Friday, 1 January 2010
A Christmas Trip To The City Of London - Part 1
Firstly, I would like to wish everybody a very Happy New Year for 2010! I hope you have all have made lots of resolutions! (I certainly have, including the usual diet and exercise ones that we all seem to make every January 1st lol!).
My last post explained that I was about to embark on a trip to London. Well, my trip to London did happen and it was one amazing time from beginning to end.
The whole experience started when a kind friend gave me a lift to the station after work. No sooner than arriving at the train station, I was wandering up the platform to find my carriage. I had decided to travel in style and had prebooked a seat in the first class section. Before long, I was sat in the big comfy chair, with my ipod earphones tucked in my hears listening to some music. There is something just so relaxing about sitting on a train, staring out of the window watching the world speed past. The rolling hills, the trees, the small villages and farms, everything seemed so surreal. It is sometimes quite hard to comprehend that life is still going on in each of these places, whilst we are simply consumed with our own lives.
About an hour later, I arrived at Paddington station in London. London Paddington was originally opened in 1838 and its current mainline station was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1854. I have grown accustomed to stepping off the train and taking a deep intake of air and looking up at the steel and glass structure that runs the whole length of the station. A marvellous feat of engineering and architecture.
I walked away from the platform and down the stairs towards the underground tubes. Yet another one of my favourite things about being in London. I could so easily wander around the tube stations, hopping from tube train to another all day long. The sounds, sights and smells are just memorising, and the moment where a breeze brushes against your face as the tube train approaches from deep in the tunnel is pure exhilaration.
I have undertaken this same journey so many times in my life, so didn't need to reference the underground map (see image above). I jumped on the Bakerloo Line to Piccadilly, where I then jumped on the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden. Even though it was late afternoon on Friday, it wasn't too busy on the underground, so manoeuvring my enormous suitcase was not too much of a struggle.
I eventually arrived in my hotel at 3pm and no sooner than arriving in my room, I jumped in the shower and got ready for the evening ahead. My first stop was Covent Garden. I won't ramble on too much about Covent Garden as I have taken you there before on my previous adventures in London. Nevertheless, I can declare that my first action was to go to the usual and head straight for the Punch & Judy pub for a large glass of red wine on the balcony, watching the street artists below entertaining the Christmas crowds.
London: The Punch And Judy Pub
Mmmmmm it was now 5pm and my tummy was rumbling. Time for food!!! Time for China Town! I love Chinese food at the best of times, but I always feel a little awkward when eating in a restaurant on my own. It is the only part of travelling on my own that I can never get used to. Nevertheless, a man has to eat lol! So, I found a nice buffet restaurant and gorged on the most scrumptious oriental food washed down with another glass of wine. (Graham makes a mental not to self "I must start photographing some of the more trivial things on my vacations, like the meals that I eat and the transport that I ride upon").
Anywayz, after finishing the meal I had enough time to take a gentle stroll through the streets of London before heading for the theatre to watch "Cat on a hot tin roof". The night air was crisp and cold, the temperatures already approaching for zero degrees. A true winter's evening. I have enjoyed many cities and towns on my travels around the world. However, when I wander the streets of London and look at the history and architecture that surrounds me, I am reminded that the most amazing city in the world is on my own doorstep.
I finally found myself turning left off The Strand into Aldwych, the theatre stood grandeur in front of me.
I am not sure where to start with the play. I don't want to ruin it for anybody who hasn't seen it yet. For those that are reading this post, I really cannot recommend enough that you immediately jump onto the Novelli Theatre website and book yourself a ticket. The play is 3 hours long and from the moment the curtain rises at the beginning to the moment it falls at the end, you are completely drawn in to the lives of a feuding family. You are taken on an emotional journey from depths of despair to anger and hatred to love and compassion. And to have the unadulterated luxury of watching James Earl Jones on stage playing a part of man who discovers that he is dying of cancer whilst desperately trying to be the head of his family, is something that I will never ever forget. Truly truly truly worthy the lenghtly standing ovation that was given by all at the end, and there was not a single dry eye in the entire theatre, including mine!
Following such an emotionally exhausting 3 hours, I needed to snap straight back into the Christmas spirit. So, went straight back to Covent Garden and wandered around the market for a while. A good excuse to grab my camera and take some photographs!!!!
Alas, still buzzing with excitement yet with weary legs, I decided to retire to my room and grab a few hours of sleep before embarking on more adventures the next day. There ended day one of my trip to London. I'll write more posts over the next couple of days, sharing memories and photographs from the trip.
Cheers and cheerio for now!