I took some amazing photos on my first day in London -- but you will have to take my word for it, because that evening, I realized that I'd returned to our hotel with one less camera than I'd started with.
"Tell Daddy it was stolen," was my daughter's helpful advice.
That wasn't a bad thought. My husband is always admonishing me to hold my bags tight at LAX, and especially when we get to the UK. "There are thieves and pickpockets everywhere," he warns. The camera could have been lifted.
But absent-mindedness is one of my least endearing qualities, and it is just as likely that I simply left it on a table somewhere or dropped it in the subway. It's my own fault: It was probably greedy to bring two still cameras. I've come to prefer the tiny red point-and-shoot M530 the folks at Kodak gave me a few months ago. It's light, and small and really easy to carry.
However, the Kodak's 3x zoom doesn't allow me to get as close as I'd like to certain subjects. This is why I also brought along the Canon Powershot I'd purchased a couple of years ago for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Its 10x zoom allowed me to take some pretty decent shots of Hillary Clinton and the Obama acceptance speech at Invesco, and I didn't want to leave home without it.
Now it's gone -- as well as its red leather carrying case, an extra battery for the Kodak (that cost me $50!) and an Eye-Fi card. C'est la vie. In the end, my life is simpler with just one camera to play with -- and once I focused on just using the Kodak, I managed some really nice shots.
Other than that, our first day in London was a blast, thanks to my friend Catherine, who took the train up from Kent to show us around.
Saturday was my husband's big day at Wimbledon (the raison d'etre for the timing of our trip), so Megan and I were free to do as we pleased. That meant shopping -- which in my daughter's vocabulary, is synonymous with Harrod's -- even though we cannot afford to buy much of anything there.
Still, the huge department store is something every visitor to London should experience -- especially the massive food hall on the ground floor, which features all kinds of gourmet goodies... and a working Krispy Kreme. Catherine was surprised to learn that since the company's financial problems, I can't get hot Krispy Kreme donuts near my home, and I was surprised to see them in nearly every tube station in London!
After surveying the store's huge collection of branded souvenirs (just about the only merchandise we can ever afford), Megan decided it was too rich for her budget (£20).
"I think she may have more success at the Camden Market," Catherine suggested. This is a part of town we'd never visited, so she whisked us back to the Underground station and we set off for Regent's Park -- the spot where Londoners are most likely to engage in outdoor sports. We observed plenty of local lads playing football (er, soccer) as we made our way through the eastern edge of the Park, past the fabled London Zoo and down steps that led us to the 1816 Regent's Canal.
I've always known that you can get around the UK by boat through a huge network of rivers and canals... but in years of traveling over there, I've never seen anything in London beyond the Thames. This picturesque, peaceful little walkway was featured in many of the photos that were lost along with my missing Canon. And that's a shame, because the area around the canal seemed more like a small town. (Even though my photos are gone, there's a beautiful series over at the Londonist blog here.)
"You can really see how historically, this big city came together around a lot of little villages," Catherine said.
And then, we reached the market, which was a huge collection of colorful stalls, booths and shops selling arts and crafts, jewelry, priceless antiques and useless junk. And there was food. Just about every cuisine you could name was represented at Camden Market: the usual suspects, like Indian and Italian... up to the more exotic (for England), like Ethiopian and Thai. I was tempted to sample the offerings at the Mexican stand, but Catherine thought I'd be disappointed (and she was probably right). Instead, I opted for a nice, safe, spinach crepe (and it was good).
Best of all, Megan found plenty of goods she could purchase with her £20. We left Camden Town feeling happy and full.
DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation for writing this post. I have no business affiliation with any of the companies or businesses mentioned in this post.
See the rest of my London photos on Flickr, here.