Believe it or not, we’re back in London.
Our whirlwind day started in Chicago with Arsenal playing an FA Cup match on Fox 1 against Hull City, achieving the worst possible result, a tie. Now an additional match much be scheduled at Hull to settle who will go on. An extra match is the last thing either Hull City or Arsenal want at this point of the season, in which Arsenal is still challenging for the top of the Premier League and Hull City is challenging for the top of the Championship, with a chance of promotion to the Premier League. But tie they did, and so play again they must.
I didn’t see much of the match because I drove my daughter to a university where she needed to audition for acceptance into their music program. She gave me some Arseblog live blog updates as we drove in, and I watched the live blog while she warmed up in a practice room. I was parked for much of the morning in a busy and small Starbucks across from campus, achieving a dangerous level of caffeine consumption.
Because we needed to leave for the airport shortly after we returned from the city, packing and preparations were mostly completed Friday evening. My house is a bit of a disaster, but that is just where things must be given a return from London on Monday followed by a busy week and a trip back to London.
Our flight was delayed by a few hours from Chicago, and our plane was one of those ancient ones with shared movies/screen and no room to move whatsoever. I decided to try ZQuil and see if that would help get through the night. The results were inconclusive. I did sleep quite a bit, but was awake quite a bit, too. It was a happier moment than usual to land and be able to walk about a bit.
In this visit, we are saying at the Wesley hotel. It was selected in the usual way (using booking.com) and for the typical reasons (in price point, close to Tube, in this case Euston Square station). With our hotel last weekend, I stayed under but close to our price limit to get the best hotel at our target price. Given the supply of hotels in London, we got an excellent hotel for our target price. For this visit, there was similar supply, but we applied the opposite strategy, a hotel normally in our target price, but for this visit much cheaper than usual. We are staying three nights, which is our longest visit to date. That’s because air costs were $900 cheaper per person to fly to London a day earlier than we would normally. Well worth it.
I only began to understand that The Wesley had a few unique traits when I was looking into Tube routes on Friday evening. The Wesley website claimed that it was “the first ethical hotel in the UK,” which certainly caught my attention. “What,” I asked myself, “makes a hotel ethical?”
It turns out that it’s ethical because it holds many socially responsible values, including minimal food waste, contributions of profit to charities (more than 50%), low carbon footprint, sustainable procurement. As an organization, it originally operated as an international hostel, founded by Hilda Porter, a Methodist missionary. It originally operated under the name of Methodist International House (in an alternate location) and as Methodist International Centre when it moved to its current location. It continues to offer hostel space to students in addition to hotel rooms. Its name was changed to The Wesley in 2013 in honor of John Wesley. John Wesley was an Anglican whose philosophy ultimately produced the Methodist movement in Christianity, so named because of Wesley’s methodical and rules-based approach to living and worshipping.
Like me, Wesley was a traveler. He travelled far and wide, preaching inside churches that would let him in, but happily out in nature in areas where he was not welcomed inside. Unlike me, Wesley was a vegetarian. Also unlike me, he did not drink wine. I grew up in the Methodist tradition. It is a joke within the denomination that Jesus turned water into wine. And John Wesley turned it back to water. As a Methodist, I’ve figured out that if Wesley and Jesus conflict, follow Jesus. Water into wine it is.
So the Wesley is no Hoxton, but it has what we need. A bed, a functional desk and closet, a bathroom with sufficient space. It is clean and modern. It has a large window to the outside that was closed when we entered. Curious about the view, I peeked outside. I produce my view here for your enjoyment.
Upon arriving, we showered and stepped out for lunch at The Rocket, a pub a few blocks away. Although in an traditional pub space, the Rocket appears to be part of a chain. My husband ordered fish and chips and I had the steak and Guinness pie. Both very good. My pie was in a square shape, with a relatively solid crust base, covered with puff pastry. Both dishes came with peas. I am fond of peas and like that pubs often serve peas with the more traditional dishes. My husband, less so.
After lunch, we headed over to the British Library to view the historical treasures in the John Ritblat Gallery. It holds original scores of classical composers like Hayden, Beethoven, Mozart, and handwritten manuscripts from authors like Jane Austen, and inventors and scientists, such as Leonardo da Vinci. It holds ancient sacred books, the Magna Carte, handwritten lyrics from the Beatles, letters from historical figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots. These documents and books are all displayed in one gallery, kept dark to preserve them. Amazing treasures, well worth the visit.
The British Library had two exhibits underway while we were there: an exhibit on Don Quixote and one in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publishing of Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t spend much time in the Don Quixote exhibit but enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland exhibit. Photos were not permitted in either of those exhibits, but I took the Alice photos below in a gift shop for the Alice exhibit.
We came back to the Wesley, me for a nap and my husband to watch the second half of the Chelsea v. Man City FA cup match, and the draw for the next round of the competition.
We went to dinner in nearby Fitzrovia, settling on Siam Central, a small Thai restaurant. We had the Siam combo tapas, chicken curry mussamon, and coconut crepes made out of pandan leaf. Delicious!
Then back to the Wesley to rest up for a full day of touring tomorrow.