So, here I am in Greece. I'm typing this from the backseat of the coach that is taken us from Athens airport to Delphi. And no the coach doesn't have wireless, I'm just typing out the draft text in the bus. (Well actually I finished this in my hotel room the following night.)
Can you guess what was the first thing I saw after we left Athens airport? No? It was a bloody Ikea. Now I know I've shopped at Ikea in Switzerland, London and Pittsburgh, but does it have to be absolutely everywhere I go? The second thing I saw, well the second thing I saw that was noteworthy, was a big poster featuring a girl's bikini clad bottom. The caption next to her bottom read "Some things were meant to be together". Apparently it's an advert for shandy, but what the heck is it supposed to mean?
This weekend was the first time I've been in London for over 18 months. 18 months is a very long time. I arrived at Heathrow at something like 10 o'clock in the evening and, after successfully navigating passport control with my Lovejoy damaged passport (which has now gotten me into Greece as well), took the Heathrow Express to Paddington. Being as I got to Paddington at five to eleven there was really only one course of action: go upstairs to the Fuller's bar and have my first English hand pumped beer for far too long. It was lovely (it was some Cornish beer whose name I've since misplaced).I felt it was a very appropriate way to mark my return to home soil.
On Saturday I nearly died on 3 or 4 separate occasions (on Sunday I just felt like I was going to do... but we'll come to that later). The cause of my near death experiences were buildings. You know how it is, you're walking down the street a street you've walked down many, many times before you turn the corner, or cross the road, and suddenly there's a ruddy great big building where there didn't used to be. Now you may be different, but what I do when I'm surprised (by say a building sneaking up on me like that) is to stop. It turns out that stopping in the middle of the road in London is not, generally, the best course of action. I imagine that there are a couple of bus and taxi drivers that were a little bit perplexed as to why I stopped in front of their moving vehicles. Fortunately, I survived my day of sneak building attacks.
I found a couple of places that I'd never been before during my Saturday wanders. One of the places was the only bowling green in the City of London, not that I play bowls or particularly care about bowls, but it is always nice to find the little green oases in the city. The other place I found, more through luck than judgement if I'm honest, was the Jerusalem Tavern. The Jerusalem Tavern is the London pub of St. Peter's Brewery. Sadly it's closed on the weekends, but now that I now where it is I will have to pay it a visit next week when I'm back.
There are a couple of water fountains outside a church (the name of which I've temporally forgotten) on Piccadilly that were built in the late 1800's. They're in memory of someone or other and when I used to walk passed them on the way home from University I'd quite often stop and have a drink. Today they're broken and full of rubbish. I think this is terribly sad. If I ever get a large amount of spare cash (unlikely I confess) I think I'll try and start a water fountain restoration project. I hate all the non-working water fountains in London, it seems such a waste.
I ate Harrod's biltong... it was yummy.
I saw 13 Cromwell Road, my old student home. It looked as run down and beat up as ever. Somebody needs to buy it and treat it nice. Or they could just give me the money and I'd do it.
One of the things I saw while I was in the pub on Saturday (this was a pub in South Kennsington next to the swanky historic car showroom) was a three legged dog. It wasn't even a small dog either, it was a great big brute of dog who happened to be missing one of his front legs. All things considered he got around pretty well for himself. Still it made me smile. Which, come to think about it, is odd as one legged (or one armed) people don't generally amuse me (unless of course they're playing the drums, but that's just messed up).
On Saturday night I went out with some of my old UCL/MINOS friends. We started at the Head of Steam (who no longer stock St. Peter's beer, but are otherwise still okay), were really quite bad at the pub Monopoly fruit machine in the Marlborough Arms, got very drunk and ended up in a dodgy Spanish joint on Hanway Street (which by the way is one of my favourite seedy avenues in London). Outside the dodgy Spanish place I had a dispute, verbal not physical, with a hot dog vendor. It was, for me at least, very amusing. But then again I was drunk.
Remarkably I managed, without trauma or great diversion, to catch the night bus home to my Grandmother's. I was really quite proud of myself, particularly as my last night bus experience involved a five mile jog without a coat in January. I got there at 3:30, I only mention the time because I had to get up at 7 o'clock and leave for the airport.
Needless to say I was feeling a little the worse for wear on Sunday morning. I got up, had a shower, packed my bags, drank a cup of tea and headed out on my Odyssey (notice the Greek link) to Heathrow. It started off well enough, just as I left a bus arrived so I got a lift to the tube station. At Leytonstone I got on the Central line and headed to Holborn. There I changed on to the Piccadilly line. Unfortunately, the Piccadilly line did not agree with me. You see I was very hungover and it was very bumpy. (Somebody should really sort out that tube line.) At Piccadilly Circus I had to get off the Heathrow-bound train because I thought I was going to be sick. Unfortunately, I was right. I made it as far as the eastbound platform (after all you don't want to be sick on your own platform), but then I threw-up. In retrospect there are many worse places to be sick than the secluded end of a tube station early on Sunday morning. By the time I'd finished being sick and had a few minutes to settle myself, a large man with a bucket and a mop was standing behind me inquiring, "Have you finished?" I told him I certainly had and it was all his and I was terribly sorry, then I walked to the Westbound platform and got on the next train (I had to change later to get on a Heathrow train but thought it best I make myself scarce as quickly as possible). Seriously though where else can you make a mess and have somebody come and clean it mere minutes later? Still, not my finest moment.
So there we go three legged dogs, sneaky buildings, promised future philanthropy, biltong, Ikea and Ryan humiliating himself. Not bad for a weekend.