LDN

Time flies – either when you’re having fun or when you’ve just thrown the alarm clock across the room!

I honestly meant to post this a couple of weeks ago, but things got in the way a little and distracted me (honest!).

The trip to London was done at relatively short notice after receiving an invite from a fellow poster on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum to head to London and join in a grand day out on foot or bus around the capital. And to meet up with other posters plus a trio of Lonely Planet‘s Forum moderators.

Getting down to London was easy thanks to a couple of offers on Grand Central‘s rail services – just over £13 for the journey down to London from Yorkshire and around £34 for the journey back in First Class.

Getting around London was interesting, even though I’d invested in an Oyster Card. First up was getting out of Covent Garden tube station as work on the lifts meant that you could get off the tube at Covent Garden, but not get on it as there were two lifts working rather than the usual four.

First stop in Covent Garden was Stanford’s – one of the best places for maps, travel books and accessories that I know of. An Oyster Card holder was all I needed on this first visit of the trip, but other items were noted to pick up later in the week. After a wander around, it was time to hit the tube again and head towards Kensington to find my room for the night.

But not before a quick detour into the Victoria & Albert Museum. All I was wanting was a coffee and a piece of cake, but there was also the notion of seeing what was in there in anticipation of a return visit with Caroline in the coming months. The place was quite busy, even though the Alexander McQueen exhibition has finished a few days beforehand.

The coffee went down well, but the cake was left where it was considering it was £4.50 for one slice (Caroline’s comment during a phone conversation later on was that she could have made two cakes for that price!).

And so to the digs for my two night stay in London – the residence hall blocks of Imperial College. I’d found this on booking.com and booked it because it was remarkably near where the Lonely Planet meeting up point was going to be the next day – the Royal Geographic Society.

It was also just a short walk from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. At a smidgen under £140 for two night’s B&B it wasn’t that cheap, but as it was Summer in London, the price bullet just had to be bitten…

Mind you, the room was a cut above the residence hall rooms I had as a student twenty years ago – ensuite, tea, coffee and toiletries provided and an outlook over the park in Princess Gardens. There was also a mini-market in one of the adjacent blocks and a student bar/eating place that proved to be one of the cheapest places to eat and drink whilst I was in London that didn’t have a set of golden arches on the signposts outside.

After eating early, it was time to head to The National Theatre to see a performance of Everyman. Now I was in the back row to see this play, but given that it was London, a packed house and a good cast, I wasn’t going to begrudge the cost of the ticket to witness the performance – £15.

One thing I didn’t expect was the way in which the rest of the audience descended on the auditorium just before the lights went down – most people are usually in their seats in the theatres near home about 15 minutes before the play or show starts.

Now I like wandering around London and have been known to go to a function, spend the day there, hit the ceremony at the end of the day and then go clubbing afterwards before heading back to a hostel to get some sleep at around 3.30am. Not now though as I’m twenty years older and a bit wiser!

So it was back to Imperial College and a just-before-the-bar-closed pint of Guinness, a call to Caroline and then it was time for bed, but not before doing some clothes washing and hanging up to dry in readiness for wearing again two days later…

To say that the following day was full-on would be an understatement, but you’ll have to wait until Wednesday for the next instalment!

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in both the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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