I’m an ex-Londoner and I miss it. I don’t get there as much as I’d like, but I keep an Oyster Card charged with about £5 at all times just in case. On the morning of 7 October 2019, I took my Lothian Buses Ridacard from its place and inserted my Oyster. Ready for the Tube!
The train journey from Edinburgh to London offers a tour in its own right. We caught the 9:30 LNER service from Platform 8 and headed south. Along the way the Bass Rock, the river, bridge, and sea of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the grand vista of the Tyne at Newcastle (a favourite place to visit, but not part of this tour), a view of Durham’s castle and cathedral, the college and university at Darlington, a glimpse of York Minster and York Railway Museum at 12:08… Arrived in London and headed to Earl’s Court where we had a tiny hotel room waiting.
The room was little more than a bed and a shower, but this was fine. We were only going to be there to sleep and wash and the location was close to transport. We knew what we were getting, having both lived and worked in the area before, so were not as disappointed as reviewers of the place had been before us. Other posher places were booked for the rest of the trip: it would do just fine for two nights.
Bags dropped, it was time to venture into the drizzly autumn afternoon. Where to? Hampstead. We went there often back in the day, usually on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Well, not that lazy: it took us more than an hour to get there from our miserable suburb in the south.
To Gloucester Road Tube with a chance to see a place where we’d both worked – Harrington Gardens. The fine arts and crafts building looked the same as it did when we both worked there in 2008.
Had a thought of visiting the second hand bookshop in Flask Walk, but it was full to the gills and impossible to navigate. In then out and into the Flask instead.
It’s a pub of various spaces. ‘Our’ table at the back was just as we’d left it more than a decade before. The decorations as remembered. The pressures of non-holiday life began to drop away.
I wondered about a job interview I’d been to the week before and decided that the job was not for me. It was for yet another short-term contract and would involve a massive commute. I pushed thoughts of it aside and determined to enjoy the holiday, but also give some thought to what might come next employment-wise.
Dinner at a chain restaurant was pleasant. The Cafe Rouge we used to go to was long gone by the looks of it. A browse around Waterstones then the day was over.