LONDON: CHEAP, CHEERFUL AND FRIENDLY

YES, really. I’ve spent the last two weekends there. The first for Sal’s wedding, then this one with a friend. For those who moan about the misery and expense of being in the capital, consider this:

  1. Dinner at a (vegetarian) curry house in Chapel Market. As much as we could eat for £3.95. Total cost for three, including tea and coffee, £15.45.
  2. Breakfast at an Italian restaurant. Kippers, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast for me, full fry-up for Ian; tea and coffee – total £9.00.(Bacon muffin £1.50.  In Northallerton, £4.50).
  3. A smart, clean apartment in King’s Cross (at the Comfort Inn) – £40 per night each, including a serve yourself, eat as much as you like, breakfast: £30 if we’d used the rooms to capacity.
  4. Three of us eat for just over £18 (in total) at a Thai restaurant near White City. They don’t serve wine so we bring our own:  no corkage.
  5. Visit to Kings Place art gallery near Kings Cross – free. Lunch £4. Then to another gallery nearby which has a fantastic exhibition of work from children in some of the most deprived areas of London. Free again.
  6. Sir John Soane’s Museum at Lincoln’s Inn – free. Suggested donation but no pressure. Friendly, informative guides who enjoy their work.
  7. Lunch in Portobello Road at a Greek fish stall – £6 in total for three of us sharing a massive helping of sea bass, calamari, salad and fries.
  8. Boat trip, Westminster to Greenwich return, £10 on a two-for-one special offer. Visit Royal Observatory, free.
  9. Lunch in exotic Greenwich market; huge variety of Turkish, Greek, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, food (and we dare to complain about immigrants – how would we eat without them?). We have five varieties of fresh, filling, salad for £3 each.
  10. Tube fares for a whole weekend – I start with £11.40 on my Oyster card and end up with £6.

There’s a lot of tourist tat, but on the market stalls some fabulous hand-crafted gifts; well-made, beautifully presented, and sold with  a smile and a story from cheerful stall-holders. We see virtually no graffiti the whole time we’re there, the streets are clean, the parks used and well-kept, the trains and tube run on time. Oh yes – and the sun shines both weekends. I love it.

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