We have been given the location of the nearest railway station, one that connects to the underground. So after breakfast we will go for a walk to find it before tomorrow when we head into the centre of London.
Breakfast is toast, cereal, fresh fruit and tea and coffee. I am afraid that the service has not improved at all. People are still waiting a long time, unattended, waiting to be seated. Most of the platters are empty and again there are no plates. Amazed at the total lack of service on offer.
The day is overcast and threatened rain. It has rained (heavily) overnight but perhaps it may brighten up. Weather reports do not agree, from TV channel to channel.
We head off to follow the directions given to us. We have been told to head west on the main road outside the hotel (Great West Road) for about ten minutes and it should be on our left. We are very careful about getting the instructions correct, so we repeat them back.
Okay. Ten minutes later and we still have not found the station or anything like a station. So we do what we have always been told to do when we need help. We ask a copper. There are two Metropolitan Police Officers doing traffic duty nearby and one of them points us in the right direction, aka: Nowhere near where the hotel staff sent us.
Off we go and about ten minutes later we locate the railway station…… and a market (yahoo!!!).
Strolling around the market shows that it is a mixture of “town market” and car boot sale. There are a lot of stalls and a large number of people about. Rowena is finally able to find some jandals (thongs, flip flops) and they are good rubber ones that cost 1.5 pounds. A very good deal, even with the exchange rate, and we buy her two pairs. I am able to buy some cheap ankle socks from the same place.
The market now completely patrolled we head into the shopping street beside the railway station, but there is not many shops open, and those that are a mainly food shops (cafés etc) so we start to head back to the hotel.
Once again we find that we have been given wrong directions, this time sending us quite a long walk in the wrong direction.
Having walked a fair way anyway we wander east on the main road until we reached the small group of shops the previous day. There we find a café that, with the cost of room service, was reasonably cheap. So we have a late lunch and head back to the hotel.
The area is populated by houses that appear to be circa 1920s to 1930s. They are mainly semi-detached or rows or attached houses. Once off the main road the houses were all very narrow. One room and a front door wide. Two stories high, small front yard and a few properties with access to the rear of the properties. Most of the buildings are of red brick with brown slate roofs.
The main road is a “dual carriage way” but all of the side roads are much narrower, mostly a lane and a half wide. Some of these roads are main bus routes and the constant traversing of the roadway by the double decker buses must be taking their toll on the roadway and the local population.
There is a very strange mix of standards of living. Beautifully restored and maintained homes (adorned with Rolls Royce or BMW vehicles, presented with well manicured front yards, ablaze with floral colour, but clearly protected behind automatic gates and high wrought iron fences) standing shoulder to shoulder with neighbouring properties where fences hang over, overgrown gardens front broken windows and piles of rubbish and broken bits of buildings.
And the traffic on the main road (The Great West Road) seems never to stop. And with Heathrow being less than 2 kilometres away there is a constant over flight of large jets between 5 in the morning and 11 at night.
The strange thing is that the constant presence of traffic (and thus people) is re-assuring. And the appearance of these massive airplanes flying over, low enough to make out every detail, still holds me enthralled. Even though I know the mechanics of flight, the sight of these monsters as they seem to hang in the air, still impresses me.
The only negative. The weather!
After our late lunch (fried food again I am afraid) we both still felt full and stodgy, so tea was cheese and crackers. That done, we settle down for an evening of TV. Tomorrow we will finally be heading off onto London Central.