The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Comedy of Errors

Monday, 21 October - 8 a.m.

I suppose, given that we are sitting, quite bored, in a rather barebones room in a concrete bunker-like hotel on Drury Lane -- to be specific the Travelodge -- I can say only, "We are not amused." This displeasure originated yesterday morning, and so before describing our Saturday adventures in Bath, I must first jump ahead and relate more recent events starting with our drive from Bath to Gatwick airport. 

We left Bath yesterday, a few minutes before 10 a.m., for the two-hour drive to Gatwick. Every square inch of the car was occupied either by luggage or by us. This accumulation of "stuff" caused me to alter our plans to take the train -- the Gatwick Express -- into London's Victoria Station. When we arrived we would then have to take a cab -- a large cab -- to our flat a mile or so from the station. I simply could not picture the two of us physically accomplishing this, so I made a call and hired a car and driver to pick us up at the Avis site at Gatwick and drive us directly to our flat. The cost was actually about the same as the train-cab combination, perhaps £10 more. 

What a wonderful decision! Our driver, a middle-aged Pakistani who had lived in Germany for 20 years before moving to the UK (He prefers Germany.), ably negotiated the very heavy traffic and got us to our flat more or less on time. But before we arrived I used my cellphone to call Julian, the young Brazilian, who with his wife, manages the flat (along with a dozen other flats), and let him know our arrival time. That's when Julian told me there'd been a major water leak in the flat. Apparently a pipe connected to the boiler broke and flooded the apartment. He had a team of people working to get the place ready for occupancy so we could move in the following day (Monday, today) at 7 a.m. In the meantime he had made a reservation for us at a local hotel. 

When we arrived at the flat, located in Coventry House on Haymarket, Julian was there to greet us and asked our driver if he could take us directly to the hotel, a Travelodge on Drury Lane near Covent Garden. Because it was only a short drive, our kind driver agreed and off we went, accompanied by Julian. He, along with Ali, a hotel employee, helped us get everything up to our room. Believe me, it was a tight fit. The room was tiny and barebones functional, but did have a comfortable bed, so it was far better than sleeping on the street. It was, however, not at all comparable to the flat for which I had paid big bucks (or pounds). By the time we got settled it was past 5 p.m. and, once again, this aging couple were pooped. We grabbed a pizza in the hotel's cafe, went up to our room, and called it a night. Oh, yes, it was raining throughout all of this. Here's a common sign seen over here, one that sums it up well...


...and here's the door to Coventry House, the building our flat's in. Nice door. There's a steakhouse next door (note the sign). I might have to sample their offerings tomorrow evening.


Monday, 21 October - 4 p.m.

This morning, shortly after writing the above, Julian sent me a text telling us there'd been a change of plans. He would come to the hotel in a taxi to pick us up at 11 a.m., not 7 a.m., and take us to Coventry House so we could drop off our luggage. The flat wouldn't be ready until 2 p.m. Aarrrgghhh! Our plans for the day had to be shelved, perhaps scrapped is the better word. But there was little we could do about it so Dear Diane and I decided to roll along with whatever happened and try to make the best of it. We had a very bad buffet breakfast at the hotel, for £7.95 each, and made two elevator trips carrying all our luggage down to the lobby where we awaited Julian.

He arrived at 11 in a taxi as promised, drove us to Coventry House, and placed us in unit 17 on the top floor, not the unit we had originally rented. It is, however, comparable, and had obviously just been vacated since his wife was busy cleaning and readying it for us. And fortunately there's a lift, so we don't have to negotiate four flights of stairs. As I told Diane the night before, if our flat had been flooded, it would be several days at least before it could be occupied. I expected we'd be placed in another flat. It seems I was right.

We dropped off our luggage and took a walk, first to Picadilly, only a 100 yards away, and then to Trafalgar Square, just a few blocks farther. The sun peeked in and out all afternoon, and there was an occasional sprinkle, but we never had to use our umbrellas. We enjoyed a pleasant lunch at a local pub, served as usual by a pair of local young sweeties, both pretty girls. Once again, I overtipped. Photo of the pub below...


We stopped by a very nice bookstore -- at last count I think we've visited thirteen bookstores on this trip -- where I picked up a couple of books for the cruise back to the US: one on the Norman invasion an another on the Plantaganet kings. By the time we returned to the flat, it was almost 3:30 p.m., but everything was ready for us. And that's how things stand now. Diane's taking a nap but I'm raring to go out and get up close and personal with London.

I've included below a few photos of our late morning, early afternoon adventure. First are several photos of Picadilly, the over-the-top, touristy, honky-tonk center of London. But it's also a fun place if only for people-watching and window shopping. As you can see it was raining...




As we approached Trafalgar Square, we found ourselves outside St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church and took a moment to pay a visit. Here are some photos...




...and then, of course, the famous square itself, with a sandstone Admiral Nelson prominently poised atop his column of granite, and guarded by his four large bronze lions. It's all very British.




And finally two iconic London vehicles, the London taxi, or black cab, and the famous red, double-decker bus.


More later...

Monday, 21 October - 8 p.m.

At about 4:30 this afternoon Dear Diane and I stepped out again. This time we walked to Covent Garden to check out the shops, the food, the entertainment, the people, the whole experience. It's a fascinating place and almost 30 years since my last visit. It has changed. Here are some random photos...






Time for relaxing and a good book. I'll try to remember to tell you about Bath tomorrow.

What a remarkable world we live in. Thank God tonight for life...yours and everyone's. What a gift!


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