Steady On

I am so tired that I’m wild. I had trouble sleeping on the plane (got on at 6:30pm Toronto time) since it was nowhere near bedtime. I tried, I really did, but there was nothing for it. It was dark all the way here though (as predicted yesterday, by knitters far smarter than I am) with sunset coming right after takeoff and sunrise coming just before we landed here at 6:30am. I sat up, knitting, watching bad movies, and for 30 glorious minutes as we headed out past Newfoundland and over the Northern Atlantic, watching a spectacular display of the Northern Lights play across the sky like an electric green and blue curtain blowing in a celestial wind. It was heartbreakingly beautiful, and that 30 minutes, peering out the little window into the dark was entirely worth being awake for, no matter how tired I am now. I assure you that the same cannot be said of the Sex and the City movie.

We landed, me peering out the window again, trying hard to see London through the clouds, and a very nice driver named Dave drove me from Heathrow to the part of London that I’m staying in, giving me tips and history lessons, showing me points of interest, helping me get oriented. He was great, and gave me the best tip I’ve had so far. (Actually, Ken gave it to me too… but I’d forgotten due to exhaustion.)

Be Very Careful Crossing The Street.

I am not kidding. You laugh when someone says it to you, but dudes, the cars here are totally not coming from the direction you think they are. You look in the direction you’re used to looking, what would be oncoming traffic, were you home… see nothing, step off the curb and promptly find yourself in front of a double decker bus careening at you from out of nowhere. (Also, the British may be slightly mad drivers, but you didn’t hear it from me.) I’ve been honked at sixteen times, and I am also pissing people off on the sidewalks. (Hint. That’s opposite too.) I had just got the hang of crossing the street when I encountered a roundabout. I swear to you that the only reason I am writing this is because the good people of London have instructions written on the road to help you with the problem of crossing the street with cars coming from all directions, which totally makes me think that maybe they’re just hard in general, and not just hard if you’re really, really, really tired.


It is, at the time of this writing, about 9:00am here, and I’m in a cafe, drinking my 11th cup of coffee while I wait for the National Gallery to open. (I don’t know if I’ll go in.) There’s no internet though. I’ll hit post later, when I have a hotel room… because that’s what I’m doing. Walking/drinking coffee/ seeing things until I have a hotel room. Check in isn’t until 2pm, so I’m roaming the streets, getting lost, finding things and generally having a good time. It took me all of 4 minutes to get profoundly lost. Profoundly… but I just kept walking, thinking that sooner or later I would find something that would mean I wasn’t lost anymore. While I was lost, I found Parliament (I think)


What I think might be the Horse Guard buildings – and a Guard wearing a FANTASTIC hat, all manner of things. The best part though, was a little while ago, when I was walking along, looking, not caring that I was lost, just trying to be here.. you know what I mean? I was, at this point, very seriously lost. I’ve got no bearings here, I’ve found the Thames, which should help but doesn’t, because it’s pretty twisty and I’m not sure how it fits into things anyway – though I was briefly relieved that I knew that it was the Thames, which is sort of one of the minimum English geography things everyone should know – and I am reasonably sure (I have just got to get a map) that I am on the West side of the river.


In any case, I was hugely lost, and just then starting to think about maybe asking someone where I was, when I saw Canada House and laughed. Trust me to be lost in another country and find my Embassy.


Then I saw a gorgeous fountain…


Then wonderful steps and Lions…Then I sat and looked at the monument that was there….and then it hit me.


I’m in Trafalgar Square!

I’m hoping that the fact that my first thought was “what a lovely place” instead of “Wow. An internationally recognizable famous landmark” can be chalked up to being up for 24 hours, not general stupidity, but I can’t guarantee it. I saw Buckingham Palace later, and recognized that straightaway, so there’s hope.

I’m trying to stay up until bedtime London time, but I don’ t know if I’m going to make it. If you see me lying by the side of the street, sock clutched in my hand…camera extended in the general direction of a landmark…please pour tea down me until I’m revived enough to tell you where my hotel is.

245 thoughts on “Steady On

  1. Been there, done that! The hotel may have pity on you and let you in early. Failing that, sleep in the lobby!

  2. I got lost in Chicago once. It was a thrill but scary at the same time. What an adventure!!

  3. Oh, wow, I can just imagine… I guess you now have a hotel with internet access, and are sleeping (no, napping — don’t sleep till nighttime!). Have a great time, and be careful with those dang streets!
    Ah, find a good pub and have a mild!

  4. Miz Harlot!
    If you have time….a wonderful thing to do in London is attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey. Sit in the choir area. The ushers let people in at 4:30 if you tell them you are there to attend Evensong. The setting is beautiful, the music amazing, the history mindboggling.

  5. Welcome! I’m having the same sleep problems but due to new meds so if you hear snoring on Saturday please don’t be offended, but if you could see your way to giving me a kick……

  6. Yea, London! We landed in Gatwick and took the train in to Victoria Station. All seemed reasonably as it should be until we stepped out of the station, on to the street, and – chaos! Besides using the “Look Left” signs (which gave us a great laugh at first but later saved our lives several times) we learned to respect the Green Man. Every time we wanted to cross a street, and all was clear in every direction, we would look towards the Man – he was red, but we thought, “Oh it’s safe, no cars are coming” and we’d step off the curb and Wham! out of nowhere 900 cars zooming in all directions. We learned to respect the Green Man. Between him and the look left or right signs we survived walking in London. We never attempted to drive, that would have been impossible! I am so excited for you, wandering and looking and just being there – exactly! Love the pictures, want to go back…can’t wait to hear more! Have fun!

  7. Enjoy your excellent adventure. Jet lag is a witch, though. When I travelled to Russia at the ripe old age of 25 I thought I was going to make it through the post-plane-ride day, too, and engaged in a little sight-seeing so as not to waste any precious travel time. I can’t begin to tell you how freaky it is to wake up on an unfamiliar subway in a land where the only word you know is borscht.

  8. I love how they write “look left” and then put an arrow to show you what direction that is.
    Steph – here’s a hint. From time to time you will see little signs that say “Subway”. Your Canadian subconscious thinks these are pointing to the Underground, but they’re not. “Subway” is how the British say “Pedestrian Underpass”. That’s how Brits get across their busiest streets. Watch for those signs! They’re lifesavers!

  9. Sounds like fun–even with your body clock wrong! Bravo to you for finding the embassy and hope you got some sleep and tea.
    Have a lovely trip!!

  10. Hi Stephanie, and welcome to my side of the pond. I just Googled for button shops in London.
    19 Marylebone Lane,W1V2NF
    Beauty Stones
    10 Wentworth Street, Whitechapel
    London, E1 7TF
    020 7377 1511
    Of these two the most central is the Button Queen just off Oxford Street, nearest tube is Bond street.
    It would be a shame to take it all the say back home without any buttons. And how cool to look at it every time you wear it and remember buying the buttons in London.

  11. I’m so jealous that you got to see the aurora borealis. I’ve always wanted to see them.
    More importantly: David’s advice for dealing with overpowering exhaustion/jetlag after a red-eye to Europe:
    1. Tour buses which will drive you around and talk to you are your friend–you can sit on one for hours, get off, look at something, and get back on again.
    2. Pubs. Soak up some local atmosphere in a friendly neighborhood pub. It’s a sitting down thing, but still gives you the sense you’re in a different place.
    3. Give up and take a 3 hour nap–which is usually where I eventually end up, despite my better plans.

  12. Love the travelogue! Beautiful pix and comments. And you’re not lost; you’re having unique opportunities! (at least that’s what I call them when I get lost on my travels :^O)
    btw – did you go in the embassy and say hello?

  13. How wonderful! I hope you have lots of time to explore on your own and see the wonderful sites.
    Just be careful when you get back home – you will be so used to looking left that you may get plastered by a bus in your own country! (It almost happened to me!)

  14. Welcome to the UK! Ypu’ve seen some cool sites already. I hope you manage to stay up until bed time. Watch those roads btw – I had the same issue in Toronto last year!!!

  15. We flew into the north yesterday and am sympathetic about the sleep deprivation, recommend a nap regardless of what you might hear otherwise. It is a great country for wearing wool, though buying it has been less than satisfactory in my experience. Enjoy!

  16. Oh, you lucky one, how I wish I could be there right now. And I’m living so much closer to the UK than you. Sigh, maybe in a few years, when the budget and the kid’s age is more appropriate to such a journey.
    Enjoy your trip! A lot!!

  17. Don’t even try to get your bearings. Despite being a Roman town, none of the roads are straight. Just wear your Canadian Flag and ask for directions to everywhere you want to go. And eventhough you won’t understand 3 out of every 5 words people say to you, they really are speaking English.
    You’re going to have a wonderful time.

  18. Welcome to England! Lucky you to see the Northern Lights – one of my life ambitions. Isn’t it early, though, to be seeing them?
    Anyway, buttons: Fyberspates Jeni has some of the most gorgeous button creations on earth – and all ethical, too, so ask her about them.
    Also, Liberty is so worth visiting – such an experience is not to be missed.
    Enjoy your trip – and your knitting

  19. We were in London last summer; it was fantastic! Do go to the British Museum; it’s way cool. And free. Besides, I think you need a sock picture next to the Rosetta Stone. And some of those Egyptian stone thingies…Enjoy!

  20. I second taking a short nap, just be sure that you have someone wake you up after a couple of hours. It always helped me whenever I visited London. Have fun and Cadbury’s Roses are awesome, make sure you get the big box.

  21. Love this…
    Are you meeting with CosmicPluto ?
    She happens to be in (or going to) London as we speak..
    Well I guess there must be something happening in London if all Torontonians are getting there

  22. I love London and Trafalger and the National Gallery (but I prefer the Portrait Gallery around the corner, it seems more personal to me). Enjoy your trip!

  23. Welcome to London!
    You might have driven past my office on your way into central London.
    Try your best to stay up until at least 8pm to help fight the jetlag! Oh and remember, the bonus is that you won’t feel it as much when you head home. It’ll just be like having a really long day (which is quite cool).

  24. We’re not smarter than you; you must have been facing the wrong way while you were trying to figure it all out. Because that’s what I had to do, stand up and face east and all. My spatial orientation isn’t what it should be. I blame my knitting mistakes on that, too. Why not?

  25. I’m so envious! I’ve absolutely loved London the few times I’ve been there.
    Did you consider going into the embassy and asking them for a map? It’s probably not even an unusual request.

  26. I’m very jealous that you saw the Northern Lights. Wow. That is one of my “bucket list” items. So cool. Please post pics of everything and anything so we can continue to live vicariously through you. πŸ™‚

  27. I just did this four weeks ago and it sounds so familiar. That first day is soooo tiring. I think I went to bed at 8PM London time. It might have been the best sleep of my life. πŸ™‚ I hope you have great time in London, and if you can, catch a train to High Wycombe(or any other town out of London) and then buses to the countryside. It’s incredible.

  28. Hon, if I’d realised you were going to be completely abandoned during your first day in this mad place, I’d have taken the day off and fetched you myself from Heathrow (I only live 3 miles down the road).
    Enjoy your sleep. If you manage to stay awake to 8pm, you’ll beat the jetlag.
    – Pam

  29. Make sure you go to Madame Tussaud’s. It’s a very touristy thing to do, but it’s very fun anyway. And you should be ok getting around, a friend and I were there for a day by ourselves when we were 17 and we were able to get wherever we wanted to go without much trouble.
    Have some tea and crumpets for those of us stuck on the other side of the pond!

  30. Welcome to the UK! I’m an American living in the fact, if you follow the Thames long enough you’ll end up right outside my house! πŸ˜‰ I’m so sad to be missing iKnit, but I’ve got to work! POO! Anyway, I hope you have a fabulous time while you’re here!

  31. Welcome to London!
    Hint: There is a Canadian pub near Covent Garden – it is called the Maple Leaf. I know you probably want to go to English pubs but in the interests of showing the sock a good ol’ Canadian hootenannying time the Maple Leaf is an interesting cross-cultural experiment.
    In the interests of keeping you well-fed there are a few specifically vegetarian places around – e.g. Food for Thought on Neal Street in Covent Garden, or the Hummus Bros. on Wardour Street in Soho.
    You must visit Borough Market on Friday! It is in Southwark, on the South Bank of the Thames, and very near London Bridge Station. I recommend going in the morning on an empty stomach. Borough Market is like the St. Lawrence Market on steroids, and even more fun. It is also open on Saturday but we all know how busy you will be on Saturday….

  32. Oh Stephanie I really feel for you, I think this is the worst part of transatlantic travel but you are doing the right thing (and getting it out of the way first, it gets easier after the first day). And such a great post too, despite the jet-lag. How fantastic to see your sock in places I am familiar with!
    Totally agree about the drivers, especially in London, so take care – it’s wonderful to have the Harlot over here but we want to send you home with happy memories. Looking forward to your talk on Saturday.

  33. Scones and clotted cream!
    I spent my morning waiting for the hotel room on one of those super touristy city bus tours. THe ticket is pricy (I think about 25E) but its good for 24 hours, lets you see the sights without having to walk or even move, and sometimes includes things like a free boat ride down the THames.

  34. Welcome!!!! NO SLEEPING!!! You’ll hate yourself tonight for it. and tomorrow…and, well, all weekend for that matter.
    I’m convinced the obvious signs are due to all the alcohol consumption in this great country. They’re just stating the obvious for all the dunkards. πŸ™‚ My favorite signs are the speed bump signs that state, “Humps for 1/2 mile” or the yield signs that say “Give Way.”
    Have a great time, and consume some fish n chips and a pint for dinner tonight.

  35. Enjoying your travelogue! Reminds me of my visits there.
    Definitely go to Westminster Abbey and I do believe the tours are on at Buckingham Palace still. I did the State Room tour and it was amazing!

  36. Welcome to my city! FYI you were on what is known as north of the river. Jet lag is awful, but I’m sure you will be fine by tomorrow. Were you totally alone today? Surely one of our esteemed knitting community was on hand to show you around? I could have done it myself had I known you were in need. I am looking forward so much to seeing you on Saturday. Just drink more tea.

  37. Welcome to England! You’re going to seriously confuse the cab drivers if you ask to be taken East/West of the river though!! πŸ˜€

  38. It’s good that you didn’t recognize the landmark first….you are _there_…with ALL of you. You are experiencing London, not analyzing it. Sort of like being a process traveler/explorer, rather like being a process knitter!!!
    Enjoy it!
    And there is something special about the cool fog one gets from being overtired and over stimulated in a strange place….go with it and enjoy it!

  39. Hurray! I’m jealous and now remembering my trip to London 2 years ago. I spent my first de-jetlagging day there looking for shops and found Stash Yarns in Putney (Or East PutuneY?) and they were nice to me while I sat in my fried-brain sort of state.
    Trafalgar square is so great. I remember I walked every day from the LSE residence along the South Bank, across the bridge, to Trafalgar Sq. Then I’d go wherever I was going.
    I also was REALLY fond of the Marks & Spencer selection of prepared foods and biscuits. Perhaps too fond of the jaffa cakes, but hey, a tourist needs energy right?

  40. Yes, the skies are grey and gloomy – you are here. The British Museum is good, even if you don’t go in, look at the facade and pick out all the animals.
    I feel for you with the sleep deprivation, we flew to Vancouver once and it just about killed me. Staying up is the thing to do if you can manage it and the other thing is to get out in the sun. You’re sunk there then.

  41. Yay for London! I’m so jealous. I’m glad that you finally found your way around, and I hope you are doing well with the staying awake thing! =)

  42. I have a picture of myself under one of those lions in Trafalgar Square! I hope you made it to the National Gallery. It’s lovely and there’s so much to see. The Tate Modern (next to the London Eye in one of your photos) is also fantastic. There’s an exhibit made of a shed in the middle of exploding.
    I was also almost run over by a bus. Crossing the street is really difficult!
    Have a scone with clotted cream and jam for me!

  43. Not sure how long you’ll be in London, or how much walking you’ll get done while you’re there, but one thing they may not have told you is that if you are in London just long enough when you get home to where people drive on the correct side of the road you will be so focused on “Look Left” that you may have a few close calls on this side of the pond as well, when looking left won’t do you much good at all.

  44. Welcome to England! I apologize about the weather. And I *still* look right, left, right when crossing the street after living here for six years. πŸ™‚

  45. Do not get hit by a bus. We would miss you.
    Enjoy your trip, once you get caught up on rest.
    I envy you your Northern Lights sighting. Going far enough north to see them is on my lifetime To Do list.

  46. I’m told that when lost in London (from someone who did this very thing) don’t stumble into a taxi and tell the driver that you are staying in the hotel by the fountain. Although he and the taxi driver were successful on their mission, it was a VERY expensive taxi ride.

  47. Beware, the painted look left on the road is not avaialable everywhere, only where we expect a lot of tourists. You should be Ok if you’re sticking to London.
    Welcome and I hope you catch up on your sleep!

  48. Wish I would have thought to send this earlier –
    Yes, stay up.
    Then when you wake up at 4am local, you can watch the sunrise over the Thames.
    Hubby and I did this in Paris (plane full of teens, chaperones all took sleeping pills; we were not amused) and went to bed at about 6:30pm after being up for God-knows how long, I still don’t want to do the math.
    Due to my “Baby, are you awake?” at 4am (hubby groaning) we watched the sunrise over the Seine and had the dawning Sunday streets of Paris almost completely to ourselves. We stood in the middle of Champs Elysees and saw a single car.
    It was beyond amazing.

  49. Have a WONDERFUL time! And good luck with the button hunt. I hope you find something perfect for Hey Teach–and what a nice remembrance it will be every time you wear it! And buy some tea! Think I’ll go make myself a cuppa right now…

  50. I was on choir tour when I stopped in London. Didn’t stay for more than 16 hours…man, I was pissed. But I got to see all the stuff you saw too!! How I hope to visit again…very soon!! Enjoy yourself. They’re fantastic people over there…enjoy the English breakfasts…if you can! πŸ˜‰

  51. Hi – I try not do double-post but reading the response from swankette reminded me of a story. A friend of mine was crossing a one-way street in New York; looked the right way, no cars were coming, stepped off the curb and was hit by a horse. A mounted policeman was going up the one-way street the wrong way. I guess it’s always best to look both ways, wherever you are…

  52. Hi Steph, we Brits are not stupid we just don’t know our left from our right, hence the arrows.
    You must go to Liberty of London- you must! They will show you wonderful things in a beautiful setting and have a wonderful cafe for the tea you need- I can’t believe you are so close and yet so far- still can’t afford to come down and see you- any chance you are still here next week for the Knitting and Stitching Show in Birmingham??

  53. Since the post is up, I’m going to assume you made it to the hotel safe and sound, which is a relief. As a long-time world traveler, I have long since accepted that I have no sense of direction whatsoever and regularly trust to the kindness of strangers to get me where I need to go. It has never failed me yet (except that one time in Dusseldorf, and I don’t count that, because it was Germany), so I’m sure you’ll be just fine!

  54. So near & yet so far… wishing I could come on Saturday, but the fates are against me. Have fun and don’t let them mock you (if anyone does, get them to point Toronto out on a map before they carry on, or ask them (if they’re doing the whole north/south of the river thing) which shore of which great lake your hometown lies on).
    I couldn’t believe DH when I first met him and asked him whether he lived N or S of the river, and he said “I don’t know”. He lived in Twickenham – the river is *really* windy there, and much smaller… I lived in North London, and couldn’t understand his ignorance of local geography(!) Turns out, he was on the right sid after all.

  55. At least you realized you were in Trafalgar Square. Me, I’d probably sit there and think, Man, this looks a lot like Trafalgar Sqaure, I wonder what it’s called…” Yeah, me and jet lag do not get along.
    Love the Look Left signs – I’d probably need them, too.

  56. You’ll get used to the cars coming from the other side… and then you have to get re-used to the way they drive in Canada, when you get home!
    Have a wonderful time in London, and remember to enjoy yourself. I wish I could be there Saturday to hear your talk πŸ˜‰
    Actually I think one of the best ways to see an new city is to go get lost and just wander about! It brings the most fantastic experiences!

  57. The very best things often come unexpectedly. I would have loved to see the Northern Lights. That first day is rugged. Unfamiliar territory plus the fatigue always makes it kind of dreamlike for me. Hope you’re staying safe and having fun.

  58. Ah, sleep deprivation. Like being drunk, without the calories. By my far-edge-of-the-time-zone calculations, amending for Daylight Savings, I’d guess you have three hours to go till legitimate bedtime. Guinness is good for you.

  59. I did the red eye to London too, and found out that getting properly sloshed on British cask ale at the Fuller’s Brewery tour was the solution to the jet lag (makes time go faster, and you’re too happy on ale to remember that you’re tired).

  60. I hope you have an awesome time! I loved what I saw of London during a crazy weekend involving the first Harry Potter movie release. πŸ˜€ I HAD to go to Trafalgar Square during my visit. I insisted.

  61. May I just say that I am sitting here at the computer staring at your London pics and drooling? I want to come see you there! We went to Spain this summer and we were supposed to have a layover in London… we didn’t, so I am majorly jealous!
    Come back safe and listen to the locals!

  62. Welcome to London! I can totally sympathise with the mad drivers. The buses especially really shift it down here! If you find yourself on one, make sure you are holding on to something or sitting down – you’re in for a bit of a wild ride!

  63. YOU MUST GO TO THE LIBRARY. The British Library has the coolest stuff ever. Beatles lyrics scribbled by John Lennon on napkins. The original *hand written* Alice in Wonderland. And the best part of the whole place–you’ll be in there alone. Nobody goes. It’s like all the coolest stuff Britain ever gave the world (including non-pop culture items like a copy of the Magna Carta and a Gutenberg bible) and you’re the only one who knows it. Go now.

  64. Since we are living vicariously through your visit remember, there is no such thing as too many pictures. SNAP AWAY.

  65. Hope you managed to stay awake! When I was in London on a study tour, we kept getting lost and discovered that the British give very, very odd directions. Odd as in “not helpful in the least.”

  66. Welcome to the U.K Steph!!
    Go visit the Halcyon Gallery in Bruton Street. My friend Lorenzo has a lot of his sculptures there.
    Yeah we can be a bit mad on the roads. Not like some of the other countries though. The signs are there to help. As one person said watch out for the green man. Cross when you see others crossing. Get a map and please ask for directions if you are lost (go into a store). Watch out for your camera though, that’s a big one and also your purse. Above all have fun.

  67. That’s the best way to see London. Enjoy it. They are a bit mad but generally quite good. Please stop in to Liberty’s. It’s gorgeous and the girls in haberdashery (don’t you just love that word?) are sweet.

  68. I’m now longing to make a return trip to London.
    At any rate I do believe a good hearty pint would do you a world of good – not only is it fortifying but it is also a good place to meet locals who (if you can understand them) will get your directions straightened out. I’m sure you can guess how I came upon this glorious travel tip πŸ™‚

  69. I am insanely jealous. How I would love to be lost in London. I was there once 18 years ago. I never did get severely lost but I was with a group part of the time and then I am a studier of maps. The one time I asked directions the man I asked had a very thick cockney accent and I couldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me.

  70. Ah! That’s totally my experience in London, too. Arrived, found hotel (was allowed to stow bag behind front desk) then promptly got lost only to find myself at Buckingham Palace – for the changing of the guards, no less.
    Stay safe around the zebra poles, you hear?

  71. Spending the day walking around in natural light is about the best thing you can do to reset your clock — and walking around London is awesome at any time! Have fun stumbling across history at every turn.

  72. Does it feel really weird to look at something and realize you’ve seen a million pictures of it, to the point where you figured that it existed only in pictures, not in real life, but apparently you were wrong, because here it is in the same reality with you? It always does to me.
    But maybe I should be quiet, so as not to wake you. Although, if my math is right, 2 pm isn’t for 6 1/2 more hours. Although maybe I shouldn’t tell you that.

  73. I nearly forgot to mention one of the things that stuck out in mind from my trip….the polite elevators. I’m not sure if it was just the hotels I stayed in – but the “Please mind the doors” and “Please mind the gap” were FANTASTIC!

  74. I was where you are in December – everything you and your commenters are saying sounds awfully familiar!
    I’d advise getting a map (and maybe a compass) and never asking for directions, because all the answer you’ll get is “Oh, it’s just around the corner.”
    Ah, I miss travelling. Must rectify that again soon. Hope you have a wonderful time!

  75. Ah, yes, you have brought back memories of the day I stepped off the curb on busy Princes Street in Edinborough, Scotland and almost became a hood ornament on a Mercedes! The driver was not pleased, as he slammed on his brakes, that I forgot to look left instead of right.
    Mary G. in Texas

  76. Even though I grew up in London and work in London and live very close to London, I am still enjoying seeing it through the eyes of a tourist!
    Welcome and looking forward to Saturday!

  77. Thanx for the memories. I’ll be spending the rest of the day and presumably, the rest of your stay in London, fondly recalling my own glorious week there in 2005.
    St, Martin of the Fields (right there on Trafalgar Square) has lovely concerts (and a lovely cafe in the crypt down stairs (lol) . We heard Vivaldi’s Four Seasons achingly beautiful.
    Pigeons. Did you know that the City of London now, or at least did, pays a little old guy who use to feed the birds in Trafalgar Square NOT to feed them anymore! LOLOLOL
    I love London!! Have a great time and “Mind the Gap”

  78. It’s so fitting that my current project is a strong, clear green because it perfectly fits my mood as I look at these wonderful photographs! Have a wonderful time, Stephanie, and be sure to show us what you find at Ye Olde Button Shoppes!

  79. Welcome to our country. Personally, I’m all fed up with it at the moment as due to some beardy bloke that runs the trains, we are having far more trouble getting 120 miles down the road to see you than you had getting across the pond. We’ll make it though, come hell or high water. (Forgive us if we are a little late and noisy).

  80. Now you DO recognize the Millinium Eye in your Thames pic, right? Come on! What kind of Doctor Who fan are you! BTW, when you do your book thing, give a shout out to all your Ravelry fans. We are legion!

  81. Awesome! I’ve never been to London so I’ll live it vicariously through you for now. Enjoy! Hope you can stay awake until it’s bedtime there — it will really help. Cherry-O!

  82. Also, and this is very important – watch out for the bike messengers. You’ll be looking the correct direction, see no cars, and then BAM!! Bike messenger careening down the street. I lived in London for a year and had a few close calls with those guys. A friend was hit by one – they are usually going faster than the cars, since they can weave in and out of traffic.
    Otherwise, enjoy. London is my most favorite city.

  83. Ooh, I don’t know if you’ll have the opportunity, but the National Portrait Gallery is very interesting too, and it’s right by the National Gallery. have fun, and enjoy finding the flushers!

  84. I love getting lost (if I’m not supposed to be somewhere at a specific time, that is). It’s a great way to see new things and learn your way around a new place. I’ve done that here in Houston several times. Go out w/o a map and see if I make it home. Since you were able to post this I guess you made it back to the hotel just fine. Good for you. Hope you recover from the jet lag soon.

  85. Our 1st trip to England my husband walked me all over and wouldn’t let me go to sleep and I was SO mad at him and . . . it pains me to admit that he was right. It got me on the English clock and I’ve lived by that rule ever since.
    PLEASE try to have a “champagne tea” at Fortnum & Mason. It is pricey and worth every shilling, or whatever. Then buy some of their tea to bring home, especially “Royal Blend” – a black tea drinker’s heaven.
    Sigh. I love London. Enjoy, Harlot!

  86. Welcome! My cousins (from PoCo, Vancouver) always ended up in Trafalgar Square when they were over.
    If you need tea, head for Liberty’s downstairs tea room. Then go up to the 3rd floor and gaze at the Rowan Yarn.
    Looking forward to meeting on Saturday.

  87. Here is some advice on coping with jet lag from my ex-World Banker husband. The critical thing is to focus on eating at the mealtimes in the new timezone, even if you aren’t hungry. This is supposed to help set your body clock more quickly. Enjoy your trip!

  88. My husband, daughters, and I have been making the trip back and forth for 2 years now (where has the time gone) and it never ceases to amaze me how exhausted I am when I arrive.
    Whatever you do, try to stay awake until 9 PM, and wake up by 9 tomorrow morning. It’s the best advice we ever got, and give it to every single one of our visitors.
    Oh a side note, I feel a strange connection to you now that you are in “my” country at the same time that I am. Of course, I’m American…go figure!

  89. Wow am I jealous! I miss London so much! I lived in Yorkshire for a year while doing my undergrad and I used to take weekend trips to London all the time. I have a great picture of my fiance and I standing in front of that very fountain (we get a picture of us in front of a fountain everywhere we go). *sigh* Say hello to the Thames for me.

  90. As others have said, been there, done that. In my case, I managed to stumble across (I think) the Natural History Museum. Went inside to find a huge dinosaur skeleton.
    I also stumbled into Trafalgar Square…to find Londoners generally lounging about in various states of minimal dress. Seems it was a very hot day for London – something like 85 F.
    I too was warmish – even took off my sweater. But then 85 F in Texas isn’t what we call hot, rather just pleasantly warm.
    Have loads of fun, buy great yarn.

  91. Hehe! I still remember my first trip to the UK and the danger of crossing the streets and the general craziness of roundabouts (we don’t really have those where I grew up in Illinois, though I got used to them living in New England for 14 years). Anyway, enjoy the rest of your visit and be sure to get to the V&A.

  92. so jealous I have always wanted to go to London. Have a great time and don’t get hit by a bus. Keep eating for some reason when I have no sleep eating keeps me going.

  93. See, I told you that you would be able to knit on the flight.
    DO NOT GO TO BED until atleast 8 P.M. not too much longer.
    I do love London where else can one go to the Gardening Museum in Lambeth and find Captain Bligh’s tomb in the church yard? (the museum is in an old church). I can’t believe no one has told you about the Victoria and Albert museum, when I was there the textile exhibit was amazing. They have items that are over 2000 years old!
    Have a great time and check out Petticoat Lane on Sunday if you have time! Oh Yeah and the British Museum – the sock will love the Elgin Marbles. Sigh I wish I was there with you!

  94. We vacationed in England while on our honeymoon. Traffic in London really IS frightening. My husband was crossing the road and had to hop forward out of the way of a car that was shifting to speed up… and it DID actually strike his backpack. The guy didn’t even give us a backward glance. We were pretty much DONE with the city after that and got into the countryside soon after. You take care of yourself over there!

  95. Welcome to our glorious city Stephanie. Some one said you should try Food for Thought in Covent Garden. Really, really do – you’ll love it. I’m not as well travelled as you so don’t know how it compares to other places, but have a go on the underground. With a little street map of London, knowledge that the tube map is iconographic in that it doesn’t represent true distances and you should have great fun being a tourist for a couple of days.
    Yarn shops you should visit are John Lewis in Oxford Street, Liberty in Regent Street (and the fabric dept there), if you want to go further afield, Stash Yarns in Putney as well your hosts – I Knit in Waterloo.
    We’re really looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.
    And in case it’s not been mentioned, I hate to mess with your sense of direction, but you are north of the river, or south. Houses of P are north, the London Eye – which you HAVE to do, is south!

  96. Wandering through London years ago as a student abroad, I found myself in front of Scotland Yard–YOWZA! (My mom was a big fan of Brit murder mysteries). Then I capped that by winding up across from Buckingham Palace (no idea I was headed that way, of course). I need a return trip, sigh. Enjoy it!
    (Btw: I’m the other Gretchen, not the early commenter).

  97. OH to be lost in London! It sounds fantastic! I’m entirely jealous. I hope you’re able to get caught up on your rest and I hope your visit is wonderful! (It sounds like it’s going great so far!)

  98. Have a great time in London, despite the traffic (I cannot believe ten years back I used to drive my old banger round Trafalgar Square etc) and now live in Oxford, where it *really is* the cyclists you have to watch out for! I was supposed to be there on Saturday but wedding plans are having to come first. I shall knit in the jewellers instead!

  99. Oh, I haven’t been to London since 1996. You’re bringing back wonderful memories! I actually knew you were headed for Trafalgar Square, just by what you wrote. Good for you! I hope you get some rest so you can thrill us with the rest of your trip.
    And seriously, those roundabouts are for the birds! Stay safe!!

  100. London is so tricky. It’s absolutely worth buying a copy of London A-Z. The place is a maze.
    Worse than crossing the street is trying to catch a bus. I always, always, always got on a bus going in the wrong direction because I was on the wrong side of the street.

  101. You are so right about that movie. My funniest story about London is seeing an Indian woman in a sari slumped in a half-sitting faint with a worried child beside her. Leaning over her was a matronly English woman in a tweed suit and sturdy shoes, and with that pursed-up sort of British accent, shouting at the unconscious woman, “Would you like a cup of tea!”

  102. I wish I were with you!
    The Embankment (north side of the river Thames) is the most beautiful walk in the world.
    My husband and I follow it every day when we are there, which is not nearly enough for me.
    The stay-up-all-day advice is right.
    Have a great time!!!!

  103. Welcome to London!!!
    Do go to the National Gallery its fantastic.
    And: Borough Market, the Tate Modern and on a river boat trip if you have time (you get the best view of london) – there is great food in china town.
    Good luck with crossing roads and SEE YOU ON SATURDAY.

  104. It’s a shame that the hotel did not take pity on you and allow you to check in early. My husband, who’s a Brit, but lives in the U.S. swears by having a little nap when he arrives back in the U.K., then getting up for lunch and toughing it out until bedtime. Seems to work, because it gets him onto local time very quickly. Enjoy London, there’s so much to see and do, and who cares about the weather! Good luck with the button hunt – haberdashers of the world unite!

  105. I second, third, and fourth (and fifth and sixth and….) the recommendation to go to Liberty. It does have a yarn department, and a wonderful fabric department with those historic Liberty prints but everything about it is fantastic. Make sure you see the whole thing, not just the modern addition.
    It’s very central, on Regent Street, near Piccadilly Circus.
    I also wholeheartedly agree with Borough Market, and highly recommend the pinnacle of the cheese world, Neal’s Yard Dairy (where they let you taste everything!). There’s one right by Borough Market, but also a Neal’s Yard Dairy off Neal Street right by (not surprisingly) Neal Street by Covent Garden.
    London is very fun. I went every time I had the chance when I lived in the UK, and never got tired of it. Have a great time.
    (Once you understand roundabouts, they really are great. And it’s a pretty simple concept at the core–give way to traffic coming from your right. But of course they seem like utter chaos at first.)

  106. I was only in London once…1975….but as soon as I saw the picture of the fountain I KNEW you were at Trafalgar Square. Page down one more time….and there is the monument. πŸ™‚
    Enjoy your trip. Sounds to me like a visit to the button shop is in order so that you can wear Hey Teach while you’re in London. And of course a yarn shop too.

  107. I don’t know if it helps you to know that we have all been there, done that. And I don’t mean it in a sarcastic way. Why do international flights land in the morning when you cannot get into your hotel room until the afternoon? It’s like an international conspiracy against North Americans. It is at least, one of the mysteries of the universe. You will feel so much better after you rest, but I suspect you know that already.

  108. Wow. That post brought back all sorts of memories of London for me! Maybe it’s time to start doing some more international travelling. I hope you have tons and tons of fun while you’re there!

  109. I remember waiting almost an hour for a bus in Scotland, but on the wrong side of the big-curve road, wondering why the vehicles on the other side seemed to be making such wide turns on the curve, and thinking they were pretty sloppy drivers—ooops… Thank goodness that by the time
    I drove I was “more” used to it!
    Hope you continue to have a great time.

  110. OMG you are entirely correct about looking both ways! I was nearly killed AT LEAST a half a dozen times in Edinburgh Scotland before I figured THAT one out. At least you’re way ahead of the curve! Right-left-right!

  111. Hmmm… Us Americans poured tea down the throats of people before… I don’t think the British would look too highly on it being done again, especially in their own country. It wasn’t pretty. (Colonial Americans did it to British tax collectors along w/ tar and feathering.) Maybe iced tea.
    Anyway, enjoy your trip. I didn’t catch why you’re there, business or pleasure or some of each?

  112. Welcome to London! Just so you know the river runs East to West and in the sock picture you were standing on the North side. However, besides knowing vaguely what direction they are in relation to the river, Brits don’t give directions with East, West, North etc. We do directions by pubs!

  113. You’ll want to be careful not to walk around too much in London. When my husband and I visited, we accidentally walked over 20 miles our first day because the view from the street is captivating.
    Afterward, we heard a good alternative is to ride in the top deck of a bus (not the tourist ones). If you have time, your hotel can probably suggest one with good views.
    Also, we were able to keep our bearings by buying a London map (The A-Z). They’re available at news stands and even locals keep a copy in their pocket.

  114. Try to get PLENTY of sunshine when you get up in the morning. It is the best way to convince your brain/body what time it really is. It really works! The best, and my favorite way, to learn a city is to get good and lost. Enjoy!

  115. By all means, make sure you visit the Tower. That was one of my favorite parts of London. Sooo fascinating. Just don’t take any ravens with you when you leave.
    I have a picture on my own vacation blog from when I was in Britain of the “Look Left” on the street. I was there for about ten days, and still couldn’t figure out by the end of it which direction cars were coming from. Even riding in a car with a native Brit driving was a surreal experience, because I kept thinking I would be in a head-on collision since we were driving on the wrong side of the road. Just be glad you don’t have to deal with the winding country roads that would be one lane dirt paths here, but apparently are two lane roads over there.

  116. I hope you ate lunch in the Crypt Cafe? St Martin’s in the Field right across the street from Trafalgar Square has a cafe in the basement. It’s fabulous to have your meal right there in the crypt – yes, a Real Crypt! You can do brass rubbings with the other tourists, too, but do as the signs say and watch your purse!

  117. I love London! I studied there in college. My tip? Buy yourself a pocket sized A to Z (they sell them everywhere). It’s a little map of all the streets in London. The cab drivers even use them because it’s so confusing. Mine was invaluable when I was lost there. Have a fabulous time!

  118. Oh, man. I’m so envious I could spit. I love London. Have a great time, walk your legs off, and see absolutely everything. You’ll have time to sleep later.

  119. Hooray for the Yarn Harlot in London! I reckon Liberty on Regent Street would have some lovely buttons, everything else there is lovely.
    Looking forward to seeing you Saturday!

  120. Sorry for the second post, but a PS- Chelsea Physic Garden. Love it. And I got to see the London Eye being raised, right there in the field where it stands.

  121. lucky you in london! thanks to you, now i have wanderlust again! enjoy your trip and i can’t wait to read your next installment of “yarn harlot in london!”

  122. I heartily agree with Karen S. – get yourself an “A-Z” map – you’ll find them all over the place, especially at news agents. Even if you get lost you’ll be able to figure out where you are and head where you want to be!
    An Off-peak Zone 1 Travelcard will get you buses and tube – definitely worth the money.
    Have fun (-:

  123. Welcome to England! Can I second the tour bus thingies with the commentary where you can get ride-all-day type tickets. It’s also best if you sit upstairs regardless of the rain unless it’s really pelting it down.
    I’m all set for Saturday even down to a beer to bring for you. However my father has come down with an infection today so I’m hoping like mad that he improves tomorrow so that I feel happy to leave him for 24 hours. Surely the knitting gods can’t be that cruel, can they?

  124. Have a wonderful time in London! πŸ˜€ One of my favourite cities!
    (I believe the instructions are written on the roads especially for tourists… since London gets a LOT of them!)
    My advice for getting around London is this: don’t be afraid to use the london underground (the tube)! It’s cheap, and once you get your head around it, incredibly easy to navigate. πŸ™‚ You’re never lost if you can use the tube – because as long as you can find one tube station, you can get to anywhere else in the city in mere minutes!

  125. I am so envious. I visited my daughter in London several years ago when she was studying there. My favorite thing was to wander aimlessly through central London to see what I found. Have a wonderful time and check out the Walking Tours of London. There should be a pamphlet at your hotel and they are fabulously fun. Many include pub stops!

  126. I wish I was there, too. So many wonderful places to see and things to do. When I got there, my ex and I went on a double-decker bus ride tour. It was a great way to figure out where we wanted to go the next day. Heartily recommend it. I enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes Pub near Cleopatra’s Needle. I assume it is still there, but don’t know for sure. We slept 16 hours the first night in the hotel! Have a wonderful time.

  127. Since you mentioned knitting on the flight over, I was wondering if anyone had warned you about getting knitting needles through security at London airports? They are permitted by the TSA in the US (and apparently by authorities in Canada), but the British rules are different. I managed to get a set of tiny (4 inch long size 2) dpns through Heathrow last year on a trip back from Africa, and through Gatwick this year on a trip back from Europe. I did not carry them in any knitting — just loose in a toothbrush holder, separate from my yarn.
    On the other hand, I had a beautiful set of rosewood 7 inch long dpns confiscated by the the airport police in Prague earlier this year. They said, “Maybe you can do this in the US, but not here.” Nevermind the fact that I’m a US citizen, traveling on a US carrier to the US — only passing through Prague. They did not care. They missed, however, the set of ebony dpns in a toothbrush carrier my carry-on bag, so I was still able to knit all the way home, although I had a lot of dropped stitches to pick up.
    Best of luck!

  128. I love London, but time changes and jet lag suck!
    The last (and only) time I was in London, my husband and I stuck our 11 month old daughter’s feet in that lovely fountain. Almost as much fun as taking a picture of a sock with it!
    Have fun in one of my favorite cities ever!

  129. The best part about being in Italy is that I can jet over to London with out the jet lag. Not that I don’t l-o-v-e Italy…. but every now and then a person needs to go somewhere where they speak your language – or some thing close to it. Enjoy it all. And go back often.

  130. It’s good to have you here! Lovely to read about a city I know from the perspective of someone who doesn’t – fresh eyes are very cool!
    Keep smiling and I hope you get a decent cup of tea soon – and a good sleep.

  131. I lovelovelovelove London. I haven’t been there since my honeymoon, but before that I spent three months studying there. Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, and St. Martin in the Fields’ Cafe in the Crypt are some of my favorite “I have an hour to kill” places to go.
    If you’re going to be there very long and have more wandering around time, pick up a copy of London A to Z. Then you can get totally lost, look up the street you’re on, and walk straight to a tube station.

  132. Yehay – we are in the same time zone….even if it doesn’t feel like that to you. Even better you’re in my stompimg ground. That just feels so wierd. Steph enjoy London however tired you are.
    see you Saturday
    Bromley Guilty Knitters

  133. You know… for as much as I like knowing where I am, getting “lost” in a foreign city is total fun. Enjoy your trip!
    *scurries off to find the docs to renew her passport*

  134. Oh man, I know that kind of tired. The kind that reminds me that I’m too old to pull an all-nighter anymore.
    Great comment above about bringing knitting needles back on the plane. You’ve got to plan that carefully. Wooden needles help. Don’t forget the souvenier buttons, needles, yarn, etc.
    I remember being mostly lost in London w/ my 13 month old daughter in the rain. We stumbled across the Museum of London, which I can tell you is somewhere in walking distance of St. Paul’s. It was a wonderful little museum all about the ancient history of London itself. I never realized that it was an ancient city even back when the Romans were there.
    Have a wonderful time!!

  135. yeah i find the look left and right things handy and ive lived here all my life and if ever lost in london find the underground they (generally) have nice people who understand being lost. looking forward to seeing you on saturday πŸ™‚

  136. I second the recommendation for Evensong — but I’d opt for St Paul’s Cathedral. Incredibly lovely.

  137. I had to laugh about your sidewalk walking experience. I lived in Australia for 4 years and they too walk on the other side of the sidewalk. Just like the cars on the street.
    Enjoy London. I love that city. Check out the British Museum if you have time. You can see many of the things the British pillaged from places all over the world. πŸ˜‰ And it’s all in one place.

  138. I have to second the earlier recommendation for a trip to the Borough Market – food paradise, & there’s a Neal’s Yard (best Stilton ever) shop too. There’s a pub right next to the bridge where you can have a pint & watch the river traffic & knit… ok, I’m jealous now.

  139. I hope someone you had the sock to says “There was this woman here two summers ago that asked me to do the same thing.” If that happens: It was ME!
    Also, about the crossing of streets. I’ve been to London twice (SO FAR) and both times I figured that once I finally got straight which way to look I’d step off the curb … and get flattened by an American tourist driving on the wrong side of the road! *grin*
    Have a BALL!

  140. I hope you can get some rest, before you hit the town and have a pint.
    Although, I would pay good money to see you if you hadn’t.

  141. I tried the same thing both when we flew into Moscow and when we flew to Ireland. I found myself, having been awake for somewhere around 40 hours, sitting in an apartment in Moscow with a glass of Russian Vodka in my hand, totally fascinated by a toothpaste commercial on the television thinking “What do you know? They have toothpaste here.”
    In Ireland, after 36 hours being awake (and being 10 years older) my husband and I got to the train, told the conductor where we were getting off, and I put my head down on my purse and slept until he woke us.
    Thank god for kind people. And have fun!

  142. When I was in London in 1984, they didn’t have the “Look left” stuff on the road. And I too, didn’t have a place to sleep when I got there. I was on a college trip, auditing a course (already had my degree, but who could pass up a trip like that?), and they lost my room reservation at the college dorm we were staying at. Took about 4 hours to get a room, but I hit the road while I waited and got to Hyde Park and all sorts of places! Wish I was back there. Have FUN!!!

  143. That’s right, Stephanie–be very careful crossing the street. London drivers are INSANE, and I’m not sure pedestrians have any rights. Of course, just to even things up, we’ve got Montreal. Plenty of lethal drivers there. When I went to England, I couldn’t sleep on the plane either. So, not wanting to miss a minute of sightseeing even though on the first day I was basically sleepwalking, I tried to remedy my jetlag with espresso coffee. It didn’t really work, even though the espresso was very good. London is a beautiful and amazing city. Enjoy!

  144. i’m moving to London in a couple of weeks and can relate to the getting lost and mixed up , beware of escalators and stairs too, if you are on the wrong side you’ll be stared at then too.
    For buttons, I’d like to recommend Liberty’s ! It’s a great place, full of Rowan among other treasure and unique buttons. And for fun, got to Claridge’s for tea,yum. Best of luck!

  145. Welcome to London! We are very, very happy to have you here. Have fun getting lost, it’s the best way to see the coolest things this city has to offer.

  146. A whole other day at work before Saturday is so unfair! Can’t wait for iKnit – the first time in ages I’ll have been to London for not-work, and it’s going to be great!

  147. Trafalgar Square is where most of my knitting gets done at lunchtimes – I work just out of shot of your fountain photo. And crossing the roads? I’d watch out for the cyclists even more than the cars! Looking forward to hearing you talk on Saturday.

  148. I commented on the street crossing thing yesterday, but I bet you were too busy choosing your travel knitting and worrying about button shops to read all the comments. Be careful out there!
    The first time I flew to England I was with a group and we were also unable to get into our hotel when we arrived. So we stowed our bags and took a cruise on the Thames. There were Tall Ships there at the time and everything. Really cool, except I am not sure I would recommend a river cruise to a sleep deprived person. I am pretty sure I saw most of the sights through my eyelids.
    I am seriously jealous that you got to see the northern lights!

  149. If you have time to see the Tower of London, I would totally recommend it. Plus, sock pictures with the Beefsteak guards and the crown jewels. And Roman Ruins. Also, I love Westminster Abbey. It is like a brief history of the western world all in one place.

  150. Welcome! Here’s my other tip for being here: look at where you are walking. The pavements are so uneven that my first two weeks here I was tripping constantly!

  151. There isn’t really a ‘side’ on the sidewalks. At least not a discernable one that I’ve been able to figure out in my 6 months here in London. So don’t feel bad at causing folks to swear (though admittedly I might be one of them).
    Oh, and you were on the North side of the river not West. Probably between Embankment & Westminster judging by the placement of the London Eye. πŸ™‚
    And if you get lost again and need your bearings, most of the bus stops have nice big maps posted on them. Always helpful if you don’t have an A-Z handy.

  152. Ah Jaysus, you’re killin’ me! I was SO hoping to travel to London (from Ireland) to see you this weekend and catch up with some buddies there too. ‘Twas not to be. Natch. Have a great time!

  153. Hi Stephanie,
    welcome to Britain, hope you brought your brolly. The weather men have forecast rain for Friday and Saturday.
    Love your sock, looking forward to seeing it in real life.

  154. I wouldn’t worry too much about getting lost walking in London, from my experience (as a former Londoner) even Londoners get lost if they try to walk. Most Londoners just know their way between various destinations by Tube. If you ask for directions, you will get them in stations and lines.
    Oh, and it isn’t British drivers who are mad, it is London drivers. They really are a different breed than those elsewhere in the Country. It’s like something happens to your driving the moment you hit the city.

  155. By the way, a bunch of us knitters (some local, some from out of town) are meeting up for tapas and drinks tomorrow night – I don’t know if you have any plans but you’re certainly welcome if you want to come!

  156. I love getting lost in a new place. You’re so luck to get to be lost in London! Soak it all in as well as possible while sleep-deprived, and take scads of beautiful photos so you can remember it when you wake up. ;o)

  157. I was JUST in England in August and had the same problem in London! I got so incredibly lost that I ended up dipping into a tourist store and buying a pocket street map of London, and that did me a world of good.
    I love the instructions on the street! They crack me up. Enjoy your time there!
    Go to the British Museum- It’s free AND incredible. And if you do the London Eye, go at sunset.

  158. You have no idea how surreal it is to see photos of London on your blog! Anyway, you were on the North side of the river, regardless of how many twists and turns may mean that it’s east or west or both. You have successfully identified the Houses of Parliament and Horse Guards Parade (where they’re having Olympic beach volleyball in 2012!) as well as Trafalgar Square and the National – I do hope you went it because it has some really beautiful pictures. If you fancy some more random expeditions head down the Strand towards Fleet Street and you can see the Royal Courts of Justice which has amazing architecture and St Pauls at the far end of Ludgate Hill. Not so many button shops though.
    Finally though, the burning question – does Canada not have roundabouts?!

  159. Lost in London! Wonderful! I remember arriving a zillion years ago (after a transatlantic ship voyage) for my junior year in college. I was wandering around with a map when someone asked me for directions to the Courtauld Gallery (as a librarian, I seem to have “information available here on my forehead”.) OMG, I found it on the map and then followed the people who asked me. I was in England for nine months and the trip to the Courtauld was one of the highlights. This was when the Gallery was at the Slade (I think). You took the freight elevator and walked into intimate galleries with oriental rugs and some of the most famous Impressionist paintings in the world. The Woman at the Bar of the Folies Bergere, etc. Wonderful and a great beginning to a great year.

  160. I can never sleep on planes either. I had to fly to eastern Europe this summer and couldn’t sleep a wink on the first leg of my flight. Ended up napping on my bookbag in the Rome airport.
    Can I just say again that I AM SO JEALOUS!!! England is the best! I think it’s hilarious that they have reminders on the street about which way to look. I’ve only been twice but I want to move there so bad! I even amazed myself when I looked at your pictures and thought, I know where that is…I know where she is…I totally know where she is! Enjoy your time there and keep taking in all the lovely sights (and believe me, there are a ton!).

  161. One of Tom Clancy’s early books starts off with Jack Ryan cross a street in London and nearly getting hit by a bus. You have lots of company in that “be careful crossing the street” thing.

  162. Hello there,
    It’s amazing to read all the positive comments about London, everyone seems to have such nice memories. London is a great city for walking around, things are alot closer together than you think they will be, and for anything slightly further afield the Underground is excellent.
    Enjoy your time here, and please try not to get run over! Looking forward to hearing you on Saturday, take care.

  163. It is So Exciting to see my lovely home city in the Blog!! I never thought it would happen!
    Don’t complain about the left right thing, you should see the problems we have when we go ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD. Apart from Australia? India? Can’t remember. But I’ve lived here all my life and I frequently nearly get knocked over. You have to be careful of one way streets … then the traffic will be coming the wrong way!
    Our “sidewalks” (pavements) are not one way, it’s just that Londoners are impatient of tourists wandering around looking lost (sorry!)
    Don’t worry about the west of the river thing, the Thames is very weird. I used to live in Southwark (south of the river) and work in Westminster (north of the river) – except in geographical terms I actually lived north of Westminster.
    Ooh so excited about Saturday! xx

  164. Be careful, Steph! You might not be about to be nibbled on by a bear like you were last winter, but those streets and traffic sound just as scary. Be careful – we all want you to return home safe and whole and well rested.

  165. Kind of embarrassed that no one met you at the airport! Like Pam, if I’d have known I would have loved to be part of your welcome party.
    Hope you really enjoy your trip and looking forward to Saturday.

  166. Street thing- terribly important. I went overseas with my college and they stressed it constantly. Always, Always make sure you look the proper way- the way you don’t think the cars are coming from . Unfortunately, students have been seriously injured overseas because no matter what, it really never gets easier to remember. I think it’s the parental training “look left, look right- now cross”.
    London is an exhausting city but have an awesome time!

  167. You lucky traveler!
    For buttons, try The Button Queen!
    For an ale, try The Prospect of Whitby, one of the oldest pubs, near the eastside
    haunts of Jack the Ripper (now upscale, probably serves wine)!!
    It’s been a few years since I’ve been to London, hope they are both still there for my next trip!
    Have fun!!

  168. I don’t know what to say except that everything you are saying confirms me in my habit of avoiding London whenever possible. It’s just too insane.
    Someone should have gone to meet you.

  169. Well by now you are tucked up in your hotel. Sorry you had such a rough first day! Definitely someone should’ve met you and you would’ve found no shortage of people wanting to meet you to help you get your barrings. I don’t live in London, but I’ve been pretty frequently and just about EVERY TIME I go if I come out of certain tube stations, I get lost. I think I’m taking the same exit as before, but no. I come to the surface with no idea where I am. I’ll be travelling down from The North to see you and I’m looking forward to it even though I’ll be dead tired!

  170. You know, I can just see you, lying by the side of the street, sock clutched in your hand, camera extended. I really can. That’s so you.

  171. Lucky you!!!
    Hope you realized that was the National Gallery across the way and that the National Portrait Gallery is just behind (good for historical glimpses of knitting.)
    Have lots of fun. Consider going to Fortnum and Mason just to see the store even if they don’t have the buttons – though I suspect they might…. Nowhere else on earth have I had a gentleman in tails sell me a bottle of maple syrup.

  172. I hope to see the Northern Lights one day. I’m jealous!!
    I used to love getting lost like that. These days I usually have a preschooler with me, and getting lost like that is not nearly as fun as it once was.

  173. Hi, have fun, go to Baker STreet station and look for Sherlock Holmes, and generally “do” the Monopoly board thing.
    ps its the North Americans who are on the wrong side of the road, in England (as in Australia) its drive on the left!

  174. You did it! – You found Trafalgar Square. It’s awesome….
    Have a wonderful rest of your trip – I am sure the Brits will love you!

  175. you made me laugh like crazy. I was in London two weeks ago and was honked at all the time, sooooo hard to cross the streets. have a wonderful, wonderful time. London is my favorite city in the world.

  176. oooooooooooooohh! I just can’t WAIT to hear more about all you will see and do in jolly olde englande!

  177. Go around the corner of the National Gallery to the Portrait Gallery – it is WONDERFUL. You can spend just a little time, or a lot – whatever you are up for. Then go across the street and into the crypt of St. Martin in the Field. There is a nice little cafe’ down there where they play classical music and you can do brass rubbing. Nice way to while away the afternoon.
    Cheers – J

  178. You will take comfort in knowing that London is one of the few cities on earth where even the locals carry a map at all times (the handy-dandy A-Z!).

  179. Am I the only one who’s confused about this look left/look right thing?
    In North America, if you look to the left, you see the cars coming toward you along the right side of the road. If you looked right here (N.A.) and not left, you’d get shmucked.
    In London, you have to look right first, not left. So why is everyone saying it’s the other way around?

  180. YARNSTORM’s blog speaks about Haberdasheries, she loves buttons, so if you can check out her blog, she listed them by name and city.

  181. Ah, Trafalgar Square. Climbing the lions with random other travelers after a long pub crawl is a wonderful experience. (Three guesses as to what I did when I went to London, and the first two don’t count.)
    I am in the habit of looking both ways twice before I cross the street, even at home in New York, so I didn’t have much trouble with road crossing when I was in England. But then again, I have never had trouble with jet lag, either. (Never. Traveling east or west, with flights of various lengths, and arriving at various hours of the day… my best was going to Greece, arriving at 10am after a 9 hour flight, and staying up until 11pm after spending the whole day near and up the Acropolis.)

  182. As an expat in Canada, it is lovely to hear from people getting excited about your visit to England. With regard to walking on pavements, I think that since we drive on the left we do everything else on the left – walking on both pavements and stairs. Also, I have not found many roundabouts in Canada; I know of one in Halifax where I now live and there is one in Montreal which they had to put traffic lights on, so it does not count.

  183. word of warning….when you eventually go back home through heathrow make sure you have one, and only one thing in your hand going through security, or they will try to stuff your oversize purse in your already overfilled (you will be buying yarn I presume) carryon…..believe me, I had that problem myself last time I was home!.
    other than that, enjoy yourself…and cheers!!

  184. Welcome to beautiful sunny England. We are currently having a hot spell for a few days. Well at least it is here in sunny Bradford. you will know me by my broad Yorkshire. First words “Hi, I’m from Bradford and I’m hard”. lol. My friends are coming from Hull and Bury, and I’m beetling off today so Laureen and I might bump into you as we are doing a tour of Lonodon, laur lives in South London over the Thames so you could ask her for some places to see. You must see madame Tussaud’s, hmmm, perhaps not, it is a bit touristy and very expensive.
    Yep, you should have been warned, we drive on the left into town and outa town on the right, complete opposite to you back home. Another thing please come up to Yorkshire we have the most lovliest scenery and mountains up in the Dales around skipton and Grassington. Hmmm, maybe next time. How long are you here for??? If you have time maybe you could see Stratford and see a shakespeare play, that would be so nice. OOOOh and oxford you just have to go punting on the river. Just a few suggestions hope you can make it Yorkshire, its got it all, mountains, forests, rivers, beautiful picturesque villages and over tother end in Scarborough there is the Yorkshire Moors a knock out place.
    Hope you enjoy your stay in lovley ol England.

  185. I’m backing up a couple of posts…Boston has a great button/yarn shop on the other side of the Common opposite the State House (which you pictured) – Windsor Button. Megan should go to Harvard…

  186. Please do tell about the sock yarn. I am quite taken with.
    As for London, I’m not going to say a single word because my immense jealousy would no doubt cloud my judgment.

  187. I’m not usually at all, even vaguely, interested in celebrities but your visit has got me so excited! I was trying to explain to a non-knitting friend that The Yarn Harlot was here, in the UK, and that the fact I was going to see her was a BIG deal….don’t think my friend understood a word I was saying!
    It’s 5.33am here in the UK and I hope you are sleeping peacefully… I can’t sleep because I’m soooooo excited! See you tomorrow!

  188. Hang in there, I know jet lag sucks, but making yourself stay up the first day really is the best way to beat it. Have a fabulous time!

  189. I think it is so great you are traveling abroad, and especially that you had the 30 minute northern lights show, but come on!!! the sex and the city movie comment, I loooooooved it!!! Yes, northern lights are beautiful and amazing, but come on!!!!

  190. *sigh* I’ve never been to London, but now I want to go. Do you think my husband would notice if I stuffed a set of clothes with yarn, set them on the sofa by my laptop with a knitting project and ran away for the weekend?

  191. Hurray! You made it to London safe and sound, and then got lost. I love it! I got lost in Heathrow once. That was scary. The scariest time I was lost was in Madrid. I went to Spain in high school and we spent several days in Madrid. We were able to wander around by ourselves for a few hours as long as we went in small groups. Well 3 of us were wondering around, arm in arm, laughing, giggling, being slightly rowdy, and in general, just being goofy teenagers. After about an hour we realized that we didn’t know where our hotel was anymore and we were lost. We weren’t too worried about it, we knew we would get back there eventually. Not paying too much attention, we rounded a corner, and I walked straight into a man with a machine gun! Scared the crap right out of me. Turns out, we were in front of an important government building that was guarded by soldiers, hence the machine guns. They weren’t too happy with me and the rest of my now very serious teenage friends from the US. I apologized most sincerely and we went right back to our hotel. It scared the giggles right out of us, especially since we had never seen anything like that. So, the moral of the story here is that as long as you don’t bump into Spanish soldiers carrying big guns, it’s fun to be lost! Hope you have a great time. Enjoy London!

  192. As a further addition to the North of / South of Thames thing – ask a Londoner which side they were born and which side they prefer and they’ll go on for hours about which side is the best. It’s a big mental divider, that river.

  193. Liza @10:42 — There are TWO roundabouts in South Bend, Indiana and they are contrivances of the devil.

  194. I hope you have good walking shoes.
    Be thankful you have a passing acquaintance with English (rather than Chinese) and know what ‘Look Left’ means, together with the helpful arrow, better for someone like me who has to shake their hands to remind myself which is left, and which is right.
    I second(plus, plus) buy an “A-Z” set of maps, very worthwhile.
    I’ve been there!, I’ve been there! Back in the 1970’s, I went past Houses of Parliament and there were lots of black taxis in the courtyard, and out by the gate and pavement was a sign that said “Peers Only”, as I told my BIL, I had one, and walked on. (Only in England will you get a sign that says “Peers Only”). I prefer the Tate Gallery to the National, may I recommend going to London’s lovely squares. I had a lovely ‘botanical trip’ to Britain which I loved – just think what your particular interests are, London is bound to have it. I was actually thinking of a canal trip for you to Kew Gardens – but it wasn’t something I ever did.
    There is an old (perhaps ’50s) song from Donald Swan and Michael Flanders called “The London Omnibus” (probably on YouTube, which has the opening line, “When you are lost in London and you don’t know where you are, you’ll hear my voice acalling, ‘Pass further down the stair”, et cetera, it may make you laugh.
    Enjoy London, Mr Washie will still be there when you get home.

  195. Yup, that’s Parliament all right – and you must have walked right past the building I work in yesterday morning – argh!! Hope you’re having a great time, and looking forward to seeing/hearing you tomorrow!

  196. Great to have you here in Old Blighty,don’t get too lost lots of us are looking forward to your ‘talk’ tomorrow!

  197. Having never set foot on the continent of North America in my life, I’m very chuffed that I’m seeing pictures on your blog of places I have visited and know well! Welcome to the UK… sorry we couldn’t arrange for better weather for you.

  198. Two more things:
    Buy a London A to Z, and not one of the tourist maps.
    And also, you’d be north or south of the river, not east or west. (And north is better. Just saying.)
    I live in North London you see.
    Welcome to LONDON!
    I look forward to hearing you speak at IKnit day. If you stop by the Socktopus booth during the shopping time say hey. I’m the one with the dorky chunky spectacles and the RED hair. (Also I’m American. Don’t tell anyone.)

  199. Actually I’m kinda happy that your first thought was wow what a lovely place. The Northern lights sighting sounds like a great way to spend 30 minutes. Enjoy yourself (You know you need a sock picture with a Palace guard)

  200. “… when I saw Canada House and laughed. Trust me to be lost in another country and find my Embassy…”
    Sorry – Canada House is NOT an embassy. It is a trade delegation. Want to do buisness in Canada? – Contact Canada House. Its a common mistake.
    Canada doesn’t have embassys – we have High Commissions. The HC for London is on Grovenor Square – across the park from the US Embassy and next door to the Italians. It’s a beautiful building, inside and out and if you are wandering around West 1, check it out. It’s not far from Selfridges.

  201. Wow, thank you so much for this post. I am always missing London, it seems. And I felt like I was there, really there, for about 36 seconds. And it was great.
    Hope you make it until bedtime. I always try, and usually fail, but a little nap in the afternoon doesn’t seem to hurt bedtime for me.

  202. Trafalger Square *is* a lovely place. The second you mentioned the lions, I knew. (but you didn’t mention the pigeons! That’s the other thing I remember.)
    I do hope you got some shut-eye that night. You sound wiped.

  203. In Barcelona, they have statistics about the death of pedestrians in traffic accidents painted on the streets at the crossings. Very disconcerting. But at least the cars on on the “expected” side of the road.

  204. In Australia, we too drive on the left hand side of the road, so every wee tyke is taught “Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again”.
    Didn’t serve me well when I moved to the US, and had to be adapted to “Look Left, Look right, Look, Left, Look right”, aka “Crossing the road will now forever be like Watching a Game of Tennis”.

  205. And as another Australian flummoxed by the left-hand drive world – guess what…. once you have mastered looking left FIRST you get home to find that you are still subconsciously doing it. So potential road trauma occurs all over again about three days after you get back home. So WATCH OUT and do as Amanda says and do the watching tennis thing….

  206. That’s totally true about the streets in London. Even with the directions for which way to look written on the street in front of me, I still stepped off the curb in front of a truck at least once. Good thing they were going slow! (I was fine.) I also nearly fainted when a car actually stopped at the crosswalk I was waiting at to let me cross the street. Course, that probably had something to do with the fact that I’d just been spending a semester in Greece, where cars will not stop for you if you’re in the street, let alone at a crosswalk!
    I also remember wandering London after an early morning arrival and enjoying it immensely. I went to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard and there was a huge crowd, so many people I could barely see, and bands and all kinds of pomp and ceremony going on. I kept asking if they really did this every day, and it turned out that no, they really don’t. It was St. George’s Day! I had no idea.
    Sorry, I know I’m late to comment, but I’ve been away for a week myself. Not in London, though.

  207. Stephanie, it looks from here like Canada is falling apart in your absence: the PM is dissolving Parliament…?

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