Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Run away from The Smoke

We made a plan and the plan was good. Or was it?
On Sunday, to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversay, we'd decided to go to London to have a day out (just the two of us, without dragging a sullen 17 year old around) and visit the National Gallery, with lunch somewhere nice.
Committing the cardinal sin of getting up early on a Sunday, we made our way to Ely railway station and waited around for a while because I'm a bugger for being early for everything.
When the train turned up it was already rammed solid so we were forced to stand, squashed in like sheep heading for slaughter for the 70 minute journey.
It seems Arsenal were playing an important home match that day which would explain some of it.

The tube from Kings Cross to Leicester Square was even worse, but exiting the station didn't quite bring the relief I expected. The streets outside were lined with crowds of people - clearly some sort of parade was going on. We took a slight detour to avoid the congestion and made our way back towards Trafalgar Square, only to be confronted by a sea of people. Then the penny dropped - we'd unwittingly arrived at the hub of an immense Chinese New Year celebration event.
The whole of Trafalgar Square was fenced off, containing what appeared to be China-related stalls and activities, and it was difficult to even make progress through the crowds.
We decided to find some food before going round the gallery, and went into a restaurant where we ordered a big cooked breakfast and coffee.
After half an hour of waiting without even being brought our drinks, we picked up our coats and walked out. We wandered the nearby streets in search of somewhere that had service as well as food, but literally everywhere was full - even the takeaways had queues out the door.
Eventually we found a cafe inside the gallery where we were ripped off for a small salmon salad and coffee.

Feeling slightly more human with food in our stomachs, we set off to look around the gallery.
Hopeless. Every man and his dog was in there making it impossible to relax and spend time enjoying the paintings. Clearly everyone who had turned up for the Chinese new year thing decided they might as well kill two birds with one stone - it's free after all.
So we gave up and walked to Covent Garden which was also packed with people milling about, drinking coffee at little bistro tables, and laughing at the prices in the numerous designer goods shops.
There were a lot of cordoned-off areas and trucks with satellite dishes on top, and it wasn't until that evening that I realised it was in preparation for the BAFTAs. Maybe if we'd hung about we might have seen a couple of famous faces,but by this point we'd both lost the desire to spend any more time in 'the smoke', and beat a hasty retreat to Kings Cross to catch a train home - this time with the novelty of being able to sit down.

Sometimes it feels like it would be nice to go out and do something different, but for some reason it rarely turns out as enjoyable as you expected it to be.
We often think we should make more effort to go out and do stuff and spend less time holed-up at home, but on the other hand, why bother if being relaxed and contented in our cosy little home is what we're happiest doing?

Trafalgar Square on a more normal day