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Review: London


England, United Kingdom

Shaken but not stirred!

  • By SilverTraveller Martin-Dove

    148 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • Dec 2011
  • Wife

115 people found this review helpful

The name's Dove, Martin Dove! Sorry about that, but I’m just back from my Bond about town weekend in London, a terrific comping win courtesy of Penguin books.

My wife Katy and I travelled down from our home in North Yorkshire on the Saturday morning, and the day did not start off all that well as our train was delayed by forty five minutes due to a local farmers sheep getting loose and munching grass in-between the train lines!

When we finally reached Kings Cross station I could not believe the crowds of people. I know London is busy, but I had to queue for ten minutes just to buy a ticket for the tube. When we got to the correct platform, we tried in vain to board the train, but to no avail, there simply wasn’t room for anyone. Passengers were crammed in like sardines in a can.

At last we reached Dukes hotel in fashionable St James, a trendy five star hotel. The complimentary chocolates went down well after a power shower, as Katy and myself lounged on the king sized bed in our fluffy dressing gowns, kindly provided by the hotel.

Not much time to rest though as I had a wet shave booked for four o’clock, and Katy was booked in for a manicure. My shave was at the global headquarters of Truefitt & Hill, a traditional barbershop situated on St James’s Street. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had a towel wet shave but this was a new experience for me and it’s not one that I would care to repeat in a hurry! When the hot towel was placed on my face I nearly jumped clean out of my barbershop chair. Boy, it was hot! Apart from the scalding sensation, I felt that I couldn’t breathe and ripped off my protective gown and pulled the hot towel off my face. “Are you alright sir?” enquired the barber. “Too hot for you, sir?” After explaining to the startled chap that this was my first ever hot shave, we progressed to the next stage, the lathering up followed by the cutthroat razor. I couldn’t get Sweeney Todd out of my mind and sat rigid in my chair. “Relax sir,” intoned the man with the razor, and I managed to get the demon barber briefly out of mind. The trouble was that I then pictured all those Wild West movies where the gunslinger is having a shave, when the local sheriff comes in. The guy in the chair always has his six-shooter on his lap and invariably is fastest on the draw. This thought make me chuckle, which was not advisable with a cutthroat razor at your neck! Just when I thought it was all over I relaxed and drew a deep breath. Unfortunately at the very same moment the barber sprayed my face with expensive cologne. Now this stuff is fine when it’s on your face, but not when you inhale it deeply!

I think the poor chap would need a long lie down after my visit, I know I did!

Katy’s experience was less eventful than mine, and she was keen to give her Miss Moneypenny manicure an airing along Piccadilly. She had been told not to touch anything for half an hour though, so I put her coat around her shoulders, as she couldn’t get her arms through the armholes.

I thought it was great that she couldn’t touch anything as she couldn’t pick anything up in the shops, and as such was unable to buy anything.

In the evening we had a Martini master class. Dukes hotel make the best Martinis in the world, and Ian Fleming was a regular visitor, and it was in this very bar that he created the famous line “A Martini, shaken not stirred”.

The master class involved the white-coated barman showing us the secret of making a good Martini. It struck me that it basically involved a very healthy slug of Vodka with a shot of vermouth. When I tasted the cocktail it was reminiscent of the hot towel experience from earlier! My mouth felt like an active volcano, and steam came out of my ears. Wow, it was strong!

How James Bond managed to save the world after a couple of these drinks, I will never know. It took me all my time to get from the bar to the Dining Room.

I think the meal was delicious, but after a complimentary bottle of fine wine on top of the Martini, I could have eaten the tablecloth and the napkin and not been any wiser!

After dinner we went for a walk to see the lights on Regent Street, and the crowds even at midnight were just as manic as they were at Kings Cross twelve hours earlier.

London, a crazy city, but I still love it as much as I did forty years ago when I lived there as a young man. Cheers Penguin for a fabulous weekend. It was certainly an experience I will never forget.


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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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