Tuesday, 24 April 2012

In the city

The title and structure for this entry has been borrowed from Bassman, who has written his own version of our non-marathon jaunt to London.  Here's my (much more wordy) version.

Thursday:  I tried very hard not to cry in the car as we left home for the airport; Bess had reverted to not eating and I felt SO WORRIED at leaving her, even though I knew that she was in the very capable hands of Soo and Tony.  Actually, looking back on it, the guilty expression on Bess's face when I unexpectedly came round the corner outside the house to find her snuggled up in Soo's arms as they walked through the garden should have tipped me off that the cat had perhaps been putting on a bit of a 'poor me' act.  Still, I was relieved to get a phone message at the airport from Soo saying that Bess had eaten all of her food and was in good spirits.  I boarded the plane with a clear conscience.

The plane journey was uneventful, aside from Bassman not fitting into the seat provided and needing to move to an unoccupied row where he could stretch out.  I'm sure that the man across the aisle thought that we had had a huge argument, judging by the way that he kept looking over at me and then turning around to look at Bassman (who, by this point, was fast asleep).  However, after I scowled at him (the man across the aisle, not Bassman) a few times, he went back to minding his own business.

We stayed at The Sofitel at Gatwick Airport that night; the bed was very comfortable, but the room was either way too hot and stuffy (with the air conditioning turned off) or way too noisy (with the air conditioning turned on).  A crap sleep was had by all.

Friday:  I did, however, get to have French toast for breakfast which perked me up considerably.  A half-hour train ride and a half-hour Tube journey later, we were at our London base (the Novotel Tower Bridge).  We unpacked and set off on foot to explore.  We wandered along the Thames walkway, then across the Millennium Bridge, past the Tate Modern, and towards the London Eye with the vague idea of taking a spin on it.  But we're such country people these days...who knew there'd be such ginormous queues?  As Bassman hates queueing even more than I do, we did an abrupt about-face and retraced our steps back to the hotel where room service and Friday night telly awaited us.  Yep, Friday night in the big city... 

Saturday:  Yummy buffet breakfast but absolutely horrendous tea.  It was grey.  With some kind of scum floating on it.  Bassman thought it might be powdered tea.  I didn't know that such a thing existed and, now that I do, I think that it should be outlawed.  How appropriate, then, that our plan for the day was to go on the Houses of Parliament tour; we got there early enough to have some proper tea (and some nice cakes) at the Visitors' Cafe.  As a non-British person, I wasn't sure what to make of the whole thing (the Houses of Parliament, not the cafe).  On the one hand, I was very conscious of the weight of history (as they say); on the other hand, I thought that the House of Lords and the House of Commons looked like slightly shabby film sets and I was a bit annoyed by all of the laminated signs forbidding the tour groups to perch their bums on the benches.  The Queen's Throne was lovely, though (not that we were allowed to sit on that, either).  And I liked the idea that, when Prince Philip is in attendance, the Queen has to scootch her throne over to make room for his.  Sweet.

We got back to the hotel in plenty of time for a change of clothes and then the Tube to Covent Garden, where we had tickets to see The Woman in Black.  I finally got around to reading the book a couple of months ago and loved it, which made me a bit apprehensive about seeing the play but I needn't have worried.  The two actors seemed to be enjoying themselves and the story held up well on stage.  There were several moments where the audience collectively jumped and shrieked (except for Bassman, who is much too cool to engage in such behaviour); scary, and not a zombie in sight.

Sunday:  Ah yes, marathon day.  I was a bit melancholy at first, but this was quickly replaced by the excitement of being there.  We met up with Cathy and Paul to watch the race.  Paul (who is a properly fast runner and who has run lots of marathons - including London - before), and Cathy (who runs too and who has lots of experience spectating at Paul's races) guided us to the part of the course where mile 13 and mile 22 pass each other.  It was amazing seeing the elite runners, who looked like they were running just as effortlessly at mile 22 as at mile 13.  I was almost more impressed, though, by the more ordinary runners who looked effortless at mile 13 and then by mile 22 were obviously struggling, but who still kept running.

I noticed that some people, even amongst the faster runners, were doing a run-walk.  My fear that spectators would assume that you were just unfit proved justified when Paul, upon seeing the first run-walker, critically said, 'It's way too soon for him to be walking!'  Nooooo!!!  He's PLANNED to walk!  It's part of the PLAN!!!  Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! 

Anyway, I think that I calmly communicated my thoughts on that to Paul...but I really do think that I either need to plan to run the whole race or to get a T-shirt made that says, 'Walking is part of my plan.  Really.' 

Bassman and I left after watching a couple of hours of the race because I wanted to go to the Tate Modern to revisit some paintings of Cy Twombly's that had made a huge impression on me the last time that I was there.  Unfortunately, they weren't there - a small photo will never do them justice, but here it is anyway.  These are his 'Four Seasons' and they're stunning.  Absolutely stunning. 

Monday:  And so to home.  It's good to be back with Bess (who has thrived in our absence) and to be back in our own house.  Seeing the marathon has helped to revive my flagging motivation and has confirmed to me that I really, really want to do this.  One year to give it my best possible effort...21 April 2013.  Put it in your diaries now and come to London to cheer me on!


  1. Paul did express penitence about those comments afterwards! Glad the marathon has revived your motivation; hopefully we'll be there to cheer you on in 2013.

  2. No need for penitence - he was just expressing what everyone else was thinking (including me, I must confess). If you're one of the fast runners, it does look a little odd to be walking; however, any walking that I do will fit right in with everyone else at the back of the pack!

  3. Glad you had a good time in London anyway. Have the date in my diary to cheer you on next time! x