Monday 3 December 2018

Stopover Visit

We drove up from Cornwall on Wednesday morning, arriving at Droitwich early afternoon. We were only on a brief stopover so unloading the car was quickly completed and all the services turned back on - including a quick lighting of the stove! The journey was very straightforward as traffic was generally fairly light.

The reason we were making the trip was because Mike had a special service to attend in St Paul's Cathedral on Friday and we were both taking the opportunity to do other things on the same trip.

We awoke on Thursday to high winds and occasional showers. We sorted out with the marina office  - helped by an email from Phil at Stem to Stern - what blacking paint to use (not due until next March when we have booked a slot) before driving into town. We picked up lunch at Morrisons before parking at the station. The RCP car park (which is the best for train trips as by the time we get to the station all the station car parking- there is not a lot - has been taken by early morning commuters) has changed the way in which to pay for parking. When we have used it before we needed to have a downloaded app but when Mike tried it this time it failed to respond. A quick call to the company helpline revealed that they stopped using an app some months ago and we now had to use a website instead!

Once on the platform we saw that our train to Birmingham was ten minutes late - subsequent announcements gradually extended that so that it was at least half an hour late eventually. The high winds had led to Network Rail imposing a general 50 mph speed limit and the whole system was in some chaos with long distance trains being very late indeed, with quite a few cancelled, including the one we were originally booked onto from New Street to Euston (but we would not have made it anyway!)

Because we had booked online, we received an email from the train operator advising that we could use our tickets on any train that was running! We checked the Live Trains data and found that a train was scheduled to start from New Street about ten minutes after we arrived and we headed to the platform as quickly as we could. Since it had not come from 'up country' there were at least some seats still free - although it gradually filled up both here and at the next couple of stops. However at the due time nothing happened until we were given the news that no driver was currently available and we would leave when they found one! In fact it was only about ten minutes late leaving but that extended a little en route as the system struggled to catch up after the speed limits (which by now were gradually being lifted)

Mid afternoon we arrived at the Travelodge in Bethnal Green (never been to that one before and knew little about the area). We opted for that one rather than our more usual one in Waterloo as we had arranged to meet our eldest grand daughter for a meal in the evening - she is at QM University nor far away.

After some debate we walked along Bethnal Green Road - there were not many options and we ended up at one we had noticed online, Wood Mangal, a Turkish style restaurant. Although unpretentious, the food was very tasty and there was a very friendly welcome and good service for a very reasonably priced menu. We were left with no doubt about what the student generation think about Brexit!

Next day, Mike went to St Paul's for the Consecration of the new Bishop of Truro (in whose appointment Mike had played a part). As might be expected this was a splendid and formal occasion with lots of brightly garbed people! OK, so the photo is a typical tourist pic but unofficial cameras are not allowed inside! But at least it proves that he was there . . .

Afterwards, Mike had been invited to a reception at Lambeth Palace - coaches were provided to transport across the river. This was an informal occasion and, at least for once, Mike knew a number of the other people there from his time at General Synod meetings.

Meanwhile, Christine had a slow morning - she took some photos of the view from the bedroom window which frame the distance view of the tall buildings in the City, including the Gherkin and  Cheesegrater, between blocks of student accommodation.

After a good breakfast, she took a short wander around the area close to the hotel and visited the Museum of Childhood. We visited several years ago with much younger grand children but Christine was still amused by the fact that not only on display were toys from our era and those of the next generation, but even a few from the most recent one! She then went down to the Embankment to meet up with daughter who works at Savoy Place. They found a place for lunch and had plenty of time for a good chat.

We both met at Euston Station (more readily than we anticipated) and caught our train back to New Street. It was excessively full (the announcement that on board snacks were available was a bit pointless as the aisles were totally blocked by people standing - at least we had reservations).

Again, the train ran late and we came close to missing our connection back to Droitwich - which would have meant a wait of an hour at that time of the day, out of commuter time.

We did make it and were quite pleased as we were invited to the annual Christmas reception at the marina - we had let them know that we would be a little late but another hour might have meant that we missed any food that was going! The party was in full swing when we arrived and it seemed that quite a  number of moorers who are not resident had come for the weekend just because of the event!

We were able to chat with several other boaters and it was a really friendly time (as is generally the case when boaters get together!) Eventually we made it back to the boat and collapsed! At least we had taken five minutes when we first came back from the station to light the stove and turn on the heating.

Next morning we were able to pack up and load stuff back into the car comparatively quickly and were on the road much sooner than expected. This meant that we were back home before three o'clock with another very quiet journey. We need to come back today as Mike had a date with a small West gallery choir which he belongs to who were booked as part of the seasonal events at a nearby National Trust house on Sunday afternoon.

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