Thursday, 20 June 2013

LONDON REVISITED . . .

Nighttime view from my hotel window . . .
I said when I got back from London the other weekend that I would blog about it at some point as it was one of my best trips down there. Of course, this idea got a bit abandoned what with my whole losing-my-phone-and-purse/Fear/self-loathing of the weekend just gone by . . . plus I could hardly post pictures when they were all on my stolen phone. But now . . . I can!

So . . . London.

We were staying in a Crowne Plaza in Docklands, which was fairly swank, even compared to the Novotel we usually stay at. Gorgeous view of the river (I already posted the daylight view while I was down there), gorgeous view of the apartments opposite that people actually LIVED in (well jell of that), toiletries and chocolate mints renewed every day if you used them (or, in my case, stashed them in your suitcase! I ain't classy), they even left me magazines in my room without me even having to ask! You can tell I'm not used to such luxury, can't you? There was even a pool, which I had been very excited about, but then the weather was SO DAMN NICE I just didn't get around to it.

Luckily I was down in London with a bunch of colleagues who were up for doing stuff, so this made it even better.

We travelled down on the Sunday morning and had to do some work at the ExCel centre once we got down, but I didn't mind. I was getting paid for it for a start, and let's face it, I'd just had a week and a half off work so I was feeling fairly refreshed etc. That night we just stayed in the Docklands area, got a bite to eat in the hotel (breaded goats cheese then a fish burger - yum!) then headed to the local pub . . . and after we'd had a vino there then I realised that SHOPS STILL SELL ALCOHOL AFTER TEN IN ENGLAND! I could have died of the happiness.

Monday was quite a long day workwise but we still finished slightly earlier than we would back at home. It was a gorgeous day but a couple of members of our party decided they weren't coming out, so three of us decided to head to Camden, and enticed along some other colleagues who were based at Kings Cross, and therefore far nearer to our destination. There we rediscovered Happy Hour (another thing Glasgow lacks thanks to too many jakeys) which meant by the time we decided to head for food, we were pretty drunk.

And so one of my colleagues remembered he'd seen a restaurant that had an escalator leading up to it. "Let's go there!" he announced. We all thought this was an amazing idea... until we got up the escalator, realised we were WAAAYYYY out of our league . . . but we couldn't see a way out. So we brazened it out and that was how we ended up eating in Gilgamesh - which we later discovered is apparently a bit of a celeb hotspot. I didn't see any celebs, but then I don't remember much beyond us going up the escalator. We suspect had it been any night other than a Monday we would have been chucked out for not being cool enough.

(I thoroughly recommend the Beef Penang by the way.)

I don't remember this. Apparently this was after Gilgamesh, and I was very sad because I thought I wouldn't be able to finish my rose wine. But I did. Because I'm a trooper. (I should get a certificate).
View from the clipper boat . . . of the Shard? That's a real thing right? I kept thinking it was called The Shaft but kept stopping myself before I said it out loud...
Waiting for the boat in the sunshine!
The following day we were out of work by three... so we  decided to do a couple of touristy things. We went on the Emirates cable cars over to the O2, then got the clipper boat. I was very excited about all of these things. Then we ventured to Chinatown - the first time I had been there - and met up with some of the colleagues from the previous night. As we wandered around trying to choose a restaurant, I jokingly said "I am not going anywhere that doesn't have an escalator leading into it" . . . the restaurant we then walked into had a BRIDGE leading over to the main part of the restaurant. Oh well . . . guess I'm not eating anywhere that doesn't have an escalator or a bridge going into it then.

To be honest, I'm not a massive fan of Chinese food and this didn't convert me. As I said on twitter at the time, Chinese food doesn't have enough CHEESE for my liking... I ended the night back at the hotel with an ice bucket, a bottle of cava and two cupcakes which I didn't end up eating.
Cava and cupcakes back at the good old Crowne Plaza!

On Wednesday we all split up to do separate things and I headed, with trepidation, to Bank to meet my good friend Lucinda from uni days (she, unlike me, actually DID something with her marketing degree). I told her I needed to meet her somewhere which didn't involve too many changes on the train/tube/DLR. That was only ONE change and I managed it. It was getting to the right EXIT that proved a problem for me! Anyway, we had a lovely dinner in The Folly, and then headed to The Duck and Waffle, a glamorous bar/restaurant 40 floors in the air. I actually was surprised we were allowed in given I was dressed head to toe in Pradamark, but there you go! I am NOT a massive fan of heights, but it was a good experience, even if the cocktails were 10 quid a glass.

Forty floors up at the Duck & Waffle . . . (trying not to look scared!)
Thursday, we headed to Shoreditch as a group, and met up with an old colleague of ours who now works down there. Funnily enough, this was the colleague who took us to Shoreditch five years ago on our work jaunt, and I nearly pulled his friend. In fact, the pub we met him in, in Hoxton, was apparently part of the club we had watched a random dance-off between two guys. He took us to Pizza East, promising the best pizza we had ever had. It probably didn't live up to that hype, to be fair, but I had a veal meatball pizza and it was pretty good. As were the miscellaneous selection of starters. On the way back, me and my two Docklands-based colleagues got a bit lost on the DLR so ended up entertaining ourselves waiting for a different train by practicing squats and lunges. It made sense at the time. Really.

The weather broke on the Friday and so, after our grand plans to sunbathe for a bit outside ExCel before heading to City Airport after our days work fell through, we settled for being driven in a Merc with tinted windows to the airport early instead. I got home at 8ish just in time to laze on my bed watching the Comedy Gala thingy on 4, and then followed that up with a weekend of sunshine and beer gardens.

In hindsight, even with work included, that was probably one of the best weeks I've had this year.

Until we meet again, London!



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