Sparky Travels

January 24, 2011

London & Southend Stopover

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — admin @ 4:32 am

On the evening of the 13th of January 2011, approximately 555 days after I’d last been in Britain, I landed at Stansted Airport and caught the train and tube to Nick’s flat in Finsbury Park, London.We sat up chatting for a good few hours with the help of some IrnBru before the long day finally caught up with me.

The next day we took it easy before heading to a good old London boozer in Holborn. It was a real joy to be sitting in a real pub drinking real ale with a real $£**”%er. That evening we went to one of the newly opened Byron burger restaurants with Lou and Claire.

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They sure know how to cook a mean burger there, the meat was almost rare and very tasty. Later we met Nick’s mate Adam, girlfriend Lizzi and some of her friends.

On Saturday I met Dad in Carnaby street and we made it to a pub for pie and chips after a quick stroll through the National Portrait Gallery and a long stroll through central London. Unfortunately my food poisoning from Ubud decided to make a reappearance and I was laid up for most of the evening.

I met Dad again on Monday and we went to the usual haunt of the Tate Modern where we saw some impressive works by Gauguin. Then St Paul’s Cathedral, Oxford Street and King’s Place for a bite to eat.

The next day I caught the train to Southend to see the rest of the family. I met Jo and my nephews in town for lunch. This was very exciting as I’d last seen Harry when he was only 16 months old and had never met Jamie before. Harry had grown up into a handsome wee man in the intervening 18 months and was full of excitement ahead of his upcoming 3rd birthday party. Jamie was a smiling 15 month old baby who seemed perfectly at ease with the world.

Ruth arrived a few hours later and we checked into the grotty Travelodge in the town centre. The place was a shambles and looked like it was falling apart. We had a lovely homecooked dinner at Joanna’s before heading to bed.

The 18th of January was surprise day! For the last month or two we’d been spinning a lie to Mum that I was flying straight from KL to Argentina. This had involved keeping my plans secret and surreptitiously planning my arrival in the UK with a few informed people. It got even harder when I actually arrived in London and we all had to pretend that I was in Buenos Aires.

Finally, after a nightmare journey from stansted airport, Mum and Auntie Fi arrived at Joanna’s house. We were worried that Harry might give the game away, but he was impressively tight-lipped so I was able to execute my appearance perfectly. Once everyone was inside I stepped out from my hiding place and waved at them from the back garden. After a second of confusion Mum and Auntie Fi recognized me and were very pleased. No tears of joy though, how disappointing. :-)

Harry’s birthday party the next day was a riotous affair with a horde of babies and toddlers leading the procession to Kids’ Kingdom, a Little Marco’s style play ground with foam, ball pits and slides. We all got involved with herding the kids around and trying to keep an eye on the wee rascals as they hurtled around the play area. Everyone had built up an appetite by the end so we trooped back to Jo’s for the obligatory sweets, finger food and cake. Harry ended up with a real haul of presents including numerous Postman Pat toys.

My food poisoning reoccurred that evening and was not at all linked to the sweeties I’d munched throughout the afternoon. A few days later I went to the doctors but the good old NHS was not much help and all tests proved negative. A weird bug/virus for sure!

I packed my bag and returned to London on the 22nd where I met Hilary and Nick for lunch. In a busy day of hopping across the city, we also met Adam and Rav before going out for a Thai and beerage in Hoxton with Claire, Lou, Adam (again), Lizzi and Amir.

T’was great weekend, blighted only by our decision to watch The Expendables, an absolute stinker of a movie, on Sunday night. The takeaway pizza made up for it though.

On Monday the 24th, as Nick went to work I threw my backpack on my back and caught the train out to Gatwick Airport for my flight to Buenos Aires via Madrid. I finally bought a replacement camera in duty free, a Sony DSC-W350. My flight with Air Europa was everything you’d expect from a cheap, low quality airline with drinks being offered only once on the 13 hour flight from Madrid to Argentina. On the plus side, I did have a tv screen of my own for the first flight of my travels so far.

It was a short but sweet trip back to Britain and makes me look forward to seeing everyone again in only 4 months time.

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