Rendezvous at Piccadilly
Our search for the Great British Heritage pass, brought us to Piccadilly Circus, perhaps the best known of London's many landmarks and a major tourist attraction. So often we'd seen those spectacular neon advertising signs on TV and to be standing there at this most famous junction was thrilling, to say the least.
It was well past 6.30 in the evening when we arrived at Piccadilly, having taken the tube from Ravenscourt Park, and yet another train change at Earl's Court to connect with the Piccadilly line. We knew the tourist office would be closed, so didn't even bother to look for it. Instead, we decided we'd just wander around and absorb in the sights, sounds and the colours of Piccadilly.
"Stand right here," I told Mona as I took her picture at the island with the colourful neon signs as backdrop. This is one picture she'd cherish all her life, I'm sure.
Piccadilly is not a circus, as some think it to be. No, not 'The Big Top', with trapeze artists, lion tamers and cherry-nosed, funny-faced clowns. The 'circus' here refers to 'circular open space at a street junction'. It's a major traffic intersection and a popular gathering place. A magnetic centre for people to drift by, shop, wine and dine, or simply hang around. That's how irresistible Piccadilly is.
At the junction is the Shaftesbury Monument memorial foundation and on top of that stands a winged, nude statue officially known as 'The Angel of Christian Charity'. Interestingly, it was the first in the world to be cast in aluminum. But it's popularly known as the Eros statue, after the mythical Greek God of Love. That explains the presence of so many lovey-dovey couples seated at the footsteps of the fountain, engrossed in each other, whispering sweet nothings, unmindful of the steady stream of traffic whizzing by.
On the south side, on Lower Regent Street is Lillywhites, a major retailer of sporting goods. Sale signs with '50% off' were strung all over, so we decided to take a look-see. In any case, we needed to buy a cricket bat for our younger son, Roshan and hoped to find what he wanted, a Gunn & Moore, or Gray Nicholas or perhaps, Woodworm, the brand used by 'Freddie' Flintoff, who is such a popular cricketing figure out here in India. Roshan loves to watch him play. Though, I must say, that there's a day-night difference in their physiques.
We found every other sport equipment except cricket bats. "Cricket is off-season," informed the youngster behind the counter. So we took the lift and went down to the ground floor, and picked up Lonsdale sports jackets instead; and lots of socks too. Can't exactly call it 'shopping-spree' but we'd made a beginning and the resultant damage was around 33 pounds.
Life goes on!
It was half past eight and time to head back to the hotel. We'd done a fair bit of tube travel during the day, so we decided to take the bus for this last leg to Bayswater. Walking towards the bus stand, Mona stopped in her tracks as she noticed this ice cream kiosk. With a child-like grin she looked at me and said, "I want ice cream." She chose one of those strawberry flavours and licked away to glory.
Her first ice-cream in London.
Our Travel Cards enabled us to board the double-decker headed for Notting Hill Gate. Route 94 wound its way through glitzy Regent Street, joining Oxford Street, then down past Marble Arch and onto Bayswater Road, where we hopped off at the junction of Queensway. We picked up some food at a Chinese take-away and trudged back to The Blakemore. Tired, but not weary and out.
A key chain I'd bought 15 years ago, at the entrance of the Piccadilly Underground station has been a constant reminder of this delightful location.
I was glad to be able to touch base with Piccadilly again.
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