*Apologies for the lack of pictures to accompany this post. There will be some added when we get to a more convenient location…. ( currently sitting in an airport in an unpronounceable Moscow – the next few posts will let you know how we ended up here )
Having arrived, been fed and watered and given beds we proceeded to crash out in spectacular fashion. On the back of a 32 hour long day, it felt good to finally sleep.
We actually arrived in the UK with very little in he way of plans. One day in London was on the cards, but other than that, nothing. And do you know what? It felt wonderful.
Usually we try and see as many people as we can and spend our days traveling up and down and across the country fretting on timetables and connections, but not this time. As nice as it would have been to see friends and more distant family, we only had a few days this time and I wanted to spend time with my mum and dad, feeding the ducks and going out for coffee. They are always so good to us when we travel, providing lifts to and from various train stations and even snacks for our journeys, and they never mind when we use them as ‘base camp’ for our adventures, but this time the adventures were to be with them, it’s been too long since I’ve just hung out with my folks doing not too much of anything, and that is one of my favourite things to do.
Fortuitously one of my siblings ( middle sister M) lives up the road from parents so I was able to see her too and Small person got to spend some quality time with her not very small anymore cousins. Previous commitments and my ludicrously short notice travel plans meant that it wasn’t possible to catch up with the other 2 ( older sister A, and big brother to us all R), but hopefully next time, although I think the space time continuum may actually implode if we all ever manage to be in the same place at once, such is the rarity of the occurrence.
However the fates had already given me a couple of wins for this trip so I can’t complain too much.
The first win was that I was able to meet up with my beautiful step-daughter for an afternoon in London as she was in the area visiting with her boyfriend at the time we were due in the south east. It’s been an age since we have been able to spend any time with AJ and for that I am truly sorry, but whenever we do get to meet up I am always so happy to see her blossoming and growing into a quite remarkable young woman. And this time was no exception. Having turned 18 since we last met she really is a young woman now, and it gladdens my heart when I see just how balanced and determined she is. She is doing spectacularly well at college and she has a very lovely boyfriend too, who is rather shy, but also very charming. I can tell you now that small person had made up her mind some time ago that she wasn’t going to like AJ’s BF. Not one little bit. No reason other than he was going out with her sister. But she really, really didn’t want to meet him. Happy to say that at the mere mention of their shared appreciation of the game ‘minecraft’ and all animosity was brushed aside and by the end of the day small person was telling anyone who would listen that he was ‘really actually quite a bit nicer than she was expecting’. High praise indeed.
I’ve probably already embarrassed the pair of them beyond reason but I’d just like to say that even though we don’t get to see her very often, that doesn’t mean we aren’t hugely proud of her and everything she has and will become. Apart from her woeful knowledge of geography. There is nothing to be proud of there. 😉
Aaaaaaanyway…….. I dragged them on a wander around London bridge/city/south bank where, almost inevitably, we ended up having a stroll around the Tate modern ( small person has a Picasso fixation- blame 5 years at school in France ). It was, as it ever is a lovely walk around the extraordinary space, taking in the familiar sights along with the new exhibits. One such instillation is .……… which is brilliant in its simplicity, and actually rather terrifying. It is a ‘black box’ with a rather sinister soundscape and some quite frankly, downright creepy projection. It’s quite an experience if you get the chance to go and have a look. It certainly caused a reaction in our little group, and if art is not about creating a reaction then what is it?
I will however take a moment to apologise to the lady who came in a minute or two after Me and who clearly didn’t realise that there was anyone else in there until I moved towards the door and her. She was slightly more emotionally scarred than most that day.
My second win of the day was a serendipitous, ( there really is no other word that fits our friendship better), meeting with my Lady Pilot Friend. ( LPF). Now my LPF friend just happens to have grown up round the corner from me when I lived in the West Midlands many years ago. She now lives in the burbs of Chicago where she drives a plane for a domestic airline. Now despite the fact that we lived very near to each other and hung out in the same pubs and clubs in the early 90’s, and have several overlapping interests, we didn’t meet and discover this until 2010, in a tiny hillside hotel hotel near Karon beach in Phuket Thailand. We had far too many things in common not to become friends and every once in a while, with absolutely no planning on either part we happen to rock up in the same country at the same time and this was one of those joyful occasions. Between us we had clocked up around 9,500 miles to be able to meet up for a pint in London that particular Tuesday evening. Serendipity I tell you 🙂
We didn’t have quite such a win on Wednesday, as it turned out Hubby had been called to London for a meeting at short notice and if we had known about it before we could have perhaps organised our schedules a bit better and all met up for dinner together rather than seeing AJ in ‘shifts’ but we did both get to spend some time with her, so maybe you can win em all 🙂
Middle sister M organised the parents on babysitting duty and took me out to the local pub that night, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a UK local and it didn’t disappoint. There was a fair amount of what could be described as ‘local colour’ and the beer garden was more ‘field with chairs’ than ‘garden’and if we had known it was quiz night beforehand we’d have put together a team. We’d have nailed it sis, even just the two of us. We had a really good fun evening catching up and chatting and we may have gotten a little bit tipsy, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome by a visit to the chippie on the walk back home.
When my alarm went off at 4.15am the next morning the getting a bit tipsy thing immediately reared its ugly head and began pounding inside my ugly head and made me, kind of, wish I’d bailed on that last glass on wine. But I didn’t and I had yet another train to catch. But that’s for another day.
Jer Gan Mài .