Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Grand Day Out

I had an exceedingly stressful week at work - taking on a huge pile of new work, with very little handover. Lucky me! It'll all sort itself out at some point.

The Husband decided on Friday evening that I needed a mini-vacation, so suggested a trip to London on Saturday. Woot. However, spontaneity and National Express East Anglia do NOT mix. John checked the NXEA website for the train schedules (rather than creating a "journey" on their journey planner), and announced that the trains departed Stowmarket at half past every hour. So we drove to the station, paid for our parking, and walked over to the ticket office.

Hmm...what are all those busses doing there?

[epic rant] 

As NOT mentioned anywhere on the National Express website, they were doing engineering works AGAIN, so there was a bus replacement service to Ipswich, where we could catch the train to London. Since we had the car anyway, we figured we'd just drive to Ipswich. I was checking my Trains app to see when the next train was due to leave Ipswich, and tripped over the curb and skinned my palm and my knees. OW. And I blame the evil Train people for mucking us about. See? My injured palm? (I'll spare you the pictures of my skinned knees.)

Skinned knees be damned...let's still go to London. So we drove to Ipswich, where they announced that the normal trains weren't running and we'd have to take a puddlejumper to Stratford and change to the Central line. We'd already gotten this far, so figured we'd go for it. Plus, I still REALLY wanted to go to London. The final insult to (actual) injury was that our two tickets to go 70 miles on the Slow Coach cost us £73. That's over $120. Granted, the puddlejumper took FOREVER, so maybe that's why it cost so much. National Express East Anglia, I hate you. Especially since you've raised my commuter ticket (one way) from Bury to Stowmarket to £5.10. ONE WAY! And there's no way to buy a ten-trip. Can we borrow some Dutch train-experts to come sort things out, please? Thx.

[/epic rant]

Anyway, we DID eventually get to London, where we proceeded to have an excellent time. We stayed on the Central line to Chancery Lane, where we got off and walked up towards Lamb's Conduit St (great name, btw), on our way to Persephone Books. More about them in a minute.

John said, "I'd quite like a coffee and a bun." And magically, Bea's of Bloomsbury appeared out of the mist. (Yes, I look like I weigh 400lbs in my green jacket, but it was FREEZING yesterday). We knew the cake was going to be good when they asked us if we had a reservation. We didn't, but they found seats for us anyway.

I had an extremely large slice of carrot cake with cream cheese icing, which was delicious, and John had a seriously rich piece of chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing and caramel and coconut filling.


I should have brought the big camera...

Newly fortified by our cake, we made our way up Lamb's Conduit Street to Persephone Books. According to their website: 
Persephone Books reprints neglected classics by C20th (mostly women) writers. Each one in our collection of 90 books is intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written.
I agree wholeheartedly. I bought a book, to be reviewed shortly. They also gave me a copy of the most recent Persephone Biannually, which featured a short story by none other than the wonderful Eva Ibbotson. Really? I couldn't have planned it any better. Run, book geeks, run to Persephone Books!

Since we were in his 'hood, we stopped by the British Museum to visit our buddy, the Horus. Unflappable, as ever, and most definitely still in charge of the museum. We had a little chat.

We meandered our way across Soho, to Liberty. Where I really wished that I had brought the big camera. [Camera geeks, any suggestions for a small-ish non-fugly bag that fits an SLR, a paperback or Kindle, and my wallet, phone, Burt's Bees and some kleenex? Thanks.]


And stairs!

And lots and lots and lots of fabric. Didn't buy any, but window-shopped extensively.

I checked Pinterest for London suggestions before we left yesterday morning, and found Tokyo Diner in Chinatown. It reminded me of the places I used to eat in New York - reasonably priced and very yummy. They had a power cut just as we were finishing, so we ended our meal by candlelight. How romantical!

We were pretty much zonked at that point, so we made our way back to the Central line and back to Stratford and back to Ipswich (on an express that only stopped in Colchester, Chelmsford and Manningtree, woot!), and then back to Stowmarket. A supremely Grand Day Out, once we actually made it to London.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now why does Horus always look mildly offended that you came? Did you do something bad to the old bird when no-one was looking?