Thursday, 18 April 2013

2013 - Day Out 03: London

Date: Saturday 06 April 2013

It is time to visit the Capital of England, London. This time we head for Euston instead of the usual London Marylebone due to Mr UKBuses ticket radar searching out a good deal on the train tickets online, so we board a Virgin to begin our day in the City.

BBC Broadcasting House
Due to travelling by Virgin Trains today, I have an extra half an hour lie in and make my way to Wollaston to catch the later than usual National Express West Midlands Service 276, which arrives promptly and leaves on time at 07:06 and I send the normal text to Mr UKBuses to tell him the bus is on the way, as I pass High Park Avenue, I send another text to tell him that the bus has broken down, but he doesn't fall for it and is waiting at the bus stop as the bus turns the corner in Shenstone Avenue. Mr UKBuses boards and takes his seat for the journey to Stourbridge Interchange (Yes, Interchange!), where we arrive at 07:21, just in time to inter-change onto the "Stourbridge Dodger" to take us for the three minute journey up to Stourbridge Junction. Mr Phil Tonks is not on driving duty today as he is in search of bacon, but his trusty colleagues get us to Stourbridge Junction where we board the 07:35 London Midland train, stopping at all stations, even stopping between Old Hill and Rowley Regis as the train looks like it has broken down, but after a couple of minutes we are on the move again and arriving at Smethwick Galton Bridge at 07:56, where we change platforms for the 08:04 London Midland train to take us to Birmingham New Street. We arrive at Birmingham New Street and have time for breakfast, so we walk to McDonald's where we have a Bacon Roll, and Mr UKBuses kindly gives me his Hash Brown. Breakfast over and time for a quick "fresh air" break before we make our way back to Birmingham New Street, stopping via W H Smiths for refreshments along the way, We make our way down to our platform along the concourse for perhaps the last time as the next time we will visit Birmingham New Street the new concourse will be open whilst works are taking place on the current concourse to make the station bigger and lighter.

Mr UKBuses has a nap!
We get onto the platform and make our way to the end of the platform, where Coach A will be and take our seats ready for the journey ahead. The Virgin train leaves Birmingham New Street on time at 08:50 and we make our way along the West Coast Mainline via Birmingham International, Coventry and Milton Keynes. I try and get a bit of a nap but a large humming noise is preventing me from doing so, but I find out the cause, it is Mr UKBuses snoring keeping the rest of the carriage awake, see picture right. Mr UKBuses awakes in time for arrival at London Euston, and we decide to make our way to the front of the train and even through first class so that we only have a short walk along the platform to the main concourse at London Euston Station. We arrive into the station a few minutes late, but we quickly make our way outside where I get some "Fresh Air" and Mr UKBuses gets a few photographs from the bus station outside London Euston. After our short break, we get our Oystercards out ready and make our way Underground to Euston Underground Station where we tap in (and top up) and onto the Victoria Line for our first underground journey of the day. We are only on the underground for about three minutes before we arrive at our first destination and Oxford Circus Underground Station.

Mr UKBuses has a lace problem as well as a map problem!
We make our way to ground level and follow Mr UKBuses plan, who obviously needs to invest in a map of London as we walk for about five to ten minutes, completely in the wrong direction. Luckily a London United Service 10 bus is in sight so we jump aboard and get back down to Oxford Circus Underground Station where we alight and walk in the right direction to get us to our first location of the day. We take the right direction this time and turn into Regent Street where after stopping for Mr UKBuses to tie his shoelace, see picture left, we arrive at the BBC Broadcasting House, see picture at the top of this blog post. The BBC TV Centre closed a short while ago and some services have been transferred to this building, where after extensive refurbishment and construction of a new "East Wing", the building looks as like the old is meeting the new, with both buildings standing and looking impressive. After a few photographs are taken , we walk along a back street along to the Oxford Circus Underground Station where we need to get back onto the Victoria Line to take us to Holburn so we can catch the new Borismaster, but Oxford Circus is causing Mr UKBuses a couple of problems today as he takes us to the wrong platform.

Mr UKBuses horsing around!
We decide to catch the Victoria Line in the opposite direction to Green Park, where we hope to catch up with the New Bus For London, but after arriving at Green Park Underground Station and waiting quite a while with quite a few Arriva London Service 38's going past, we decide to get the next service 38 bus that arrives and sadly it is not a Borismaster. We board and take the journey from Green Park to Victoria Bus Station, and Mr UKBuses seems to be cursed as along the way we pass about five National Express Coaches. We arrive at Victoria and even though we didn't catch a Borismaster, there is one waiting in Victoria so a couple of photographs can be taken. It is now time for lunch and we take a short walk to one of our favourite J D Wetherspoons in Victoria, "The Willow Walk". The pub is quite busy and luckily after a few minutes we spot someone vacating a table so Mr UKBuses swoops in so quick, as if they have dropped a penny on the floor and secures the table whilst I order the drinks. Food is chosen and ordered, with Mr UKBuses opting for the BBQ Chicken Melt, without the "Melt", and myself for a "Beer and (Beef)Burger". The food doesn't take long to arrive and there must be a potato shortage in London as there is not a lot of chips on our plates. Mr UKBuses finishes his food and horses around, see picture right and I'm just on the last few bites of my burger when the waiter comes up and takes our plates away, he could have waited until I actually finished my lunch.

Cheers! From The Blind Beggar
A few minutes are taken to let our food go down and to finish our drinks and time to set off for our next location, so we make our way to Victoria Underground Station, where we take a few photographs of buses that are laying over along the way. We reach Victoria Station where Mr UKBuses remembers a bookmakers in the station so that we can place a bet on the afternoons "Grand National". The bets have been placed and we make our way to the Underground and onto the Circle Line to get us to Aldgate. After fifteen minutes we arrive at Aldgate Underground Station and take a short walk across the road to Aldgate Bus Station, where a few photographs are taken and after a visit to the toilet which actually unlocked after I put some money in this time, we decide to miss out our regular "The Blind Beggar" so that we can visit a public house near London Euston to watch "The Grand National". So to get to our next location, "The Carpenters Arms" in Bethnal Green, we board a Stagecoach London Service 254, which takes us Whitechapel Road past The Blind Beggar and into Bethnal Green. We alight at Bethnal Green and take a short walk to catch another bus to our next location, after a few minutes wait, Stagecoach London's Service D3 arrives to take us to The Carpenters Arms, or so we thought. The bus is on diversion and takes us back to Whitechapel where we decide to alight and visit our first choice, "The Blind Beggar", see picture left. Somehow Mr UKBuses gets out of the round and I have to Take "Courage" and pay, his excuse was that it was supposed to be his round in The Carpenters Arms, even though The Blind Beggar was supposed to be the second pub we were supposed to visit on the plan, in the end I leave him to play with his pussy, see picture below.

Mr UKBuses playing with his pussy!

After drinks are supped in The Blind Beggar, we go off plan and make our way to Whitechapel Underground Station, where we catch the District Line to Tower Hill. Upon arrival at Tower Hill and getting out of the Tower Hill Underground Station with no problems this time, we make our way to the bus stops located by the Tower Of London, we may have missed the Borismaster earlier in the day, but we make sure we get its older brother, The Routemaster, which is Stagecoach London's Heritage Route 15 which takes us just short of Trafalgar Square, and after no problems with the conductor's Oyster Scanner, we alight at Charing Cross, where we go straight underground at Charing Cross Underground Station and onto the Bakerloo Line, which takes us back to Oxford Circus where we have to change onto the right platform this time and onto the Victoria Line for the short journey to London Euston Underground Station.

Cheers! From the Royal George and no win on The National!
We now have to find a location to see "The Grand National", and I remember that there is a pub located to the side of Euston and so we head to "The Royal George", see picture (with Mr UKBuses favourite presenter Claire Balding) right, where Mr UKBuses gets his hand in his pocket for the first time today and purchases a round! After recovering from my faint, we take our seats with a good view to the television, and the race starts. I'm pretty sure that my horse was second and even though it came across the line in second place it was not counted as the jockey had fallen off around the course, I think that the result should stand. We finish our drinks after the race, and head across to the bus station outside London Euston Railway Station to take a few photographs before our journey back. As I'm having some "fresh air" Mr UKBuses carries on ahead and when I try to find him, he is nowhere to be seen. I make my way into the station and still cannot see him, so to get a good vantage point of the concourse, I head for a sneaky pint at "The Britannia" and head out to the balcony whilst supping my pint and after a couple of attempts of ringing Mr UKBuses, I get a call back asking where I am and we are reunited after he tells me he is on Platform Four. We take our seats and at 17:03 our train departs for our journey back to Birmingham, after Mr UKBuses has another nap, we arrive back at Birmingham New Street Station and a quick change of platform is required to get our 18:38 London Midland train back to Smethwick Galton Bridge which is four minutes late leaving Birmingham.

Arrival at Smethwick Galton Bridge where after a breath of "Fresh Air" is had outside the station we make our way back to the platform to catch our 19:13 train back to Stourbridge Junction and London Midland keep up the tradition of running late on an evening when this train is over five minutes late. We board a busy train and make our way back to Stourbridge Junction where it is a quick change to Platform 1 to get the "Stourbridge Dodger" back to Stourbridge Town, Mr Tonks is still not on duty as he must be having his "Pot Noodle" but his colleagues deliver us safely back to Stourbridge Town, where we interchange onto National Express West Midlands Service 276 at 20:05, which takes us back home (via the Chinese Takeaway) after another good day out.

Another good visit to the Capital with thanks to Mr UKBuses for sorting out yet another good plan for the locations of the day, and plenty of bald spot opportunities which can be seen below.

The Bald Spot at London Euston Bus Station.

The Bald Spot outside BBC Broadcasting House.

The Bald Spot makes another appearance at the BBC Broadcasting House.

The Bald Spot is spotted at Victoria Bus Station.

The Bald Spot visited Aldgate Bus Station.