1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

London Calling

by Suzanne Fluhr on August 24, 2012 · 14 comments

Union Jack:  Flag of the United Kingdom

Union Jack: Flag of the United Kingdom

It was with some trepidation that we boarded our London flight from Helsinki on the final leg of our 25 day trip that had also included visits to Dublin, a seven day road trip in the Irish countryside, a four day visit to Copenhagen and our first visit to Helsinki.  This somewhat odd itinerary was spawned by a series of medical research conferences attended by my husband, Steve.  I look at these travel opportunities as a trailing spouse to be my reward for the nights and weekends of single parenting while he was training to be a pulmonary physician.

Like Mitt Romney,we were apprehensive about dire press predictions that London taxi drivers would strike, London airport workers would strike and that anti-aircraft missile batteries placed on the tops of London apartment buildings for security during the Olympics would misfire.  However, unlike Mitt Romney, we did not go on international television to share our concerns thus earning public rebukes from the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister.  We just fretted privately.

As the world now knows, London did itself proud during the Olympics and our pre-Olympic June visit went off without a hitch.  One key for tourists visiting London (and frankly any other large city in the world) is not to arrive in one’s personal vehicle. Indeed, London has one of the finest and oldest public transportation systems in the world and better yet, despite the sprawling size of the London metropolitan area, central London is fairly compact and eminently walkable—if you wear sensible shoes.

Regent Street, London, England

Regent Street, London, England

We breezed through Immigration control and customs at London’s massive Heathrow Airport and boarded the Heathrow Express train for the trip to London’s Paddington Station.  From there, it was a short taxi ride to the Royal Society of Medicine where Steve’s conference was being held and which has accommodations for members and invited guests.  We could not have asked for a more convenient location, right at the edge of the old elegance of the Mayfair section and two blocks from Oxford Street, one of London’s premier shopping districts.  I’m not a shopper, but if you are, you would definitely want a stroll of Oxford and Regent Streets on your itinerary.

The London Eye on the Thames River

The London Eye on the Thames River

At the time of our visit, between the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Elizabeth II’s 60th year as the Queen of England and the Olympics, London was decked out in Union Jacks which felt like a sweet celebration of national pride during a time of disconcerting economic uncertainty.  Our first day, we went on a three hour walk from the Royal Society through Soho and the Theater District, past Picadilly Circus (London’s Times Square) and Trafalgar Square to the Victoria Embankment along the Thames River. We crossed the river and walked up the opposite bank, past the now iconic London Eye (a massive, slow moving ferris wheel with observation pods).  We enjoyed a Chinese meal in London’s Chinatown on our walk back to Mayfair.

I think England, and especially London, has outgrown its formerly well-deserved image as the European poster child for bland, uninspired food. London is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Walking central London’s streets is like a visit to the United Nations on “Wear Your National Garb” Day and immigrants have brought their cuisines with them.  In addition to our Chinese dinner, we enjoyed excellent meals at Italian and Turkish restaurants. Our one British dinner was at the speakers’ dinner for Steve’s conference at the Royal Society of Medicine. That also was a highly international affair. I was seated across the table from a German physician-scientist who also fancied himself an expert in American politics.  While unfailingly polite, the English doc seated next to him could barely contain his eye rolling.

Tea Time with Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam

Tea Time with Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam

I think I would have been disappointed had we not had one day of  archetypal rainy British weather — except our rainy day was more like a monsoon, much like the lashing rain the Queen stoically endured on the day of her Diamond Jubilee celebration. This coincided with Steve’s conference day, so I just hunkered down in the Royal Society’s medical library with its free wifi and treated myself to a tea break complete with scones, clotted cream and jam.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London, England

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London, England

Our hard core tourist day included a walk through Whitehall, the nerve center of British government, and visits to the ever awesome British Museum, the British Library (your chance to see the Magna Carta up close and personal), the National Portrait Gallery and the somewhat pricey, but probably worth it, Westminster Abbey.  Of course, this barely scratches the surface of all there is to see and do in London and its environs.

The Author Consulting with FDR and Winston Churchill

The Author Consulting with FDR and Winston Churchill

If its not already there, London definitely deserves a spot high on your bucket list.

Please share your impressions of London.  Do you have a favorite London “must see”?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat Vance August 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Finally got caught up with your blog. Very nice, Suzanne!


Just One Boomer August 24, 2012 at 7:03 am

Thanks, Pat. Are you doing any writing about riding these days?


L Sorensen-Jolink August 25, 2012 at 1:56 am

Wonderful photographs, Suzanne. I especially liked the one with you in it!

Although for eight years, I spent 36 hours in London most weeks while on layovers as a Pan Am crew member, I always felt as if I had barely scratched the surface of the city. As that is now ancient history (before the London Eye), my recollections have limited relevance. Timeless though are my memories of attending concerts in Christopher Wren churches and at Green Park, worshiping at St. Paul’s Cathedral, relishing Indian food (before there was much of it in the U.S.), grocery shopping in the Harrods Food Halls and at Fortnum & Mason, lingerie shopping at Marks & Spencer, enjoying Monty Python on the BBC…to name a few. Berthing right next to one of the British Airways Concordes was always a thrill. And on return flights, we served scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam (all from Britain, of course). As we were provisioned with about 500 scones for a full 747, there were many leftovers, so despite the prospect of weight checks whenever we reported to work, the crew feasted. (We must have burned a lot of calories running up and down those aisles for 7-10 hours at a time!)

I love your story of working in the Royal Society of Medicine library…it reminds me of studying at the Inns of Court when I was a law student on layovers. It was a great way to get through law school!


Just One Boomer August 25, 2012 at 3:47 am

My first visit to London was in 1969. We lived in Wiltshire for that year where my father was an exchange teacher. (No central heat and a gas hotplate for cooking that required shillings for the gas meter.) We spent our Christmas school vacation in London—no Royal Society of Medicine on that trip. I think we stayed at Mrs. Zurita’s guest house all the way out in Clapham Common. The food was so bad (and we didn’t have a big budget) that my youngest sister had an incipient case of malnutrition.

I was there in 2008 with my son, who was 19 at the time and now this time with my husband. It has become much more cosmopolitan than it was in 1969. At that time, I think Indian and Chinese were the only two foreign cuisines that were available.

I didn’t mention it in my post, but one of the highlights of this trip was stumbling upon the Church of St. Martins in the Fields and a chamber orchestra rehearsing for a concert, followed by tea and scones in the somewhat creepy “Crypt Cafe” below.

We traveled to Oxford, the Cotswolds, Bath, Devon and Cornwall, in the late 90’s. Now I want to return to see the Lake District, Wales and Scotland with my husband. I last visited those places when I was 15 with my family.

How did you manage law school while working as a flight attendant!?!


Kathryn August 27, 2012 at 8:21 am

I regularly visit London but I’ve never seen the bench your sitting on. I really must pop by there for a chat with FDR and Winnie some time. (Where exactly is it?)
One of my favourite haunts in London is the Camden markets. I’ll be writing about that soon.


Just One Boomer August 28, 2012 at 1:18 am

I’ll be looking for your post on the Camden Markets in London.

I did a little research and learned the following about “the bench” where one can (and I obviously did) interject oneself between the wartime leaders, Roosevelt and Churchill:

The bench, a statue called “Allies”, was donated by the Bond Street Assoc. (of merchants) to the City of Westminster in 1995. It is located where Old Bond Street meets New Bond Street in Mayfair. We must have come across it while walking from Oxford Street to Picadilly Circus.


ANGLO/Dale August 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Seeing these pictures makes me miss the UK – but only a little 🙂

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the occasional thing like the green countryside, or the scones & cream for breakfast & yes, even the unexpected ten minute showers; but, I’m seeing so much that I like to think that the next time I go to London it’ll be through a different set of eyes. Like a re-discovery.

Come to think of it, I kinda miss some of my friends too – nah! 🙂


roz warren August 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

i LOVE the crypt cafe –and my recollection is that the prices were very reasonable. do i remember that correctly?


Just One Boomer August 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Yes, it was very reasonable–not haute cuisine, but I don’t think that’s your “thing” anyway—as long as they have broccoli and cheerios. Actually, I don’t think they had either, but it was reasonable. I didn’t get that it really was a crypt until we were leaving and I realized we were walking on gravestones. I think I’m glad I noticed that on the way out. I just thought they called it the “Crypt Cafe” because it was in the basement.


SOLOMON GOSLING December 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm



Just One Boomer January 1, 2013 at 4:35 am

Thanks for stopping by Boomeresque. There is a more recent post about London which you can access at


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