids, this is a definite place to enjoy as a family.  The Shrek event includes a 3-D bus ride plus problem solving as you walk through the separate rooms. Maggie even had a Kung Fu fight with the Kung Fu Panda—she’s the stick figure.

Toothless shows up several times. Their display was quite good and all the children who know the How to Train Your Dragon book and series absolutely loved it.

By the time we completed this ride, I was ready for the Tube Ride back to the Air-Conditioned suite. We cooled off and waited for Steph to return before we headed out to dinner with our friends Lynda and Lawrence. 

I’ve known Lynda and Lawrence since we met in Egypt in 1999. Steph met them in 2001 and now, Maggie knows them too. In fact, at 8 years of age, Maggie is almost the same height as Lynda. 

We searched for a gluten free place where Maggie could also go cow free and we ended up here.

Yes, It’s Italian. The gluten free pasta and pizza were good. The waiters were from Italy as was the family originally. The food was decent for those who ate the gluten too. 

We caught up on the escapades of L & L and they promised to visit me in Italy too. 

Our final travel day was Stephanie’s day off and our day to tour. It was also the hottest day of the year and second hottest ever in London—it reached 100 degrees F. but we were not going to let it stop us.

We got up early to meet Lee for a private Rock and Roll Tour. We are three women who love music. Maggie has been getting into the Beatles and Queen lately. I taught her some Sly and the Family Stone when she was only 2! So, this tour, set up by Stephanie, would take us by the homes and locales of the Rich and Famous of London Rock.

We drove by the Horse and Groom Pub on a back street, a place where the Beatles and the Stones would hide out from the clamoring hoards.

It looks the same today, minus the Stars.

We saw Brian Epstein’s home and where he committed suicide. We saw where the WHO used to park their hearse and the Queen Mother’s act of banning it inspired one of their songs.

This shop where the clock runs backwards had been the place where the Sex Pistols used to frequent.

Here we are standing in front of Freddy Mercury’s home which he left to his best friend and x-wife Mary.

Maggie was in Heaven seeing this spot.

This home was next door and had been Freddy’s guest house. 

This sign needed translating—Mews are the little back streets in London—and I believe originally, they were where the stables were. 

Clamping is grabbing illegal cars parked and moving them. I need and English-American Dictionary.

We saw Paul McCartney’s home where Maggie spoke into his recording camera. We saw the home where Hendrix died.

Hendrix had gone to a Sly and the Family Stone concert the night before he died. He was to meet Eric Clapton, but they never connected. That morning early, he took way too many sleeping pills and died late in the morning, alone. 

These are photos of Jimi from the day before he passed away. He completely fascinated me, and I had seen him twice perform live. I remember being heartbroken when I heard the news. 

We visited Jimmy Page’s medieval looking brick house.

And we finished the tour with the walk on Abbey Road.

It was about 95 degrees by now and it was time for High Tea.

It has been 200 years since Queen Victoria’s birth. We had to celebrate. Steph even found us a gluten free High Tea.

The desserts were the best.

And the room itself.

The infinity mirrors and the gaudy gold Victorian design was unforgettable. 

Maggie loved the event. It was our last night together and it was 100 degrees outside. We had planned other things but, instead, took the steaming hot Tube back to our hotel and chilled in the AC.

As we went our separate ways the next morning, I could still hear the Commodores in my head.

Ow, she's a brick house
Yeah, she's the one, the only one, built like an amazon.

That’s London for me, homes sturdy and strong, ancient buildings still standing, people who have been through so much over the centuries and changed the face of the planet plus the world of music and art. Yeah, she’s a brick house. 

A dopo.

Ciao for now!

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