Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Weekend Review

It's been a big weekend with much travelling and much activity. The upshot of which is that I am determined that despite all the hundreds of things I have to do / am obliged to do over the summer, I really want to get back to London again.

Anyway, Friday kicked off with being lovely and hot and Cloudy Neil drove us over to Walsall. Of course, in the heat, I realised part way through the journey there was a danger of smelling cooked flesh (me, burning in the blazing sun through the car window!) so I had to lather on the suncream quick: but otherwise it was a relatively good and quick journey considering it was Friday. Our ultimate destination was, actually, a piss-up in a brewery: Highgate Brewery in fact, which was great and we had a tour. We were there for a grand occasion of a birthday party and the beers were followed by a curry. There were about 30 there: it was your average kinda do - a couple of MPs, high ranking university professors who work as industrial advisors, political activists... you know the kind of thing...!!!

Anyway, it was utterly fab, the drink flowed all night, the speech by the birthday boy Nick was brilliant (recalling the 'Teddy Bears Pick Nick') and we all staggered back to the hotel at 1am(ish).

Saturday morning and it was time to head back to Nottingham to pick up an afternoon train to the smoke for another occasion: this time to see off a couple of friends who are off to Australia. Yes, yes, we DO think it's something we said since just about everyone we know is migrating to the opposite end of the planet and you just can't get much further away whilst still on earth in habitable lands.

We were ready in loads of time and had a lovely trainride down to London and St Pancras Station. Wow, it is looking good these days... I wish I had took some pictures of it! (Maybe next time!)

We wandered past Mornington Crescent up to Camden and the Sandman pub (well, that's how I think of it...)

A jolly good time, with yet more extensive alcohol, was had by all there. Funnily, having had two of the teddy bears (plus Nick) at the Friday night do, we also had two teddy bears (minus Nick) on Saturday... well, Neil was the central bear and another of the three bears was there on each occasion. Shame we couldn't have had a reunion. There are though it seems no surviving images of the three with or without Nick. I'm not sure whether that is good or bad. I only know I could not make it up that this would be part of my Neil's back history. Or that for years afterwards one of the canteen staff from Wolves Poly would always say when she saw Neil 'you were one of them bears weren't you?!'

After falling back to the hotel in London, we started Sunday with pursuit of breakfast. We passed this (thank you Dave Gorman! I didn't have the nerve to photograph it!) and ended up having a very nice breakie amidst preparations for the Soho Pride day. Fabulous! Balloons over heads in Balans. Wonderful! Okay, so we were there because our favourite haunt Brunos is closed on Sundays, but it was still nice to find a nice place for Sunday brunch. After that we started the long walk. We took in a stroll here, and a walk through here, before ending up here. We then wandered over to here where I booked us tickets to one of these.

We then went here and here before realising we had walked a ridiculous distance and we needed to get a tube back. We then decided to go to Covent Garden to eat, in pursuit of a nice restaurant we had visited last year. Hmm.... our sense of direction sent us in completely the wrong direction for quite some time, but eventually we found Cafe Pasta on Monmouth Street. Lovely food, and a nice atmosphere. We strolled to the South Bank to admire the Eye at night and then walked back up Whitehall and back to the hotel.

We took in some culture on day three (after all the alcohol!) and went to see the magnificent exhibition on at the National Gallery - Rebels and Martyrs. Very good, if male-centric, but very well selected and hung with some real obscure gems alongside the more familiar works. A treat: go and see it! We then dropped by the NPG and I had to go and see the Beatles on the Balcony exhibition. Cracking little show, even if I knew most of the images from my years of Beatles' obsessiveness.

After bookshop wandering, we headed for an (as-ever) delicious meal at Pizza Paradiso in Store Street. Lovely risotto and a panna cotta to end all panna cotta. We then took the tube up to South Kensington and went to have some more culture (see separate review). Brilliant stuff. A real thrill! Then we trooped back by tube to central London and wandered the South Bank - sadly nothing on with the 'Watch this space' activities. Almost wish we could be there next weekend for this but we're scheduled to be at the cricket in Derby.

By today we'd realised we had walked miles. But even so, it was back to Bar Brunos for another slap-up breakfast in one of the few places you can guarantee to hear a Cockney accent nowadays in central London. Then we did a bit more of the NPG (including the always-interesting BP Portrait Award Show), some slow wandering, and a mooch back to the hotel to collect our bags. And it was all over... back to Nottingham...

And yes, I did wear stripes... (if Blogger would let me post the picture I would... it will come!)

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