Day 4. It's a dry heat
I'll just leave these here...
The Guardian What are your top tips to survive a heatwave?
The Evening Standard How to survive London in a heatwave
Irish Independent Health alert triggered as heatwave hits UK
Huffington Post UK QUIZ! Will You Survive The Heatwave?
We started our day rather late, drained by the previous day exertions in 90 degree weather. And the news says it's only going to get better today.
We headed out the door and decided to take a bus to a Tube station. There's a bus stop about 200 yards up the street from our apartment. We discovered why traffic on our street backs up at odd hours--when the Tower Bridge opens to allow ships to pass under, all northbound traffic on our stop comes to a halt. As we stood at the bus stop, this happened. At 10:00AM, with 85 degree sun hitting us in full force, we watched all movement stop. So, we baked in the sun.
Once traffic resumed, we watched a steady procession of busses go past, none of them for the route we needed. Finally, two busses with the correct route appeared, one after the other. Beau decided she wanted to skip the first bus as the second was one of London's famous double deckers. We climbed to the top section and found the front rows open. Perfect for viewing the trip.
Here's a couple of tips about London's famous double decker busses...
1. Not all the busses are air-conditioned
2. The front row does not benefit from any of the airflow that come through the tiny windows
We got to our Tube stop and took the line to Leicester Square. Don't get your tongue twisted around that name. It's pronounced "Lester". The 'ice' is silent. Similarly, Gloucester is pronounced "Glosster". Leicester Square is where many of the famous London Theaters are located. So if you want to see a stage play, it's the place to go. There are also a lot of brand names with retail stores in this area. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches at Pret-a-Manger and sat under the trees, watching school kids play in the fountains. Beau took the opportunity to feed the pigeons, all of whom she named.
After a side-trip into the M&M store, we parted ways. Beau and I were heading for a tour while Jackie and Elijah decided to check out the nearby National Portrait Gallery. As we were in the midst of what would become the hottest July day on record, one half of our group was smart to be in an air-conditioned museum, walking leisurely, looking at Rembrandts. Some of the museum workers were on strike, so only part of the Gallery was available for viewing, but they were able to get the audio tour guide and listen to details about the paintings and subtle things that you might otherwise miss.
Eric and Beau went on a London Walk. Our friend Mike had recommended the Walks as a way to see parts of London that are off the beaten path. As the name implies, these are walking tours. They have all kinds of tours, including "Jack the Ripper", "London Architecture", "James Bond", etc.
The subject of our walking tour was "Harry Potter Filming Scenes". The guide for the tour was a very chatty man in his early 60's with a slight Scottish accent. He knew how to work the crowd with stories of filming scenes as well as the inspiration for characters in the books from classic English literature. Even though the books and the characters are solidly British and Scottish, the only Brit on the tour was the one speaking. About 50 Americans, Canadians, Argentinians, Spaniards, and Malaysians followed our guide along hidden alleyways and across the Thames. The 2 hour tour had us keeping a lively pace as we walked almost 2 1/2 miles along burning asphalt and 500 year old cobblestones.
Speaking of Canadians, today was Canada Day, our northern neighbors' national holiday. We spotted a few Canadians, decked out in their splendid maple leaves, as we walked. We wished them a Happy Canada Day and they shouted back happily. Having worked in Canada for 2 years, I have a fondness for our polite cousins, even if they do think we were all raised by wolves.
Back at St. Paul's cathedral, we sat under the shade of tall sycamores and exchanged text messages with Jackie to find out how their afternoon had went. We decided to meet up at the Harrod's department store for afternoon tea. By the time Beau and I arrived, Jackie had ordered tea and scones for herself and Elijah and enough extra that Beau and I could share.
Harrod's is a unique place. Jackie and I spent a couple hours there in 2011, so we didn't need to tarry too long. Jackie wanted some tea, while Elijah and I bought socks. Socks? We both had worn socks too thin for a day of walking and were footsore by the time we were at Harrod's. I decided a clean pair of thick padded socks would help our feet. So I spent entirely too much money on 2 pair of clean socks, but our feet thanked us later.
Despite having tea and scones at 5 PM, we were still hungry, so we got in a taxi and headed away from the busy around around Harrod's. We went to the London Hard Rock Cafe, just outside Hyde Park. The food was fine, but we were all tired. It was 10:30 PM by the time we stepped to the curb. None of us were excited about getting on the Tube followed by a 1 mile walk, so I spent £30 ($45) on a taxi that deposited us at our doorstep. Best money spent all day.
Back at the room, everyone is tired. Our host had stopped by and left us a fan to help cool the place down. Even though the news reports had July 1 as the hottest day in July on record, we kept ourselves cool.