London, snow and a long way home

Last weekend, by beloved hubby took me to London to celebrate my 40th birthday (in my mind, however, I’m no older than 25!). We went by train (I love travelling by train – we booked first class, which was so worth it) and stayed at a hotel overlooking Hyde Park.

London was really really cold and I was glad I had taken my big coat. There was no snow when we were there, apparently that fell on Sunday night.

Anyway, back to the trip, being complete tourists, here’s what we did during our three day stay:

– Friday night…went to the Cambridge Theatre to see Chicago which is one of my all time favourite musicals. I have the film, but was desperate to see it on stage because I love live theatre. The show was fantastic. I LOVED IT! The cast were brilliant and we had a fab time. Only two things spoiled it for me…my shoes, high heels, killed my feet and I hated the crush of the Underground. How do Londoners put up with the Tube? It’s horribly busy to the point that you feel squeezed into the carriages like sardines! We returned to our hotel via the Underground after 11pm at night and it was as bad then as it had been earlier in the day. Not good if you are at all claustrophobic!

– Saturday morning…we took a walk through Hyde Park heading towards the museums…

Hyde Park looking all autumnal!

I've never seen pigeons looking so cold!

There are some really lovely buildings in London.

First port of call… the Victoria & Albert Museum. I’ve been desperate to see this museum for ages and I wasn’t disappointed. It was fantastic. Unfortunately, the fashion and textiles area was closed, but I still managed to see the Renaissance area, sculptures, tapestries, embroideries and a whole lot more. I was in heaven.

Me at the V&A

Some of the beautiful things there.

Balloons (?) kids would love this!

How very Roman!

A gorgeous building near the Natural History Museum (which is across the road from the V&A).

I didn’t take any pics of the tapestries or embroideries (which were amazing)… wasn’t sure if I was allowed to as they are so fragile and didn’t fancy getting asked to leave!!

We had tea and lemon cake in the lovely cafe before hitting their shop. I love the V&A shop and have bought things from its online version in the past. I picked up a couple of gifts for the kids (who were not with us, but staying with their grandparents).

We then popped into the Natural History Museum across the road, but didn’t stay long because it was so busy.

– The rest of Saturday… We lunched at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, shopped in a fab retro shop in Soho (I picked up some great movie posters for my study) and then went to Covent Garden for a look around. Covent Garden is lovely, but was also really busy. I’m not one for crowds, so we didn’t stay long.

We continued to walk around the city centre, taking in Leicester Square and ending up on a very busy Oxford Street, which had been closed off to traffic…and just as well because it was heaving with Christmas shoppers. There were large snowglobes dotted up and down the street where people had their pictures taken. There were also massive screens showing adverts and a tv crew filming there.

By now it was dark and very very cold, so we walked back towards our hotel. En route, we came across a cinema and, being film buffs, we popped in to see the new Harry Potter movie. I loved the books and think the films are excellent. This latest one was no different. I loved the fact that some of it was filmed in London, places we had only just been to.

We got out of the film around 7pm-ish, phoned the kids (who didn’t sound like they were missing us as they were having such a great time with my parents) and then, foot-sore and weary, trailed back to our hotel…well the area around our hotel. We were hungry and looking for something to eat. Luckily, there was a great wee pub nearby where we had a fab dinner of cod and chips (well, when in Rome…!). I can’t remember the name of the pub, but it was dedicated to Charles 1 whom I believe walked his last walk across Hyde Park to be beheaded. Poor soul!

– Sunday…we jumped on the underground and travelled down to the Southbank to meet some friends for lunch at the OXO building. We were early, so despite the bitter cold, we had a wee walk along the waterfront to see the Tate Modern and The Globe.

Me, cold and ruddy-faced, outside The Globe.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go into any of these fab buildings, but maybe next time.

Lunch at the OXO was great. Really enjoyed the food and the company – my long time friends George and Raymond (hi boys!) – was excellent. It was great to catch up. I’ve not seen them for about three years, so we had a lot of talking to do!! They walked with us to a local Christmas market and then we walked across the river…

George, me and Raymond - the London Eye is in the background!

…to Trafalgar Square…

Me with Nelson's Column sticking out my head, Trafalgar Square.

Unfortunately, we had to say adieu after that as we had a train to catch from King’s Cross Station.

Now, the journey home was a little fraught because of all the bad weather on the east coast of the country. Our train was slightly late arriving into Edinburgh Waverley, but that wasn’t what was worrying us. What the issue was was all the snow that had fallen in the three days we had been away. We had left our car in Linlithgow thinking that we could train it into Edinburgh to catch the London train and the reverse coming back. We hadn’t counted on around seven inches of snow falling on the east coast while we were away.

Hubby, who is very brave in bad weather unlike me, drove the car very slowly out of Linlithgow and it took us some time to travel the 19 miles to the M8. Once on the motorway, the road was pretty clear and we drove back to the west coast where we live. We eventually arrived home at 1.30am on Monday morning, tired, but glad to get there in one piece!!

Of course, the weather got much worse after that and the past week has been one of being unable to get to work and then getting into work only to be recalled home because my daughter’s school was shut. Yesterday, however, the thaw began…

Our garden at the start of the thaw. The dark patch under the bird table is seed...I went a bit mental feeding our local birds.

Today, the snow is still on the ground, but is getting slushier. I’m in two minds about how I feel about this: on one hand I love the snow, it’s crisp whiteness and beauty, and on the other, I hate driving in it. If we could only have snow that fell on the things we wanted it to and didn’t fall on those we didn’t (ie the roads), that would be fantastic. Hmmm, an idea for a book?? Who knows!

Dawn xx

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