We start our day at the Athenaeum in Mayfair (I’m doing a story on it for work–I know, IMG_0907tough job, but someone has to do it!) and end it atCleifiog B&B in Beaumaris on the Strait of Menai. It’s a day of contrasts.

On my morning run I make my obligatory sweep past Buckingham Palace and then along the Serpentine in Hyde Park, where I’m rewarded with views of a few dozen beautiful police horses out for their morning jog.

Horses are the theme for the day. We meet friends (their daughter was a classmate of my younger daughter until they moved back to London two years ago), at the National Gallery, for a classic English breakfast at the Cafe there. My older daughter heads off to take photos of London; my mother, my younger daughter and I go a brief tour of the museum with our friends (the mother is a museum curator–handy!) of a few of their favorite paintings, one of them this painting by George Stubbs.

On the tube, my younger daughter marvels at the height and depth of the escalators down to the trains (it gives me vertigo). And all the ads for theater makes me regret that we’re not spending one more night in London (Matilda would have been really fun to see!)

We reconnoiter with our older daughter back at the Athenaeum (phew, even though she’s well traveled, my apron strings are still tight) and trundle down Picadilly towing our bags to the Green Park tube station (this is because I think we need to do the Tube for the complete London experience, but we really should have taken a taxi). It’s just minutes to Euston Station for our much anticipated train ride to Wales. Bit of a cliffhanger there when I discover that none of the numbers on my train ticket voucher correspond with anything in Virgin Train’s computer system, so after much handwringing and dashing about in search of an internet cafe (there are none in the station anymore, but a very kindly concierge named Yun at the nearby Hilton let me use his computer). This is a quest in vain; I bite the bullet and buy a new set of tickets. We make the train by minutes and my mother asks me if there’s a bar car.

The train ride is a lovely one. We pass rolling fields. At one point, a horse stands silhouetted on a hill-top. There are castles and nuclear stations. And, as we travel along, we see dozens of wind turbines standing in the water of Menai Strait. A gaggle of girls piles into the train, giggling and chatting away in Welsh. We’re here!