I had a bit of an early start as I live outside of London and had arranged to meet them at a cafe on Piccadilly at 9am, so we could squeeze in some chatting and sightseeing before Alex had to go to the airport. This seemed like a perfectly sensible plan at the time we were planning it, but I definitely needed a cup of tea when I got to that cafe!
We walked to nearby Covent Garden, where the markets were just starting to open up for the day...
... peering in the windows of all the smart shops, chatting about making and blogging and about all the awesome stuff Alex & Maria had got up to at Blogtacular... and, of course, (typical bloggers!) taking lots of snaps for our blogs / instagram, etc :)
After years of visiting the busy markets on Saturdays in my teens, it was slightly weird to be back there when it was so quiet!
On our walk back to Piccadilly we stumbled upon a Puppet Festival which looked rather wonderful but we couldn't stay.
There was just time for a stroll along Piccadilly, peering into more shop windows...
... and walking through some of the fabulously fancy arcades...
... before saying our goodbyes as Alex & Maria headed back to their hotel and then home.
I know I say this a lot but man, it is so great to meet up with other bloggers and to be able to have a good natter about the weird and wonderful world of blogging with real live lovely, funny people instead of just reading each others blogs and chatting with teeny avatars on Twitter, etc. (Which reminds me, you are all coming to this, yes??)
I had a looming deadline so I couldn't stay in town for the whole day, but the super-early start meant I managed to squeeze a bit more stuff in before heading home for a late lunch and a few hours work.
First up, I got the Tube to Kings Cross St Pancras. Last time I travelled via this station my dad told me off for not taking the time to go inside St Pancras itself and have a look around. "It's amazing!" he said, and he was totally right.
Just down the road from St Pancras is the British Library which is architecturally a bit of a let-down after the splendour of the station... inside though, what treats! Book heaven.
I'd been for a flying visit earlier in the year and had resolved to come back for a longer visit, and I'm very glad I did. After a quick visit to the Beautiful Science exhibition I had a lovely long look around the gallery of the Library's treasures, jaw literally dropping at some of the amazing old books and manuscripts on display and feeling quite thrilled at seeing so many early editions or first drafts of famous texts.
My final stop for the day was just one stop along the Tube, in Islington. The weather wasn't too great, but it was still nice to walk along some unfamiliar London streets as I headed for...
... the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. This is apparently Britain's only gallery devoted to modern Italian art and is one of those places that I'd never have visited (and probably never even heard of) without my Art Pass.
I enjoyed the exhibition of paparazzi photos of Hollywood stars in Italy in the 50s and 60s, and learned lots about Futurism while exploring the permanent collection (nerd that I am I carry a little notebook with me on my Nice Days out to write down interesting and/or fun facts learned in the museums, galleries and exhibitions I visit).
It's a small gallery but an interesting one and entry is half-price with an Art Pass (hurrah!). Like so many small museums and galleries, its smallness means you can end up with whole rooms to yourself and can stand or sit quietly thinking and soaking up some culture. They have a cafe too, though I had to get home to work on my deadline so had no time to stop and sample their wares.
It was a bit of a shame to have to head home and not have a chance to explore Islington a little, as I would if I'd had more time, but I guess I shall just have to plan a return visit!