Richmond and Covent Garden, London

9 10 2004

After many weeks of absence from London and for good reasons of enjoying the countryside, it was time for a change. Plans were loose. In general, London has so much to do and see that planning is secondary. A leisurely walk at East Ham included a South Indian breakfast that I had missed for so long.

17th century Stuart mansion

Ham House: 17th century Stuart mansion

In the afternoon I visited Ham House near Richmond. This 17th century house has many spectacular rooms with fine furniture, English tapestries and oil portraits. The Long Gallery will make an impression on the harshest critic. Fine portraits line the entire length of the gallery including one of King Charles I. There are many portraits in the house of the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale, owners of the house. Dukedom is the highest status that an aristocrat can achieve and second only to royalty. It is interesting to note that this house is regarded as one of the most haunted ones in Britain.

In the evening I browsed for a couple of hours at the Harrods department store. Everything was a little expensive for my pocket but I went there out of curiosity. I didn’t need anything and justly I didn’t buy anything. However, the place is wonderful even for a visit. The decor is stunning and they on their own have the power to attract visitors. Even if the goods were to be found elsewhere for a cheaper price, the pleasure of buying something at Harrods is a delightful experience. It is exactly this sort of experience and the joy of shopping at Harrods that attracts locals and tourists alike. And there is nothing better for tourists than to take home to their families something world-renowned and truly English.

What better way to end the day than head to an authentic English pub at Covent Garden, “Lamb and Flag”. It is a pity that they sell only drinks. Pub is a place for couples, colleagues or friends. It is a place to relax in the company of men and women. It is hardly a place for a lone drinker unless one has sorrows to drown. I was there more to sense the ambience than to enjoy my glass of wine. A pub is not a place for a quiet drink. The constant babble of voices and the mixed sound of noises is the background in which one socialises. Conversations are animated not because of any particular subject matter. It is in the ambience of a pub to become animated. All conversations are made a few decibels louder than usual. The television played on with the show of a football match. I couldn’t go into the inner rooms. They were too crowded. I sat down at the bar, watched the football match without even knowing who played or for what. If I were to visit another pub in this country it would be with company.

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