Wednesday, 17 November 2010

2010 - Day Out 2: London

Date: Saturday 13 November 2010

Big Ben
Its time for Mr UK Buses, Mr WME and Mr SBI to meet up and make a visit to London, and it has been a long time since the trio visted the capital together.

Mr SBI catches the 276 Service, operated by National Express West Midlands to Stourbridge Junction from Wollaston at 0706, and whilst en route, Mr UK Buses boards the bus and we pass through Stourbridge, which we sneak a look at how much work has been done on the "Stourbridge Interchange" redevelopment - which is not a lot, before we get to Stourbridge Junction. We arrive at the junction and we manage to catch an earlier train into Birmingham. We arrive at Birmingham and take a slow walk through the city and with time to spare, we make a detour and have a bacon roll and a cup of tea from McDonalds, located on the entrance to The Pallasades. Stomach's fed, we make our way to Birmingham New Street, where we meet up with Mr WME, who has made his way from Wolverhampton.

We locate the platform for our train to London, which is the 0910 to London Euston, and is operated by Virgin Trains on a tilting Pendalino. Upon boarding we find our seats in Coach A, which happens to be the carriage furthest away, and away we go. The train journey is quite enjoyable except for two kids in the seats behind us, who seem to find it funny to pull at my hair and keep nicking my baseball cap - later in the day it was breaking up poppy's, I turn around to say something and find out that it is Mr WME and Mr UK Buses, what big kids they are!! After nursery time is over, we arrive at London Euston, on time at 1034.

Upon arrival we exit the railway station and make our way to the bus station at Euston, where we catch the 205 to our next destination, Liverpool Street. We make our way through London, with Mr UK Buses going into former bus life driver mode (apparently he used to drive a bus in Stourbridge for the WMPTE, where his conductor was someone called Dave!) - see video below, passing through Windsor Terrace, Islington, where Mr UK Buses decides it is where we get off the bus. It was a wrong decision, and our first disaster of the day, and Mr SBI saves the day by locating the nearest Underground station, and we catch the tube from Old Street Station (On the Northern Line) to Bank to get to our destination, The Lords Mayor Parade. We arrive at Bank and we make our way to the surface and find out that we have somehow exited the station at Monument!!!!

A short walk ensues, with us all going in the wrong direction to begin with, and after doing a u-turn we finally arrive at The Lords Mayor Parade, and this year, Mr UK Buses did not have to find shelter under an unsuspecting strangers' umbrella. After the parade has taken place, we decide to get our bearings and search for lunch. Mr UK Buses and Mr WME have got their pub radar finely tuned and locate a J D Wetherspoons, "The Crosse Keys", where it is time to quench our thirst, with Mr WME and Mr UK Buses opting for a "Titanic" Real Ale, and Mr SBI opting for a "Becks Blue". It is down to Mr SBI to pay for the round, as he is the only person left at the bar once the order has been placed - "Revenge is on the cards!". Once settling in, it is decided that the parade crowd is meaning that the pub is busy, so we decide to have lunch elsewhere, time for a trusted location.

We leave "The Crosse Keys" behind, and head towards Whitehall, but as we can't locate our bearings and cannot find no relevant buses we decide to catch the tube, where we find out that the Northern Line is not running a full service, so we have to catch the Central Line from Bank, which was very crowded, and change at Tottenham Court Road to get to our Destination, Charing Cross. We get back to the surface and walk a few hundred yards to our lunchtime destination, the J D Wetherspoons "The Lord Moon of The Mall", but upon arrival, all tables are taken and with a queue at the bar, it is decided to go to another trusted lunchtime destination, which is opposite, a pub called "The Silver Cross".

Lunch at the Silver CrossMr UK Buses sorts out the round, whilst Mr WME and Mr SBI get off the floor after fainting and find a table. It is time for food, and Mr WME decides to opt for the lasagne and Mr UK Buses and Mr SBI opt for scampi and chips. Mr SBI orders the food, and luckily spots that only one scampi has been taken for, so puts in a separate order for another portion - Part 1 of his revenge. With a little while to wait, we rest our wearily legs and have a chat about the day so far. After about twenty minutes, one scampi arrives, and after giving Mr UK Buses first refusal, Mr SBI cannot wait any longer and delves in. A little time passes and food disappears from the plate and Mr UK Buses and Mr WME are still waiting! As part of the mix up when ordering it seems that the kitchen served up the food as two separate orders, so after a wait of another ten minutes and constant moaning, Mr WME and Mr UK Buses finally get their food, whilst Mr SBI is just polishing off his plate - The revenge was sweet, and Mr UK Buses wishes that he took the first portion of scampi to arrive. Dinner over, we all take a walk down past Downing Street, The Cenotaph, and arrive at Whitehall, where we take pictures of The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

From Whitehall it is onto the next destination, which is the East End, and so we walk to the bus stop where we are informed by Mr UK Buses that we need to catch Service 11 to Mansion House Tube Station. After a short wait, we catch the 11 and are enjoying the views as we drive along. Mr UK Buses is looking slightly confused and we arrive at Victoria Station, where disaster strikes again and Mr UK Buses realises that although we are on the correct service, we are heading in the opposite direction of the way we need to go - it seems that his radar isn't working at one hundred percent (only the pub radar seems to be working).

The Blind Beggars
We alight at Victoria, where Mr UK Buses works out how to get to Whitechapel, our next destination. We get onto the District Line, a straight through connection to Whitechapel. Upon arrival in Whitechapel, we decide it is time for a rest and we go back to our adopted East End regular, The Blind Beggar, which is famous for a certain shooting by The Krays. After a refreshing pint, we go back through the market and Mr UK Buses is determined to find where Ronnie and Reggie once dwelt, Vallance Road, which we do find and also work out that the residence is at the other end of the street, which is quite a distance and in Bethnal Green. It is nearly time to make our way for our return train, and so we find the nearest stop and wait for our bus, Service 205 to Euston. We duly catch our bus, which is travelling rather slow due to build up of traffic, and as we approach Kings Cross and take a peek at our watches, we seem to think that we are trying our luck with the time and it is decided that it may be quicker to alight and catch the tube. We make our way to the entrance of King's Cross, which we are told by station staff that we cannot enter via this way and have to cross a busy road to get to the other entrance. We finally make it to the gates of the Northern Line, and by the look of it quite a few other people have too.

We finally make our way through the crowds and the gate and we all make a mad dash to get to the platform where we cram into the next tube andmake our way over to Euston. We arrive and look nervously at our watches, and it is a mad dash again to get from the underground to the station concourse. Mr SBI arrives first and by the time Mr WME and Mr UK buses appear, Mr SBI finds out what platform we need to get to, to catch our train. There is about two minutes to get to our train, so we all run across the concourse and with Mr WME making a mad run all the way to Coach A (again at the far end of the station), whilst Mr SBI and Mr UK Buses take the easy route and get on the nearest coach and walk our way through the train. We all meet up in Coach A, and by the time we locate our seats, we are all out of breath and the train pulls out of the station, we have literally made our return train with seconds to spare, about 60 of them!!!!

We finally rest and have a bit of food on the train and just after 1900 hours we arrive at Birmingham New Street, where we transfer platforms to get our trains back home. We all catch the train to Wolverhampton, with Mr UK Buses and Mr SBI alighting at Smethwick Galton Bridge to catch our train to Stourbridge. Mr UK Buses and Mr SBI arrive at Stourbridge Town, where we walk past the fenced in Stourbridge Bus Station and have a closer look at the non-work that has been done, and walk to our temporary stop where we catch our 276A bus, operated by Diamond back home. Another delightful day out and return to the capital.

Roll on the next trip, our Christmas outing!!!