Up early, the usual check around to see that everything is locked and that the gas is turned off. We normally turn all electrical appliances off except the fridge and freezer that we have to trust to behave well, not catch fire etc
We had breakfast at an eatery called the Giraffe opposite Bath bus station. Porridge was the order of the day with which we had with generous amounts of fruit and it as good way to start a day as any I know. Table service was just getting going and there were people staring into space waiting for their order to be taken. I normally talk to everyone but I make an exception first thing in the morning when people may not have had their coffee. They are in a private space until this time so far as I am concerned.
Our coach left promptly at 10:15 AM – due to arrive in London 1:30 PM. We had the usual sprinkling of passengers. 90% get on at the starting station of Bath and we go through via Box, Chippenham, and then if we have to, pick up at Reading and then for certain journeys we call at London Heathrow which we did this time. I like coaches because you always have moments of rapport with other people, including exchanging comments when the behaviour of other drivers leaves something to be desired, having a joke with the National Express driver and wishing people all the best when they get off the coach at intermediate stops. I always take a book to read on such journeys but never get round to reading it. There is always something going on. The only thing I do is to check my messages from time to time but even that is not high on my priority list. All in all it’s a relaxing experience.
Use of the mobile telephone is universal these days but this time we had a lady with a rather loud voice who was going to Heathrow. She was obviously having a business conversation discussing whether a person called Scott should be contacted and if so why. A number of other passengers were getting irritated and eventually Francoise went up to her and told her to keep quiet. She did terminate conversation and said, muttering, “people have to do business you know” as it was our fault that she had a loud voice. I don’t mind people talking if they don’t go on for too long. It’s much better if people speak in other languages as I don’t have a clue what they’re talking about and it is less annoying.
To our hotel on Haverstock Hill, one of the Premier Inn group, which was recommended and arranged by my old friend, actually my oldest friend of over 50 years, Gregory. It does not look spectacular from the outside but inside the money has been spent on good quality fittings in the rooms including an excellent mattress. The bedroom was as soundproof as I could wish for and we did not have to wait ages for a lift. Everything was prepaid so the registration was as painless as could be hoped for. We had room number 319 which was memorable and I liked the sound of. Our room was at the back of the hotel facing the car park and it was quiet.
We dumped our stuff and went straight off to South London to see where I lived for 10 years, Cedar Close in Dulwich. This was first stage community living where you’re expected to look after yourself but there is a warden in case of need. But before that, the journey.
It normally takes me a day to get used to being in London where the transport is of necessity efficient and buses come every few minutes. Buses have three doors; front, middle and back to speed ingress and egress of passengers. You are expected to sign in using your travel pass thought Somerset Freedom Passes are not recognised by the machines. Whereas in Somerset we say thank you to the driver on exit this does not happen in London. In Somerset it is very unusual to see someone of colour. In London, on a bus in particular, you can be sometimes the only person who is not of colour. When I was living in London I got used to it and actually quite liked it.
We took the train from Victoria to West Dulwich. We sat down with the warden in her flat and had a big catch up on the last seven years. She and I were both interested in the same topic, alternative views of the world etc. It is very interesting that when there is a soul connection with someone, you can meet them 10, 20 years later and it’s just like it was 5 minutes ago when you last spoke. You just carry on where you left off. We were there for about one and a half hours then it was off walking in the rain.
We visited Brixton, not the best time to be there because most of the stores were shut so after walking in – and out – of an overcrowded and noisy Wetherspoons we walked all the way to Stockwell Tube past what I remember as the Portuguese restaurant quarter of London but amazingly most of the restaurants had disappeared. My eyesight is not that bad but there were none to be seen. After a time we got tired of walking so hopped on the Northern line instead of having a rather expensive meal in a restaurant (you can’t expect much change out of £30 even for a simple meal). We went to the local Budgens and bought a salad each which we consumed in the hotel room.
So far so good.