Doing the tourist thing, Les Miserables

Ricky came down to visit Rik and me last night. We all went for some dinner (with Cheryl and Nicole too) at Smollensky’s in Canary Wharf. It was really nice in there, and not massively expensive considering where it is.

We came back to the apartment and had some more drinks and put Jarheads on (muted) to keep Ricky entertained. After several hours of deep conversations about why nobody else thinks how we do, and how we could make the world better the three non-residents caught a taxi back to Riks and Cheryl and I went to bed.

This morning I got up and went out to meet Nicole, Ricky, and Rik again at Teapod. I took a quick walk there and it started to turn nice and sunny on the way. We ate some brunch and then headed off along the south bank towards Westminster so Ricky could take lots of tourist pictures. The rest of us did the same. 🙂

Just past the London Eye we heard some screaming. I looked ahead and saw a whole bunch of purple balloons and a troop of people marching. The crowd parted to let them through and it turned out to be a march of Justin Bieber fans chanting about how much they love him and then screaming. It was mental.

We had to get to St. Pancras so that Ricky could get his train home, but we stopped by Starbucks first for a quick farewell drink. After we watched Ricky board the train we decided to go along to Stratford because Rik and Nicole needed some stuff. I picked up some sushi for me and Cheryl and headed back home.

Cheryl and I ate quickly and then headed off to the tube to travel to Leicester Square. Unfortunately we got off at London Bridge instead of Waterloo for the other Northern line branch. After we walked back we had a 5 minute wait for the train. Once we got to the Northern line a train was at the platform, but there was a paramedic and someone was talking about the passenger alarm.

We walked to the other end of the platform and got on the less-busy end of the train. Apparently the alarm had been pulled in 3 carriages, somehow. Nothing happened for a long time and then we finally set off. The journey was crap, the stations were packed, and when we finally got off at Leicester Square we had 5 minutes to get to the theatre to see Les Miserables.

We ran through the square and through part of Chinatown and made it to the theatre 2 minutes before the show was due to start. We found our seats, took off our coats, sat down, and the show started seconds later. We were incredibly lucky to make it. 🙂

The performance was absolutely amazing. I’m so glad I finally went to see a full and proper production.

Tim Curry and a ten pound note

Yesterday was the day of the royal wedding. Emma and JonP had organised a bit of an event at their house to celebrate. Cheryl and I headed over there between 10 and 11 in the morning. When we got on the train at Stratford two girls got on behind us and we heard them ask “does this train go to Pudding Mill Lane (nearest stop to Emma and JonP).

We got off the train at that stop, and so did the girls. We all walked along Pudding Mill Lane alongside the Olympic entrance. A guy walked by us on the way.

We got to the entrance of the building and the girls and the guy were at the entrance too. We heard the guy asking the girls if it was George Hudson Tower, but they didn’t know, so we told him that it was and then we all went through the gate together. We all got in the front door together and then all got in the lift together. When we were all in one of the girls pressed the button for the 19th floor. It was at that point that I decided to ask “are we all going to the same place?” Quite surprisingly we were! 🙂

It turned out that we’d briefly met the girls, Vicky and Florence, at a club in London for Florence’s birthday a few weeks before. The guy, Mikey, was a friend of Emma’s but we’d apparently not met before.

JonP had prepared scones with clotted cream and jam for everyone, and there were several bottles of champagne. It felt a bit weird to be drinking before 11am, but it was a celebration.

Another couple of Emma’s friends turned up (Ellie and Jo) a little bit after the rest of us and we had a little wedding party thing going. I wasn’t planning on having anything to do with the royal wedding, so I was quite surprised to find myself watching it on TV all the time. I guess it’s just the kind of spectacle that it’s hard to ignore.

After Prince William and Kate Middleton-William-Arthur-Philip-Louis-Windsor had kissed they were waiting for the flyover by the RAF. JonP kept saying to look out to see if we could see the planes going by the building. A minute or so later JonP spotted them and we all went outside to watch them fly past on their way to the palace. A few seconds later a second set of planes flew by. We went back inside as they reached the palace. It was so weird to see stuff happening knowing how close we were to it. 🙂

People started to leave Emma and JonP’s apartment after a little while and Emma went for a nap. JonP kept drinking the champagne, enjoying the bubbles. He was quite drunk after a while, so we had a rather interesting conversation about politics, immigrations, and various other things (including his “well-fed” girlfriend).

When Emma got up we decided we would go to Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Canary Wharf. We met back up with Ellie and went in. The food there is really delicious and I am sure we will go again.

After dinner we headed to SoHo to enjoy the street party atmosphere. On the way to one of Emma and Ellie’s friends’ houses we walked right past Tim Curry! I made eye contact and realised it was him, but I didn’t want to bother him, so I just walked past and then Cheryl and I turned to each other with a look that said “holy crap, that was Tim Curry leaning on a wall!” He’s the first famous person I’ve seen in London. 😀

Literally about a minute later I was stepping from the pavement into the road and I spotted a £10 note folded up in the road. It was basically the best 60 seconds of the entire day. 😀

The rest of the night was spent drinking in various places around SoHo. The last place we went to was this little basement bar about the size of the cellar at my mum’s house. It had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier walking around the place and lots of posters of boxers, members of the mafia (mafiosa?), and musicians. The music was mostly from the 1950s to the 1970s and it was a really cool place. It cost £1 to get in and 4 drinks came to less than £15 (good compared to everywhere else I’ve been in London).

We managed to catch one of the last tube trains back to St. Paul’s tube station and walked back the rest of the way from there. It was a really good day. 🙂

Trip to London

On Friday Cheryl went to London for a second interview with a company. It seems to have gone quite well, and she should hear back about the possibility of getting the job in the next day or two.

We decided to spend the weekend in London, so I caught a train down there after I finished work. I decided to go First Class because it was only £8 more. It was totally worth it because I could plug in my laptop and connect to the WiFi. The connection wasn’t great, but it was better than having to use my phone the entire time.

When I got to London I headed over to London Bridge and then walked along to the restaurant where Cheryl and her friends were. We stayed in there until fairly late just chatting about random things, and then we headed over to Pudding Mill Lane to stay with Emma (JonP was away for the weekend). It was fairly late and we were all really tired, so we basically went straight to sleep.

The next day I was woken up before 8am by JonP’s alarm clock. I couldn’t find the button to turn it off in my sleepy state so I ended up snoozing it for an hour and then being woken up again. I’m kind of glad for the alarm though, as I could quite possibly have just slept the day away otherwise.

When we were all ready we headed to Canada Water to look at an apartment that Cheryl’s parents are interested in buying. The marketing suite was open and they had a selection of drinks and nibbles for us to eat while we looked around. After a bunch of looking around and Cheryl talking to her parents we decided that we’d done enough stuff there, and we were hungry for breakfast.

We headed over to Canary Wharf to get Mexican breakfast (after lunch time) at Wahaca. I had a chipotle chicken quesdailla, and a steak burrito. The quesdailla is the nicest one I’ve had in the UK, but still not quite what I miss about California.

After that Cheryl and Emma did a bit of shopping while I played with my phone on a bench outside the shop. Cheryl and I decided we should head off to the hotel and let Emma get on with some rehearsal stuff.

We caught the tube over to Old Street and then walked over to Thistle City Barbican hotel. The hotel room was nice enough. Perhaps a bit old-feeling. Some of the paint on the wooden bath-side was flaking off, but it’s a tiny detail, really.

I decided I needed a nap before we went back out to meet up with Emma for food and drinks, so I fell asleep while Cheryl cried along to My Girl on the TV!

I woke up after a fairly short amount of time and then got ready to go out for food. We walked to Angel station to catch the tube and met up with Emma again when we got to Covent Garden we set off for a restaurant called Rossopomodoro (easy to remember). We found the place and got there just after Emma. The meal was nice. I did find a dead fly in it at one point though, so that kind of put me off. I suppose it can happen anywhere though.

After the meal we went to a pub down the road to meet Emma’s friend James for some drinks. We only had chance to get 2 drinks before the bar staff started to close down the whole bar. It was full of paying customers and they were kicking everyone out at about 10:45 on a Saturday night. Oh well.

We went our separate ways and then Cheryl and I decided to get a taxi back to the hotel to avoid the tube for a while. It ended up costing about £8, but it was much easier than the tube.

We woke up fairly early on Sunday morning and went downstairs to get breakfast. We got a table right away and we were offered tea and coffee as soon as we sat down. Our breakfasts were nice, and the orange juice was extremely strong. None of the weak stuff we got in the hotel in Prague (still writing that blog post).

After breakfast we went back up to the hotel room intent on killing time until we had to check out at 12. Cheryl spoke to her mum about the house they were looking at buying and so we agreed that we would head over to the development to speak to the marketing staff again. We left our bags in the hotel to collect later on. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to, but it was fine, and saved a lot of hassle. After a little while with the marketing people (no free champagne or chicken this time) we headed off to go to the Korean Restaurant that Cheryl and I went to before near the Holborn tube station. We got all the way there only to find that it is closed on Sunday lunch times. A bit silly for a restaurant, I think.

We walked around aimlessly for a little while and then ended up going to Samurai Sushi just over the road from the tube station. We got some bits of sushi and ate them, but it wasn’t particularly filling. While we were eating I spotted Krispy Kreme’s over the road. As soon as we’d finished eating we went over there and bought a dozen doughnuts. 🙂

We walked to Drury Lane and then headed to Leicester Square. The whole park bit of the square is under construction, so there was nothing much to see there. We were heading for Rendezvous for ice cream though, so it didn’t matter. We got some ice cream and ate it slowly to kill some more time. Cheryl decided that she wanted to show me China town, as it was right around the corner, so we walked there. We walked up to a Singapore/Malay food place and Cheryl reminisced about all the things she couldn’t get in Nottingham, so we decided to go in. Cheryl had a bowl of soupy stuff and I had a Tiger Beer.

There wasn’t much time left after we’d done that, so we went back to the hotel to get a drink in the bar there and pick up our luggage.

There was a taxi outside the hotel so we caught that to St. Pancras to avoid carrying our luggage for 20 minutes. We were really early for the train, so we just stood around and chatted until they opened the gate for us.

I was a bit worried when we were looking for our carriage because it was coach J. I could see that the train wasn’t quite that long, but when we got to the end of coach G we saw that they’d decided not to include coaches H or I for some weird reason.

The journey back was pretty nice, and it was good to be back home before it was too late at night. Another successful trip to London! 🙂