Monday, November 15

After the Lord Mayor's Show

Saturday 13th November 2010 provided a capital return for Rog, Woody and myself as we descended upon London to witness the spectacle of the annual Lord Mayor's Parade - here is the tale of the trip...

* An early start sees me in Wolverhampton checking on the progress of the new bus interchange. Most of the main structure now appears to be in place as a scaffold-clad block looms ominously by the ring road.

* It's then to Birmingham on the 8:19 local train, arriving in plenty of time to meet my accomplices at New Street. Woody and I note Rog's appearance with a Jenson hat in a vain attempt to cover up his bald spot.

* Dashing for coach A at the far end of platform 5, the 9:10 Virgin Pendolino service provides our link to Euston with a journey that passed by quickly as we recall our various mishaps and Rog's hat comes in for some more abuse.

* Arrive at Euston at 10:34, heading straight outside for a look at the bus station and a sneaky shot of the Doric Arch pub.

* Our first bus ride of the day involves the 205, which looked very crowded but there was some room upstairs - sadly a bit too much room actually as Woody was able to start up the old D9 again! Passing Kings Cross Station, the bus was destined for Bow Church but we were after Liverpool Street, none of which explains the rather bizarre decision to alight on City Road in a state of total confusion.

- 38 at Victoria Station -

* Whilst Rog and Woody debate our location, I get a photo of the Eagle pub and then we gradually find our way to Old Street underground.

* Now here's a question for you. Why is it that seemingly half of the Tube lines are out of action on the day of the Lord Mayor's Parade? Answers on a postcard please but it seemed an utterly crazy bit of planning. Luckily the Northern line was operating for our quick shuttle through to Bank.

* Our next task is to try and make our way to the parade location. Bank Station is a bit of a maze in truth and we end up emerging out of Monument heading for the Tower of London. Resisting the temptation to lock Rog in there, we do an about turn and eventually find our vantage point.

* The parade was thoroughly entertaining as we watched the procession go steadily by. Amongst the various floats and marching bands were some buses, a tank, some farmers and a giant waving potato, although Rog at times seemed more interested in admiring some of our fellow onlookers.

* With the procession concluding at about 12:10pm our thoughts turn to lunch and beer. We navigate our way to the Crosse Keys Wetherspoon's which was unsurprisingly packed out but did deliver a welcome pint of Titanic's New York Wheat Porter, dark and flavoursome.

* Still in search of food, we head for Whitehall by braving the crush of the Tube once more. Liverpool Street Station is a welcoming location as we descend to the underground platforms and catch the Central Line to Bank. We alight here only to find out that Northern Line services won't be calling here due to overcrowding, so it's back on the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road and thence on the Northern Line to Charing Cross.

- Woody with pint in the Silver Cross -

* Whitehall then and our initial preference is to visit the Lord Moon of the Mall, scene of London lunches past. Once again the pub is heaving, so in this case we try our luck at the Silver Cross over the road. Despite Rog's best attempts to mess up the food order, lunch is partaken with my lasagne proving tasty washed down with some Young's London Gold.

* Next we proceed to Westminster, passing Horse Guards and the Cenotaph amidst preparations for Remembrance Sunday. At Parliament Square Rog continues his mission to photograph Big Ben from every conceivable angle (and then some!), although reports that I was mistaken for former MP Lembit Opik were grossly exaggerated...

* The next stage of our plan was to get the bus up to Mansion House. We caught the No. 11 alright but in completely the wrong direction, ending up at Victoria after Mr Wood narrowly averted us going all the way to Fulham Broadway. The journey had at least given Woody the chance to demonstrate his D9 driving prowess once more, complete with a well-timed interruption from the everpresent 'Dave'.

- D9 Dave strikes again! -

* Victoria came with the bonus of some extra bus photos, including the 38 to Clapton Pond, and then it's back down below for another dose of the Tube. The District Line platforms were absolutely rammed but we managed to surge on board and held out in the crush all the way to Whitechapel.

* Negotiating our way through the market, we arrive at the Blind Beggar (now firmly ensconced as our London local of our choice) for a recovery pint. The pub gained notoriety as the scene of a Krays murder with Rog on the hunt for bulletholes then pressing himself a commemorative penny.

* Darkness is beginning to fall as we go on the hunt for Vallance Road, home to one of the Krays former residences. News filters through that Wolves have lost 3-2 at home to Bolton (ouch!) as we catch the 205 back towards Euston.

* The day has one final authentic London experience in store for us, as heavy traffic means we're in serious danger of missing our train home. We alight at Kings Cross and embark on a kamikaze Benny Hill-style sprint through tube tunnels and up and down various escalators to emerge blinking back at Euston with a couple of minutes to spare. Our train is loading at platform 3 and with some relief we board just in time for the 17:43 departure. The ride back to Brum is very relaxing by comparison.

What an eventful day that was all told - various mishaps were a sign that Rog was back on the scene but they only added to the fun and adventure. I'm gradually starting to feel at home in London now, and once again the capital has provided us with some memorable moments, with the Lord Mayor's Parade claiming it's place as one of the exploration highlights of the year.

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