As most of my readers correctly guessed, yesterday we set off for a day trip to London via the Grand Central train that uses our little station as one of its pick up points. Breakfast packed for the journey, we caught a taxi down to the station in plenty of time for the train due at 06.46 am. J was with us again for this jaunt and as is his wont, as soon as the announcer stated that ‘The train approaching platform 1 is the Grand Central Express to London King’s Cross’, he disappeared for a smoke.
Sigh. Looks like it’s going to be one of those trips again where I spend most of my time on edge and constantly looking for him. Nothing ever changes does it? Used to spend all my time doing exactly the same when he was a child. (wonder why my children have always had a penchant for wondering off? Escapism?) Anyway I digress, back to the day in question.
We boarded our train. K and J were sat together, I was sat behind them. Facing backwards. Hmm. I was sure I had asked for forward facing and a table! We picked up at Wakefield, Pontefract and Doncaster before picking up ear popping speed for the rest of the journey down to London King’s Cross where we pulled in a good ten minutes early at 09.35am. Firstly a toilet break (K and I, J never seems to require one for some strange reason) then after enquiring in the lost property office how we could find the tour bus stop we crossed the road and stood waiting for a tour bus. The weather wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t raining nor was it too cold at this point in time.
When the tour bus arrived we bought our ‘hop on hop off’ tickets and sat down. The driver had explained that he would be taking us as far as Marble Arch and then we would have to get off this ‘black route’ bus and board a ‘red route’ bus for the whole tour of London and in order to take in the best sights. We also wanted to journey down the Thames on a river cruise and apparently this was the best route for us to take.
K and I hadn’t gone upstairs on this bus but J had. Mind you, not that he was taking in any of the Capitals sights as he had his eyes firmly fixed on his mobile screen instead constantly texting his girlfriend for the whole day we were there, and mustn’t have actually noticed a thing. My readers will no doubt remember the last jaunt that he accompanied us on up to Edinburgh where he did exactly the same so I have arrived at the conclusion that these adventures we invite him on are a complete waste of time as he is obviously not interested in sightseeing at all.
At Marble Arch, we left the black tour and transferred to the red. This time we went upstairs and armed with earphones (those cheap earphones that I can never get to fit my earholes at all and are constantly falling out) we plugged in to hear the commentary as we toured around. K had to move seats to the one in front as her earphones didn’t work. J didn’t even bother plugging any in seeing as his attention was elsewhere. (mobile phone screen)
We drove past many familiar sights as we made our way on the tour towards where we intended to alight for the river cruise, Madam Tussauds, the Telecom Tower, the Statue of Eros, Trafalgar Square and then down Whitehall and past Horse Guards parade and Downing Street then over Westminster bridge were we alighted for our river cruise. Had we remained on the bus, we would have gone past Westminster Abbey and also Buckingham Palace, which we actually did tour later that day. A short walk back over the bridge took us to the pick up point for our City Cruise river tour.
Everyone boarded the tour boat and we set sail. We were seated upstairs where we could get the best camera shots of all the wonderful landmarks and buildings along the route. First of course the famous London Eye which was conveniently straight opposite our river cruise boarding site. It was at this point where the weather seemed to me to change from being a pleasant October day to clouding over and becoming a cold windy chilly October day. Our resident tour guide who was busy pointing out all of the sights as we made our way down the Thames, was a bit of a joker cracking the inevitable joke about every venue as he pointed out to us. We all laughed suitably at them all. Well, apart from J who was too engrossed in his texting and hadn’t raised his head from his mobile screen since we boarded the boat.
When the boat reached the Tower of London we decided to alight. Knowing how much touring around the tower would probably cost, I warned them that maybe we would be only viewing it from outside but apparently we could pick up the tour bus again from this point and anyway, it was dinner time and one of our merry band was hungry. (no prizes for guessing who.) So after taking some snaps of the Tower of London and visiting a nearby souvenir shop where K (all food forgotten for the moment) went gaga over the t-shirts on display and just HAD to have one, and J glanced away for a few minutes from his mobile screen in order to buy his girlfriend a t-shirt stating ‘my boyfriend visited London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ we then set off in a hunt for the nearest MickyD’s for our dinner.
As it turned out we had quite a walk and lot’s of enquiries of passers by before we actually found one. We had noted our ‘hop on, hop off’ tour buses ran along this road, but finding a stop where we could board one proved to be very elusive. You see the tour buses have their own pick up points along their routes, they don’t pick up at any old bus stop, oh no! At last after trying to flag down umpteen tour buses as they went past us, we managed to find a stop right outside St Pauls Cathedral. We boarded the tour bus and went upstairs. Our tour now took us back past the Tower of London and over the famous Westminster Bridge. By now the weather had changed for the worse. It was beginning to get really windy and quite chilly at that on top of the bus and glancing at K sat next to me, I noticed that she looked as if she was in one of those wind tunnels where your cheeks are pulled in. I put her coat hood up for her to try and shield her from the chilly wind.
Like true brits we gritted our teeth and steadfastly weathered the cold biting winds by remaining sat upstairs where perhaps someone with more sense would have gone downstairs out of the biting wind to get warm. It was blowing a gale up there! J was luckier than us because he was wearing his jolly pirate hat. ( see pics) so at least his head was covered. We passed the newly built Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, the Imax Cinema, past the London Eye and from there onto Westminster Abbey. Not that we could see anything mind you, as by now we were having to keep our eyes constantly closed from the freezing wind.
From there we made our way past Buckingham Palace and St James park, which on the odd occasions where I could keep my eyes open for more than a split second looked very attractive. I spotted someone running in the park in just some shorts and a t-shirt. Blimey! Their hardly souls down here! I thought to myself as we sat shivering on top of the bus. By now, the afternoon was moving on. Time to make our way back to King’s Cross for our train back home. and we arrived back at Marble Arch where we waited for the black tour to take us there. By this time, K and I were literally frozen through, J also stated that he was cold, so cold in fact that his fingers had frozen up thereby explaining why he was no longer using his mobile.
Back at King’s Cross, we had plenty of time to wait for our train. To help defrost I bought us all a drink and a snack to eat from a nearby cabin. K had a delicious looking hot chocolate topped with cream and a chocolate chip cookie, J had a Coffee Latte (large size, don’t know how he drinks what he does and not need a toilet. Is he human?) accompanied by an Oat and Wholemeal cookie and a piece of cake, whilst I opted for a warm cup of tea and a packet of gluten free crisps. ( much to K’s annoyance and envy) We stood (apparently at King’s Cross station, no one sits down) consuming our lovely hot drinks trying vainly to thaw out.
I think it was from this point that our day began to take a turn for the worse. Firstly remember that K and I needed to visit the loo (at 15p each a pop) J announced that he was going outside for a smoke. He wouldn’t be long. We waited. And waited. People dashed past us to catch their trains because at Kings Cross they seem unable to display which platform your train is destined to depart from until one minute before its due departure. Our legs ached. No sign of son. We waited some more. Finally on seeing K’s frozen pale face, I instructed her to remain where she was whilst I went looking for him. ( a task that I have undertaken for the last twenty five years I might add.)
Outside there was no sign of him. Glancing up as I past, our train was up on the electronic bill board but no platform assigned to it yet. Where was my son? I was to repeat this journey many times in the next half an hour or so. Then I suddenly remembered that I had my mobile with me (doh!) so I rang him.
“Where on earth are you?” “I’m outside!” “Oh no your not!” my reply. “I am now!” came the sharp retort. I asked him to please return because we badly needed a toilet break. He finally returned and K and I visited the loo. Still no sign of which platform our train was to depart from. At this point my dear readers, I must end this tale because what happened next deserves a separate post dedicated to the whole sorry saga that was to emerge and end our day out with me very nearly coming to blows with one of the Grand Central staff.