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London Trip -- Days 1 and 2 - Helen's journal and online home
heleninwales
heleninwales
London Trip -- Days 1 and 2
As I've been writing this up in reverse order, we finally reach Day 1.

Storm Angus had thoroughly wetted the country the day before we set off, but in fact the journey down by train was fine. There was a torrential downpour as we approached London, but when we actually reached the city, it was dry, though a bit grey and dismal. But what can you expect in late November?

We were under the impression that the apartment we had booked was in Camden, and we certainly had to go to Camden to find the office where we were to check in and collect the key. However, it turned out that the apartment itself was right next to Euston Station. After a quick glimpse of Camden, we hopped back on the Tube and successfully found the door to the apartments, which were in the same building as a gentleman's nightclub, basically some sort of strip club or pole dancing place. However, the apartment was obviously newly renovated and very comfortable. Considering the location not far from aforementioned club and a very busy road and opposite a major station, it was pretty quiet too, definitely quieter than the previous apartment we rented in Kensington.

As we were settling in, I noticed a wibbly disturbance and the edge of my vision and realised that I was getting only the second migraine I've ever had in my life. Fortunately, a mug of tea helped a lot and after a trip to the M&S Food in Euston station, a couple of slices of toast made it go away. What had triggered it I don't know, but low blood sugar and slight dehydration were at least part of it.

As I didn't feel like going in search of a restaurant, in addition to bread and breakfast supplies, we bought a couple of chilled ready meals and a bottle of wine and ate in the apartment on the first night.

The next morning we set off to do a favourite walk along the Thames path. We were also armed with a shopping list of all the things I'd forgotten to pack, which included underpants for G. How I'd managed to pack my underwear and socks for both of us without putting G's underwear as well, I don't know, but I did. We also needed a few more toiletries and tea and coffee. Some tea bags and coffee sachets had been provided in the apartment, but not enough for the rest of our stay.

The first step was to get the Jubilee line to Greenwich. The new stations on the underground have these safety barriers to prevent people falling onto the tracks.

Jubilee line

At Greenwich, we found our way round the O2 arena to the river. I swear we have to take a slightly different route each time due to the every changing building sites. Despite having done this walk many times, there is always something new to see. We've often walked past this old pier, but since our last visit, it's turned into some sort of horticultural enterprise called Farmopolis.

Farmopolis on Thames



OK, so googling reveals that it's a much trendier enterprise than I thought. I thought it was just growing edible stuff to sell, but it's actually: "... an incubator for sustainability and innovation designed to bring nature into the city – an ideas hub, innovation platform and conversation space for people to discuss the future of food, farming, culture and technology." So not actually a practical food growing business then.

The weather was iffy, but that actually resulted in really good light for photography. This cable car spans the Thames near the O2 arena. We've ridden on it a couple of times and it gives a great view of the city.

Thames cable car

No trip on the cable car on this visit, instead we walked on, marvelling at the number of cranes and apartment blocks going up. Surely at some point all this building has to have an effect on house prices? Rents are stupidly high in central London and most apartments we see in estate agents windows in this sort require more rent per month than we've ever earned between us. But that's the difference between the richest area in the UK and the poorest (which is where we live).

Thames at low tide

Here is the view looking across the Thames at the Tate & Lyle sugar refinery. See, there is still some industry left in London.

Thames Path

On reaching Woolwich, we crossed the river on the (free) ferry and caught the DLR to Canary Wharf. We planned to buy the things on the aforementioned shopping list, but it turns out that it's more geared to all the people from the surrounding tower blocks of offices who just need places to eat rather than people wanting a variety of useful items. Also by this time we would have been glad of some public toilets, but though there were signs pointing out that such things existed, the trail only led us to a locked door. Questing around the shopping mall didn't reveal any loos, however, we did find a Boots the Chemist and a Tesco Metro, which took care of most of the items we needed, though no underpants.

By now it was around 3.30 pm and the weather was worsening. G had planned to continue walking all the way back to the South Bank and meet me there (I had done enough walking by then), but the threatening clouds and spots of rain made him change his mind and we both got back on the DLR to Tower Gateway. There was chaos on Tower Bridge as it was closed to traffic due to resurfacing. Pedestrians could still cross, if you didn't mind inhaling tar fumes and being deafened by the machinery so we reached the South Bank.

Following signs led us on another fruitless quest for loos, but it did take us to the rear of the Hayes Galleria, where we found a gentleman's outfitters and the last of the items on my shopping list! With underpants acquired, we gave up the idea of finding toilets and struck out for out chosen eating place, the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Clink Street. After a very tasty burger and chunky fries, accompanied by a bottle of lager, we caught the Tube back to Euston and our apartment.
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