BLACK TAXIS AND TEA AT HARRODS

THIS IS THE SECOND INSTALLMENT OF A TWO PART STORY. A rather dramatic first trip overseas led to the writing  of  BAD DAY  IN BARCELONA.    In her original  guest post,  Lorraine Bendall  told  of  how she fell victim to  a pickpocket.  The incident had serious repercussions.  Without her passport, she  and her teenage granddaughter  Shelbui were stranded. The Mediterranean  cruise ship   they were booked on sailed from Barcelona  without them.  I wanted to publish this second piece as a tribute to Lorraine’s complete lack of self-pity and her  inspiring resilience.  I’m sure  Shelbui deserves great credit as well. As for Lorraine’s son Peter, well  I’ll let her use her own words about him  as she continues the story.

A LITTLE BIT OF ‘SON’ SHINE CAME INTO OUR WORLD

Son shine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next morning I started to feel heaps better. My amazingly wonderful son Peter, back home in Melbourne, had booked us another hotel, near to  the Australian Consulate. We would be able to move there the night before my new passport arrived, so that I could collect it as soon as their doors opened.

Even more emotionally overwhelming and exciting was that Peter had booked us a return flight to  London for a week, with accommodation organized in the heart of the city.  He had also transferred extra money for us. What a wonderful son I have.  Wow, things had started to take a turn for the better.

LONDON; A PLACE TO LIFT THE HEART

That first day  in London we didn’t really do much; we were quite drained  and unsure of our surroundings. Having arrived  at  such short notice, I hadn’t researched anything prior to leaving home.   I received a message from Peter asking what we’d planned for the next day, and  realized I had to pull myself out of this feeling of fear.  Peter has travelled  extensively and was  so keen for us to have fun.

OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS LORRAINE AND HER GRANDDAUGHTER HAPPILY  EXPLORED CENTRAL LONDON. THEY VISITED THE NATIONAL GALLERY, AND MADE A  PILGRIMAGE TO THE  PRINCESS DIANA MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN  IN KENSINGTON GARDENS.  THERE WERE  SEPARATE ADVENTURES AS WELL SHELBUI ATTENDED  A VEGAN FESTIVAL WHILE LORRAINE VISITED ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL.  A BOAT TRIP ON THE RIVER THAMES TOOK THEM FURTHUR  AFIELD;  DOWNSTREAM TO GREENWICH.

AS LORRAINE EXPLAINS, THERE WAS A LOVELY MOMENT  ENROUTE TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE WHEN, AS IN BARCELONA, A TAXI DRIVER SHOWED THEM  KINDNESS AND EMPATHY.

CHANGING OF THE GUARDS –   The taxi driver was a really nice fellow.   He was very chatty and asked about our holiday .  I mentioned our dreadful experience in Barcelona, and how relieved and happy we were to now be in London.   He drove us right up to the main gates of the palace,  and  was  reprimanded by a ‘Bobby’ for doing so.  He took it all in his stride, and when I handed him the money to pay, he refused to take it.   He said, ‘No, you keep it; you deserve to have a free ride.’ 

Lorraine's drawings of a famous Black Taxi.

Lorraine’s drawings of an iconic  Black Taxi.

HARRODS – We had a most wonderful time in Harrods, it was the ultimate opportunity of a lifetime, and we had tea and scones in the Tea Room.  It was so worth it.

There is nothing that tea does not make better.

There is nothing that tea does not make better.

We then did a little shopping, buying (within our budget) small items for family gifts.  I found a lovely little heart shaped handbag mirror covered in navy blue suede decorated  with a tiny gold metal bow in the centre, just perfect for my  daughter Jacqui.  I also found a pencil with a Royal Guards head & hat, a packet of four pens marked Harrods that I could split up to go  further , a special block of chocolate for my Peter and a pack of five for $10 that again could be split.  That was all I could afford in Harrods,  but  I was more than satisfied with my lot.   We must have spent about four hours in Harrods.

ST PAULS  Even though I struggled a lot from time to time with my walking, I continued to push on and try new things. By now my legs were beginning to feel a lot stronger, it was just my left foot that was a bit of a problem, but I knew if I didn’t give up it too would improve.   So I climbed the spiral stair case  in St Paul’s all the way to the top of the dome. I wanted to be able to do it in my lifetime at least once.  I wanted to look down from the high dome into the cathedral below.  I did it at a fairly slow pace and took extreme care the entire way and made it to the top.  I was so pleased I did.

Lorraine in the garden at St Paul's Cathedral.

Lorraine in the garden at St Paul’s Cathedral.

 

On our final day of sightseeing we went to Trafalgar Square, and also spent a few hours in The National Gallery.  As artistically minded people,  my granddaughter and I both loved it.    I found Peter a nice Leonardo da Vinci tie  in the Gallery gift shop…..he deserved it!

We also  went to see  Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.     Unfortunately the entrance fee for the Abbey  was  too  expensive for  our budget, so we had to be satisfied with seeing the building.  We were both happy with that; after all we had covered a heap of things, and seen some truly wonderful sights.

I felt  sad about leaving London, it was such a beautiful city.  I thought about how lucky we were to have been given the opportunity to come.  I thought about my son Peter having visited, and  other people dear to me, such as my sisters-in-law Paulie and Robbie and my dear mother-in-law, Myra.  As I boarded the plane I felt I was leaving the most wonderful, warm place on earth.  I wondered  why the English migrants I’ve met here in Australia ever left such a beautiful place.

It’s a long, long way to go again, but as my Peter said;  ‘In twelve months time you won’t think it’s so far.’   He was right, I’ve already had thoughts of it.  If I ever win money, I’ll go to London again and continue the adventure.

EDITOR’S NOTE – I have known Lorraine since we were both teenagers. I was  heartbroken when I heard about her dreadful time in Barcelona.  When she flew  to London I suggested she  write a couple of  pieces for me.  I  thought it would be a distraction from  those horrible memories.  I never imagined she would write about the theft and all that ensued.  How brave, and how generous of her to  share the  story in the hope that other travellers might avoid the same fate.  I am amazed that someone on their first overseas trip was able to cope  so well in circumstances that would utterly destroy many of us.

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5 Comments
  1. What a wonderful ending from a trip that had such a disastrous beginning. I am so pleased the city of my birth came up trumps, despite some encountered costs.

  2. I felt so sorry for Lorraine and her daughter. Your post stayed with me in my mind that i keep checking on my handbag contents most days. But, Lorraine & daughter made the best of it and enjoyed London. I want to say that my husband and I are off to a foreign country later this month and having read Lorraine’s account of her travels in a foreign land I went out and bought both of us an under garment waist pack. We’ll be able to keep our passports in it and other valuables. We were advised to carry separate visa cards and notify our bank where we were going. We’ll be only traveling in a small area and so they will be able to contact us via electronic means if they are concerned. I hope Lorraine does return to London. At my age and at her age also, it’s hard to take to sightseeing and long air travel now. So, I can sympathize with Lorraine’s utter distress in making the cruise a trip of a lifetime and having it turn out so disastrously. Please pass on my admiration to her and her family for bouncing back and not letting it get them down. She has a wonderful, caring son, as I am proud to say, I do, too.

    • Pauline

      Hi Heather, delighted to hear that Lorraine’s experience led to you buying the waist pack. I hope you and your husband have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Thanks to everyone for caring comments. It seems such a while ago now even though only a few months. The taxi driver in the story was a kind man but, I did notice that all of the taxi drivers were extremely pleasant and keen to share any advice or knowledge of London as were other people in general.
    The good thing is that I’ve defeated the demon thoughts. The things I seem to be thinking about mostly are the good things we experienced in Spain and very warm thoughts of London. It’s also nice to be back home closer to family.
    I have 2 lovely sons and a lovely daughter as well as my beautiful grandchildren so life isn’t all bad.
    Again thank you for comments and it’s good that so many people have read the first part of the story because it’s good to be able to prepare yourself better prior to travelling. Happy reading & Happy Travelling 🙂

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