The direct flight from Boston to Heathrow was long, but uneventful (just the way I like my plane rides to be). It was a crisp fall day (similar to New England weather) and the sun was shining. Kathy and I were eager to get to our hotel so got our luggage and hailed a cab. After giving the cab driver the address to our hotel we settled back to enjoy the sites out the window.
It didn’t seem long before we arrived at Kew Gardens Hotel. It was on the corner of a busy residential area. It was a beautiful brick building with white framed windows. There were fall flowers and greenery around the front. Kathy paid the driver and we proceeded to drag our luggage through the wooden doors into the lobby. I could tell from that moment we stepped inside I would love this place. It had such a warm and inviting feeling. To one side of the lobby was the pub and the other the reception area.
After checking in, we realized there wasn’t an elevator in the building and we were on the third floor. Now neither one of us is lazy and wouldn’t think twice about walking up three flights of stairs, but….we were exhausted and we had two large bags each. The stairs were narrow so it took a bit of maneuvering to make it to the third floor, but once we were in our room it was all worth it. The room was a decent size and was decorated to my taste. The bathroom was also perfect with lots of room to put out your toiletries. The best part of the room was the view out the windows. It looked down to the busy street and the row of interesting homes. Almost simultaneously, we both leaped on our beds and stated, “I need a nap.” It didn’t take long and we were both fast asleep.
I believe we slept a couple of hours and awoke to the late afternoon sun shining in through the window. We were both famished as we only had a snack on the plane. As we got up we were both a bit giddy with tiredness and excitement. I suggested (in my best English accent) that we put away some of our things and head to the pub for a spot of tea. This was going to be fun, using the different words that the British used for certain items. I’ve always loved their accent and couldn’t wait to sit amongst a number of them and listen as they conversed with one another.
We quickly straighten up the room and freshened up our faces. We laughed as we walked down the three flights of stairs stating we would at least get our exercise in each day. The minute I walked in the pub, I could see why it was a gathering place for families. It had a relaxed kick back feeling but with English charm. There were a row of windows facing an enclosed outside garden area. It had a few tables amongst some beautiful flowers. The roof was all glass so the room was warm and bright. The bar area curved around the room in warm shaded wood. There was a spiral staircase to one side of the room that led to more seating up above.
As anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to eat and try different foods. Though I had heard that the food in England was bland, I was willing to be open minded and try some local dishes. We each ordered a brew as we looked over the menu. We both started laughing as we read down through the menu. Bangers and mash, Ploughman’s lunch and Bubbles and Squeak were a few that caught our attention. Now I had heard of the typical fish and chips, shepherd pie and Yorkshire pudding, but these were new to me. Their names didn’t even give you a clue as to what they were. I believe my first meal was the bangers and mash, which turned out to be delicious. It was a coiled up sausage with mashed potatoes and I (of course) ate every bite. Kathy ordered a cheese and fruit plate that was also good, but never would have filled me up. As we ate, we conversed with the barkeeper. He was friendly and happy to answer our many questions. He also made some suggestions on what to see or where to go if we had the time.
It was dinner time and there were more and more people coming into the pub. As I looked around the room I couldn’t help but to smile. It really did have a different feeling than the bars back in the states. There was an older gentleman sitting by himself sipping a dark ale. In the corner booth was a young couple talking nonstop as they held one another’s hand. The large table in the back had three or four people conversing while a young boy (approximately 7 or 8 years old) was doing his homework. There was a large dog quietly sleeping under the table. It looked like it could be any kitchen table in any home.
With our bellies full we decided to take a short walk around the neighborhood. It gave us a chance to check out our surroundings while enjoying the many different style homes. There were many other pedestrians out and about and each one we passed was quick with a smile and a greeting. Another thing I couldn’t help noticing was how clean everything was. I don’t believe I saw one piece of litter, either on the sidewalk or the street. That impressed me. As we headed back to our hotel we both agreed that we felt safe and had picked the perfect place to stay while in England. We couldn’t wait until the morning to begin our research at the National Achieves.