Mystery Shawl KAL: Part the Fourth

Not unexpectedly for a shawl requiring 680 yards of yarn, the rows are getting longer…and longer…and longer. At the end of clue 4 (whichever version you choose), you will have 329 stitches.

Since my Knitpicks interchangeable set has a 60″ cable, I was able to switch to that for my “anti-shawl.” My first-choices shawl is on my Chiaogoo interchangeables, and the longest cord I have is 30″. It’s getting pretty bunched up.


Both the options this week were lace panels, but one was more complex than the other. Both have “arrow” qualities to them.



Clue 4A




Clue 4B


Time to embark on the denouement!

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The Road More Trampled

Ysolda Teague’s Follow Your Arrow Mystery Shawl KAL has a wrinkle I’ve not seen before: each week we are given two pattern sections, but we have to choose which one to follow. Since there are 5 “clues,” there are 32 possible shawls that can be knit (2 to the 5th power), and that’s just in one color. There’s a 2-color option as well, and since knitters are creative people by and large, there are some people using self-striping yarn or more than 2 colors.

This past week was Week 2, so there are 4 possible shawl configurations at this point: 1A/2A, 1A/2B, 1B/2A, and 1B/2B. I have chosen 1B/2A as my first choice shawl, and 1A/2B as my “anti-shawl.” The majority of knitters in the KAL seem to have made one of these same choices, for the most part because the parts match in style. Clues 1B and 2A are symmetrical and lacy; clues 1A and 2B are asymmetrical combinations of stockinette and garter stitch, with some short rows in clue 2B for added excitement. Frankly, it was a bit more excitement than I needed, since I found that I had the wrong stitch number and I needed to rip all the way back to my lifeline at the end of clue 1A. But I’ve finished correctly now and placed my new lifeline. Clue 3 tomorrow!

My photos aren’t great because my cables aren’t long enough to stretch the knitting out well, but you can get the idea.




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Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL Continued: The Curse of Indecision

So, Ysolda Teague’s Follow Your Arrow Mystery Shawl KAL started last Monday. I had chosen my yarn and swatches for gauge, and to make sure I liked the fabric. Clue 1B started with a garter tab, and I’ve never done one, so I started there. I got a lovely start to an almost-circular shawl (I think). Then I checked the Ravelry spoiler thread. Dozens of photos of both clues scrolled by, in 1 and 2 colors (and a few with even more). After initially thinking that I didn’t really like the result of clue 1A, it grew on me.

I came up with an idea, which I hesitate to admit has infected at least a few fellow KAL-ers: I’m knitting a shawl and an “anti-shawl.” Each week, I will choose the clue that most appeals to me, for whatever reason: knitting technique, finished product, whatever. But then I’ll knit the other clue into the other shawl. So I’ll be knitting all the clues and not missing out. And I’ll have 2 shawls. It will be interesting to see which shawl I like more in the end.

So I needed yarn for the second shawl. Since I’d already been through my stash looking for appropriate choices for the first shawl, that wasn’t too hard. I chose Dream in Color Everlasting Sock in “Passion.” It’s purple (duh).

So, spoilers time! If you don’t want to see what Clues 1A and 1B look like, avert your eyes! Do not scroll down! Click away! Okay, you’ve been warned.


Clue 1A: the last step (after this photo) is to pick up stitches along one edge. So the top…isn’t the top.


Clue 1B

I did not pin mine out, and my lighting could be better. If you’d like to see many more examples, some in more than one color, peruse the spoiler thread for the KAL on Ravelry. In the very first message, Ysolda instructs you how to sort for just the photos, none of the chat.

Both clues include stockinette and garter bands. Clue 1A comes out shaped like an arrowhead, and clue 1B has a repeated arrow motif in the lace, which you can only sort of see in my unblocked piece.

Clue 2 comes out tomorrow (today, if you’re in the Eastern Hemisphere, I suppose). I’ll be following all the arrows I can find.

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Mystery Knit-a-Long! Mystery! Mystery! (Well, I do know it’s a shawl.)

Tomorrow is the start of Ysolda Teague’s “Follow Your Arrow” mystery shawl knit-a-long. I don’t usually do mystery knit-a-longs as I have such limited knitting time and such a huge Ravelry queue that spending time knitting I-know-not-what doesn’t usually appeal. For some reason, this one does: 5 clues with 2 choices each, leading to 32 different shawl possibilities – and that’s just with one color. There’s a 2-color option, and now Ysolda’s talking about knitting a version with a neutral as color ‘A’ and 7 colors (ROYGBIV) as color ‘B.’ And, did I mention this is Ysolda Teague? I did? I love her designs, so I’m expecting that I’ll like this one too. The entry fee is less than $6 US (£3.50) and there’s a group on Ravelry to join.

After conning convincing my friends to join (some of them by gifting the pattern though Ravelry), the next step was choosing yarn. This task was made slightly less daunting by the requirement for 680 yards of fingering weight yarn in a solid(ish) color, or two colors (360 and 320 yards). Searching my stash still yielded about 8 choices in one color – two colors was out of the question. According to Ravelry, I have 362 fingering weight yarns, so That Way Lies Madness. Friends suggested that I set out the contenders and “see what speaks to me.” This turned out to be fabulous advice, because what spoke to me was yarn that was a gift, that I would never have chosen myself: Malabrigo Sock in Turner.

Turner 1


The yarn scans as more solid and looks less yellow, more brown in person…but it hardly matters, since Malabrigo colors vary so much skein-to-skein. After winding these skeins up, it became apparent that they are fraternal twins, not identical. That’s not too bad, though, considering that sometimes two skeins from the “same color” of Malabrigo look more like 4th cousins twice removed. Honest: look at these skeins of Malabrigo Sock in Archangel.

That said, I was worried about their differences (essentially, one skein is a bit lighter than the other). A dear genius of a friend suggested that I follow the 2-color directions with the 2 skeins. It will either look subtly striped or it will look like a single color. I knit a little swatch to check gauge, and I like it.



So now I’m eagerly waiting for tomorrow’s first clue. Join up!

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London Adventures, Part 8 (contains Sherlock)

So Tuesday morning I started out heading back to Speedy’s and possible Sherlock filming. The signs posted as early as Saturday said no parking from 8:30 – 6:30, but no one knew when they would really be there. I found a few fans and some crew, who were already transforming the street into Baker Street, but no actual filming.

ImageImageI got my photo in front of the newly renumbered door.

ImageThey renumbered the next door down as well.

ImageSince I only had a few days left in London, I didn’t want to spend it all standing on North Gower Street waiting for something to happen. I ambled down Gower Street to the British Museum, passing along the way the Darwin Building (the University College London buidling that stands on the site of a building Charles Darwin lived in), RADA, and Bonham Carter House.

At the British Museum, I had to see the Rosetta Stone, though the area was really crowded.

ImageI managed to catch a little talk on their Japanese exhibits. They have a really lovely collection.

My next stop was Highgate Cemetery. (Highgate Hill was the first real hill I’d encountered in London. Oof.) I only visited the East Cemetery. The West Cemetery is by guided tour only. I went mostly to leave a pen at the grave of Douglas Adams.


My pen’s the red one in the middle with the little ball on top.

I then walked down to Hampstead Heath, through the Heath, and over to Hampstead High Street. That’s about 2 miles, and it’s a bit hilly. I didn’t have a great view of the city from the top of the hill in the Heath due to haze, but it was still pretty. I got a peek at the ponds that Benedict Cumberbatch says he likes to swim in.

ImageImageOnce I got to Hampstead High Street, I was definitely ready for some food and a drink. When I settled into a chair in the pub, I discovered that I wasn’t alone.

ImageAfter my meal, the cat deigned to let me scratch it behind the ears while I finished my cider.

While I was eating, I got a message that Benedict and Martin, who had been filming earlier in St James’s Park, were now at North Gower Street. I arrived back there to find that once again, I wasn’t alone.

ImageNot that I’d expected to be! Looking to avoid that crush (I’m rather short), I ambled around the corner. I had to keep moving, but I saw Benedict, dressed as Sherlock, talking to Mark Gatiss, who sat at one of Speedy’s outdoor tables.

ImageI wound up opposite Speedy’s and off to the left, if you’re facing it. (The crowd behind the barricade was on the right corner, opposite Speedy’s.) There I bumped into @jappthebear’s human coffeebot, and we stuck together for the rest of the filming.

Not long after I arrived, Benedict left for the day, walking right past us. I got one good photo.


Well, it’s not a good photo of his bodyguard…but who am I kidding?

Filming continued with Martin, who was wearing a mustache. Mark Gatiss was there as producer, not as Mycroft. I know this has been said before, but there was a lot more waiting than there was filming.

At one point, Martin walked past the small group we were in, and I didn’t take photos because I would have had a camera right in his face. Several of us said “hello,” and he said “hello, hello, hello,” as he went by, but didn’t stop. I have a lot of photos of him from pretty far away.

ImageImageImageImageWe were asked to move from the corner we were on, and, still not wanting to go behind the barricade, @jappthebear and I wound up to the right of Speedy’s, on the same side of the street (across North Gower from the barricade), in an even smaller group of people. The filming crew had a little base set up in the alley between us and the building, and Mark Gatiss entered that area for a bit. Then, to my surprise, he came over and started greeting people, signing autographs, and posing for photos with fans. I leapt in, telling him that I had seen Ian Hallard’s play earlier in the week and met him. He asked how I liked the play, and I told him honestly that it was very good and I enjoyed it very much. “Did you get wet?” he asked. (I did! – at one point in the play water is thrown, and those of us in the front row got some of it.) He offered to bend down for the photo, which is why we’re laughing in the first one. My only regret is that I didn’t think to say, “Say Creme Brûlée!”


ImageSoon after, filming ended for the day. The crew started putting things to rights: taking down the fake street signs, putting Speedy’s neon sign back over the door of 187 North Gower, changing the street numbers back, and removing the fake “to let” signs across the street. Much to our amazement, the door was open.


Forget the frizzy hair; look at the door!

The street signs aren’t metal! The set crew were happy to let us take photos but were very careful to make sure none of us made off with one.


I don’t think it would have fit in my luggage anyway.

Down comes 221B:


I heard a couple of the crew talking with amazement about the level of fan excitement. One was saying he’d never seen anything like it, even for a movie. After all was said and done, we ran into @ruther2, who had been feeding some of us information (it was from him that I first heard that filming would happen on North Gower that Tuesday), but had been stuck at work and unable to make it there until the very end of the day. He invited a few of us out for a drink. @Jappthebear had to leave, so I bid her a fond farewell.

Sitting in The Crown and Anchor (corner of North Gower and Drummond Streets) with @ruther2, @myanglofiles, and @_andy_tea, I realized that I didn’t want pub fare again, since I’d had lunch in a pub already. Communing with my taste buds, I decided I wanted sushi. A quick internet search turned up Atari-ya. According to my tube guide, I could get there in 20 minutes…and they closed in 30. Making my farewells, I decided to chance it. For the first time since I got to London, I ran up and down the escalators in the tube stations.

I made it, with 5 minutes to spare. I was told with good humor that I was in time to order, but it had to be take-away. I got a negitoro entree and an eel avocado roll and brought them back to my hotel. Totally worth the effort of getting there.

The next day, I went to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see the exhibit “Kaffe Fassett: A Life in Colour.” It’s a lovely exhibit, but it could be lit better. Then I went to the Wallace. I caught a wonderful talk about Sèvres porcelain – it was the docent’s first time giving that talk, and she went off on tangents about Madame de Pompadour that were very interesting and showed her love of the subject. I don’t think anyone minded that she ran over time. I spent a while communing with my good friend, “The Laughing Cavalier” (I have a painted copy in my home).

Afterwards, I decided to rectify the biggest omission of my trip: I had not had tea. Unfortunately, the place I chose seemed a bit overpriced, their menu was not clear about what was included, and they were not overly friendly. It was, I think, the only really disappointing meal of my trip. Under the principle of not saying anything if I can’t say something nice, I’ll omit the name of the restaurant.

At this point, I had pretty much covered everything on my list. I was a bit tired, and ready to go home. After returning to the hotel,packing, and doing a little local shopping, I went to a Persian restaurant about a block away for a late dinner. Mahdi was excellent. I didn’t know what to expect, and wound up having lamb kebabs, rice, grilled tomatoes, and salad. It was a lovely end to the trip.

ImageMy flight back was uneventful. I watched Skyfall and Cloud Atlas (any theme there?) and knitted the whole way home. Philadelphia greeted me with heat, humidity, rain, traffic, and a sinus headache. Pretty typical. But it was good to get home and snuggle everyone who’d stayed home while I galavanted around London.

Thanks for reading about my trip!

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London Adventures, Part 7

Monday marked the beginning of three days completely on my own in London. I started off with Museum-O-Rama: The V&A, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum are all very near each other, accessible by pedestrian underground walkway from South Kensington tube station. The Science Museum had a special exhibit on Alan Turing which was fascinating and heartbreaking.


My favorite exhibit may have been the one on modern household conveniences.



The Natural History Museum let me down in one regard:


…but made up for it in sheer awesome birds (extinct, stuffed) and butterflies (alive, fluttering about). Also, the skeleton of the biggest freaking sloth ever:


Random strangers left in photo for size comparison.

This is a really, really incredible-looking museum.


After I frolicked with the butterflies, I wandered over to Harrod’s, just to walk about feeling underdressed and gawk at the insanely-priced wares.

Jimmy Choo pumps, only £995

Jimmy Choo pumps, only £995

The place is HUGE. I gawked at high-priced menus and a toy department to rival FAO Schwarz.


£6,995, UK delivery included (bears NOT included)

£6,995, UK delivery included (bears NOT included)

Then it was time to head back to The Priory Tavern to see John Finnemore and the rest of the Souvenir Programme cast (Carrie Quinlan, Lawry Lewin, and Simon Kane) perform some maybe-ready-for-recording material for the upcoming season. Due to the entertainment, the pub wasn’t serving dinner, so I ran back up to the high street to grab some takeaway.

I won’t ruin anything – I’ll just say that they were very funny, as expected. John must not have had as much material ready as he’d hoped, as two of the sketches were previously recorded ones. I didn’t mind though, as one of them was “the ghost story” (jacket pocket!).

Simon Kane and john Finnemore

Simon Kane and john Finnemore

(My camera battery decided to die without warning, so all photos are from my phone.)

At the intermission, I ran into @2cajuman2 as she opened the door to the ladies’. I recognized her from her photos online, so she was faced with a stranger in a loo calling her by name. She took it rather well, I thought.

A few of us hung about afterward so chat with John. He was very kind, spoke with everyone, and obliged us with silly photos.

The first, unsilly photo of John and me

The first, unsilly photo of John and me

IMG_0389 copy

Jacket pocket

IMG_0390 copy

Jacket pocket, jacket pocket

'ave a banana!

‘ave a banana!

The next day was reportedly to have filming outside the “fake” 221B Baker Street site (187 North Gower). Tune in next time, intrepid friends, and find out!

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London Adventures, Part 6

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Sunday was busy and fun. I had been invited to check out “Made in Clerkenwell,” a big artisan festival. I started out the day by going back to Islington – there were shops in Camden Passage I hadn’t had a chance to stop in on Saturday. Since it was a gorgeous day, I walked through Islington to get to the art fair.


I’ve no idea who that man is.

My host was @jappthebear. He’s adorable.


His human coffeebot is very nice as well as talented, making beaded jewelry that’s really gorgeous. I met up with another online Sherlockian (@myanglofiles), and after a coffee headed out to look at all the booths. I was good (and thinking of my suitcase size), and just picked up a lot of business cards. There were many lovely, lovely things.

After we’d seen all 7 floors (yes, 7!), Japp’s coffeebot asked whether we’d trust her to take us on an adventure. Not knowing London geography at all, I was completely in the dark until we arrived:


I don’t see anyone up on the roof today…

The telephone box on the corner has been cleaned up a bit, but still has a number of messages to Sherlock.



That’s the spot. –SPLAT–

It was after 2 pm by then, and those of us not selling jewelry headed off for lunch. Bratwurst in the sunshine at Kurz & Lang:


Just look at that fork position. Going native, I was.

Parting ways with @myanglofiles, I decided to go back to Trafalgar Square. Why? Because I’m deeply in love with Trafalgar Square, that’s why.


I defy you to show me a more British photograph. Unless it contains the Queen, you lose.

This is the geographic center of London, after all:


After soaking up the Britishness for a while, I remembered that The Harp is within easy walking distance (making me love Trafalgar Square EVEN MORE). Here’s the list of ciders and perry alone:


Yes, please.

I was able to taste a good number of these, and had a half pint each of two of them (the perry and an Aspall cider that was on draft. They were out of the mixed scrumpy – I had a taste but they had less than half a pint left). I then proceeded to have a conversation with a stranger named Paul about religion and politics. Good times.

I had to head back to the hotel to meet up with my traveling companion in time to meet other online friends for dinner at The Priory Tavern. I would be returning the next night to see John Finnemore and the rest of the Souvenir Programme cast run through some preliminary material for the next season.

I may have fallen for Trafalgar Square, but I wish very hard that I had a local pub like The Priory.


Cosy, welcoming, with affable bartenders and really good food:


My friend @thelongdark goes there often enough that she has a signature drink.


A Long Dark Flip of the Soul: cognac, egg yolk, cream, espresso, vanilla syrup, ginger, cinnamon, chocolate bitters, and nutmeg. Easy-peasy.

My companion was on an early-afternoon flight back to the US the next morning. I had 3 more days in London completely to my own devices. What deviltry would I get up to?

You’ll just have to come back to this blog to find out. But I can assure you that it involves famous places, famous people, and alcoholic beverages.


It’s whiskey in a jumper.

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London Adventures, Part 5

Friday morning brought a trip to Cheltenham in order to meet up with our online posse: Ladies who Lunch (and Sean). In a move that I expect to start a new trend, we lunched at The Daffodil, a theater-turned-restaurant used in the filming of the upcoming season of Sherlock. Advance film tourism!

ImageAfter a lovely meal with even lovelier company, a few of us wandered around Cheltenham a bit. I was spotted in Waterstone’s by a fellow knitter due to my Loopy Ewe bag, and made a new Ravelry friend. The oddest sight was…a Stormtrooper.

ImageAfter a pint at The Frog and Fiddle, we caught our train back to London.

Switching at Baker Street on our way back to the hotel, we decided to document the fun decor on the Bakerloo line.ImageEach “pixel” is a tiny Holmes profile, just like the larger one.


On Saturday, I had arranged to meet various folks at Speedy’s.


Several details in this photo are worth noting…it doesn’t always look exactly like this.

Speedy’s has Sherlock filming photos all over the walls inside. Otherwise you wouldn’t know it’s in the show by looking. A far cry from “Sherlock Holmes’s Dry Cleaner’s.” While I was outside having my photo taken with my online friend Claire (who likely wouldn’t want me to post her photo, which we took in front of the door marked 187), we saw something really, really strange: invisible Sherlock:


No, that is NOT Benedict, or anyone we recognized, standing next to the coat.

After lunch, some online knitting friends (also Sherlock fans) and I went to Loop in Islington.


Yarn was fondled and bought, of course. We wound up shopping on Oxford Street, a dubiously intelligent thing to be doing on a Saturday afternoon. After Korean food, we saw the closing performance of “The Table” at The Shed at The National Theatre. This is a temporary space, and “The Table” was the first show put on there. It was excellent.

Afterward, we took a fairly aimless course through central London, checking out the closed shops on Carnaby Street and walking through Leicester Square.


All in all, a very full and fun day.

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London Adventures, Part 4

If you are a foodie, and you go to London, you must visit the Borough Market, or you will hate yourself for missing it. Situated right by London Bridge tube station, it’s certainly easy to reach. The Green Market is open for lunch daily, while the rest of the market is open Thursday through Sunday and consists of booths selling artisan cheeses, breads, meats, produce, and other gourmet ingredients.


I hanker for a hunk-a…


I had a scrumpy shandy at 11:30 am (only a half pint, and hey, it’s vacation!) and wished I would try more of the cider offerings at this booth:Image




My friend and I boggled at the exotic meats butcher:



And we spent a decent amount of time in a chocolatier’s shop. When it came time for lunch, I had a treat waiting for me. Through a series of unlikely events, I play Words with Friends with the owner of a stall in the Green Market. He called ahead to tell his manager to expect me, and I was presented with a lovely vegetarian lunch from The Veggie Table (augmented with a chocolate pot and a Pimm’s cup).


Halloumi burger with an amazing salad. Did I say amazing? Amazing.


We enjoyed lunch in the yard of Southwark Cathedral. Not a bad setting.



Honestly, I wanted to eat everything and take everything home. Pies, bread, cheeses, quail and duck eggs, and gorgeous fruits and vegetables. Look at this rhubarb!



After getting some wires crossed with friends, we met up for dinner and a show. (Hint: there are two Tate museums in London!) We ate pizza at Da Mario on Gloucester Road, Kensington (reportedly Princess Diana’s favorite pizza place), then went on to see Blavatsky’s Tower (closes 2 June). After the show, we hung around and were lucky enough to meet Ian Hallard, who plays Dr. Tim Dunn in the production.



We tried to go to The Harp afterward, but pubs close earlier in London than bars do in the US. Just as well, as my friend and I had to catch a train in the morning for Cheltenham.

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London Adventures, Part 3

Wednesday found my companion and I splitting up: she left early on a coach tour to Stonehenge and Bath; I headed out for a day sightseeing in London.

If you ever go to London, I highly recommend taking the Tally Ho Cycle Tour. My guide was Jack, and he was knowledgable, entertaining, and pretty darn cute. Extra points for the fact that he said “Crikey!” completely unselfconsciously, adding to the British experience. I rode a 3-speed Pashley bicycle, complete with bell and basket, oddly enough named “Kate Middleton.” I accepted the optional bike helmet, because I knew that, if I were squashed flat by a double-decker bus, the fact that I was a pediatrician riding without a helmet would be in the headline. Image

The Tally-Ho tour takes 2-1/2 hours but isn’t physically taxing, as central London is pretty flat. Jack guided his four charges through traffic calmly (he hasn’t lost one yet, he promises), using hand signals to tell us where to go. Starting at The Walrus Bar and Hostel on Lower Marsh Street (near Waterloo Station), the tour covers a lot of ground. Our first stop was at the base of The London Eye, where we found an additional surprise:


I’ve been told that there’s always cash in the banana stand.

 We continued along the waterfront to Lambeth Bridge, where we crossed the Thames, circled “Queen Anne’s Footstool”, evidently passed UKIP leader Nigel Farage and interviewer Cole Moreton, walked our bikes through the Westminster Abbey Precinct’s Dean’s Yard (cars are allowed but bicycles must be walked!), and came out right in front of Westminster Abbey. We then proceeded past St James’s Park (search “pelicans eating pigeons” on YouTube, if you dare!) to stop in front of Buckingham Palace in time to see the guard march away.


We next stopped by Clarence House (Prince Charles was at home, according to the flag flying overhead). Then we made our way to Trafalgar Square, along the way seeing Wellington’s nose. Not far away is The Harp Pub, a CAMRA favo(u)rite. No time for a pint then – we continued on through Covent Garden Market and re-crossed the Thames over the Waterloo Bridge. We cycled past the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall, arriving back at Tally-Ho’s base about 1 o’clock.

Despite being hungry after all that cycling, I was eager to check out I Knit London first, since it was fortuitously only about a block from The Walrus.




I Knit or Dye Rubber Soul, 50% silk/50% merino

They have their own yarn line; of course a skein had to accompany me home as a souvenir.  I also picked up a couple skeins of lace-weight yarn and a few pretty painted wooden buttons.

After a warming lunch of a “jacket potato with prawn Marie Rose filling” and a pint of cider at The Camel and Artichoke, I made my way to St Paul’s Cathedral. Determined to get my money’s worth (the entrance fee is £16), I climbed all 528 steps to the Golden Gallery.




Oh dear.




It was a bit breezy up there. The view was phenomenal.



After descending, I had calf tremors that I’ve only experienced once before: after climbing up and down the Kölner Dom (509 steps) in 1989.


Undeterred, I hit Covent Garden Market. I picked up hand-painted London t-shirts for the kids and wandered about. The buskers there are pretty amazing.





Hungry for dinner, I simply wandered around until something caught my eye. I wound up at the area’s Carluccio’s, eating chicken liver pâté and spinach ravioli. A quick search online showed me that Scoop was nearby and not to be missed. I had cioccolato fondente and amarena (otherwise known as chocolate and cherry…but that doesn’t do it justice).

Foot-weary and sated, I stumbled back to my hotel. My full day only made me eager to tackle the next one, full of plans and meetings.

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