Since so many of you helped me, I thought I would write a trip report.
I arrived Friday, October 6 in the afternoon at Terminal 3 Heathrow and there was no tube strike. Thank you Nigel for sharing that news! Passport control was FAST. I arrived from Amsterdam and saw that the EU/UK resident line was long; the non EU line had one person ahead of me. That's it. I was in and out of passport control in no more than 3 minutes. I had to check my bag and it came out of the carousel within 5 minutes. I've never experienced such efficiency at Heathrow ever. I took the Piccadilly line to my hotel in which I checked in, cleaned up and took the tube to Piccadilly Circus to walk around and shopped at Fortnum to buy a house gift for a friend I was visiting later. I also browsed in Hatchards, one of my favorite bookstores. Had dinner and went back to my hotel.
Saturday, I went to Canterbury and browsed the Good Shed indoor farmers market, walked around town, visited the Eastbridge Hospital, went to Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral, and bought a pair of amber earrings at a local jewelry store. I picked up a VAT form. I took the high speed train between St Pancras & Canterbury West which took under an hour. No conductor checked tickets in both directions.
Sunday, I went to St Paul's Cathedral for the 11:30 Sung Eucharist. I went to one of those fast-food udon noodle places for a quick and cheap lunch, and then spent the afternoon at the Wallace Collection. I saw the small El Greco to Goya exhibition downstairs. I walked back to Piccadilly to buy a book I was considering but didn't pick up Friday and had dinner at the Queens Head pub.
Monday, I went to the Imperial War Museum to see the WWI exhibit. Extremely thorough. I also saw the instillation about the Holocaust. I hadn't been to IWM since 1993 and wanted to visit again. There were lots of school children many of whom wore what looked like those yellow neon crossing guard vests. I wonder why. After I left the musuem, I walked around the nearby park in Lambeth and was amazed to see so many palm trees growing. I never associate London with palm trees. After, I went to the National Portrait Gallery for a couple of hours. From there I had dinner at a pub across the street from the Trafalgar Studios theatre in which I saw "Apologia" with Stockard Channing, Laura Carmichael, and Freema Agyeman. It was easy picking up my ticket from the box office that I bought online a few months ago.
Tuesday was my day in the Cotswolds. My first time ever and felt so lucky as I could spend the day with a dear friend who drives! I took the train to Kingham and met her; she has a cottage in Stow-in-the-Wold. We spent the day together enjoying tea at her cottage in the late morning, lunch at a pub called Snowshill Arms (an absolute treasure) and walked around. She took me to Upper and Lower Slaughter and we visited the churches like St Peter's in Upper Slaughter and St Mary's in Lower Slaughter. It was their Harvest Sunday 5 days prior and you could see gourds and other vegetables in both churches by the altar, the lectern, and window sills. Just lovely. There were several senior citizens sitting outside St Mary's with whom we chatted for a bit. We walked for about 2 hours in Lower Slaughter including visiting the Manor House for a bathroom break. She and I then went for tea at a tea house in Stow called Huffkins. Just wonderful! She took me back to Kingham and I caught the 6:13pm train to London. The autumn colors were beautiful. Not much red but lots of yellow & orange.
I flew home Wednesday at 12:35 stopping at the VAT desk to get my form from Canterbury stamped after going through security. Travelex would not refund the VAT as the agent said that smaller stores like this one will do it. I mailed the form from home (after making a copy) and hope I see the refund on my credit card.
All in all, a wonderful trip.