Friday, July 08, 2005

Russell Square - Goodge Street remembered

As you have probably noticed, my blogging has been a little light today. The London bombings has kinda knocked a little of the wind out of me for a bit.

Years ago I spent some time in the Russell Square area of London where most of this happened, and got to know the area fairly well. I used to stay at a B&B called the Celtic House Hotel, a block over from the Goodge Street underground station, which was one stop away from the Russell Square station. I still can remember the long elevator ride down to the train level. Once I made the mistake of walking down the stairs instead of taking the elevator, just to see how far down it actually was. I never made that mistake again!

There used to be a hole-in-the-wall tea shop next to a news agent where I'd have a morning cup of tea and read the morning paper. The milk in the tea was automatically added unless you told them not to, and the sugar you spooned in yourself. There was a huge glass bowl on the counter with what must have been ten pounds of sugar in it in one large pile. Stuck into the sugar pile were a bunch of teaspoons. You grabbed a spoon, scooped some sugar into your cup, gave it a stir, and pushed the spoon back into the sugar pile.

A short ways away was the Tavistock hotel. It was elegant and ornate in a way that you had to see to comprehend. All across London there were parks with park benches, lawns, and flower gardens in bloom. It seemed like you couldn't walk for more than a few blocks without encountering a park. Some were large and some were small, but they all gave you a peaceful place to take a break away from the city, even while still IN the city.

Russell square used to have a large central section that was a thick laurel hedge, perhaps twenty feet deep or thereabouts, and on the inside of the thick hedge was an iron bar fence. Inside the fence was the garden shed where the grounds keeper kept his equipment.

Once I had a charter flight out of London cancelled at the last minute, and since it was a charter, we were on our own to find a place to spend the night. The folks at the Celtic House let me stash my suitcase there for the night, but they had no vacancies.

I took my sleeping bag down to Russell square, crawled back into the laurel, found a flat spot, rolled out the sleeping bag, and spent the night there.

Probably can't get away with that, anymore.......


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