Back to London for a few days...
Another nice day, hopefully the weather stays fine for a few days. Tony gets dropped at the bus depot early, just as well because the bus leaves early. The driver is the same one as on the way up, and Tony asks if there was any trouble from the woman who was on the bus on the way up. He is told the incident was reported straight away, but the bus company never heard from her at all. Tony jokes that the driver is not to play the radio on the trip today.
We get to London around 6pm, traffic is heavy and progress is slow. The arrivals building is closer to Victoria Station, so it is not too much of a hike, but the directions there are not clear, and it is only that Tony had been there before that he knew where to go.
The tube is packed as it is crush hour, not great with a bloody great pack. At Russell Square the lifts are also packed – you really do get a sense of “underground” here, the lift takes you four or five storeys up to street level, and that is after you have climbed a flight of stairs!
The hostel is busy, and Tony is surprised to be put in a room with only six beds, not what was ordered, but a better option. What a shame is he only has the room for two nights, and then has to move (the only room he could get has 15 beds in it). There are three young Aussies in the room, their gear is scattered all over the floor, and Tony is surprised that their laptops, cameras and phones are just left laying about, even when they are not in the room. There is a university across the Square, and it is clear school is in. Students are everywhere, and the cheap bargains at the supermarket are gone in a flash. The hostel is full of students staying here while looking for accommodation. The place is very noisy tonight, people up and down the hall, very loud in the next room as well. Security finally tells them to shut it around 1.30 but it is nearly an hour before they are finally quiet.
Greg arrives down from Glasgow this morning. He and Rob are here from Toronto for a couple of weeks, playing a lot of golf by the sounds of it. Their friend John has brought them to London just for the day. We get tickets for the hop-on, hop-off bus and head off. The weather is not that flash, but the cloud is starting to lift when we get to the London Eye, the queues are short so they guys decide to take the trip now. Tony says he will wait for them as he did the ride three weeks ago, but as he sees them off the guy taking their tickets tells Tony to go through. Tony says he has no ticket, and is not joining them. The guy says go now, and don’t make it look obvious (bloody cameras everywhere, haha), he is not going to tell him again. So Tony gets a free ride, yay.
We get back on the bus and pass a traditional pub near Parliament, so get off at Buckingham Palace and walk back for lunch. Pie and chips and a pint, nice one. We wander around the outside of Buckingham Palace and head down to Knightsbridge to visit Harrods. Tony gets some fudge for Cynthea, and the others pick up a few souvenirs. We get back on the bus and are soon back where we started at Marylebone. They guys decide not to take the bus any further as they want to get an earlier bus to the airport. The trip in this morning took a long time, and they don’t want to risk missing their plane, so they will go to the airport early and have a meal there. We wander around the area and then sit at the pub enjoying a pint until the bus arrives. Tony uses the tour tickets to get back to the hostel, and is disappointed to see they do not have a night tour. There is also a river cruise included, he can get to Greenwich village today, but cannot get back, so gives that a miss. Back at the hostel the place is busy again, still… And the buggers in the room next store are very loud again, security is on to it earlier tonight, but there is a lot of coming and going, so there is still lots of noise until late. A couple of the Aussies are out on a pub crawl, they get in around 4am, pissed as and giggly, but they are not too noisy.
Today it is six months since we left home, wow, time has sure flown by. Tony has been accepted for work on a farm in Devon http://www.westkidland.co.uk and will go there on Saturday.
It is a small mixed farm specialising in rare and traditional breeds, with Dexter Cattle, Berkshire Pigs, Lincoln Longwool Sheep, Golden Guernsery Goats and a large number of poultry. There is a small onsite butchery for processing and packing their own meat, and they regularly attend local markets selling produce. Situated on the edge of Exmoor, currently trying to expand the tourism side of the business, they have a registered campsite and are in the process of setting up some camping barn / bunkhouse accommodation.
Time to move rooms, and Tony packs after breakfast. The hostel insists he leaves the room at 10am and rechecks in at 11am, so it means hanging around until then. He is about to strip the bed, but decides to go and see if the new room is ready, just in case. They check and yes it is, so they process check in now as a favour. He picks up the new key, and laughs that they have given him the key for his old room. They check, and no, he has the right key, so is not actually moving after all. Yay, but a lot of shagging around. At least he doesn’t have to make the bed again.
Lots, and lots of walking today. From the hostel down to Oxford St, and at Oxford Circus head down Regent St. There is a really cool toy store there (Hamleys), 250 years old, five stories, and there is a Harry Potter display, among many others (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings). At the top of every escalator the staff are playing with toys, on the fourth floor three guys are flying helicopters and another two have flying saucers, while another guy has magic tricks. A lot of time is spent browsing here…
Back on the street and Tony walks down to Piccadilly Circus, and then on to Leicester Square. There are heaps of picture theatres here, but Tony misses the two films he wanted to see, so he wanders back towards Oxford St via Carnaby St. There is a puppet show outside Starbucks, and (an older) woman is sat outside smoking… she is dressed like a bride, but there is no sign of a groom. A couple of others at the next table look like they could be the bridesmaids. Should have taken a photo…
Back in Oxford St it is packed – they do say it is the busiest shopping street in Europe. Tony gets some cheap clothes to wear on the farm and heads back to the hostel. It is quite a walk back so he takes the tube, but fails to see there is a more direct route from this station. Bugger. At the next station they announce significant delays, and the trains are being held for several minutes at each stop. It takes well over an hour to get to Holborn, and by then Tony has had enough of the tube, so gets off a station early. The bloody train leaves straight away. Outside the station Tony heads off to the hostel, but soon realises the street is not the right one, and has to back track a wee way. It is getting dark early these days, and the grounds of the park are covered in autumn leaves, summer is over for sure, but there are still a few nice days before the winter hits, we hope! Tony has his tea in the park as the sun sets, it is definitely getting cooler.
Back at the hostel he meets up with a group from this morning and we get talking again. They have too much food, and would Tony like a pork chop, too right! One of the group works at a pastry shop, and has brought home “leftovers” a huge chocolate gateau, very nice. It is late when the internet finally connects, but it flicks on and off so Tony gives up and goes to bed. The three Aussies are still up, and head out for “supplies” at the supermarket (they will find the off license closed but it is food they are after). We sit up talking until late, it is 1.30 before we finally crash for the night.
Tony is off to Banbury this morning, where we will have a few short hours together. Banbury is nice, and we have a coffee in the mall and then call in to a travel agent to see if there are cheap trips at the end of the month. But it is half term school holidays, and the end of summer so people are off for a final trip. If we leave it a few days we will have cheaper options, but where to go? Decisions, decisions…. Haha.
We drive to Brackley and Tony gets to see where Cynthea is living. It is a very nice place. Cynthea’s relief carer arrives, and it is time to head back to Banbury to catch the train. Where did the time go? We have to make a decision about Cynthea’s work, she has the option to stay on until March but they need to know today if she is staying until the New Year. Cynthea is happy enough here, so we decide that is ok, and with two weeks notice she can get time off, so we will sort that out later. Cynthea wants to go to see Cliff Richard at O2 in October, and then we can take a trip somewhere. She will have more time off in December so we can go to London together to look at the Christmas lights. Tony is not sure how long he will be at the farm in Devon, and will play that one by ear, see how it goes.
Back in London Tony contacts Lyndell and arranges to meet at Waterloo. We head to Leicester Square to find the movie theatre, Cowboys and Aliens is on so we get tickets and head out for food. We don’t have a lot of time, and cannot get a table at the first place, so head around the corner and find a nice Lebanese place that will do us some starters straight away. It is a really nice meal, shame we had to rush it. The movie is “ok”, not as good as we hoped, but we enjoyed it despite all the holes in the storyline. We have a coffee in Starbucks before heading home around 11pm. Leicester Square is packed with people, and the tube is as crowded as it was at rush hour. At least the trains are not delayed tonight.