Saturday, 19 April 2014

2014 - Day Out 02: London

Date: Saturday 05 April 2014

It is our first visit to London of 2014, despite the early start, the weather is looking good so it is off we go.

A massive blue cock in Trafalgar Square
It is just after 06:15am and I make my way up to the Wollaston to get our first bus of the day and at 06:30am National Express West Midlands Service 276 turns up and after the driver letting me on to get warm, we wait a few minutes before we set off and at 06:35am, I send the standard text to Mr UKBuses to say that the bus is on its way and we pick him up from his stop in Norton at 06:41am and we head into Stourbridge Interchange where we interchange from the bus to the railway station and at 06:55am we board the "Stourbridge Dodger" to take us to Stourbridge Junction where we jump onto the 07:01 London Midland train which takes us to Smethwick Galton Bridge where we interchange once again onto platform 4 where we catch another London Midland train into Birmingham New Street arriving at 07:44am which means we have a bit of time to kill before catching our train to London, so we head to the nearest McDonald's where we devour a bacon roll and we then make our way back to Birmingham New Street, having a "fresh air break" before entering the station and finding out which platform our London train will be departing from.

First Class all the way!
First Class Travel!

Year Of The Bus BorisMaster
We find and make our way to the platform and the 08:30am Virgin Trains to London Euston is already waiting at the platform so we make our way to Coach H and take our seats in First Class, see picture above, which means we get free water (or coffee in Mr UKBuses case) and a breakfast snack box to feed us along the way. We pass through Coventry, Rugby and Milton Keynes before arriving on time at London Euston alighting the train at 09:59am and we don't have to walk far to the main concourse as the First Class carriages are closest to the station. First thing to do as we arrive in London is for some "fresh air", and Mr UKBuses decides to use the break to take some photographs around the bus station at London Euston. Fresh air break over we make our way onto the London Underground and after tapping in on our OysterCards, credit is added for our day ahead and we make our way onto the Northern Line to make a quick journey to Charing Cross making our way from the underground to Trafalgar Square. We make our way across Trafalgar Square, which is closed off for a jet wash, but we do get to see the fourth plinth being occupied by a massive blue cock, see picture at the start of this post, as we pass it. We leave Trafalgar Square behind and make our way top the bus stop where we catch our first London bus of 2014 (also seeing the special liveried BorisMaster celebrating London's Year Of The Bus, see picture right) and our bus turns up, so we board Go-Ahead London Central service 12, tapping in our OysterCards as we pass the driver and we take our seat for our journey of approximately half an hour to our first destination of the day, Peckham, and we arrive at 11:18am at Peckham Bus Station where a few photographs are taken before we catch our next bus.

The Nags Head, Peckham
At 11:26, we board Arriva London Service 197 to take us to Nigel Road, where we alight and see the public house that made this area of London famous, "The Nags Head", see picture left. As we walk towards it, it looks as if we won't be able to sample the place as it looks like it is closed, so a couple of pictures are taken of the exterior and I double check the door to see if we can enter, and luckily the door is unlocked and a few people are already consuming pints, so it would be rude not to sample Del and Rodney's regular. Unfortunately there is no real ale available so we have to opt for a tastelessly smooth pour bitter, but despite this, The Nags Head seems to be popular with the locals and with no sign of Marlene or Boycie, we make our way back to the bus stop on Nigel Road to take us to Peckham Rye Railway Station, with Arriva London service 197 being used again, but as we make our way down the road, we come to a standstill and after a few minutes we decide to follow other people and alight and walk the rest of the way to the railway station, as we start walking down the road, the traffic is on the move again and our bus flies past us. It is 12:15 and our South Eastern Railways train arrives and takes us to and terminates at Victoria Railway Station at 12:28, where we decide to get some lunch, but before we do that we visit the Ladbrokes shop in the station to place a bet on "Tea For Three" who is taking part in the Grand National later that day. Once the bet has been made, we make our way to one of our favourite J D Wetherspoon pubs, "The Willow Walk".

We enter "The Willow Walk" and at the most of times, this is a busy pub, but Mr UKBuses does find an empty table which he takes his seat whilst I'm left at the bar to buy the round (I think that may have been planned!), drinks are purchased and its is now time for food. Whilst the menu is perused, I discover that we were lucky to get a table today as half of the pub is closed off due to a flood in the empty offices above The Willow Walk. Food is chosen and Mr UKBuses opts for his standard BBQ Chicken Melt, without the melt and myself opting for a Chicken Burger and chips. The food doesn't take long to arrive and after devouring the meal, we are ahead of schedule and with The Willow Walk getting busier, we decide to ditch the plan for the afternoon and "go with the flow" for the rest of the day. First of all we make our way to the bus stop opposite and we board a BorisMaster, being operated by London Metroline, on service 24 which takes us to Leicester Square, passing Westminster and saying hello to Trafalgar Square again before arriving at our destination. We alight at Leicester Square and jump straight onto the Underground where we catch a train on the Piccadilly Line to take us one stop to Piccadilly Circus Underground Station, we make our way back up to ground level and decide to take a short walk with Mr UKBuses leading the way we are lost and actually end up back at Leicester Square where we started from.

The Red Lion, Westminster
We make our way to the bus stop at Leicester Square and catch London Metroline's service 24 again to take us on the short journey to Charing Cross. We decide to go back onto the plan and visit our London regular "The Blind Beggar", so we go back underground at Charing Cross and onto the Northern Line where we get off at Tottenham Court Road Underground Station to change onto the Central Line, disaster strikes when we find out that there are engineering works taking place this weekend on the Central Line, so we have to abandon the plan again and decide to give The Blind Beggar a miss, so we head back onto the Northern Line and decide to go to Westminster, which means that we are going to be nearly catching all of the underground lines today, as we arrive at Warren Street where we change onto the Victoria Line where upon arrival at Green Park, we change lines once again and we go onto the Jubilee Line to get us to our destination of Westminster Underground Station. Seeing as we can't make it to The Blind Beggar, we decide to have a pint at Westminster and visit a pub we first tried out on Remembrance Day last year, "The Red Lion", see picture right. The pub is quite packed and seeing as it was sunny, we decide to take a seat on a bench outside of the pub and think back to November when we were standing nearby watching the service at the Cenotaph. Drinks over, we decide to make our way back to London Euston a bit early so that we can see The Grand National and hopefully pick up some winnings, we make our way back to Westminster Underground Station and onto the Jubilee Line and Northern Lines to get us back to London Euston.

First Class again!
We arrive at London Euston at 03:54pm and make our way out of London Euston and visit "The Royal George" where we get to have a pint and watch The Grand National, an added bonus is that we also get to see the Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on the screen next to the one that is showing The Grand National. Whilst Mr UKBuses finds a seat I'm stood at the bar again getting the round in (I sense a pattern emerging here) and we then take our seats in time for the start of the National. Mr UKBuses concentrates on The National whilst I'm concentrating on the qualifying, speaking to other F1 fans on the next table at the same time, and from the look on the face of Mr UKBuses I know that something has happened and am informed that "Tea For Three" has fallen. We drown our sorrows and make our way back across the road to London Euston station where we get supplies for the train back, whilst we don't know what platform our train will be leaving from, Mr UKBuses suffers with the bladder and we decide to enter "The Britannia" so Mr UKBuses can use the facilities and I get a quick pint whilst he uses them (All this to save him 20p!). We make our way back to the concourse and have some "fresh air" before finding out which platform we will be leaving from and make our way to the train where we board and upgrade to first class, see picture left, and leave London Euston on time at 05:03pm.

We make our way back through Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry along the way on our Virgin Train, with Mr UKBuses taking his usual nap before arriving on time at Birmingham New Street at 06:27pm. We only have a few minutes spare before getting our connecting train to Smethwick Galton Bridge, but since alighting the train and making our way to the concourse, Mr UKBuses disappears and after a phone call we are reunited on Platform 4B where we board our London Midland train leaving Birmingham New Street at 06:38pm and arriving at Smethwick Galton Bridge at 06:46pm. We have just under twenty minutes to wait before having to catch our London Midland train to Stourbridge Junction, so we head out of the station for an overdue "fresh air" break. With the break over, we make our way back down to the platform where we board our London Midland train at 07:02pm and we are lucky to get a seat as the train is busy, we arrive back at Stourbridge Junction at 07:22pm and have three minutes to get to the other platform and catch the Stourbridge Dodger promptly leaving on time at 07:25pm and arriving back at Stourbridge Interchange at 07:28pm, where we interchange for the last time of today and at 07:35pm our National Express West Midlands Service 276 turns up to take us home, as we pass through Norton, I say my goodbyes to Mr UKBuses and stay on the bus until the terminus at Wollaston popping into the Chinese takeaway for tea / supper before heading home to eat it and relax.

Another good day out in the Capital, hopefully the first of many in 2014, good weather was had and thanks go to Mr UKBuses for doing the plan, speaking of Mr UKBuses here is his bald spots -

Bald Spot at Trafalgar Square.

Bald Spot 1: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Trafalgar Square.

The Bald Spot awaits Service 12.

Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot awaits the bus for Peckham.

The Bald Spot at Peckham Bus Station.

Bald Spot 3: The Bald Spot arrives at Peckham Bus Station.

The Bald Spot paying its respects.

Bald Spot 4: The Bald Spot visits the Cenotaph.