After arriving on Wednesday we just took it easy and went around the block to a local Indian and had a nice dinner with Henry and Rose. They had some great advice for us about the impending wedding planning, which was to take a break for a month or two before starting all the planning. She also said that it’s a load of rubbish that you have to take months and months to plan a wedding when you can do it in two weeks. Cheers to her!
We told Rose that we were going to the Special Forces Club to meet a friend of my father. Her parents know some top SAS guys (they live in Northern Ireland) and we thought maybe they would know Dad’s friends.
Thursday, which is Caro’s birthday, we spent shopping. I needed a tie to wear to the club, so I picked up a good stylish one at Selfridge’s, and also managed to pick up a silver bracelet for Caro since in all the engagement craziness I’d forgotten to get her a birthday present.
We were meeting Dad’s friends at 6pm at the Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge. We walked into the front foyer of the club and our host was waiting for us, and it didn’t take him but a splint second to recognize me. The club itself is a living memorial to those who’ve died in the service of freedom and the walls are lined with photographs and histories of those being honored. Most of them served in World War II, including, as we were told, little old ladies who were responsible for killing loads and loads of Nazis.
We headed to the club bar, and met some of Dad’s British friends, and Mrs. Rose, our host’s wife, who had met me years ago when I was just seven years old. We were told some great stories (yes, mostly about my father’s antics), but also some interesting historical stuff about Iran (it was the anniversary of the Iran embassy siege in London) and the Falkland Islands war. The amazing start of the evening was capped off when the Roses bought a bottle of champagne, sang Happy Birthday to Caroline and toasted our engagement.
And, of course, the Roses knew the Montgomerys, Rose Birch’s parents in Northern Ireland. Yet another small world experience to add to the list.
Everyone had dinner engagements, so we said goodbye and then went to the Charlotte Street Hotel where I’d planned a surprise birthday party for Caroline. I have a few friends from New York, LA and native Londoners, so I managed to get them together for a dinner at Oscar. After dinner, we continued drinking at a lounge and then at some point we ended up at Met Bar, but about that time we were so sloshed that neither of us remember a whole hell of a lot.
Yesterday was hangover day, but we did meet Henry in the City for lunch, climbed the dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, went to the Tate Modern across the river (Henry was kind enough to give us his member card and we definitely took advantage of the incredible views of London from the Member’s Floor), and then touristed out completely with a spin around the London Eye. The giant ferris wheel, built for the Millenium celebrations, was actually quite spectacular, and well worth the 25 pounds (in other words, fifty bucks!) for us to take the ride. By then we were absolutely exhausted, so we came back to Kensal Green and had a nice meal at a pub around the block.
Today we’re meeting my friend Marilyn at the Portobello Road market. It’s still very chilly and blustery, but it’s refreshing and we’re looking forward to a fun final day in Europe. Tomorrow we head back to Los Angeles, and I can already feel a tinge of melancholy at having our incredible vacation nearing its end.