Tuesday, 9 August 2022

London Town Birthday Adventure!!

 The Truish story of our weekend celebrating Margie's Birthday in London Town!

As is usual with these sorts of posts Margie insists on having a right to reply so her comments will be in red! (translated from the original Suffolk)

So as both my regular readers will know I'm an old romantic at heartπŸ’•, forever whisking Margie away for a romantic getaway, who can forget our weekend on the Yorkshire Coast ( Black-browed Albatross,Gannets,etc)  Our weekend on the farm down in Devon (Cirl Bunting, Penduline Tit) and our spectacular visit to the Sway Manor Hotel in the New Forest ( Dark-eyed Junco, Spanish Sparrow) So cynical, it's not my fault rare birds were in the vicinity of our romantic get away, a massive coincidence and remember, correlation doesn't mean causation !!😁😁😁 

You forgot about all the romantic day trips to sewage farms and dung heapsπŸ’“, Good point well made!

With Margie having a big birthday coming up (I'm far to polite to name numbers (wise move) and me with no clue what to get her, we decided to see a show in London's West End, something I've never done before, Margie expressed an interest in seeing "Get Up Stand Up, the Bob Marley Musical". Whilst my musical taste starts with late 70's Punk and ends with early 90's thrash metal, (although to be honest, I don't listen to music much anymore except the inane drivel they foist on me at work,) I have always liked Bob Marley, this was compounded by my son getting somewhat fixated upon him in his teens, buying every album and playing them repetitively,  could have been a lot worse at least it's decent music!! So tickets were purchased, hotel booked , train tickets acquired, sweating a bit on the strikes for a while there,(I'm all for worker solidarity but not if it effects me personally 😁 ) but our date was strike free hurrah!😊

The big day dawned, the train was packed, I could feel the covid germs crawling up me nose!! Other highlights of the trip included Thomas and Charlie arguing at the top of their voices about dinosaurs the whole blooming way, compounded by their father spending the whole trip  telling them, equally loudly, to shut up an instruction which they steadfastly ignored😲!! To be honest think there may have been a bit of Karma involved here  as I recalled my little b@*&steds doing much the same on many occasions, so I had some sympathy for the poor bloke!!(don't you mean little darlings? No I'm happy with b@*&steds 😁 accuracy is important!!)   The trip was otherwise uneventful  and we pulled into Victoria on time! With plenty of time before check in, we decided to walk the mile or so to the hotel a trip that took us past Buckingham Palace, not sure if her Majesty was in, but we didn't see her!!

Buckingham Palace

Wider View
Lots of stuff like this about

We attempted several "selfies" this was the best effort so you can imagine how bad the others were!!(thought you weren't going to post these)

We walked down past Green Park lots of familiar landmarks seen 

We stopped for some lunch near Covent Garden, the trouble with London, apart from the hoards of people, is there is too much choice, especially when you have miss indecisive herself as a travelling companion!! (Ok Mr Patient!!😏) We eventually settled on a small pub, where we had some awesome Salt Beef Sandwiches and a pint of ale!! ( well it was shandy, but still early didn't want to peak to soon!!) Found a nice Gelato place around the corner ( every other shop seemed to be Gelato or American Candy for some reason) I went for a Dark Chocolate/Hazelnut Combo whereas Margie went down the Tiramisu route, was delicious (agreed!

I know I promised no birding but loads of these around!!

After much wandering around we arrived at our hotel, Wilde Aparthotels London Covent Garden, checking in went smoothly, particularly liked the large jugs of fruit punch, which were free to indulge in I didn't realise it was full of vodka til halfway through the first glass full (yeah right!) !! I can recommend the hotel, the bed was comfy, the shower excellent and the view quiet cool, bit of a strange design, think the room was a bit small for everything they cram into em which meant you had to get into bed from the bottom and having used the toilet, you had to leave the bathroom, walk past the bed and kitchen area, turn right to use the basin!!😲 Apart from that weirdness it was very nice, it was well sound proofed  with little noise from the street coming through, bit pricey mind, but that's London for ya!! Margie particularly enjoyed the control panel on her side of the bed that controlled various functions in the room, so had to endure  lights being turned  off and on at random and Blinds going up and down for no apparent reason, she quickly became power mad, it's for this very reason she's not allowed the tv control at home!!πŸ˜²πŸ˜‚

After a bit of a rest, we headed out to theatreland once again deciding to walk the 0.6 miles to the Lyric Theatre, to soak up the sights and sounds of the city, the first thing we came across was a group of volunteers feeding the homeless, the queue was mentally long, hard to believe in the richest city in one of the richest countries in the world this is necessary especially with so much obvious wealth on show everywhere, sad to see 😒 a massive complex problem, getting worse, that our present government seems to have no ability or desire to tackle. 

The rest of the walk cheered us up, London is a lively place on a Friday night and the hustle and bustle is infectious, we walked through Chinatown, haven't been here for a long time seemed a bit more jazzed up than I remembered but still interesting to see all the ducks hanging in the windows, Margie wouldn't let me do any table dancing or get a massage in Soho even though she knows I've got a bad back ,so cruel!! 

We arrived at the theatre in good time and were amongst the first in, to get in the mood I got myself a Jamaican Rum & Coke from the bar, Margie had a Fanta (way to get into the spirit of things!)  (someone had to keep their wits about them!)

We were up in the gods, but had an excellent view, the place filled up quickly and by the time the performance started, was full up. Margie was extremely put out by stern announcement that people shouldn't sing along with the songs! My, "they must have known you was coming" comment didn't go down that well!! ( Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't sing)

The musical is basically the story of Bob Marley's life, with songs interjected where appropriate, obviously in 2 hours it's not gonna be an in depth documentary, but as well as being hugely entertaining, it was quite informative,  the early struggles with poverty, racism, criminals and the political situation in Jamaica at this time came across well and they didn't shy away from his womanising, the performances were excellent, especially the guy playing the lead, he had all the  moves ,traits and a good physical resemblance to Marley and made a good job of the songs, also a notable performance from the lady playing Rita (Bob's wife)  an incredible voice! no pictures unfortunately because phones weren't allowed, which is fair enough! There was a bit of politics at the end comparing Bob's struggles with the racism still prevalent around the world, but it weren't rammed down your throat and the speech near the end which culminated in a powerful rendition of Redemption Song was stirring. the overall "message" was that Bob Marley created his music for everybody and wanted all to enjoy it regardless of colour, it also implied he wanted his music to live on after his death and I think it's safe to say it has, not many people have a catalogue of music as impressive or well known as his. The show winds up with a singalong everyone on their feet having a dance, even I, notorious for refusing to dance at any function actually stood up and may have tapped my foot a couple of times!!πŸ˜²πŸ˜‚   The audience reaction at the end was immense, a lot of energy generated!!! 

We headed back out onto the busy streets of London, with the intention of getting a bit of supper, once again the indecision was threatening starvation, when the decision  was taken out of our hands by the guy at front of a pizza restaurant who pulled us in with his smooth talking, he was a pro pulling in loads of customers while we were there, hope they are paying him well, the smooth talking got worse when we ordered drinks the waiter asked Margie if she had ID!!😁 Cheesy or what though Margie was lapping it up!! (Can't help it if random men fall in love with me!!) I was gonna challenge him to a duel, but he was twice my size and half my age and I didn't want to annoy him as I really wanted a pizzaπŸ˜‚!! We had a couple of cocktails, Cubre Libre for me while Margie went down the Tequila Sunrise route, the pizza arrived and was delicious, although their interpretation of "fully loaded" is not the same as mine!!! 

The cocktails

Dragging Margie away we headed back to the hotel, don't think I've been up so late for about 20 years!! Where a night of passion was on the cards, sexy lingerie was discussed but the stockings make my feet sweat and the thong gets stuck up my arse crack!! Obviously Margie won't let me post the photos so you will have to use your imagination!! You're welcome!!😁😁😁😁

The next day we was up reasonably early, the hotel doesn't  do breakfast so after a bit of a google we decided to go to the Wolseley, the decision based on the picture of the pancake stack on their website!! We decided once again to walk, once again going past lots of well known landmarks and then trekking down Piccadilly to our destination! 

 The restaurant was quite a lot posher than we was expecting, but we went in anyway, we obviously looked a bit dodgy as they insisted on my full name and phone number before seating us in an out of the way alcove, to be fair it was an awesome breakfast, I had pan au raison followed by Eggs Royale, Margie had an Almond Croissant also followed by Eggs Royale, to be honest I  could quite easily get addicted to Eggs Royale !!!

The Wolseley's interior 

Proper tea service as well, took me ages to work out how to use the strainer

Eggs Royale

Even the bogs were posh!!
Pictures taken surreptitiously as I didn't want to appear uncouth!😁 Was a very relaxed, refined meal. I could quite easily get used to it!! (don't!!) Yes such refinement comes at a premium price but worth it for the experience! Disastrously in all the excitement I had forgotten about the Pancakes!! Looks like we might have to return another day!!
The plan for the day was to visit one of London's numerous museums, but with queues everywhere and being  a lovely sunny  day we decided to wander the streets sightseeing! It was at this point I found my spiritual home, a Patisserie called Pauls!!!! 
Decisions Decisions!!

Unfortunately with all day ahead wandering the streets it was not practical to buy one of these!

But managed to wangle a box of Macarons, now sadly gone, were delicious! (can't believe I actually got a couple!! That's how much I luv ya!!)

 We wandered far and wide, Bond Street, I bravely walked past all the designer shops, though was tempted by an Owl decanter in the Lalique shop but at over £2800, £300 for a single glass!!!😨 I decided to give it a miss!! Amazing that in the same city that someone can pay out 300 quid for a single glass less than a mile away hundreds have to queue up for food handouts, somethings wrong somewhere what a state to get into!😒 
Every street name is famous or on the monopoly board!!  A few pics from our wanderings below!

Thought I might get a suit

Looks good!! (Nope)

Margie's pulled!!

Carnaby Street being introduced to the next big thing, I imagine everyone is sporting the black hat/orange T-shirt by now!!

This random super model agreed to pose!!πŸ’˜( Feel I'm picking up this cheesy thing quite well)

Doesn't get much cooler than this!!
We crossed the river and had a walk around the South Bank center to get a culture fix!

Cleopatra's Needle

More architecture

Couldn't find the plaque for this one, but think it represents a dystopian view of the future of the planet!!πŸ˜‚ or could just be where they throw the rubbish!

At this point and purely by coincidence we were treated to an improv dance performance, symbolising the picking of hops in the artists youth, it was actually, as well as being a bit bonkers, very relaxing watching the dancers weave through the installation, although when they started grabbing people from the audience it was time to exit stage right!!

We crossed back across the mighty Thames and walked the north bank, having a rest at the Embankment Gardens, we carried on to the Houses of Parliament, the crowds here were mental, The tower that houses Big Ben was looking clean and shiny since its facelift, shame we can't say the same about the occupants, we were happy to escape to St James Park where we enjoyed views of Pelicans😲 ,Bar-headed Geese, Black Swans and a Smew, don't think they are tickable mindπŸ˜‚(What happened to no birding!!) Technically they are not wild so doesn't count as birding! Were some massive fish in the lake as well!

Impressive skyline

The old ones are the best, applies to architecture as well as my jokes

Embankment Gardens

Olde worlde Ice cream truck which sadly had no Ice Cream😒

Fair to say the birds in the park are acclimatised to people

Weird to see a Smew at this time of year!

We was quite frankly knackered by this point!! Over 6 miles walked today on top of the 7 walked yesterday was taking it's toll!  So decided to stop for some food near the station, Ole & Steen looked nice and the food did not disappoint!

Tasty as it looks!!
We were a bit early for the train and some knob had bought a non-transferable ticket!! πŸ˜πŸ˜‚ So we chilled in a local park where we people and pigeon watched for a while, there are some weird looking people in London Town , although obviously one less now I'm home!!

Statue in the park, obviously had to crack the "that's handy" joke  when we found a bench nearby!! which Margie found hilarious (Obviously😏)
That was about it, a thoroughly enjoyable trip which all went surprisingly well to plan, with my mastery of E-tickets on the train and advanced check-in at the hotel impressing all that heard about it!! The highlight was obviously the show, I'd not been to a musical before, but was very impressed with, Get up, Stand Up. 
London was mental as ever, far too many people, (don't forget I find 4 blokes with  scopes at a twitch a bit over-whelming!)  sights, sounds, random art, amazing food, incredible architecture all blooming expensive of course, although this time I must admit I felt we got value for money and didn't feel too badly ripped off, don't mind paying for quality !!

Think Margie enjoyed her birthday treat !! (I definitely enjoyed my birthday treat, it was an awesome weekend) They were here actual own words!!

 Probably be another 3 years before we return!! Although the Pancakes could lure me back in earlier!!