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Monday, 24 August 2009

No 1, London – and a hard day out in town

Apart from other people’s holiday snaps - or any chief executive’s PowerPoint presentation - few prospects can be gloomier than hearing about someone else’s party.

So only read on if you’d like to plan a perfect day out in London for someone.

Each year my fair companion - who is dark, but there you are - surprises and delights me on my birthday. We were not alone this time, because her sister was spending her last weekend in London with us before going back to Italy to live in sin with her fiancé.

The day started with a champagne breakfast - smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and chocolate birthday cake in our humble hovel. We walked out - and the sun was shining. Perfect.

Off we went on the bus. I had no idea where. We got off at Hyde Park Corner. I thought, "I really must go and see the Duke of Wellington's house one day" - because that's where it is.

And that is exactly what she had planned. The address really is No.1, London - and I strongly recommend it – especially if, like me, you love history. The audio commentary is superb.

After that, I had to work for my day. I spent an hour rowing the pair of them round the Serpentine. That’s not true. They helped. Many people train for years to go round and round in circles. They did it immediately and repeatedly. Brilliant.

Then we went to the Royal Academy, which I’ve always wanted to do. Rather disappointing. The only things worth seeing you had to pay for and the interior has been destroyed. Outside, bits of Lego posing as art.

After that, afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason. To me, much better than the Ritz or Savoy. And then we strolled through the store. When I am rich again I shall always shop there. It made me realise how unutterably vulgar Harrods has become.

Are you feeling a little tired yet? I hope not. Because then we went to Kensington Gardens to see Peter Pan. A very funny Captain Hook, a brilliant sexy Tinker Bell, an excellent crocodile! And the two girls managed to cry twice. I usually cry at everything – but not this time.

What next? A pint of Adnams Broadside at the Anglesey Arms in South Kensington on the walk back home. Then the traditional Italian ending to a great day: pasta aglio e olio.

And two beautifully prepared mementoes for us. With more tears.

Forget the Royal Academy, and you won’t do better in London, believe me.

And I shouldn’t forget to say “thank you” for another brilliant, surprising birthday. I wish I were as thoughtful and clever as you are.

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