London: My Stag Day

Saturday 3rd March, 2012.

 

I was up early this morning, and I was looking forwrd to going to London for the day, with friends. After bathing, getting dressed, and after bathing Erin, I ordered a taxi and headed for Watford Junction. I arrived at the station just before 09:00, and waited for Steve B. Within a few minutes, he had arrived and, after purchasing our tickets, we made our way to the platform to await our train. We arrived at London Euston and headed into the labyrinth of tunnels to get the Northern Line train to London Bridge. We arrived at London Bridge, just before 10:00 and headed into Borough Market and ordered breakfast at Maria’s Cafe. I had a Steak bap, with rocket, olive oil and mushrooms. Beautiful. After breakfast, we had a look around the Market, before heading to the station to get the Jubilee Line train to Canary Wharf. On arrival at Canary Wharf, we followed the seriously bad signage until we arrived at the DLR station. A few minutes later, and we were on our way to Greenwich, a place that I had not visited since I was at school. We alighted from the DLR at Cutty Sark Station and made our way to the Old Royal Naval College. The Royal Naval College was based in Greenwich from 1873 until 1998 as a college to teach all aspects of naval sciences. More courses were added as and when new skills were developed. We walked around the grounds and viewed the buildings, before heading to Greenwich Market. The Market was packed with stalls selling wares of all kinds: Clothes, food, clocks, trinkets, magic tricks, paintings, coffee amongst others. I bought us both a coffee – Amaretto flavour for Steve and Vanilla for me. I also bought 100 grams of Tia Maria flavoured ground coffee, for home. After leaving the Market, we headed for the Cutty Sark. The Cutty Sark was built in 1869, and, on February 16th 1870, the Cutty Sark left London on the first of eight trips to China. Throughout her working life, Cutty Sark transported cargoes such as Tea, wool and coal. She travelled to China, Japan, South and North America, Angola and more. In 1895, the Cutty Sark was sold to a Portuguese company, and her name was changed to Ferreira. In 1922, she was sold to another Portuguese owner, and she was renamed Maria do Amparo. She was then bought by an Englishman and, in 1923, her true name and nationality were restored. After being berthed in Falmouth and then Greenhithe, before being moved to her current, and final resting place. On May 21st 2007, a fire gutted the Cutty Sark, while she was having restoration work undertaken.All around the ship, the paving and walkways are still being relayed, so it is difficult to see her clearly. The Cutty Sark will reopen to the public, next month. As time was getting on, we decided to head back towards the centre of town. It was at this point we decided to take the Clipper along the Thames, rather than get the DLR and have to change trains at Canary Wharf. So, with the time close to 12:40, we boarded the Cyclone Clipper, and settled into our seats for our trip upriver. Having never travelled along this part of the River Thames, it was exciting to see the housing developments, and how each had been uniquely designed.

 

We arrived at Tower Bridge and disembarked the Cyclone Clipper, on the North Bank, in front of the Tower of London. After walking along the Thames, in front of the Tower of London, we came to Tower Bridge. We crossed the river here, and headed along the South Bank, towards London Bridge. As we passed the Hay’s Galleria, I received a call from Len to say that he had arrived in London, and that he was outside the London Dungeons. A few minutes later the three of stood outside London Bridge Station, awaiting the arrival of Ben. Fifteen minutes later, Ben called to say that he was opposite London Bridge Hospital. A quick scan of the crowds and there he was, about ten-feet from us, but completely oblivious to us. A bit of arm-waving, and he soon spotted us. By now the time had just gone 14:00, so we headed into Borough Market for a bite to eat. This time I had a fallen-apart pork bap, as did Steve and Ben had a salt beef baguette. Len had already eaten. From here we walked passed Southwark Cathedral, passed the Golden Hinde and The Clink, before reaching the Thames again. We walked along the Thames until we reached Hungerford Bridge, where we crossed. After a quick discussion, we headed to our first pub of the day, The Coal Hole, on The Strand. After a pint each, we continued our stroll by heading along The Strand and onto Fleet Street. A photograph of ‘The Old Bailey’, and our journey continued, until we reached ‘The Cathedral of Fleet Street’, otherwise known as St. Bride’s. We then headed to our second pub of the day, the Knight’s Templar on Chancery Lane. From here we headed toward Long Acre, cutting through Fickets Fields and onto Great Queen Street, passing the Freemason’s Hall, onto Long Acre and The Freemason’s Arms. Another drink and then it was time to continue our journey. This time, it was a short stroll down the road to The Nag’s Head, Covent Garden. While here, we decided that we should each get a caricature done and, if possible, get it done by the very man who had caricatured Len for his 50th. With that decided, we headed towards The Bear and Staff, on Bear Street. Unfortunately, there were no artists around, so Steve B and myself drew two caricatures each of Ben. I doubt he will show them to many people. From here we headed up the Charing Cross Road, until we reached The Cambridge. While we were drinking here, Steve told us about this little DVD shop, so that is where we headed to next. As luck would have it the DVD shop was pretty much next door to The Cambridge. I don’t know how much Steve spent, but I spent nearly £30 on some Will Hay DVDs. Len would have spent a fortune, but didn’t have his ‘goggles’ with him, so couldn’t read the titles too well. (And he was slightly tipsy!) While Steve and I were paying for our purchases, Len and Ben had gone to find the next pub. Within moments they returned saying the pub was just across the road, and that they would meet us in there. So, DVDs bagged, we headed off to find them. Sure enough, we crossed Old Compton Street and discovered them in a small pub called Molly Moggs. Drinks were ordered and then the Karaoke books came out. Steve B was first up, singing ‘Under my skin’, followed by Ben and Len’s version of ‘Suspicious Minds’. Then I was called up and I gave my rendition of Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside So Strong’. After a few more drinks it was time to make a move towards home. We all arrived back at Watford Junction just after 22:30. After saying our ‘goodbyes’, Steve began his five-minute walk home, while Len got a taxi. Ben called his ‘missus’ and Laurel came and picked us up and drove us home.

 

What a fantastic day out, with some great friends.

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