Sunday, 20 November 2022

An Unwanted Gift in September, a lost October and a better November!

Continuing from where I left off last time - Chris came home from hospital with a bit of a cough and cold which we assumed was a hang over from the infection that had made him so ill.  It was only when I became ill at the weekend and was so poorly by the following Tuesday that either of us thought to do a covid test.  The only place it could have come from was the hospital!  At one time Chris was on a ward that had bays with covid patients, so I guess we should not have been surprised.  Thankfully, Chris was hardly affected by it and although it took me  a while to get back to full fitness (well as good as it gets these days), all is well with both of us now.

We had been due to have our covid booster and flu jabs the day Chris was taken to hospital.  The next date was the 13th October, but that had to be delayed as you cannot have them within a month of having covid.  We are now due on 30th November and hope it will be third time lucky!  October was almost a non-event for us, but things are back to normal now.  November has turned out (well for me at least) to be 'Theatre month'.  Our daughter, daughter in law and I went to Birmingham on 5th November to see The Mousetrap, which is on it's 70th anniversary tour of the UK.  An evening we all enjoyed.

The day before yesterday, our daughter and I went for our second Mother/Daughter weekend away (Malvern last year).  We caught the train to London.  We found a really lovely Italian restaurant for lunch on Friday after which we slowly made our way to the Airbnb apartment we had booked.  We wandered past Buckingham Palace.  The King was not in residence.  

Then along Bird Cage Walk to catch a bus to the apartment.  I have known for years that there are many wild parakeets in London, but have never seen them at such close range before.  What he/she would not do, was look round to face me!

What also surprised me was the girth of the squirrels - they are obviously very well fed by the many tourists in London.

I grew up just south of London, so catching a red London bus was the normal means of transport locally when it was too far to walk or cycle, however, the last time I caught a bus in Central London was getting on for 60 years ago when travelling with an Aunt who worked in London, so knew exactly which bus went where.  I have always used the tube as there is far less chance of me getting lost (I have no sense of direction), however, these days I have to consider two arthritic knees.  The tube means a lot of walking along underground passageways and also many steps up and down, so we decided to be brave and give the bus a go.  What a revelation it was to find it is so easy these days - call up Google or Apple maps, put in your destination and it tells you which bus stop to go to, the number of the bus, all the stops including the one you are aiming for.  Once on the bus they either have a visual display of which stop you are approaching or a recorded message, sometimes both.  Gone are the days of asking the conductor to tell you when you have got there! They were so easy and the biggest bonus for me was I was able to use my bus pass and travel free!  The views are also a lot more interesting than on the tube.

The bus stop was also a much shorter walk to the Airbnb.  The area itself was not that salubrious, but the apartment was very modern and first rate - it was a penthouse on the 8th floor.  It was situated just south of The Elephant and Castle, so not quite central London prices! Neither of us were disturbed by proximity of the trains overnight.

Sunset Friday evening promised we would have a fine day on Saturday

Friday evening we headed back on the bus to County Hall.  On our way we diverted along the bank of the Thames on the Westminster side to find the Battle of Britain Memorial which Chris and I stumbled across some years ago, which is when I took the following photos.  

It lists the names of all the aircrew who took part in the Battle of Britain

I wanted to show Sarah her Grandfather's name (Sgt F Gash)

and that of his pilot (F/O FD Hughes).  Chris's Dad was a rear gunner on Defiants - he and Des Hughes were rare survivors of those on the Defiant Squadrons.  We did take some pictures on Friday, but the monument is not lit up and the photos were a bit dark.
Other London views on our way to County Hall

Another surprising wildlife sight that evening was a fox just ambling along a quite busy road without a care in the world!  

So why County Hall on a Friday night?  It is no longer Council offices and what was the main council chamber is currently being used as a setting for a production of 'Witness for the Prosecution'.  As with The Mousetrap, I am sworn to secrecy about the ending.  All I will say is that was very good and well worth going to see.  The view below was taken from our seats (we were early arriving - it was full before the production started).

Saturday did dawn relatively bright and once again we were off on the bus.  This time to....
which is at the top of The Walkie Talkie building  - not an easy thing to photograph from below!  
The gardens are free to enter, but you do have to book online ahead of time.  We had, however, decided  to treat ourselves to the five course tasting menu in the restaurant on the 37th floor.  We were told to take ID (it was never asked for), but you do have to go through Airport type security on arrival. A lift whisks you up to the 35th floor where you can wander round to admire the gardens and the views.  As you will see, it was a little murky, but at least it was not pouring with rain.

We were just making up way up the final two floors to the restaurant when the fire alarm sounded and we were told to evacuate the building!  It could only happen to Sarah and I!  Many years ago we had gone Christmas shopping and were in Oxford Street when the world went mad - suddenly from a relatively quiet street there were sirens coming from all directions and the road was full of ambulances, police cars and fire engines - there had been a notification of a bomb in three different stores given by the IRA. It was just a scare, but naturally Oxford Street was shut for most of the day. Bearing in mind there were a lot of people in the Sky Garden and we were 35 floors up, the evacuation was very ordered and there was no panic.  My over riding issue was the thought of going down 35 flights of stairs - it would have taken me quite a long time and would have been very painful.  Getting less able folks out has been catered for - they have a 'fire brigade lift' operated by an employee - it took, me, a young man in a leg brace and on crutches and two Mums with children too small to make the trek down, but too big to carry.  Sarah did the long descent and said that it was all very well ordered with no panic.  

Just as Sarah made it out the London Fire Brigade arrived in force.

We ended up waiting (with many others) for about an hour.  The fire was a real fire and it transpired it was in the restaurant we were booked into and it would not be opening up for the rest of the day!  The reservations manager assured us that we would not be charged for non attendance and that we will get an invite back if we can make it.  Sarah did have the presence of mind to ask for a recommendation of where to have lunch and he pointed us in the direction of
It is only on the 14th floor, but it does have some garden areas 

and views - the Gherkin was not visible from the Sky Garden

including a great view of where we should have been having lunch!

By the time we had finished our late (but really good) lunch, we just made our way slowly back to the apartment via Borough Market where we picked up some bread and cheese and then a bottle of wine at our local Co-op for a quiet night in together.  

All we had to do this morning was pack up and get a couple of buses to take us back to Marylebone to catch the train home after a really successful weekend together.  The bus took longer than the tube, but we saw a lot of sights along the way including Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Regents Street.  

The icing on the cake when I got home - plantation blinds were fitted into our conservatory on Friday.  We are both really pleased with the result.  We had a new 'proper' roof fitted in July which has meant we now have a room we can use without freezing in winter and boiling in the summer.  All that is left to do now is buy a rug for the floor, a few 'nick nacks' for the window sills and something to put on the one solid wall.




Pip and Mick said...

I managed to get a walk-in appointment for my booster with only a weeks notice, which I was a little surprised about.
I prefer to travel by bus in London now adays. You get to see how it all connects and get some sunlight.
Glad you enjoyed the shows, I hope November continues to be a good month.
Pip NB Oleanna

Jennie said...

Thanks Pip - I am sure it will, especially with another theatre trip to look forward to next Sunday! Jennie

Lynn said...

What a fabulous weekend you had with Sarah. Thank goodness you were able to escape from the Sky Garden, that must have been a little scary, but well done to Sarah for asking for a recommendation for a new lunch venue.

The plantation blinds look super and you'll certainly enjoy using the room all year long now.

Jennie said...

Thanks Lynn, yes it was a fabulous weekend with lots of fabulous memories. Strangely the evacuation was not that scary - probably because all the staff were so well drilled in what had to be done. We were told there were well over a thousand visitors to evacuate and it all just happened without any fuss. Even on the stairs, Sarah said that it was all very calm. Yes, we are delighted with the blinds.