"I had three or four leaves in England and Scotland... I always slept at my relations or a Westminster Y. However, I enjoyed darts and a pint with Uncle Wally Fenner, my mother's sister's husband. A few pubs in London were the Long Bar Metre Club, The Old Ship, Bunch of Grapes, and Brunswick House."
In my father's WW2 memoirs, not only did he list some pubs he visited while in London, he recorded his Uncle Wally's and Aunt Nellie's exact address, i.e., "107 Emlyn Gardens, Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith, London, England." So, I drew up a map one day, headed out the door of my rented apartment, and had a long, long walk-about - my way of following faint footsteps.
["To save steps I take the tube to Stamford Brook, Hammersmith"]
["In shorts and runners I walk many a mile"]
["Emlyn Gardens. Number 107 is around back, third floor.
I find a way upstairs and have a chat w the current occupant"]
["On one of the possible routes to The Old Ship pub I
pass the fine Parish Church of St. Peter, Hammersmith"]
[The Old Ship, next on left, offers me a free pint for my
troubles. "There will be no trouble from me," I say.]
"When I went to the Ye Old Ship pub to drink while on leave, I used to tell the bartender that when he thought I'd had enough to drink he should kick me out the door, and on one occasion that I remember, he obliged me." (Dad's Navy memoirs. He would have a one-mile-walk, in a fairly straight line, to Emlyn Gardens)
Me? I finished my free pint, took a deep bow to thank London's troubled bartenders, and continued on my way.
["The two distinctive buildings above caught my eye as I
followed a likely route to the South Kensington region"]
["In 1942 - 43, after pints and darts, my father walked his uncle
to the South Kensington rail yards, Wally's workplace"]
["This pub, named by my dad, is close to the Kensington rail yards"]
["During the last leg of my walk I thought about hitching a ride home"]
I was asked to build a mailbox for a family that has no protective front porch roof so the design I chose has a wide, sturdy lid to keep rain and snow at bay. Their house, however, did have decorative trim over the front door which inspired a wee thought. 'Copy it'.
I'm building three mailboxes so I copied the design again and again. The cutting job takes extra patience, as does sanding all the tricky bits. No wonder I'll be charging an extra five bucks!
["First photo taken after a tube ride downtown to Grosvenor St."]
I planned a lengthy walk-about for my first full day in London. I bet I covered about eight miles of historic, intensely-popular, scenic, busy, and completely interesting streets. I'm holding back the words 'awe-inspiring' because I'm saving them for the inside cover of my next book.
["Coach and Horses. Lovely, I say, but wrong time of day!"]
["Beautiful day as I approach gates of Buckingham Palace"]
["Oh, yeah, I'm smug. High Tea at four with the Queen"]
I pass Big Ben at 12:15 on my way home for lunch ("Why, I'm right on schedule!" I say). Later I walk to the Imperial War Museum, 5 - 10 minutes away from my Airbnb apartment.
["Entrance to museum is well guarded. I look for side door"]
["So many interesting, educational, timely displays re WW2.
Assault Landing Craft (ALCs) were well-known to my dad"]
["Art on display held my interest to closing time"]
On the way home I stopped in for supper and a pint at Albert Arms, the first cozy I'd spotted upon my arrival the night before in London. Purr-fect day, I say.
["I was dragging a suitcase first time I laid eyes on Albert Arms.
Didn't stop but made a mental note to see what Albert had on tap"]