As my British Airways flight touched down at 6:30 a.m. at London Heathrow, I said to anyone awake, “I’m home.” I have always experienced this feeling in my favorite city in the world. As the taxi cab driver made his way to The Chesterfield Mayfair with me delighting over all the familiar sights and sounds, my happy soul acknowledged again, “I am really home!”
In a few days I will head to Oxford for the primary focus of this 2017 jaunt. But I simply could not bypass the opportunity to return to London for the eleventh blessed time. I go where I want to go and do what I want to do (most of the time). But Parkinson’s is always with me. So my travel philosophy is keep it light, keep it simple and keep it handy. I will stay at The Chesterfield Mayfair for several reasons. It’s located in one of most beautiful areas, is within walking distance of Gray’s Antiques and is authentic British. I also have a history with The Chesterfield Palm Beach as that is where I held my book signing party in 2007 for Tatianna-Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend.
I luckily arrived without jet lag and spent Friday morning having a wonderful English breakfast in the hotel, exploring the area on foot and getting access to my room around noon. My little cozy bedroom was a joy. Later I headed to Gray’s Antiques where multiple dealers have their wares. I’ve joked that my car automatically stops for garage sales, thrift stores and antique shops in the states. When I am in London, the vintage markets call to me and off I go on foot.
I found some sweet little Scottie dog buttons for one of my eBay customers, and I added a brooch to my personal collection. Love brooches with faces! I’ve always appreciated how the “hustle and bustle” in London is offset by peaceful parks and wide open spaces like my favorite St. James Park. This trip I sat in a park at Berkeley Square a few minutes from the hotel. According to Anna Quindlen, “London opens to you like a novel itself…. It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passsage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand.”
I would not be in London and not go to Portobello Market on Saturday. It is billed as the largest street market in the world. My feet agree! The eclectic one mile market includes antiques, vintage stuff, collectibles, food, clothing, flea market items and more. As my cabbie dropped me off at 9 a.m., my heart is racing and I can’t wait to begin the hunt. What will I find today?
I walked miles and ate at a little Italian café where one cook prepared all the food just a few feet from patrons. So entertaining! I bought lots of buttons for resale from a lovely British couple. They have had a button booth for 21 years at Portobello. They take a bus and train every Saturday morning for an hour to get to their shop. They have attended National Button Conventions in America—yes, there are such meetings!
We spent more time talking about Parkinson’s than buttons. He had seen me pass by the booth earlier as I was checking out the area and thought I had PD just like his wife. Of course, he was right. Although many people are surprised to find out I have Parkinson’s, some see clues. Perhaps it is the way I hold my arm or walk slower or have a stern look.
I arrived back at The Chesterfield after an exhilarating market day, welcomed an impressive room service dinner, repacked my suitcase cubes and prepared for my next adventure.