Whew! London. P-U, London.

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Several months have gone by in a blur. There is so much to grab one’s attention in a big city — and especially London. I have about a thousand photos to prove it.  For an old girl, I got around pretty well, by walking and by bus. Sometimes it hurt and often I had to rest all the next day.

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One famous area I put off exploring until just before we left is Oxford Street, once  a shopper’s paradise. I had to see Selfridges.

I remember venturing onto Oxford Street alone for the first time  in 1984 and having a tough time navigating through what seemed like a crowd then, with an umbrella. It is embarrassing to bump into others, especially men in black coats and hats who look like they are in much more of a hurry than you are. This time the day was sunny and therefore hot, in fact the only hot day in all the six months so far.

I got off the #414 bus at the Marble Arch end because my main goal was to  buy my aqua therapy instructor a little gift that is quintessentially English and special from the department store made famous by PBS Masterpiece in 2013.  In fact, we now have seen the final season IN London. No spoilers here, though.

Sad to say, the present day ground floor of the store is a hideous hall filled with tourists and teens and loud music — enough to drive people away, which is antithetical to what Mr. Selfridge was intending in 1910. If you can find the escalator, you will quickly get above the cacophony and be able to look at nice clothes. The price tags are daunting, but I found a few things for our  little girls on my Christmas list  and even considered a Stella McCartney outfit for one of them. Clothes for kids are a risk, though, so Iwent back downstairs hoping to find a little something for Carolyn. I made the flashy, trashy circuit once more, saw just one London product, Jo Malone fragrance, but felt uncertain about it,  so left.

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The rest of the walk east on Oxford Street took me on detours into the shade of Debenham’s and John Lewis. I found some Hadley’s scottie dog bags for friends, but that was all.  I was becoming irritable. My back hurt. I was sweating — something I had forgotten people do, living here in Tucson.

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So I was  weary when I finally turned down Regent Street, and in a few blocks I nearly folded, so ducked into a Costa’s coffee shop. No one else was there at that time — quite amazing — and finally I cooled down enough to stagger back onto the pavement near Leicester Square, then quickly reaching the National Cafe where I was to meet my husband.

The real damage done to my body was reported in the news the next day. “The most polluted street in the world is in LONDON: Oxford Street has the highest levels of nitrogen oxide, claims expert (Daily Mail, July 13).

” Shopping destination has an average of 135 milligrams of NO2 per cubic metre – over three times the higher than the EU’s safety limit…Pollutant’s created by diesel fumes and can trigger asthma and heart attacks”

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Oh, well. I won’t be back any time soon. FYI I bought Carolyn something quintessentially London at Fortnum & Mason, a French eau de cologne.

 

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