London, United Kingdom
This morning we started the day with a far heartier breakfast upon realising that we were actually entitled to enter the cordoned off section of the dining room to avail ourselves of a full, hot breakfast. I don’t know why it is sectioned off and an extra charge applied considering that everyone staying there has the same entitlement and charge waived, so with the exception of some very undiscerning and highly unlikely passing trade, no one actually has to pay.
This segregation therefore is not only futile but also breeds a contempt which quickly descends into criminal behaviour, for example, people stealing extra eggs and bread rolls and making their lunch and sneaking it into their bags even though they don’t need to, they just might… just an example, I’m not saying that this did or did not happen only that you can take the girl out of the hostel but you’ll never take the hostel out of the girl… or her mother… who had no excuse other than a predisposition to criminal activity… for example.
Luckily our getaway vehicle was waiting just around the corner – a tour bus ready to take us on the remainder of the route we missed yesterday. Turns out we didn’t miss much, just the back of Buckingham Palace but we stayed on until our ticket expired and delivered us back to Covent Garden where we took in one of the most impressive sites of all – two perfect flat whites from Monmouth Cafe. We shared a table initially with an opera singer who had to leave to practice. She was replaced by a New Zealand/French couple who, as it transpires, live in the very specific part of Paris that we’ll be calling home next week! They were very forthcoming with recommendations and even took my email address to provide more as and when it occurs to them.
From there it was up the street for some retail therapy. Mum was in the market (or Garden) for some comfortable, yet attractive walking shoes. I managed to convince her to join the barefoot revolution as we strode off in our matching Vivo’s towards another induction ritual – the London Tube (it can’t all be bus top tours and black cabs!). We went deep underground and made our way a few stops up the line to Knightsbridge, then up and out and into Harrods.
We wandered from grand room to grander, inevitably following memory lane up to the toy department where Matthew once worked. It was nice to have my mum with me – she always seems to know what to do when my lip starts to wobble – feed me ice cream! Our treat for the day, after our ill-gotten egg rolls, was a brownie and hot fudge sundae in the Harrods ice cream parlour! Smiles restored and enhanced, we left the opulent rabbit warren behind and made our way to Oxford Circus.
We immediately left the human traffic jam to the slightly less manic Carnaby Street and to another of London’s plush retail mecca’s – Liberty. Far less ambitious than Harrods, we thought we could easily do a lap in the time we had. We adopted my preferred approach which is to start at the top and wind our way down. What we hadn’t counted on was the most wondrous and magical Christmas department either of us had seen. We were enchanted and didn’t manage to make it out of there before realising we were already running late for our evening date.
With our Liberty bag in tow and no time to waste on public transport, we hopped into a black cab down Regent Street, down to and around Trafalgar Square to the White Hall Theatre – in all the years I’ve lived in London, this is probably the poshest moment I’ve had (not including one very sumptuous dinner after which the payer of the bill came to be known ever more as ‘Champagne Charlie’).
We were met there by Erin who had very generously gotten us tickets to see Top Girls having studied the play for his HSC and it subsequently being banned from the curriculum. We had a swift pint in the pub across the road where my youngest sister once stole a bottle of tomato sauce (she gets it from her mother!) before taking our seats. The show itself was fantastic – essentially about the power of various women to survive their hugely varied plights – it ‘spoke’ to me about my own ability to endure and prevail. Obviously Erin could give you a far more educated review and/or essay on the subject.
By the end of the show, jet lag and an action packed day had taken mum hostage again so we said our goodbyes and jumped in yet another black cab back home to pack for tomorrows international intrigue….