I've discovered what is wrong with Dukes Hotel. It is so fab you don't want to leave. Who cares that London is just waiting outside your door, I'd much rather stay in my room. It's a good thing that all hotels aren't Dukes because the London tourist scene would go belly up, no one would leave their hotel and the economy would crash.
I can think of only one thing that would lure me out my door (no not even food they have room service remember?). A Spa. A spa is the only thing that is getting me out. Lucky for me they have one right here at the hotel. Happiness, I really don't have to leave.
Massage at Dukes, massage at Dukes, massage at Dukes, I had a scrummy massage at Dukes. After which I decided to finally venture out of doors. First to visit Prince Charles, at his palace on St. James, which by the way, is only a block away from Dukes Hotel. What delightful company I'm in the midst of here in London. Or rather, would be if they would only let me into see Charles. The guard wouldn't even ring up and say I'd arrived. I tried handing him my card but he wouldn't take that either. Rude! I thought the English were supposed to have such grand manners. Well not this fellow, and it wasn't only me, he wouldn't talk to anyone. I should have a talk to his Mum!
St. James street is beautiful, a delightful mix of old world and the new. I'm not the only one who is entranced, several artists of all kinds were gathered drawing and painting its delights.
I snapped a shot of a girl who was sketching the palace guard. Then I noticed that up the block a man was painting the outside of the shop across the street. I headed off in pursuit of another picture. Well he was alone on the street and I couldn't inconspicuously snap him, so I interrupted him and asked if I could take his picture. He told me I didn't have to ask, to which I replied that I thought it would be rude if I just shot his picture with out asking. He said, 'No, it would be rude, not to take my picture'. I chatted with him and found out his name is Julian Barrow, and he travels around the world painting whatever pleases him. He has painted in San Francisco, New York and just came back from 6 weeks in India. He lives in Chelsea and is the president of the Chelsea Arts Society. I began to get embarrassed and asked him if he was a famous artist, that I should know about. To which he replied 'I wouldn't say I'm famous but the Queen, Prince Charles, and several celebrities have my paintings'. He was great fun and we should all buy at least one of his paintings, you can see his website at www.JulianBarrow.com.
Well I was inspired by Julian and when I went back to my 'Duke of Portland Suite' at Dukes I sat in front of the vanity and did my first self portrait. Well it was more of a self sketch and I don't know anything about drawing but it was fun and I'm showing off my fledgling un-talent to you. Don't hurt yourself laughing.
Shopping time, I was told Fortnum and Masons has some great tourist foody souvenirs. Lucky me it is only a few blocks away so I headed over to spend money. I walked through Jermyn Street which had lots of great men's clothing shops. It wasn't touristy and I felt like a Londoner as I browsed through the distinguished shops. One thing that surprised me was how many men's custom shirt makers there were, that sounds like a fun article for a later date.
I found Fortnum and Masons, went in and bought several souvenirs. It was very crowded and touristy but very British, so it was worth fighting the crowds to take home tastes of England to my friends. When I got back to my hotel I found I didn't purchase enough so I'll have to sacrifice again and go back. Tragic really.
Yesterday, I actually slept through my dinner reservation and upon inquiring today, found the dining room was to be closed for a private wedding. I was told the alternate plan would have to be that the table in my room get set and have dinner brought up to me. Oh, it is such a hard life I am leading in London. How will I ever manage? Please don't worry toooo awfully much, I'll get by somehow, really I will.
I went down to the bar before dinner and had Tony, the head bar man, whip me up one of the famous Dukes Martinis. The scuttlebug on the streets is Ian Fleming creator of the James Bond stories, was inspired by the Dukes Martini and came up with Bonds phrase 'shaken not stirred' because of it. Well I had a vodka martini and it most certainly stirred and shook me up, it packs a punch. Good thing I only had time for one before dinner or I would have missed another chance to sample chefs cooking.
Dinner was delicious! I had Fennel and Rosemary soup with a Goat's Cheese Fritter, Pinot Grigio, Fillet of Scotch Beef in Dubonnet Sauce with Fondant Potato and for dessert Date & Toffee Pudding with Ginger Spice Ice Cream. The soup was subtle and precisely blended, the beef very tender and full of flavor. The Pudding spicy yet also subtle and tasted it like a winter's day.
Enough for today, sadly, tomorrow I have to leave my dreamland here at Dukes. My only conciliation is that I am headed for the Hilton at Park Lane.