Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

3rd October 2010

Reunion Square
Posted by at 10.50pm | 1 response | Out and About

The third and final part of my London diary

Sunday was our last day. Just time for breakfast (they had bacon but ran out of orange juice this time) and a last look at the view from our windows. On the left below is the view from my window, whereas my mum and sister had a room at the front of the hotel and had a great view out over Kensington Gardens themselves. JEALOUS.

View from Hotel Room 1 View from Hotel Room 2

First we headed to Euston to drop off our bags at the Left Luggage office. I was slightly alarmed to see a queue snaking back some way along the concourse, as half of London seemingly needed to leave a laptop to collect later. It didn’t help that only one person was working at the desk, while I could clearly see his colleague supping coffee in the café nearby.

We eventually got to the front of the queue, where Mum nearly sparked off a terrorist incident when she misheard the Left Luggage staff’s questions and said yes, she did have explosives in her bag. That crisis averted, I said goodbye to Mum and Jenny, who headed off to see Westminster Abbey, while I headed off on my own. I was due to meet my friend, the amazing Avril Poole, at Leicester Square tube station at 12.30pm.

I arrived an hour early and so had time to wander the streets like a vagrant. Completely accidentally I ended up on Old Compton Street. It being Sunday morning, the area was recovering from the night before, and the only place that appeared to be open was the Prowler store. I didn’t go in, because I would have trouble explaining any purchase from there to my Mum, who remains pleasingly naive about this sort of thing. Further examination of this area is warranted on a future visit, I think.

I managed to get completely lost in the maze of side streets and arrived back at Leicester Square ten minutes late. Luckily, Avril is a forgiving sort — I shared a room with her at work for 2 years, and she resisted the urge to beat me to death with her computer keyboard, which really is an achievement.

Avril Pops!

Avril was accompanies by another old work colleague, Terry, and his new wife, Tanya. Looking for somewhere to eat, we opted for Chinatown and a restaurant whose name I have completely forgotten. We all plumped for the noodles on Tanya’s recommendation, which proved to be the right thing to do as they were delicious. This being authentic Chinese cuisine, it was strictly chopsticks only (I suppose a fork’s out of the question?), but I’m pleased to report that I didn’t disgrace myself in this area and was able to get the food from plate to mouth quite efficiently (although looking back I think I was holding the chopsticks upside down).

I haven’t seen Avril for over a year (Terry for much longer than that) and it was great to catch up with both them and to meet Terry’s new wife. They listened intently (or at least pretended to) as I shared salacious gossip about the latest goings on at the office.

Unfortunately Terry and Tanya couldn’t stay for long, but Avril and I found a nearby pub to continue our reunion. We chatted away, putting the world to rights for another hour or more, until time got the better of us and I had to head back to Euston.

At Euston the left luggage queue had disappeared and we picked up our bags straight away. This annoyed me as, anticipating another long queue, I had left Avril early to get back to the station in plenty of time.

We sat and waited for the 1702 to Liverpool to be announced, which it duly was about 8 minutes before it was due to leave. As usual, a mad dash for the train ensued. Why do the railway staff at Euston insist on waiting until the last possible minute to announce the train? I know they have to clean and prepare the coaches for service, but it makes boarding a stressful experience. It didn’t help that the electronic seat reservation system on this Pendolino had failed (the third time that I’ve seen this happen) meaning endless arguments over seating.

Luckily we were able to claim our seats before anyone else sat in them, although a woman turned up and tried to throw Mum out of her seat. We eventually convinced her that her seat was the one on the opposite side of the table, which upset her even more because she’d requested a forward-facing seat. “I don’t like travelling backwards,” she moaned, “looks like I’ll be vomiting all the way home on this train.” NICE. She eventually found another seat nearby and shut up about it, thankfully.

It was an uneventful run home and we were soon home with a weekend of happy memories. And, in my case, a mug from the London Transport Museum.

London Underground Mug

I’m looking forward to my next visit — I must use up the £2.20 of credit left on my Oyster card, after all.

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One Response
  1. Comment by Ian Jones
    4th October 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I used to work in an office round the corner from Prowler, and can vouch for the fact it has unusual opening hours. In fact I don’t think I ever saw it closed, regardless of the time of day or night.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip to London. You timed it well, avoiding both the rain and the strikes.