Sunday, 10 November 2013

2013 - Day Out 13: London Remembrance

Date: 10 November 2013

It is the last day of our London weekend and before we head back to the West Midlands, we pay a visit to Whitehall to pay our respects at the Remembrance Day Parade.

The Cenotaph at Whitehall
Despite being up late last night, I wake up at a respectable (and early for a Sunday!) time of 7am, so first of all I throw on some clothes and get some "fresh air" before returning to my room and getting refreshed for the day ahead and changing and making sure that I have everything packed in my bag ready to check out after breakfast. Packing done, I make my way for a quick "fresh air" break and meet up with Mr UKBuses for breakfast, after devouring a healthy pile of bacon, sausage and beans and numerous pots of yogurt, we say goodbye whilst we collect our belongings, and also for me to get changed into my scout uniform, checking out before meeting up again at reception where we make our way for the final time this weekend to East India DLR station to start our journey, changing at Canning Town and onto the Jubilee Line where we get the tube all the way to Westminster making our way to ground level where after a quick "fresh air" break, we make our way around to Whitehall walking along the main road as it is closed to traffic whilst the parade is taking place.

Our view on Remembrance Day at Whitehall
We make our way to Whitehall where we are met with the security checks taken out by the Metropolitan Police, we have to queue a while whilst making our way to the main area, with Mr UKBuses doing a few warm up exercises ready to lift his heavy wallet out of his pocket to put in the belongings tray to be examined. We pass the security checks and Mr UKBuses hooks up his chain from his wallet to his safety point in his coat and luckily he didn't manage to pull a muscle to put his heavy wallet back into its safe place. We are a bit later arriving at the parade this year so we find it hard to get to our normal spot by The Cenotaph, so we decide to stay close to The Red Lion, see picture right, where we still manage to get a good view of the Cenotaph, I get a better view by climbing onto one of the stone walls opposite The Red Lion, Mr UKBuses does try but gives up as it is high up. I "do my best" and help a couple of kids and their mom up to get a good view of the ceremony. We still have a while to wait before the actual ceremony starts and Mr UKBuses takes his place on the corner opposite The Red Lion so that he can video a few clips on his camera when the parade starts.

Cheers From The Red Lion!
It is 11am and before the parade and service starts, there is a two minutes silence which takes place and the start and finish is marked by a cannon shooting. With the two minutes silence over the service starts and with the current and past Prime Ministers making an appearance, this is followed by an appearance by Her Majesty The Queen, who along with the current political party leaders lay wreaths at The Cenotaph. In the middle of the service I ascend from my viewpoint and join Mr UKBuses for the rest of the service and after saluting (I was in uniform) and singing The National Anthem, which means it is the end of the Remembrance Day service. We learn from last years mistake, so instead of trying to get crushed by escaping Whitehall, we make our way inside The Red Lion, see picture left, as we enter we have to wait about ten minutes to get served, but as more people pile in, the manageress decides to start serving early, with me getting served first. Mr UKBuses has already found a seat and I nearly drown him as I don't put my pint down properly. We look at the television and see that they are showing the parade which makes us feel a bit weird as we are watching it on a television screen whilst we are only a few feet away from the actual parade. Another round is purchased as the crowds are still trying to get out. After we finish our second drink, we make our way out and instead of being crushed like we were last year, we simply walk around the corner and onto Westminster Bridge.

Cheers From The Bear and Staff!
Instead of catching the London Underground, we go off plan and catch Go-Ahead London Central's service 12 which will be on diversion as Whitehall is closed, we board and as we get to Piccadilly Circus we alight as the traffic is moving slowly. After a "fresh air" break we go back underground and onto the Piccadilly Line where we alight at Leicester Square. As we have a bit of time to spare, we pay a visit to one of our old favourites, The Bear and Staff, see picture right, which gives us a chance to rest our now aching legs. Mr UKBuses finds a table whilst I get the drinks in (hang on, when is it his round?) and after about twenty minutes we finish off and make our way back to Leicester Square Underground Station where we make our final tube journey of the weekend and we board a train on the Northern Line and alight at London Euston Railway Station. Mr UKBuses is on the hunt for food, so whilst he goes to Burger King and I am still full from breakfast, I make my way to The Brittannia inside London Euston and have a last pint in London, followed by my last "fresh air" break in London before meeting back up with him and looking at the screens to see which platform our return train to the West Midlands will depart from. Once the platform is announced we make our way and board the train and get ourselves comfortable ready for the journey ahead.

It is now 14:40 and our Virgin Train departs on time and as we say goodbye to London (see you in 2014), the train manager announces that the shop in carriage C is now open, so whilst Mr UKBuses starts to nod off, I make my way to the shop for a return journey bottle of the special "Tilting Ale", with no snores from Mr UKBuses, we arrive at Birmingham New Street at 16:05 and it is a rush to get to the correct platform for our connecting train to Smethwick Galton Bridge, luckily we make it in time and board the London Midland train which gets us quickly to Smethwick Galton Bridge, where upon arrival we make the trek to get to the correct upper platform where our next London Midland train arrives just after 16:30 which gets us to Stourbridge Junction, where after another platform change, we get the Stourbridge Dodger which takes us to Stourbridge Interchange. I wait with Mr UKBuses until 17:05 where the National Express West Midlands service 276 bus arrives to take him home, this is where I say my goodbyes as my stomach is starting to rumble so before I get home I make a diversion to J D Wetherspoons "The Chequer's Inn" for a beer and a burger meal, where after letting my food go down, I walk home where I put my feet up for the rest of the night.

Another great weekend was had in London, with a couple of shows and parades being seen. I have to thank Mr UKBuses a lot as if it wasn't for his plans, this weekend would not have been possible. Speaking of Mr UKBuses, his bald spots from the weekend can be seen below.

Bald Spot 1

Bald Spot 1: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Aldgate Bus Station.

Bald Spot 2

Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Liverpool Street Bus Station.

Bald Spot 3

Bald Spot 3: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Victoria Bus Station.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

2013 - Day Out 12: The Lord Mayors Parade, London

Date: Saturday 09 November 2013

It is the second day of our London Weekend, today we will be visiting The Lord Mayors Parade and finish the day with another theatre show.

Despite not sleeping well on my first night at a hotel, considering I went to bed just after 12am, I slept until just after 6am, where I get dressed and pop outside for some "fresh air", returning to my room where I have a shower and feel refreshed before meeting Mr UKBuses for breakfast. After a filling breakfast followed by a few pots of yogurt, we head back to our rooms to get our coats before meeting back in reception where we walk around to the bus stop and catch Stagecoach London's service 115 at 09.35am alighting at the terminus of Aldgate Bus Station. A few pictures are taken whilst we are there and we then make our way to the bus stop to catch Stagecoach London's service 205 to Liverpool Street Railway Station, where we have time to take a few photographs at the bus station, once we find it. In the end we walk through the railway station where at the back is the entrance to the bus station where a few photographs are taken. Some "fresh air" is taken and texts answered from Mr D9 (mentioning Wimbournes!) before making our way to the London Underground at Liverpool Street Station, catching the Central Line for a journey of about one minute alighting at the next station of Bank

Its our Helen!
As we leave Bank station, we get some liquid refreshment for the parade and make our way back to ground level finding a spot to see the parade and as soon as we take our spot, the heavens open and the rain pours down. We see the presenters, this year being Chris Hollins and my favourite, Helen Skelton, see picture right. We are standing by Chris as he prepares to go live on the BBC, and he took time out to speak to some of us in the crowd. With the rain coming down faster, I get wet and even more so by people who have their brollies up and the rain dripping off them making me more wetter. As the parade starts, I see our Helen for the first time, which means that I have now got a big smile on my face. The parade lasts about an hour with quite a few floats and people passing us, my highlight was the scantily clad dancers going past. With the parade coming to an end and surprise, surprise, the rain stopping just as the parade ends, we make our way back underground getting onto the Central Line again at Bank and making our way to Marble Arch Underground Station, where we stop off at J D Wetherspoons, "The Tyburn", see picture below left, for lunch and this is the first time we have made a visit to this establishment. We are still full from breakfast so we decide to spend a bit of time drying off whilst enjoying a pint, Mr UKBuses buys this round so I give him one of my CAMRA vouchers once I spot a drink on one of the pumps, I find a table while he waits to get served, he comes back with my voucher saying that they couldn't accept it, what I thought was a pint of bitter, turned out to be a pint of cider. Whilst drying off I send a tweet to Helen Skelton, who replies with a kiss on the end of my reply, which makes my day and I have a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Cheers from The Tyburn!
We are drier than when we came in so we make a move and head to the bus stop where we catch Arriva London's service 73 where we alight at Victoria Bus Station after a journey of fifteen minutes. We take a few photographs whilst at the bus station before walking around the roadworks to find Stand J, where after a long wait, Metroline service 24 turns up and we board another Borismaster, staying on the bus for about twenty-five minutes before alighting at Leicester Square. Upon arrival at Leicester Square, we make our way straight into Leicester Square Underground Station where we catch the Northern Line for a short journey changing at Embankment onto the District Line, where after about fifteen minutes we arrive at Whitechapel where upon leaving the station, we make our way to our London regular, "The Blind Beggar". Upon arrival, the pub is quite busy due to a rugby match being shown on the television and it is my turn to buy the drinks, but Mr UKBuses still has the dearest round of the weekend so far as this round comes to £8.10. After finishing our drinks we say goodbye to The Blind Beggar, we will be seeing it again in 2014, and cross the road to catch Stagecoach London's service 205 alighting at Aldgate bus station, taking a few photographs before catching Stagecoach London's service 115 back to the hotel.

We alight at our hotel bus stop, arriving back at 16:10pm, where we make our way back to our rooms to freshen up before heading back out for the show this evening. After freshening up, I make my way to the hotel bar to have a couple of pints of Budweiser whilst Mr UKBuses has a nap and just before 5.30pm, we make our way to East India DLR station going one stop, changing at Canning Town and onto the Jubilee Line, making one more change at Waterloo onto the Bakerloo Line, where we alight upon arrival at Charing Cross Underground Station. We get to ground level and walk past Trafalgar Square and make a return visit to J D Wetherspoons "The Lord Moon Of The Mall" where we hope to get a bite to eat before the show. As the drinks are purchased, Mr UKBuses tries to find a table but as last night, the pub is packed and we have trouble finding somewhere to sit. We stand at the back of the pub and after about twenty minutes we spot that someone is on the move, so we get cheeky and put my coat on one of the chairs to claim the table whilst the previous occupants get themselves ready to leave. As they leave the table someone else heads for our table and an argument nearly ensues, I claim that we have been waiting for ages and that my coat was actually on the chair, taking my tip from a German and a towel and a sun recliner!! Food is ordered and we have to rush it a little bit as we have to make our way around the corner by Charing Cross Underground Station again to make our way to the Adelphi Theatre.

We arrive at The Adelphi Theatre where we find our way to the upper stall and with myself not feeling to good when we get to our seats and turn around to look at the stage we soon find how high up we were and whilst this goes on, Mr UKBuses seems to be having a vertigo attack. We take our seats and cling on for dear life and we watch The Bodyguard with me eventually getting the storyline towards the end. It was a good show and during half time, Mr UKBuses decided to join me for some "fresh air" outside to get back on a steady ground level. With the show over, we make our way outside of the theatre and back to Charing Cross Underground Station where we take the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo before changing onto the Jubilee Line to Canning Town where we alight and change onto the DLR to take us back to East India and the hotel, where I bid goodnight to Mr UKBuses to sample a couple of nightcaps before going to bed myself, a bit later than planned as I was talking to a few people in the hotel bar, I did eventually get to bed just after 1am.

Another brilliant day was had and another west end show was visited, back to bed for a little rest ahead of the Remembrance Day Parade tomorrow.

Friday, 8 November 2013

2013 - Day Out 11: We Will Rock London

Date: Friday 08 November 2013

For the last few years we head to London on Remembrance weekend to visit The Lords Mayors Parade and Remembrance Day service at Whitehall, its that time of the year again so we make our way for 3 days in the Capital.

Welcome to London
With the bags packed, I get a lift to Norton and text Mr UKBuses to meet me at his bus stop, he responds with "come around to his house", so I get to stay in the warmth for a bit whilst Mr UKBuses gets himself ready, his dad is on the computer and didn't realise I was there. After Mr UKBuses is ready we make our way to the bus stop and see a National Express West Midlands service 276 go past in the opposite direction, which we later find out is the one that we were supposed to catch so it was running late, but on it's return we board and make our way to Stourbridge Interchange to get the Stourbridge Dodger with no Mr Tonks in sight. We arrive at Stourbridge Junction with us having to catch a later train than planned, and we alight at Smethwick Galton Bridge to catch a train to take us direct to Birmingham New Street. We have a little time to spare in Birmingham so we make our way outside of Birmingham New Street where I get a "fresh air" break before heading to McDonald's for a bacon roll. Once breakfast is consumed we make our way back to Birmingham New Street to get our train to London.

No snoring in the quiet zone!

No snoring in the quiet zone!

Tilting Ale!
Mr UKBuses gets some liquid refreshment for the journey ahead before we make our way down to the platform to catch our 10.30am Virgin Train to London Euston. We find our seats and get comfortable and I remind Mr UKBuses that we are in the quiet zone, so no snoring, see picture above. As the train departs, it is announced that the shop is now open in Coach C, so I make my way there and buy a bottle of Tilting Ale, see picture right, a beer brewed especially for Virgin Trains, I do have to wait a while though as the shop had no bottle opener. After I get my bottle top off I make my way back to the seat and Mr UKBuses is still awake, but not for long as he soon nods off for a nap, and he took the advice of the poster by him and he didn't snore. Just before 11.55 our train pulls up at London Euston and we alight and make our way outside so I can get some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses takes a few photographs around the bus station.

Cheers from The Ten Bells
It is time to get our OysterCards out and we make our way underground where we catch our first tube of the weekend. We get on the Northern Line at Euston and we alight 7 minutes later at Charing Cross, passing through Trafalgar Square where we make a visit to J D Wetherspoons "The Lord Moon of The Mall" to have some lunch, with us both opting for a Beer and Burger, we do get served quite quickly and our food arrives very quickly too, we have a second pint to wash our food down, before heading outside to get our first London bus of the weekend. We catch Metroline service 24, which are now operated by Borismasters, alighting at Westminster where we make our way onto the underground and onto the District Line and after 15 minutes on the tube, we alight at Aldgate East, where as we are ahead of the plan and we can't check into the hotel until 3pm, we make a return visit to The Ten Bells, see picture left, and it is Mr UKBuses round. He pays a visit to the loo leaving me with a ten pound note (the Queen was blinking due to being out in the light) and upon return he nearly faints as he has his change given back to him, the round costs him £8.20. He takes his time in drinking his pint as he wants to savour the taste of the expensive Guinness. It is nearly time for checking into the hotel, so we leave The Ten Bells (in which we actually got a seat inside this visit) and catch Arriva London service 67 to Aldgate Bus Station where a few photographs are taken before catching our bus to the hotel, London Stagecoach service 115 is the bus we have to catch so we board and take a seat at the back on what would be a busy bus route, especially as the kids were leaving school.

We are on the bus for about thirty minutes and luckily we spotted the hotel just in time before going past the bus stop. We quickly run to the hotel as the rain has started to come down and check in at Travelodge Docklands in East India, Mr UKBuses isn't very happy as he is given a room on the fourth floor whilst myself has the pleasure of being on the ground floor. A quick change and freshen up before our evening entertainment, I decide to make a visit to the hotel bar whilst Mr UKBuses has a nap and with Budweiser being on draught at the hotel, this will be my chosen tipple whilst staying at the hotel for the weekend. After the first pint is finished, I make my way outside for a cigarette and then head back indoors for another pint of Budweiser before Mr UKBuses makes his way down from the fourth floor and with me finishing off my drink, we make our way to East India DLR station to catch our first DLR of the weekend, we tap in with our Oystercards and catch the DLR to Bank, where we change onto the tube and onto the Central Line for a short journey to Holborn, where we get some food before the show tonight.

Sir Freddie Mercury
We head out of Holborn and it is rush hour and staff aren't letting a lot of people into the station as it is overcrowded already. We make our way to J D Wetherspoons "The Shakespeare's Head", where it is my round which I order whilst Mr UKBuses tries to find a table. Drinks ordered Mr UKBuses is finding it hard to find a table so we have to have our drinks and make our way back out for some food, luckily opposite is a Burger King, so we have our burgers and after they are consumed we have to get to Tottenham Court Road and the Dominion Theatre, so I decide that we have a short walk and after about ten minutes (and Mr UKBuses frustrated as he sees two buses pass us along the way), we see the statue of Sir Freddie Mercury, see picture right, which means that we have arrived for our performance of We Will Rock You, the second time for Mr UKBuses and the third time for myself. After buying a We Will Rock You T-Shirt, and liquid refreshment, we make our way to the seats. Mr UKBuses has a good view of the stage and so do I until an eight foot man decides to take a seat two rows in front of me, which means that I have to watch the show at an awkward angle, I do hire the binoculars though so I can get a better view of Scaramouche when she comes onto the stage. We have a break halfway through the show, so I make my way outside for some "fresh air" and upon my return we decide to have a toilet break before the second half commences stopping off at the bar along the way for some more liquid refreshment to consume during the show.

After the final song is sung on stage (Bohemian Rhapsody), we give a standing ovation and get our coats on ready to make the trip back to the hotel, as we make our way into the Underground station I realise that I still have the binoculars in my pocket so we quickly return to The Dominion Theatre to hand them back in before making our way back to Tottenham Court Road Underground Station, getting on the Central Line to Bank before changing back onto the DLR and arriving back at our home for the weekend at East India Station, tapping out and heading back to the hotel, where upon arrival Mr UKBuses heads to his room and I have a couple of nightcaps in the hotel bar, where the barman remembered me from my last visit in April where he posed with my wrestling belt when I watched the WWE at the 02 Arena.

Our first day in London has got off to a good start, after a nightcap or two, I head to bed to feel refreshed for the day ahead tomorrow.