My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

Beth Kaplan logo

a quiet day in beautiful downtown London

This, my friends, is the definition of surreal for me: it’s a gorgeous sunny day in one of the most exciting cities in the world, and yours truly is doing nothing. Or nearly nothing. As D. Trump would say, “Sad.” Mais c’est la vie.

Woke up knowing the sickness has not diminished much, if at all. Plus, to add to my pleasure, I have a black left eye, no idea why – perhaps I smacked myself in the face in the night, or else blew my nose so violently I burst blood vessels. In any case, it’s most attractive. I think it’s the wisest thing to revel in the luxury of a quiet hotel room with a view of the garden and the sound of birds

So plans are different. Lynn’s son Christopher, with whose family I was supposed to have lunch in Marylebone tomorrow, is coming over in an hour to pick up the National Theatre ticket for “Nye” I have for tonight. He has hosted me many times; I’m happy to give him something back. My original plan was to spend the day walking down to the Thames and across, visiting interesting things along the way, stopping for a pub bite before the show. But the thought of getting through the city and sitting in a theatre – not happening.

I did go this morning to Portobello Road, couldn’t not, because it’s right across the street from this hotel. I was last there in 1972 with my cousin Ted, visiting from New York, who bought me a funny black glass art nouveau candlestick I still have. I looked at the vendors today, understanding their struggle, from my years as a purveyor of vintage stuff. The street was packed, with people looking at antiques, posters, stamps, war memorabilia, rock memorabilia, jewelry, hats, clothing, just about everything. Fun. I bought nothing.

I’d had a big breakfast at the hotel and slipped a bun, some cheese and a hard-boiled egg into my purse; that was lunch. Sat outside in the heavenly garden, reading a shockingly depressing article by Sam Knight in the New Yorker about the catastrophic decline of Britain under 14 years of Conservative rule. Really really sad, as D. Trump would say.

I’ll go for a walk with Christopher, and buy some take-out dinner to eat here. A day to remember in beautiful downtown London.

Pix: 1. Kensington Gardens, yesterday – you can’t really see the forest of bluebells under the tree and a small child in red, playing. I remember clearly delighting in bluebells during the years we lived here, 1956-57. 2. A tiny section of this vast, spacious park. 3. The start of Portobello Road this morning. 4. The Battle of Waterloo with lead soldiers. 5. The street, before the action really got started. 6. Wisteria, glorious everywhere. 7. My happy place. 8. The view from my window, over the lovely hotel garden, a lifesaver. 9. The corner where I perched in the garden an hour ago – cherry blossom and more bluebells. 10. A visitor, very close – a baby robin. 11. A library! They sure know how to build libraries in this country. Except that the budgets have been slashed so brutally that …

No, let’s forget that on a lovely day, with my lungs, I am sure, healing. Peace.




5 Responses to “a quiet day in beautiful downtown London”

  1. Juliet in Paris says:

    I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the hotel I recommended to you. Hope you feel better.

  2. Brad Furlott says:

    I never buy in Portobello Rd either but I like the energy.

  3. Beth Kaplan says:

    It’s been a lifesaver, Juliet, thank you again.

  4. Alan Millen says:

    Hi Beth. Despite your being under the weather, you sound like a trouper to me, making the best of a difficult situation. Your photos are great. I spotted the child in red. My pre-memory childhood consists of a spell in London, from 6 to 18 months of age. Perhaps this video will lift your spirits. It’s about London, Paul McCartney and a lost romance. Yours truly makes a cameo at the Abbey Road Café in this video from a few years ago. The song is from UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Newcastle Road. Dance, if you can manage it.

  5. Beth Kaplan says:

    Delightful as always, Alan! A great video and wonderful music, thanks for sending, fellow Beatlemaniac. I didn’t dance, but enjoyed. I’ll be back dancing soon. And now – off, slowly, into a London Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.