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Day 1: 3 Ladies and a trip to London

Before you continue reading our ‘wonderful’ blog we must firstly apologise as you will see that there is a serious lack of photos. In fact, there are no photos! You see, the problem is we’ve run out of storage space and unless we pay for the upgrade we can’t post anything. So, we have a cunning plan! We will publish our photo-less blog and post our photos on Facebook. We aim to resume normal service at some point over the next few months, either via this platform or a completely new one!!!

So, read on……

Our London trip had been planned for quite a while, the main reason being a 1 hour beauty session at Trinny London, you know, she of the Trinny and Susannah fame back in the day. Of course no trip away with M&A goes unplanned so along with our friend Jane we held a ‘planning session’ at Coffee 1 back in February and came up with what we felt was a really good itinerary. We were only going for two days, staying overnight at the 3* Tudor Inn Hotel in Pimlico so decided to travel light and just take small-ish backpacks with us. We had considered leaving our bags at the hotel on the second day and going back to collect them before we got the train back but thankfully, and in hindsight, we scotched that idea and kept them with us.

We’d purchased a group train ticket which meant we all had to travel from the same station so Maice and I drove to Wool where Jane lives and we started our rail journey from there. Of course it wasn’t as straight forward as that! I picked up Maice 15 minutes early as we felt a drive-thru Costa Coffee take-away cappuccino would kick-start the day but before we headed off to Costa, Maice began deliberating about her bag. You see, not only was I taking my back-pack I was also taking a small thin shoulder bag so I could gain easy access to my purse, phone and glasses so Maice decided to follow suit and went to find a small thin shoulder bag for all her ‘stuff’. However, when we were sat at the drive-thru it became apparent that she couldn’t fit everything she wanted to into her small thin shoulder bag and realised she was going to need ‘a bigger bag’ so we drove back to her house in order for her to swop bags! We were now running six minutes late and had to get to Wool, park at Jane’s and then walk to the train station. Let’s hope we don’t miss the train!

We were catching the 9.05am train which would get us into Waterloo Station at 11.34am however when we arrived on the platform ten minutes early the information board stated the train was due at 09.45! Typical, it’s delayed we thought. Only it wasn’t delayed at all, it was indeed the correct time. It was I who had given the wrong timings, having used the Waterloo to Wool timetable instead of Wool to Waterloo! Ah well, an easy mistake to make and I note that the other two hadn’t checked the train times so I am absolving myself of any guilty feelings even though we did have to wait 50 minutes for the train!

So, with that good start to the day what else could possibly go wrong? Well, Maice had booked the hotel and yesterday she was advised that her credit card had been charged £153, which incidentally was the cost for the room, not per person as Jane had thought and promptly transferred £153 into Maice’s bank!! Bless, she obviously thought we were spending the night in a 5* hotel in Mayfair rather than a little eight roomed ‘room only’ hotel in Pimlico!

Jane provided our breakfast which we enjoyed on the journey up; cold buttered hot-cross buns, babybel cheese, banana and a juice which we thoroughly enjoyed and hoped would keep us going for the next few hours. Our arrival into Waterloo station was of course an hour later than planned so with our ‘2 Day itinerary’ in hand we ‘did a Winston’ in that we walked with purpose to the first point on the itinerary, Gordon’s Wine Bar just across the river. We came here last year and enjoyed a lovely glass of port and sherry so decided a repeat visit was in order. It was very dark inside particularly as we were all still wearing our sunglasses and having navigated ourselves in the dark to our table we huddled around the candle stick and the light from Maice’s mobile phone trying to read the drinks menu. We realised a regroup was in order and asked ourselves the question….Why were we sat in this cavern, in the dark when it was gloriously warm and sunny outside? We decanted ourselves outside and having earlier viewed a Morrish & Banham post on Facebook advertising a lovely crisp Rose wine we decided to follow suit and ordered ourselves a bottle of Rose wine and sat outside in the sun, listening to the orchestra who just happened to be playing in the gardens next door. It was lovely. Having admired the cheese platter that was delivered to the couple on the next table to us we got chatting to them and learnt that they were mother and son and that the guy had just finished his performing arts degree and was hoping to get into television. Good luck to him, we’ll certainly keep an eye out for him!

Having consumed our wine we popped next door to the gardens to listen to the orchestra and were amazed to see that they were actually a youth brass band called Oklahoma and they were really good. We stayed to hear their rendition of Fever and then left as we needed to walk to our hotel which would take us approx 39mins, that is of course if we don’t get lost! We didn’t really have time to deviate as we were time bound…..4pm at Trinny London and 7.10pm at Green Park for our Ghosts and Ghouls walking tour! We only found our hotel due to Jane being in charge of the MapsApp who seemed to be able to make sense of it whereas in true M&A style, we didn’t have a clue!. By now it was very hot and we were feeling a little bit fatigued, but onwards and upwards, we would at least be able to rest for an hour at Trinny London whilst we were being beautified! We made it to the hotel, checked in and made our way up the three long flights of stairs to the top of the hotel where we found our room. We were just thankful we only had back-packs with us and not suitcases as they were really steep steps. After a quick rest of ten minutes and a freshen up we set off on foot to the Kings Road, Jane leading the way with the MapsApp. We were most surprised to find that we actually arrived twenty minutes early but were told to go somewhere and get a coffee as they were stock-taking so of all the lovely coffee shops there were on the Kings Road we ended up in Starbucks! Our poor feet just couldn’t take us any further afield! We drank coffee and ate cake and soon found ourselves sat in our beauty salon chairs, looking at ourselves in beauty salon mirrors that highlighted every wrinkle and imperfection and literally saw ourselves transformed from not just the gorgeous ladies that we are but into the drop-dead gorgeous ladies that we became!

Pleased with the results of our beauty session and having had an hours sit-down we headed off down the Kings Road in the wrong direction, aiming for Green Park. Unable to decipher on the MapApp which way to turn we regrouped outside a cafe and asked a lady for directions. Yes, we were indeed going in the wrong direction and was advised to catch a bus as it was ‘a long way away’! We found the bus stop but it was out of service due to there being roadworks so we walked to Sloane Square tube station in order to catch the underground. We got ourselves in a right tizz wondering what sort of ticket we needed and when we finally thought we’d cracked it, it was going to cost us £45!! We were rescued by a very helpful member of staff who we’ve called Joey as he reminded us of Joey from the sitcom Benidorm, who said all we had to do was swipe our credit/debit cards on the way in and then on the way out at our destination. We’d then be charged the next day as it tots up how many times you’ve used it in that day as there is a price cap. Well who knew it could be as simple as that! We obviously didn’t! See, you learn something new every day. Well done London Underground for your excellent customer service 👏.

We managed to get on the correct train, got off at the correct stop and even managed to exit the station on the correct side of the road. This was all going far too easily we concluded as we entered Green Park and went in search of the Princess Diana Memorial Statue where the tour was to start. We found a statue but it didn’t look anything like Princess Diana so we regrouped around a gaggle of deckchairs and googled it. Hey, where would we be without a) our mobile phones and b) Google search? Google images identified that the statue we were now standing in front of was the same, but why was it called something different? Were we in the right place? Another regroup was necessary where Maice checked the booking and found that the meeting point was in fact the Statue of Goddess Diana in Green Park, so it was the Goddess, not the Princess! No wonder we were confused! Honestly, words fail us as to how we get the two Diana’s mixed up. Our brains were obviously totally addled which we could only put down to being afflicted by the heat of the day, our aching feet and Maice’s hay-fever!

Due to us getting the tube instead of walking we’d arrived early and our tour wasn’t for another hour so needing sustenance and the loo we headed off to the M&S Food Hall via The Ritz, darling, The Ritz! Of course not wanting to blatantly walk in off the street and ask where the ‘ladies powder room’ was we pretended to enquire about Afternoon Tea. We enquired, found we ‘couldn’t make the dates’ they offered up and headed off to the ladies room via the Palm Court where Afternoon Tea was being served. OMG what an absolutely amazing hotel. It was so beautiful and we were so taken aback by the grandeur of the place we ‘oohed and aahed’ all the way to the powder room. We even ‘oohed and aahed’ in the powder room and felt the need to take some photos. Well, you’ve got to haven’t you!

Back at Green Park we ate our M&S sandwiches and waited in anticipation for the start of our ‘Ghost, Ghouls, Gallows and Boat Trip Walking Tour which was to begin at 7.10pm. We traipsed behind our guide, our feet aching, Maice’s eyes streaming due to her hay-fever and walked to the Embankment stopping off at various ‘haunted houses’ along the way. Did you know that the most ghosts in London can be found not at the Tower of London as many people think but at Green Park underground station. Yes, indeedy. Apparently, when excavating the earth in order to build the underground, a mass grave, full of skulls was unearthed which turned out to be a mass burial site for all the plague victims who died during the Black Death.

And then there’s poor Margaret Pole, deemed a traitor by King Henry VIII who had her executed, and all because she defended his then wife Katherine of Aragon. The poor woman refused to kneel down to have her head chopped off stating ‘I am not a traitor’ and was forced onto the block where the executioner ‘missed’ the target and fractured her shoulder before finally beheading her on, not the 27th attempt as Maice responded to the guide when he asked how many times it took, but on the 11th attempt!

Enough of this gory-ness……we made our way to the embankment where after a thirty minute wait on the jetty we finally boarded the boat for our much anticipated ‘river cruise’ up river, or was it down river, to the Tower of London. What we thought was going to be a ‘river cruise’ however in fact turned out to be a Uber taxi boat that just zig-zagged across the river picking up and dropping people off! What a swizz! The group re-grouped besides the film-crew that had been filming something that day and were now packing up and manoeuvring their large vehicles out of their allotted space. We wondered what they’d been filming…..we’ll Google it later and see what it was all about. The walking tour ended with a final ghost story about the two princes in the tower and with that everyone dispersed. By now it was 9.45pm and we were extremely hot, sticky, weary and tired. We walked to Tower Hill station and got the train to Victoria, asked for directions to Warwick Way and walked back to the hotel.

Maice was suffering badly with her hay fever, Jane’s feet were covered in blister plasters and my feet were sore and aching due to walking all day in my very heavy Dr Marten sandals. We needed some sort of alcoholic beverage to refresh the much needed parts and found a pub, ordered a bottle of wine, three packets of crisps and chilled out. The wine was so delicious we could have drunk a few more bottles but we needed to get back to the hotel and rest our weary bodies. Not only had we walked 25,000 steps in extremely high, humid temperatures, we now had three steep flights of stairs to contend with and another long day was ahead of us tomorrow. To make matters worse, tomorrow’s weather forecast was hot, hot, hot! We don’t like to complain about the weather but oh, a cold bucket of water for our feet wouldn’t go amiss!

Night all….

J, A & M xxx

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