Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Singing Handyman

My husband and I went in to London on Saturday to hang out because we’re empty nesters and we can do that. Sometimes we have an agenda but a lot of times we just hop on the train and start walking and see where our feet (and the Tube and those fabulous London taxis) take us. Oh, and the weather…always thinking about the weather. Saturday was one of those spectacularly crystal clear days and oh how I love to see the sunshine here. Trains run from our village into Marylebone Station and we can get on the Underground from there. We rode the tube as far as Piccadilly today where we came above ground and started walking.

And as were walking down Piccadilly Street we heard music. It was someone with a terrific voice too. We came round a corner and there he was…The Singing Handyman. You just had to laugh. The Singing Handyman drives around town in his panel van that advertises his handyman business which is the usual type of handyman work like plumbing and electrical repair. What makes him unusual though is that he also has a microphone with speakers attached to his van and as he drives around the city he sings. Loudly. When we bumped into him he was just wrapping up that disco classic, Love is in the Air, and was transitioning into Daydream Believer. Several years ago my husband attended a sales training event of some sort where the comment was made that if you give people bubbles they smile. And I guess happy people buy things so give them bubbles and make them happy and you’ll get the sale. Now, I may not have that exactly right (and I’m pretty sure I don’t) but I will tell you that besides the fantastic singing there were bubbles pouring out of The Singing Handyman’s truck. Kind of like a rolling bubble machine. And yes, we smiled. And then we went shopping so maybe I did have it right.

We headed to a little shopping area on Piccadilly Street known as the Burlington Arcade. Now, when I hear the word arcade I think pin ball machines, skee ball and prize tokens but The Burlington Arcade is more like Ralph Lauren, Rolex and handmade French macaroons and it’s a great place to window shop. Also a great place to buy stuff : ) The Burlington Arcade was Britain’s very first shopping Arcade (1819) and is the longest covered shopping street in England and possibly the most beautiful. Since 1819, the Arcade has been protected by the Beadles who are guards in the traditional Edwardian frock coats and gold braided top hats. They were originally in place to enforce a strict code of behavior in the Arcade which included no whistling, singing, playing of musical instruments, running, carrying of large parcels or opening of umbrellas and no prams (strollers as the Americans say). Today they are the smallest private police force in existence and they continue to patrol the Arcade and keep shoppers from running with large parcels while pushing a pram with an open umbrella?

After some shopping we walked just a couple of blocks, stopped in Marks and Spencers to pick up a picnic lunch and then headed to Green Park. One of the things I love about the city of London is all its green space. There are beautiful parks scattered all over the city and Green Park is the one adjacent to Buckingham Palace. For a small fee you can rent comfy chairs-we paid £3 (or $4.50) to use two chairs for 2 hours - and we planted ourselves amidst the daffodils and other folks who had the same idea. We joke here that we are Vitamin D deficient but really we’re only half joking. It was so nice to sit and feel the sun on our faces and it wasn’t too bad either to catch a glimpse of Buckingham Palace thru the trees.

After we packed up we walked some more, thru the magnificent park gates, past the Palace and into St. James Park, another beautiful green space that sits in front of Buckingham Palace. We stopped for an ice cream and this is Cadbury country so when you get a cone they ask you, ‘flake or no flake’? and I of course always say flake because they are scrumptious. It’s basically a flaky Cadbury chocolate stick. Who wouldn’t want that??

And, then we walked some more. We came out of St. James Park behind No. 10 which is the Prime Minister’s home and then we walked just a bit further towards Westminster Bridge and Big Ben.

I absolutely never ever get tired of looking at Big Ben. I went on a tour once and climbed a billion steps and actually stood just behind the clock face and got to put my hands on the steel beams inside as the bells tolled and the whole thing vibrated and made your ears hurt but you didn’t even care because you were standing right behind the face of Big Ben. They used to allow tourists up but now it’s just for residents and you have to arrange it through your local MP (Member of Parliament) and only 15 people at a time can go up but it is so worth it.

And then we walked some more. We headed down Westminster towards Trafalgar Square and sat at an outdoor café and had a cup of tea and rested our aching feet and did a little people watching. And we decided we’d seen absolutely every form of dress known to mankind including winter boots, a bathing suit top, and a tuxedo.

And then we walked some more, over to Leicester (pronounced Lester) Square which is the theatre district and on into Chinatown. We had a lovely dinner at a Chinese restaurant before walking just a bit more to catch our train back home.

And the words to a Phil Vassar song keep rolling around in my brain....

'Well, it's ok. It's so nice.

It's just another day in paradise.

Well, there's no place that I'd rather be

Two hearts And one dream

I wouldn't trade it for anything... Cheers, Joyce


  1. Joyce,
    It sounds like we were doing some of the same exact things only 24 hours apart. You both look like you had a wonderful time.

    Blessings & Cheers!

  2. Oh my...... you make me miss London....... Really miss it...... That singing Handyman was fun to read about and must have been much fun to see........ I so remember the sound of Big Ben.... made an impression on me that I cannot forget....... I must ask? What does your husband do that would take you to England? I am just nosy that way!

  3. I think that's so neat about the singing handyman and his cute little truck with bubbles. I'd smile too if I saw him!

    Every part of this post is so neat and so interesting. I love the parks and the palace.
    Big Ben is amazing. I took so many pictures of the Wrigley Building while I was in chicago. It was just outside our hotel. I think it reminded me of Big Ben.

    How cool that you were able to go up inside and be that close.

    I think it's wonderful that you and your husband are at this stage of life where you can enjoy days like this. My husband and I are empty nesters as well and it's great to be free to enjoy life and be carefree.

    On a different's neat that you were also part of Mom's In Touch. Really, being a part of that blessed my life so much.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures & story of your day. I said "Yum" outloud when I saw that ice cream cone! ;)

  4. We all love Cadbury Flakes! My 9yo daughter thinks Yorkies are the best tho, but that's only because she's rebelling against their slogan of "not for girls." ;)

    When there a couple years ago, we lucked into staying at the Premier Travel Inn that is right next to the London Eye. We could hear Big Ben from our hotel room. Fantastic!

    And once again, I envy you and your free time and your opportunities to walk all over. Someday for us. :)


  5. Thanks for sharing your lovely day! It's especially nice to see you and my brother so happy and relaxed. I love you both!

  6. I would love to sit on a chaise lounge in the middle of the daffodils! I absolutely adore your blog today and wish I was able to be there, too. My son lives there for a year and I know exactly all the spots where you are talking about. :::sigh::: My husband washed the garden chairs today so perhap if the sun decides to come out again to play, I can enjoy my cup of coffee in it and watch the puppies romp in the backyard. Too cold to do any gardening but soon!! Cheers~

  7. When I read your posts, I feel like I have been there too. You do such a beautiful job describing the area where you are living in the UK. It makes me wish I was back there in London. I had such a great time when I was there many, many years ago. You and your famiy have some incredible memories of your time in the UK! I know you will be sad to leave. It's good that you have the information on your blog to save for future generations to read. Love & blessings from NC!

  8. Being that I'd love to move to another part of the country and experience life elsewhere, I'm in awe of the life you're getting to lead...and it's wonderful that your taking advantage of every minute of it!

    The Singing Handyman just seems like a happy guy! How fun!

  9. Well, I always say yes to Flakes too, but for entirely different reasons.

    I love your blog, btw. The sidebars look like medieval tiles.

  10. I love England and felt as if I were back there reading your post! What a delightful day!

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