Monday, 6 December 2010

Freezing in London

As the cold covers the entire country we risked the journey down to London for the weekend. I figured it was all motorway anyway so if any roads were going to be kept open and free from ice it would be the M6/M1.

And so it proved to be, despite the dashboard telling me it was -8 outside as we passed through Staffordshire.

It was just a mite cold in the Capital too! We shivered our way down to Trafalgar Square on Friday night to empty a few shelves in Waterstones and the fountains in the Square were quite spectacular. Any lower temps and they'd have been spitting lumps out I imagine!

I'd not taken my camera out during the night so I had to take these two on my phone, trying not to shiver and induce camera shake...

The Christmas tree had made an appearance in Trafalgar Square, an annual gift from the Norwegians in recognition of our efforts to deliver them from Nazi rule in World War II.

On Saturday morning we caught a bus down to Kensington and went into the Science Museum. It's both exciting and depressing to see how much stuff I remember is now classed as a museum piece... A separate entry will dredge up a few more memories of my earlier life.

There's lots of stuff in the museum that I'm not old enough to remember personally, though even so, it's thrilling to stand next to Stevenson's Rocket or to walk through the aeronautical galleries and see the majority of flying machines that were in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines and to be able to admire the First World War vintage SE5a and the Vickers Vimy that Alcock and Brown flew across the Atlantic in. It's been straightened a bit because they crashed it into a bog in Ireland... That must have been a dicey moment:

"Is that Ireland down there?"
"Whatever it is, old chap, we're going to hit it!"

We walked back through Hyde Park. Nobody was exercising horses and the usual mud was glistening white and rock hard in most places so apart from a tendency to slither here and there, we didn't get too mud-splattered.

The Serpentine was quiet - nobody rowing boats up and down and the ducks had a choice of swimming or walking depending on which bit of water they chose. Some workmen were dismantling a dog from a tree...

A continental market was in full swing with far more people than it's healthy to have all in one place at the same time. At least it was possible to buy some food without having to Google it to see what it was... This I find is a common failing in London where iceberg or flat lettuce (or almost anything edible) is passe and salad has to look like grass stalks to excite the locals.

"We're fanatical about food" advertises one food chain and they are not bloody kidding... Usually at meal times in London I feel as helpless as a 7-year-old whose school has been invaded by Jamie Oliver. I noticed indeed that he had a place in the park so we avoided that like the plague...

Those continentals know what it's all about though so there were plenty of chips on offer and none of them ruined by Spry Crisp and bloody Dry! In fact I went for a bowl full of potato scallops with bits of bacon and onion (though it would have done a blind man good to see any onion in it).

We had to push through the crowd until we came to the end of the market and found a bench, because any seats within the markets were full of people doing anything but eating. "My Goodness James, there's no hummus!"
"Never mind, Daphne old girl, just have a sit down and we'll whisk up a bowl of tofu and celeriac later!"
"Ugh, yes I couldn't eat this stuff they are selling - eew! I bet it has a taste!"

London does things to my feet. By the time we got to Marble Arch I was limping and footsore and ready to sit down (ha! no chance!) The Christmas rush on Oxford Street is yet another of those places where there are far too many people crammed into a space to be good for you.

I took refuge in the DVD department of HMV and made a few purchases that Miss Franny decided later I could have back on Christmas morning with some wrapping paper on...

We were going to head for Regent Street but there were so many people we diverted into a side street and zig-zagged until we came out onto Regent Street.

There had been an accident and the police had closed all roads leading to Oxford Circus so it was a total gridlock of cars, honking horns and people doing three point turns. Being on foot and therefore able to shake my head in amusement at all these antics almost made up for the fact that the said feet were almost dropping off!

We ate in the Mermaid's Tail on Leicester Square, a wonderful place with not a hint of couscous and, stuffed to the gunnels with steak and apple pie, we hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel.

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