Well, we packed our case and headed east.
After listening to all the news bulletins we decided to take a chance and go to London on Wednesday despite skirmishes being reported in Canning Town where we were staying. Had we not booked and paid for our hotel and Show we would have stayed at home – just in case but…………………………………
A good journey up the M5 & M4 guided by Mss Tom Tom we arrived shortly after lunch and after checking in we thought we would pop over to Canary Wharf and enjoy a glass of wine by the river.
It was hot and sunny and it was a perfect way to relax after the long drive. And not a hoody in sight.
Thursday we thought we would go to the West End on the bus which would save us a bob or two as we could use our bus passes. The 115 took us a far as Aldgate through Poplar and Aldgate which were also devoid of hoody. Very close to the Gerkin which switched to the 15 and got off at Covent Garden.
It was buzzing, full of life with everyone enjoying the day after the initial rain. People of all nationalities and colours eating and drinking and inspecting the variety of goods on sale. Almost a carnival atmosphere after the horror of the events earlier in the week.
From Covent Garden we walked and walked enjoying the atmosphere until I really needed to sit! Leicester Square we knew had seats in the little park in front of the Odeon, but no longer. All shut off making ready for 2012.
We found ourselves outside The Garrick Theatre and, as we had theatre tokens, we decided to go in and watch the matinee performance of Pygmalion.
It has had good reviews and Mike really enjoyed it. I did not – I am a Philistine when it comes to stage plays – I cannot accept the dramatic acting – perfectly normal but I don’t like it.
I also got a little scared, every so often there was a loud rumbling noise and police sirens in the background and I wondered what was going on! Of course, I eventually realised the rumbling was from the underground trains.
After the show we made our way to Shaftesbury Avenue so that we would be close to the theatre we had booked for the evening. We found a little pub opposite the Windmill and had a light supper.
It was then time to make our way to the Queens Theatre to see Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas in Les Miserables. There was a was a small window when they are performing together and, subject to illness, they should be there. They HAD to be there.
There wasn’t a spare seat and all we had to worry about was not having a coughing fit once it started.
The orchestra struck up and we were transported to a magical place by the most wonderful singing and acting you could ever see on a stage anywhere in the world.
Does that mean it was good? No, it was very nearly perfect. Alfie’s voice is so well suited to the music( he is SO handsome with big brown eyes) and Matt Lucas was hilarious as the Innkeeper. The whole cast was excellent, although it was the fourth time we have seen it, the production was very different and exciting.
After the show we were picked up by Keith ( Young Goat) and transported safely to our hotel. Whilst we waited we enjoyed the music coming from a bar next door – lots of singing came bellowing out in to the road , young people gathered outside enjoying the balmy evening and, apart from the ever present police sirens – no trouble to be seen.
I was so high on adrenalin that I could not sleep despite such a busy day. Never mind, I had Alfie for company!
Next day, back on the bus and we decided to get off at the Tower of London.
It was very busy with long queues of mostly foreign tourists. I think half the population of France was in London that week.
We sat down and enjoyed a cup of coffee and were joined by some very tame starlings. I haven’t seen them for years in Devon.
Then we went on a boat trip up to Westminster which took us past many interesting landmarks.
Tower Bridge and Boris Johnson’s office.
The Tower from the river and the Millennium Bridge.
The Eye and Cleopatra's Needle.
The Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey – note the queues.
London in August is not for the faint-hearted.
We then took a bus to Hyde Park Corner, grabbed a sandwich from Pret A Manger and went into the park for a rest.
A magnificent specimen of a botanical curiosity is the Weeping Beech, Fagus sylvatica pendula, cherished as "the upside-down tree"
Kids were having so much fun running in and out and climbing to the top.
Just a few snaps from Hyde Park. Must go back – it is beautiful but VERY big!
Our last evening was spent with a forum friend – Keith. He drives a taxi and he picked us up from our hotel and we went to the O2 arena, just across the river from our hotel.
What a surprise – full of different types of entertainment and restaurants. We had no idea that this was on our doorstep.
We had a nice if rather noisy meal in TGI Fridays and a long chat with someone I have known only on the internet for over 10 years.
Then back to the hotel, early to bed after another busy day.
We left the hotel fro home about 9.30 and Tom Tom gave our ETA as 1.20! Rather optimistic. We were taken over Tower Bridge, all round the place on the south side of the river then back across Chelsea Bridge – to avoid the Congestion charge I guess.
Then there were warnings of heavy traffic on the motorway – and there was, Very heavy!
We finally arrived home about 2.45 – safe and sound.
A great little break in the Big City.