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Day 2: 3 Ladies scale the dizzy heights of London

We felt like we were in a hotel in greece, it was that hot during the night we needed the air-con on which is quite something when we were actually in a hotel in London on 10th June! Despite the room being nice and cool it didn’t offer the respite she needed and Maice was awake at 4.30am, eyes puffed up and streaming, her nose red and running. That’s hay fever for you! We were all up and out of our beds by 7.30am, Jane and I attending to our sore and blistered feet, Maice walking around the room armed with a packet of tissues. Honestly us ladies, what are we like?

All showered, packed and having ingested a much needed Berocca to give us energy for the day ahead we headed off to Victoria Station. Jane, the queen of reading the MapApp decided not to consult with it today as we all professed to knowing the way to the station. All we needed to do was the reverse of what we did last night. Couldn’t be simpler! It wasn’t until we approached a signpost for Sloane Square that we realised we were walking in the wrong direction. Any further and we’d be back at Trinny London on the Kings Road! Of course, under the circumstances, a regroup was necessary so we found a shady spot, Jane whipped out her phone and we peered into the screen at the MapsApp. We were still none the wiser but fortunately for us a very nice gentleman who was passing by overheard us discussing the way to the station and he told us where to go, so to speak. We retraced our steps and turned left at the big signpost indicating that the station was that-away!

Now that we were totally proficient in the art of riding the underground we swiped our debit cards ‘in and out’ and soon found ourselves standing outside Monument station. As part of our itinerary and as we were in a ‘room only’ hotel we thought we’d breakfast in style at the ‘walkie-talkie’ tower, aka the Sky Garden, a unique sky scraper of a building and London’s highest public garden. Yes, we certainly know how to dine in style. It’s a truly impressive building and looks like a massive ‘speaker’. Our reservation wasn’t until 10am so we wandered around, taking in the views and taking photos through the glass windows. Before breakfast we popped to the loos where Jane inadvertently kicked a tray that was catching water beneath the sink and exited said loos with wet feet! Having sorted herself out we headed up to the Darwin Brasserie where we enjoyed a lovely breakfast consisting of three cappuccinos, one eggs royale and two smoked salmon with scrambled eggs all for the princely sum of £74.91! We can honestly say that was the most expensive breakfast we’ve had but the views certainly made up for it. It was whilst we were enjoying our breakfast that Maice realised she’d been doubled charged for the bottle of wine at Gordon’s Wine Bar yesterday so we decided to pop by later and sort it out and order the cheese platter whilst we were there. At 11am the outside viewing gallery was opened so we stepped outside, admired the views and took some more photos. It was really quite something! By now we were starting to suffer from our ailments again. We were hot, our feet were sore and Maice was suffering big time with her hay fever……in hindsight the Sky Garden probably wasn’t the best place for Maice, but hey, you’ve just got to get on with things and go with the flow and the day was young…….we still had Day 2 of our itinerary to complete!

We’d booked tickets to walk across Tower Bridge from the inside but that wasn’t until 1pm so we had a couple of hours to kill. After a quick regroup outside the Sky Garden we thought we’d keep to the shade as much as we could and dawdle the twenty minutes to Tower Bridge and find a cafe. With every step we took it seemed to get hotter. The breeze was hot, our feet were hot and we were in dire need of a sit down and a refreshing beverage of some sort. Thankfully we came across St Katherine’ Dock and having walked all the way round we plumped for the Cafe Rouge where the friendly waiter suggested a refreshing peach Spritz. We debated whether to take up his recommended beverage but then thought why have a peach spritz when you can have an Aperol Spritz instead, and hey, not only are they delicious and thirst quenching they’re also very photogenic!

Feeling a bit more perky we walked through the ever growing throng of people to Tower Bridge, walked up numerous flights of steps to get to the top gantry and walked across the bridge. We were well impressed with the 360degree views and the walk across the glass floor was very exciting although Jane wasn’t too keen on looking down! There were lots of facts and figures about the building of the bridge, too many to mention here but did you know that during its early construction back in 1886-90 the divers were paid £10 per minute! We exited the bridge on the other side of the river and started to make our way back to Waterloo station via Gordon’s Wine Bar. Of course we started off on foot, not even thinking to consult with the itinerary which told us it was a 41 minute walk. It was so hot that by now we weren’t walking, we were trudging. After slow walking for thirty minutes we regrouped in the shade and consulted the MapsApp. Surely we must be close to Waterloo but according to the MapsApp we were nearly an hours walk away! How did that happen we wondered. We needed to find an underground station as we couldn’t muster up enough energy to walk and that’s when we came upon Monument tube station indicating that we had just walked in a giant circle!! One day we’ll get the hang of this map reading malarkey!

We finally made it to Gordon’s and were so looking forward to a cheese platter and a nice bottle of wine but when we arrived there was a queue so that put paid to that. Maice did however speak to the manager, Andrea with the white glasses who advised Maice to contact customer services for a refund. Disappointed that we weren’t able to enjoy a cheese platter we headed across the river to Waterloo station and on the way stopped at Le Pain where we enjoyed a nice lunch sat down indoors in the air conditioning. We looked a sorry bunch, the three of us sat there in a comatose state but the fact that we’d be home soon kept us upbeat. We were aiming for the 17.05 train which would get us into Wool at 19.34pm and we’d all be in our homes before 8pm where we could relax with a glass of wine and put our feet up.

Fed, watered and rested we headed off to Waterloo Station and well, you’ll never believe what passed us by when we came to cross the road. It was only a ‘gruppetto’ of naked cyclists, hundreds of them just cycling past without a care in the world. Now then, it was a very, very hot day and I’m sure it was quite cooling to be cycling naked, however one is reminded that bicycle seats are not the most comfortable of apparatus to be sat on particularly when there is nothing between one’s posterior and the seat……just sayin’!

We arrived at the station in plenty of time for the 17.05pm train so pottered around before finding ourselves a seat where we waited for the platform number to be announced. At 4.45pm there was a flurry of activity on the departure boards and one by one the trains headed south displayed the ‘delayed’ notification, including ours! Typical. We tried to listen to the announcements but the acoustics weren’t great but what we managed to decipher was ‘signal failure at Woking’ and there would be a short delay whilst they tried to sort it out. Ok, no worries, we’ll get the 18.05pm train but when that too was delayed, along with the 18.35, the 19.05 and the 19.35 we began to worry if we were ever going to make it back to Dorset this evening. An urgent regroup was required so we decanted ourselves to Costa Coffee and over a couple of frappes and a cappuccino we weighed up our options. What were we going to do, that was the question. We couldn’t get the coach as the last one to Bournemouth had been and gone and it would mean making our way to Victoria Coach Station. As time moved on more trains headed south were being delayed with only a few arriving. We had no option really but to find a hotel for the night but ‘hark’, did that announcement mention Weymouth on platform 7? We gathered up our bags and ‘sped’ off through the turnstiles with hundreds of other likeminded passengers all hoping to get a seat on the train. Unfortunately Jane and I couldn’t move very quickly due to the state of our feet but coming up on the inside was Speedy Gonzales Sanders, who in a flash had overtaken everyone and bagged three seats and a table in coach four. Hey, a ‘yay’ for Maice 👏!

Now we’d sat ourselves down we did wonder if indeed this train was going to Weymouth and if it was going to stop at Wool and if it didn’t stop at Wool we’d have to get off at Wareham and get a taxi. Just before the train pulled out of the station at 7.55pm the guard announced that ‘the first stop on this train to Weymouth is Bournemouth’. Another flurry of activity occurred as people travelling to Winchester, Basingstoke and Southampton and other stations before Bournemouth had to get off. Finally the train pulled out of the station and we were on our way, at a slow pace as apparently there was only one track in operation so we had to allow for trains coming in the opposite direction. Just before we were coming into Bournemouth station at 10.15pm the guard on the train announced that ‘this train to Weymouth will terminate at Bournemouth and unfortunately no other onward information is available’. Could this journey get any worse we asked ourselves? But hey, as we’re go with the flow type of people we followed the crowd over the bridge to the opposite platform and asked the guard what was going on. He told us they’d been asked to prepare a train from stock but there were problems because a) they didn’t have a crew and b) they didn’t know in which direction the train would be bound! He advised us to take a taxi, keep the receipt and claim the money back from customer services. And with that we waited in the very long queue for a taxi, paid £59 and were all home in our beds by midnight….without I might hasten to add, that glass of much needed wine!

And there endeth our whistle-stop trip to London. It’s been a fabulous two days, it’s been hot, we’ve suffered with hay fever and our feet, we’ve been glammed up, we’ve got lost, we’ve walked a lot…some 22,000 steps today, we’ve been up high, we’ve been down low, we’ve seen the sights and we’ve seen ghosts, ok maybe not (!) but it’s all been worth it as its been a great deal of fun. So, onwards and upward to our next vacation……Wales!

See you then….

M, A & J xxx

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