About three hours after landing at Gatwick airport we were on the steps of The Hotel Blades. The airport is about 30 miles south of London and a 30 minute train ride to Victoria Station, just a few blocks from The Blades. Our room is not yet ready, but coffee and tea and the regular breakfast is made available to us by Kevin.
The hotel sits wall to wall, row house style, with other hotels that lines several streets in the Pimlico area of London. Built as in-town townhouses for the up and coming wealthy merchant class of 19th century, many have been turned into small hotels, like The Blades, with 15 rooms or so. The facades look just as they would have had Queen Victoria ridden by and saw them when they were new.
We stayed at the Blades for two nights at the beginning of the trip and two nights at the end. During that time we used neighborhood grocery stores, found a couple of favorite restaurants, visited an internet cafe every day and used the tube stop a two blocks away more than once a day.
Kevin was our first and last interaction with the British. He greeted us when we arrived the first day and said goodbye at the end of breakfast the day of our departure. While attending to the needs of all the eight tables in the breakfast room, he would engage one table in bits of conversation, but in such a way as to invite the entire room to participate or merely spectator.