London: Unexpected Delights For Your 5 Senses. / No. 1.

London: Unexpected Delights For Your 5 Senses. / No. 1.

Jennifer Reynolds

Twenty years ago, I had a beautiful, adventurous friend. Looking back, I think much of her beauty came from her wild, exploring spirit. Her enthusiasm for life was contagious. It made her shine, and made you brilliant just by proximity.

Every time we would drive somewhere new, even if it were just a different neighborhood across Baltimore, she would switch off the radio, drop the windows, and shout, “SIGHTS AND SOUNDS!”

This would bring immediate silence to all passengers. Any distraction instantly forgotten. Instead, your whole being quivered with the thrill of detection.

What did you see? I mean, really see? What did you hear? Opera? Arguments? Belts of laughter? Was that daffodils you smelled? Or cherry blossoms? Or what…exactly? It was the most present I’d ever feel.

Travel was the way I first learned how to be completely in the moment. Photo:

I never see Cande anymore… for many reasons. But her lesson lives with me each time I go to a new place. And I thought of her last month as I took in London for the first time.

My husband, Doug, and I are American fragrance creators. Candlemakers. Small business owners. Farm-dwellers. At heart, introverts. But when we leave home, we are explorers.

Here I am with some unexpected LONDON DELIGHTS FOR YOUR 5 SENSES.



Exploring beyond tourist spots is ideal, but sometimes, exploring within them can be just as unexpectedly fantastic. I won't call either of these sites a big secret, but I was surprised by both!
    Took a walk with this stately, pink gentleman in St. James Park. The Russian Ambassador pelicans are enormous. His head was at my shoulder. Photo credit: Jennifer Reynolds.
    Spring Stroll. After the tourist bustle around Big Ben (even in February), I found instant peace in St. James Park. A happy place for spring joggers and picnics on dry days, St. James Park isn’t as grand as others, but its winding paths, lovely pond, and exotic birds were a soothing delight. Wild parrots, pink pelicans, and gorgeous geese wander all about.
    Plus, the daffodils and crocus flowers added a heady scent over the damp stone moss that captured the full spirit of SPRING.
    A pin to commemorate our exertions!
      I Did The Dome. The main touring areas of St. Paul's Cathedral are beautiful, but it’s the top 3 galleries that made this memorable. It was our Swiss friend, Nadia, (who hikes Alps on the regular) who looked up into the dome with the curiosity of a fully-fit person. We went along with her for the panting, winding, 528-step climb and descent (there’s no lift).
      The outside verandas gave us breathtaking looks of London.
      Inside, stony nooks and the occasional strange, iron wall lock reminded us of all the mysteries and history in this 300-year-old dwelling.



      The Kit Kat Club theatre in London's West End. Photo courtesy of TKKC.

        Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum. And this particular version of the famous play has won more awards than you can imagine.

        Descend into a Berlin basement at The Kit Kat Club with your complimentary shot of tasty Cinnamon Schnapps, then up to the burlesque theater for a fantastic evening. I haven’t had Schnapps since a few college nights we won’t talk about, but it's all part of the charm of Cabaret.

        Suggestion: this theatre is intimate with great sound. You don't need to book the pricey table stalls to fully enjoy the show.



        Tractor style, WWI-era biplane at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. The wings are made of fabric over wood frame, which looks even more flimsy in person. Photo credit: Jennifer Reynolds.  

          Masters Of The Air. Interested in aviation or WWII history? A fan of the Apple TV+ series, Masters of the Air? Or dying to see the plane of Snoopy's lifelong enemy: The Red Baron? If so, hop the train up to Duxford (near Cambridge) to visit the Imperial War Museumand treat yourself to one of the best collections of vintage planes in the world.

          In good weather, you may see the fighter planes fly, and can even take a ride in one! We lucked out to be there on a sunny Friday to see both a Hurricane and Spitfire roar through the sky.

          Be aware! June, 2024 marks the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. The airshows to commemorate will be incredible... as will the crowds.

          Suggestion: Book tickets for the 2024 flying season asap. It promises to be a busy one.



          There’s SO much more to London food than fish & chips. And if you have food allergies or preferences, this is YOUR TOWN. Unlike Paris, where you’ll (more or less) be expected to eat what you get and love it, London restauranteurs are happy to accommodate you.


          Red Lion Pub, Parliament Street, Westminster. Photo courtesy of Fuller's.  

            Drink With Dickens. Obviously, Charles isn’t still frequenting a bar stool at the Red Lion Pub in Westminster (or maybe he is??), but I can see why he used his favorite haunt as a setting in his novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Over 160 years later, we loved it, too. Part of the Fuller’s hospitality empire, this place oozes with traditional English, wood-walled ambience.

            Order refreshing beers like a Pride or a Honeydew to wash down their specialty: savory pies. We got the pie sampler board to share. Who knew leeks could taste so good? 

            Reservations strongly recommended for dinner. This place is popular and conveniently located.



            Victorian and vibey, pop in to the Sherlock Holmes Pub for a pint. Photo credit: Jennifer Reynolds. 

            Worth The Wait. Find the best pizza outside Italy at bustling 50 Kalo right off Trafalgar Square. We popped over to the Sherlock Holmes Pub for drinks during our 75-minute wait for a table, but it was worth the delay. The pizza is light, airy, and straight out of Naples.



            Dishoom Restaurant bar, Covent Garden. Photo courtesy of Dishoom.

            From Bombay With Love. The other delight was Dishoom at their Covent Garden location (they have several restaurants around town which all have slightly different decor, but the same menu).

            Recommended by London friends who know their hot spots, Dishoom was a sensory overload of tasty Iranian-influenced Indian food, swinging ‘60s London-meets-Bombay soundtrack, art deco-styled bar, and whisps of proprietary sandalwood incense. How did this wild mess meld together, you ask? PERFECTLY.

            By the time we left at 6:30pm, there was a line literally around the block to get in. Come early. And someone please open one of these in Washington, D.C.!



            Afternoon tea feels like something out of Alice In Wonderland. Photo credit: Jennifer Reynolds. 

            Do Have Afternoon Tea. Please. The tiers of sticky, tasty treats, bubbly, syrupy cocktails, velvety finger sandwiches, crumbly scones, and, of course, warm, soothing tea, add up to a quintessential London experience.

            Even if you've had tea elsewhere, it's a must-do here. And it can range broadly in price and experience.

            We skipped the famous but super-pricey Savoy Hotel Tea (although we may try it next time just to see what the fuss is about) and took ours in deep, soft chairs at a window table in our own hotel, the Royal Horseguards Hotel in Whitehall. A lovely spot to savor and unwind after seeing the sites.



            After long walks and little sleep, this friendly, gray police officer made my day. Photo credit: Jennifer Reynolds. 

            A plus! Before tea, we stumbled across New Scotland Yard's finest (the 4-legged variety) enjoying a little downtime, too. On their days off, police horses are brought out for a stroll and graze in the park by NSY, which happens to be right in front of the Royal Horseguards Hotel. 



            The Fighting Temeraire Tugged To Her Last Berth To Be Broken Up, 1838, by J.M.W. Turner - the painting that got James Bond hot under the collar in Skyfall.

            Leather Benches. Certain vistas in the National Gallery will take your breath away. George Stubbs’ Whistlejacket almost made me drop my jacket. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers never excited me in the least… until I saw it.

            When you need a break from all the glory around you, take a seat on one of the tufted leather benches, and allow the rich smoothness to engulf you. A prime bench faces The Fighting Temeraire, the “old warship” that James Bond and Q discuss rather heatedly in the 2012 film, Skyfall



            You’ve been waiting for me to get to this one! We are candlemakers after all. SOOO… what did we think of London’s scents?

            They were… interesting… confusing… completely inspirational… and a discussion all on their own. Join me on my next post to hear our thoughts as American chandlers in London. Fragrances are what we do. And it’s fascinating to see all the differences in scent around the world.


            Until next time, friends!

            This post is based on my own experiences. Yours may differ greatly. What do YOU love about London? What is THE suggestion you'd make to a friend about to visit?
            Love to hear your (positive and helpful) thoughts in the comments! 

            Please note: I did not receive any incentives for mentions in this post. All content is the property of author, except for photos credited to other sources.   


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