On Friday morning, after gasping at the price of rail tickets and underground tickets (& giving up trying to work out cheap deals) we arrive in London. We go first via a walk along by the Thames to The Tate Modern and admire their crack (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/salcedo-shibboleth-ii-p20335). We decide on an early lunch in the museum Café 2 where we, from indoors, smugly watch everyone walking around outside getting sodden. They have amazingly tall metal vases topped off with Singapore orchids on the bar, which look very classy. We have fried broad beans and bread with olive oil as snackrell-type starters and I opt for a quiche while Steve opts for a mezze plate for mains.
Then to our Radisson hotel near the BM. This strikes me as disappointing; I know it’s London but why can’t it be a larger, nicer room for all those points? And the lift is so slow, too, and the breakfast not included but £16 each extra.
Amazingly, Steve has spotted a Jessops nearby and we end up in there and he gets a discount off a Tamron 18-250 lens and is exceedingly smug and announces he can sell two of his existing ones.
We visit the close-by British Museum and admire the wonderful hall, which always impresses. We have cake & tea and watch the visitors. But we are here To See Things not just Eat Things, so we visit the Lewis chessmen (having seen the Edinburgh based ones we feel we should complete the set) and I end up drooling over the jewellery. However, one piece of pure Victoriana is so frightful it makes me squeak out loud – a necklace made of the mounted heads of hummingbirds.
In the evening we finally see “The Mousetrap” in a minute theatre with many empty seats near us (which was just as well cos I swapped at the interval so I could see the whole of the stage). Very mannered and of its times and I guessed The Murderer, but an experience.
For some reason, as we walk back, Steve wants more food, so we eat in an Italian place (although The Ivy was opposite!) and both decided we cook better than at home, but the staff are more pleasant.
It took several days to recover from the food poisoning, even on Friday and Saturday I declined going to the pub to have anything to drink. Really only recovered for Sunday when we met Richard and Celia for lunch at Banbury, where we ate Sunday lunch of roasted cow.
My poor car broke down on Saturday, the battery decided not to work. We had visited Ladymead Joinery to advise on their hardware and network. I also took a few pictures of the new machinery in operation. Came to leave and the battery was dead, nothing. No lights had been left on. Had a jump start from Tony and bought a new battery from Halfords.
Rosemary has reported that my weeding of the pond has caused disruption in Moorhen World. The weeding from the pond is still on the bank, (allowing the pond life which was removed to wander back into the water at their leisure). Alas they are too near the bank, and the increase in height compounded by the slippery mud has made it difficult for the moorhen to get out of the pond. Rosemary was attracted to this plight by considerable squawking and splashing as the moorhen tried to surmount the bank side. Why it didn’t try an easier route is anyone’s guess.
Disaster has struck. Part way through Wednesday I started to feel a little unwell. I managed to struggle on through the day feeling shivery and cold. Straight back to the hotel and into bed. Soon up to be very sick. That brought me some relief. I really think it must have been the Razor Clams.
So no food this evening, just tried to sleep and drink small sips of water.
The next day I had a meeting with a Life Assurance Company. They were going to take me out for lunch at All Bar One. This I declined, eating only [half] a small sandwich at lunch.
Up at 05.45 to catch the 7.00 flight from Luton to Edinburgh. I had expected to be kept awake during the night by the storm, or my active thoughts which always occur when I am leaving early. Nope. Had a good night, and woke just before the alarm.
No storm, but it had just started to rain. Luton was fine, though the queues at the security have grown since the summer rush. Must be enforced holidays during the slack period.
Boarded the plane on time, but we sat and sat for ages without moving. The pilot eventually said they were having trouble calibrating the inertial navigation system because of the turbulence rocking the aircraft. They would have to taxi to another area, and then try to re-calibrate. So off he went to near the runway, and parked facing the wind. Another 10 minutes and we were ready, so off we went. The flight, what storm?, it was quite calm, and of course landing up north was pretty quiet as well. The only event I noticed was the very high cloud top. It was ages before we broke through the cloud, and even then we were only just above the top of the storm clouds.
Edinburgh is like Aylesbury; in a construction boom. Grassmarket, where I am staying at the Apex, is totally a building site. Princes Street is a work in progress with new gas mains, water mains and the tram going in. Saint Andrews Square garden was closed all last year for the reconstruction of the garden, it is still closed, but now the road is being dug up for the gas mains.
Had lunch with Mary in a caff near the bus station. Great meeting up with her again.
Ate at the Mussel and Steak. Had the mussel pot for mains, and razor clams for starters. Interesting things, razor clams. Very firm meat, tasting of the sea. Unusual and an experience. Might have something different to eat next time though.
Did a bit of weeding of the pond on Sunday. Removed the floating island of waterlily and various other plants including a bramble. Trimmed back the shallow water plants which were creating their own rafts.
Had to do some wading to achieve this. Remembered to remove my mobile phone from my jeans before I started, but alas left my credit cards and notes in my pocket. Ah well, they dried out and the cards, of course, still work.
Replanted a bit of the waterlily back into the depths, so hopefully it will live and show as some nice flowers this year.
Now looking forward to the storm predicted to break during the night.
We have a Pepys themed walked with the Berkshire branch of the Cambridge Society in London for Saturday 29th March. I’ve always wanted to see “The Mousetrap”, so after much dithering (& gasping at ticket prices) we decide yes & I try to book tickets for the evening performance on Saturday.
The website I use has several points during the booking process when it warns you it will time out if you do not complete the “form” within so many minutes. I struggle through and am not timed out. Finally, the stupid website announces it needs my Verification details, ie not the PIN nor the three digits on the back of the card, but some other stupid number. I’ve never set one up with the bank, but Steve, unbeknown to me, has. Website times out, so Steve says out of the way and he’ll do it on his card. Much hissing and panicking as Steve logs into the site but it still demands he types in all his details. He gets the tickets. Curiously they are not the ones it offered me. Never get the same twice running, he says. I look more closely. Why did you book for Friday 28th, I ask? Much screaming ensues. What to do? Go up two days running? Sell them on ebay?
Inspiration strikes me and I ask if Steve has any points from his hotel stays left over? Result – we’re going up Friday morning & will stay overnight on Friday and we’re even getting lifts to and from the station.