Saturday, 10 June 2017

Off to London for the week and one day from a tragedy

Wednesday 31st May to Wednesday 7th June 2017

Safely moored up in Lemonroyd Marina, we could finish the packing and finalise the boat to be left for a week; we were even driven to the railway station by the lovely Marie who runs the marina – such service was very much appreciated – it did allow everything to run a bit more smoothly.

We managed to catch the 9:10 from Woodlesford to Leeds and we were still early for the connecting train to King’s Cross – a 2 hour trip on Virgin East Coast – after that we negotiated the Underground (which really is quite easy as we found out last year and before) – we had bookings for a couple of rooms for a week at Chiswick Premier Inn – we got a good deal on it all.
So we dropped off our bags, booked in for both us and also for Mitch and Sara, who would be arriving around 16:40 from Paris on the Eurostar.
Plenty of time to get back to St.Pancras and meet them as planned.

They had come through all of the way from Champagne and with it all being by train, they were not tired at all – not like plane travel (and international at that), there was no need to arrive a few hours early.
 
Sara and Diane were certainly happy to see each other; Mitch was just ignoring it all

The closest that they were getting to this attraction

As it was now the start of the peak hour(s) we opted to have an early dinner – at the same, Pizza Union (Pentonville Road) that we had used in April, before battling the Underground out to Chiswick.
Sara was keen to try an English Pub – her first trip to the UK – so across the road we went to The George and Devonshire – a not atypical pub – pretty much what you see these days, but it was lovely enough for Sara to get an idea about it all – and really it was a lovely pub anyway.

We had a rough plan of things that they wanted to experience and where it was necessary we had suggested some timetabling – so it was on Thursday that we headed off to Watford to see all of the relatives and for them to meet Sara and catch up with Mitch again.
 
A chance to relax and meet the relatives

Nikki...

...and David...

...and cheeky Phil...

...and Lisa and Pam

It was such an atypical English day – yes, the sun was out in force – the new home was on show and we also got a chance to see how the renovations were coming along; plenty of food, plenty of drink and plenty of talk – a lovely day for everyone.

But we needed to get back for all our sakes – even we were feeling a bit on the tired side – but TfL had a last thing in store for us – there were some signalling problems along the path we wanted to take and so we made our way back via central London, but it had been a great day out.

Friday was a day predicted to be a bit unpredictable – there would be sun, but equally there was a strong possibility of heavy downpours and a thunderstorm. It was important to keep the early momentum up in their trip and cross some things off their list of “must-sees”.
First call was at Buck House (the palace), then the Mall, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
The crowds were out as usual; the guards as well

close to the gates

and a sneak peek through

In front of the Australia column

The Horse Guards on the Mall

Looking out over St.James Park


and in Trafalgar Square - last time  Mitch was here was 2000
and the pigeons were all still there

We hadn't seen this memorial before - and for the women in all wars

One of the icons of London - we were not surprised
with the look on Sara's face when she turned the
corner and first saw it

Across the river and a stroll down along the Thames on the southern side, taking in lunch at The Mulberry Bush – a great place for something to eat.
Then it was on to The Globe and the Golden Hind II and around the corner was Borough Market, where we had never been – Mitch recognised it from an earlier trip – it was here that everything HIT! – the promised thunderstorm rolled in and luckily we were under cover, because it really pelted down.
The Golden Hynd II

The Globe Theatre - something they both wanted to see

Borough Market - why this shot - Sara's middle name with the one "l"

Tragic to think how this would have looked just a bit over 24 hours later



We stayed at one of the pubs for a little while whilst it continued to rain.
After we finished our drinks and the rain had retreated, we decided it was time to move on and off we strolled across London Bridge.


The storm had passed but those dark clouds in the distance, came back.
metaphorically speaking, the following day

Our idyll on this Friday was tragically not the case when senseless violence engulfed the area on Saturday night (just a day later), when 3 terrorists inflicted their idea of vengeance on innocent people.
No amount of understanding can comprehend the reasons why these people find it necessary to do what they have done.
Extremists of any cause or any religion cannot be allowed to threaten our way of life simply because they do not like it.
It is important to understand that these people are EXTREMISTS and in no way represent the good people who follow a faith built upon peace and understanding – if you are in any doubt about it, compare these people today, to those who ran around covered in white sheets for almost a hundred years in the United States – they are exactly the same – terror in the name of any religion is simply TERROR.

Before those events in the evening on Saturday, we had a day out at Kew Gardens whilst Sara and Mitch were catching up with friends on Saturday afternoon and evening in Soho.

The lift for the tree-top walk at Kew Gardens









Kew Palace - where George III spent many months recuperating from his illness





The un-renovated kitchen...

..and the top floor, which they will leave as is - in it's almost original state

The important room of the house - the reading room

As we watched in BBC news, all of the events unfold, we were very concerned about both Sara and Mitch – fortunately they were no where near it all and about to head back – the disruption to tube services caused them a little inconvenience but this was not an issue for them – especially compared to what was happening.

They arrived back just after midnight, to our relief – to make sure that they were there.

Messages had been sent to people that we knew and they knew advising that we were all OK – the facebook people initiated the “I am Safe” messaging to contacts and we took advantage of that – we still had people from Australia emailing and messaging to make sure and they had family from the US doing the same.

Sunday, was not a good day, in light of the previous evenings tragic events and like all others we have to commend the bravery shown by so many to help others – in most cases complete strangers – and to the families and friends of those who lost their lives we send our deepest sympathies.

We did however try to make some degree of normality try to return to our lives – we visited Camden Markets – another item on the list – so many people around and getting back to normal; we wandered around, had some lunch, watched the boats through the locks – we were tourists as well.

After that it was back on the Tube and we found a place for an evening Sunday roast – The Old Ship, right on the Thames at Hammersmith – another thing for Sara to experience and enjoy.
Life is about new experiences and learning about other countries and cultures and we have had Sara leaving her American ideas at the door and seeing how it all happens here and she we enjoying it immensely.

On Monday, we were off to The Tower of London – such an iconic building – a symbol of strength and power from by-gone days.
It was not that long ago that Diane and I had been here, but we didn’t mind the chance for another visit and using our 2-for-1 tickets, it was much cheaper than the normal prices.

We found areas that we had, naturally, seen on our previous visits and other areas that we had not seen before – it really is such a remarkable complex with a fascinating history that you could not tire of seeing it again and again.

Diane had been hoping to be able to take Sara to a performance of “Phantom” in the West End and so we headed for Leicester Square – alas the only tickets available were all single tickets – separated seats – so no performance that night – but time for dinner and we had one last surprise for Sara – a quick visit to Harrods – just so she could say she had seen it on the inside and of course they all found something to buy and get a unique green Harrods bag.

Home again – we are really exhausted from all of this touristy stuff – must be getting old or something like that.
The head barely hits the pillow, for me, and I am asleep – and apparently I snore loud enough to keep “she who must be obeyed” awake for some time – I have to believe her only because she must be obeyed.

Tuesday came; we all had breakfast at one of the cafes on the High Street in Chiswick – called the Cowshed – have to say the breakfast was beautiful, but the price would help with their bottom line.
After that we would be heading separate ways for the day – it was important that they had time for themselves to see things again and also to catch up with some more friends and we had a couple of things that we needed to take care of whilst we were down here.
So it was a relative easy day for all of us – I have to say, I am quite enjoying this holiday thing and feel that making it a permanent arrangement would not be such a strange thing to finally do.

Wednesday was our last day here, and again we had breakfast together, this time it was another easy and long time together, talking about a lot of things that had happened in the last week and things that would be happening in the future.
When it was finally time to say goodbye to them, it was a bit sad, but also happy as we knew that they would be heading back to carry on with the things that would help to start to change their lives for now and for the future; we would be heading back north again and return to Ferndale and continue our travels for the remainder of the year.

By the time that we were back on the boat, they had been in the air for less than an hour, 
with a much longer trip back to LA.

We came across this whilst we were in London and really thought nothing of it except that it might have been a play
on the name of a tantrum-throwing actor, but apparently
if you look at the following it was all official-like
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHLOEjxWy68 

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