Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Saturday, 30th September – London

Whose idea was it to go to watch the Grand Final at a pub at 5.30am? Not our brightest. We were up at 4, caught the night bus to Finchley & were at the pub before it opened. We went early in the hope of getting a good seat. The queue was already a block long, so by the time we got in there was no chance of any seat at all, let alone a good one. As we were twice the age of everyone else we were kind of hoping someone might take pity on us, but there was no chance. The screen was dodgy – the picture kept fading to a foggy blur, and they ran out of breakfast (included in the price). Silly us – we thought if they were selling a limited number of tickets for the event, they might provide facilities for that many people. And the Swans not playing very well at that stage, and Swans fans were badly outnumbered! So we decided to cut our losses and go back to the flat where we could listen to the radio broadcast online. Of course it was raining when we came out of the pub, and someone hadn’t brought any umbrellas. When we got home we got to listen to all the ads during half time, and then lost our connection, and couldn’t get it back for the whole rest of the game!! Helen (Keith’s sister) sent us score updates, and we got our hopes up but you know the result. All up not the best morning for us!!

After a nap we headed for Portobello Road markets, a popular Saturday browsing spot. Lovely antiques, didn’t buy anything, but enjoyed “window”-shopping & people-watching, especially when it rained, as it did several times. Sat in an outdoor café for lunch, only getting slightly dripped on. Our legs were still suffering a bit from the previous 2 days so we were hoping for frequent sitting spells today. When we decided we’d had enough of the crowds we wandered away from the markets into Notting Hill, which is a lovely neighbourhood (made famous by the movie) of attractive large 19th century terrace houses. Many of the houses back on to lovely private “gardens” – gated parks which run the length of the block and form wonderful oases of green, and to which only the privileged few are admitted.

After another ‘coffee’ break we caught a bus to Kensington Gardens for a wander. It’s a lovely, large semi-formal park with avenues of huge trees, and a large pond complete with swans, geese and ducks, and surrounded by green & white striped deck chairs that you can hire to while away a few hours. As it had been raining most of the day these were unoccupied but the sun was shining and there was a wonderful rainbow over the pond.

There is more to see in Kensington Gardens (such as the famous Peter Pan statue) but at that point I realized that my wallet had been stolen from my bag at some point during the day. We rushed back to the flat in the vain hope that maybe I had left it behind, and spent the evening phoning various authorities to make reports. There wasn’t a lot of value in it (except our train tickets to Southampton worth ₤52) but it’s never a nice feeling. It could have been much worse, I didn’t lose anything of real value and it’s all insured. Everyone has a robbed-while-travelling story, hopefully that was ours and it won’t happen again! So the day started and ended badly, but was very pleasant in between!