When I arrived in London in November of 1985, single, the year before I met Noel, I found a wonderworld awaiting right outside my hotel doors!
I lived in that quaint old Durrants Hotel for about three weeks until I found and rented my flat near Primrose Hill.
While there, I got to have breakfast every morning in a dining room with soft white table linens, dazzlingly clean, and real china and silver. I got spoiled by piping hot European coffee, poured for me as soon as I sat down, and by real cream in the pitcher on my table.
No wonder rooms were wickedly expensive in the hotel even when I shared a bathroom. These wonderful Downton Abbey breakfasts were included in the price.
The hotel was a five minute walk to the CINCUSNAVEUR headquarters where I worked, across from our Embassy in Grosvenor Square.
The hotel was across the street from a wonderful art gallery, the Wallace Collection, one of England’s national galleries. This was my first outing upon moving into the hotel over a weekend.
As soon as I got settled into my routine in London, it was time for the British stores to put up their Christmas decorations. Now, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving like we do, so that is not the day on which their displays are unveiled. But it happens pretty close to the same time.
And what a splendour those store windows are, all up and down Oxford Street and Regent Street (google these streets if you wish to see!). My job took me past Oxford Street every day–in fact, our building covered a complete city block, one side of which was Oxford Street.
I could never grow tired of wandering Oxford Street and windowshopping at its huge department stores if I lived to be 200. I especially couldn’t grow tired of this at Christmastime.
This is even despite the fact that the city had to place barriers along the sidewalks because they would get so crowded people could be inadvertently pushed into traffic.
The windows were simply magic when they were decorated for Christmas. The way the old-fashioned department stores in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan looked when I was a child! But with so many, many more displays. There are about 30 department stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street in London, far more than the three or four that so thrilled me as a child!
Would I go back to London just to walk the streets and see the store windows this time of year? In a heartbeat!