It’s now February 1st, 2016,  eleven months since I left home to go travelin’ and it’s been amazing!  My allotted time in the Schengen countries has run out and anyway, I’ve been asked to babysit my darling Stella while her mom and dad take a well-deserved break and head to Australia on business/vacation.  But I have two good friends I want to say hello/goodbye to before I fly home from the UK.

I catch a $39 Easy Jet flight from Faro (goodbye Portugal) to Gatwick where I hop the train to Brighton-by-the-Sea.   My good friend, Carole Kabel, who I met while working for the Chicago Cubs, keeps a home in Brighton.  Her husband was born there and she and her sons spent many years visiting his family.  Her flat was the late in-laws place.  It’s huge, in a great location and filled with memories.  She and her sons and their families now spend vacations in this lovely seaside resort town.

I was lucky enough to visit Carole when I first arrived in Europe,  so this is a return trip and this time, we are celebrating her birthday!  Her special day this year falls on a Sunday – which is Sunday Roast Day at all the local pubs.


We head to a great local,  The Lion & The Lobster, for the 2nd seating where we tucked into a small dining area on the top floor up a very narrow and steep set of stairs.  As you can see, the portions of the typical Sunday Roast Menu consists of roasted meat (normally beef), roast potato, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetable, and gravy.  We added a nice glass of red wine to top off this huge, calorie packed lunch!!  They brought Carole a lovely and delicious candle-lite desert that we shared to commemorate Her Day.

A walk was in order after this meal but soon it was time to head to Carole’s favorite neighbor bar, The Beford.  This gay pub holds Piano Bingo every Sunday night and if you don’t get there early, you won’t get a seat!  We lucked out and got the last two stools at the bar and were entertained by the great bartender, who kept our glasses topped up!


Playing Piano Bingo is a hoot!  You are given a regular bingo card but instead of numbers in the squares under the letters, there are song titles.  The piano player plays a song and EVERYONE joins in and sings along!  You cross it off if you can find it on your Bingo card and you win just like a normal game when you fill in a row of song titles vertically, horizontally or diagonally.   A game takes a really  l-o-n-g time with all the singing and topping-up.  A boisterous, loud and fun time is had by all!

The lady in the black & white jumper with the bright red hair won the night big game – and gifted everyone with a delicious piece of English toffee.  It tasted so good and went well with my pale ale – but  when I bit down the toffee came away with a crown!  The ‘winner’ was so distressed at the results of her generosity that she gave me the name of her dentist and called and left him a message right then and there to tell him he had to fit me in the morning!
I got a call at 7:00 a.m. the next morning saying they would see me at 8 a.m. to re-glue my crown.  How nice was that? – especially since I was catching a 9:30 train into London to spend my last the day with Jan Dengis!

With my crown securely reinserted, I arrived on time and was able to find my way to Jan’s flat behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. From an earlier post, you know that Jan and I know each other through our membership in IWA Chicago  and that I spent several days with her when I was in London before heading to Portugal.

She had planned a very special lunch at the Cafe Below.  The Cafe is located “in the atmospheric, 1000-year old crypt of St. Mary-le-Bow Church.  The church houses the famous Bow Bells; legend has it that those born in the sound of are a true cockney.  The crypt dates back to William the Conqueror with finishing touches by Christopher Wren.  Said by one source, to the oldest of it’s kind in London.

As you can see from the menu, the choice of selections was varied and mine (the quiche) was absolutely delicious.  We had the Apple-Rhubarb Crumble Custard for desert – with a dollop of vanilla ice cream!

After lunch, Jan once again was my very own tour guide of some of the sites of London town, which she has been calling home now for almost 3 years!  She’s getting really good at this!



We strolled along cobblestoned streets and lanes,  in and out of churches and government edifices, stopping to laugh at some of the posted British restrictions! At the end of our day, we joined-up with the charming young lady I had met on my walking tour in Seville. After a great chat, it was time hug the ladies goodbye, thank Jan for another fabulous day and catch my train back to Brighton and my last night with Carole.  
It was a fast and furious 2 1/2 day visit to the UK, but now it was time to board my Norwegian Airlines flight from Gatwick to LAX.  Check them out anytime you are thinking of a trip to Europe.  They have really low fares ($249 OW) offer great service and fly the fabulous new Dreamliner aircraft!  Long flight (11 hours) but the new Dreamliner air recycling system really makes a difference. With my Global Entry card, customs was quick and easy.  Only had an hour layover until I caught my 40-minute flight to San Diego.  Soon I was sitting down to a delicious steak dinner my oldest grilled, with a glass of wine in hand and Stella on my lap.  
It’s good to be home again… least for awhile!
Until next time……

Asfé Below is situated in the oldest of its kind in London


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