Category: St. Paul’s Cathedral

August 26th, 2012 — 11:47am

Last Thursday, my adventures in London continued with an eventful girls night out.

Caffe Concerto has several locations in London

After dinner at cozy Italian eatery Caffe Concerto, Rachel and I walked over to Dion’s, a bar tucked away behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had very fond memories of live music and a very favorable guy-girl ratio at . So I was a little disappointed when we walked in to find the bar mostly empty, especially since I’d been talking it up to my single London friends as a great spot for mingling.

We were only a few sips into our cocktails when a cute local bloke named Joe, 35, suddenly appeared.

“My friends are boring, can I join your conversation?”

A direct, wry and ever so British approach. Needless to say, Rach and I happily said yes. We were soon joined by a few of Joe’s colleagues as well.
As Rachel hit it off with one of them, I learned that Joe has a passion for motorcycles and DIY projects – and possesses the charm and candor that has made me very susceptible to British bachelors. When I commended Joe for taking the initative in a friendly way to say hello, he responded—

“We’re all lonely at the end of the day, so why not?”

Sigh. If only New York men could take a page out of this no nonsense playbook!

Eventually, the verbal flirting between Joe and me found him pulling me into a quick hug. I could happily have extended it, but Rachel reminded me the tube was about to shut down for the night. Before I raced to catch it, Joe leaned down for a kiss. Apart from him referring to himself as my “toy boy,”  a perfect night.

Speaking of perfection, that’s also how I would describe my final day in London.

All smiles in Trafalgar Square…with sunglasses!

The weather was glorious – so glorious that I took a picture in Trafalgar Square with sunglasses on for the first time in 22 years of coming to London. After drinking in the view of the square and Big Ben beyond it, I made my way over to iconic tea house Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, where I enjoyed my final round of afternoon tea and scones with clotted cream.

Then, it was off to Sloane Square for drinks with fellow writer and Ireland-born Conor, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during my European Dating Blitz. This visit to London was a wonderful mix of new and old friends, a week-long reminder of why I love England’s capital so much.

What better way to end my trip than with my dear friend of 19 years, Steve?

BFF: Steve and me at Zaika

Over a delicious meal at upscale Indian restaurant Zaika on Kensington High Street, Steve and I fell into easy conversation like we always do. Three hours later, we’d covered a lot of ground on the topics of life, love, family and the battle to fight wrinkles.

As we said goodbye, I felt a surge of melancholy about leaving London. And then I smiled because I know it will always be a part of my life. Until next time, fair city.

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October 23rd, 2008 — 1:07am

When it comes to relationships, the honeymoon period always seems to race by in a heartbeat. The same could be said of my week in London with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

Our whirlwind week in England’s capital took us on quite a journey. We shared giggles in the Whispering Gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral, tears at “Phantom of The Opera” and countless kisses in Trafalgar Square. We laughed at our mutual affinity for the 80’s film flop “Xanadu” (Sparky worked on the movie, I loved the unabashed cheesiness of it). And, as his departure approached, we shared our thoughts about the future.

I now Open The Vault and take you back once again to the spring of 1994…

London, England
Commonwealth Hall

May 3, 1994

Dear Diary,

Our final day together began with a quick bite at McDonald’s on Charing Cross. I became weepy thinking about Sparky’s departure and our obstacle-laden circumstances. It was a subject we would return to that night.

We strolled over to Leicester Square. Sparky pulled me into a passionate kiss. I was beginning to wonder if we were overdoing it on the PDA when I spotted two ladies in a café applauding us and smiling.

London’s Leicester Square: A great spot for PDA and people watching

After stopping in Chinatown for some takeout, we went back to Sparky’s hotel room for a cozy, low-key evening. I told Sparky that I didn’t want to leave him in limbo because of my inability to make a commitment.

“Five years might seem like a long time,” he said, anticipating how long it would take me to be ready to settle down, “but it’s not to me.”

He was silent then as he inscribed the following on the inside cover of the “Xanadu” soundtrack he’d bought me…

“You are the most magical woman I have ever met.
All the wonders of the world will be yours. I love you.”

We fell into each other’s arms and a beautiful dance. Somehow, dancing felt like an affirmation of our love and what we meant to each other.


* * *

With talk of a potential second encounter in London, I said goodbye to Sparky and wondered when we would be together again. It would be months before we were reunited. In the interim, the final part of my junior year abroad brought its fair share of surprises — including a few more of the male variety.

Coming up…more outrageous first dates and the conundrum of relationship make or break deadlines.

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October 10th, 2008 — 10:00am

When you’re dating someone, the first time you say those three little words is always a memorable moment. California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky) and I were about five months into our relationship and enjoying a magical week in London when that milestone happened for us.

I was sitting on a stoop with him near Westminster Abbey when I said “I love you” (after, of course, Sparky had uttered the same to me). Our week in England’s capital brought us much closer — and foreshadowed the bumps in the road ahead. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of 1994…

London, England
April 30th, 1994

Dear Diary,

Sparky was left in the lurch for a bit as I tended to my duties for the day, coordinating my friend Camilla’s 21st birthday celebration. I had just put the finishing touches on the restaurant’s private dining room when the guests — all 27 of them — descended en masse.

I don’t know how it started, but someone pelted Camilla with cake. Those who got caught in the crossfire needed little provocation to join the fray. Suddenly, cake was flying everywhere — across the table, onto the wall. At one point, I dove across someone’s lap to avoid being the next target of the food fracas.

Before the food fight: Camilla and me celebrating her 21st birthday, London, April 1994

Later, while I was settling the bill, I noticed Sparky chatting with Fabian. The sight of my former flame and current one conversing made me uneasy. I know how Machiavellian Fabian can be, so it wasn’t impossible that he might have been bending Sparky’s ear about our colorful past. After seeing them share a good laugh, though, I relaxed. My colorful past with Fabian had safely remained a secret..

After the party was over, Sparky accompanied me back to Commonwealth Hall. As we were saying goodnight, he said–

“Hurry up and get older, will you?!”

Though I understood Sparky’s frustration about our age difference given the antics at Camilla’s party, I was peeved. He knows I’m a college student and I don’t want to feel like I have to apologize for it.

* * *

The next day, Sparky and I visited St. Paul’s Cathedral and enjoyed a double decker bus tour around the city.

After a visit to the student union for a sauna and exhilarating (bathing suit-clad) shower together — my first with a significant other — we went back to Sparky’s room at the Hilton. Giving into our intensifying passion, we fooled around for hours. This would be the last night I would leave Sparky to return to my dorm.

* * *

There were a lot of first’s for me and Sparky during our week in London, a week that we continue to look back on fondly more than 14 years later. Is it any wonder that to this day, my beloved New York notwithstanding, London remains my favorite city?

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