Given they wanted a kings ransom to travel by train its was ‘all aboard the Megabus’ to head for the bright lights of London. To be fair despite the slightly odd route it was a very smooth & efficient means of travel that delivered us to Victoria Coach Station. From there we headed for our now favourite haunt for coffee & cake. Honestly I would forgive anyone who thinks all I do now is drink coffee & eat cake but seriously these cupcakes are worth the effort.
Ever keen to keep up with the tech I ditched waving plastic cards at the underground turnstiles in favour of my phone thus removing any kind of juggling to pay or read the underground map. The cashless world is with us & woe betide anyone who fails to keep up. I’m currently trying to embrace the evolving technology ever fearful of waking up one day & being unable to function due to being unable to use new methods.
Arriving at such an early hour gave us time to venture across town to the cost effective Point A Hotel & dump our bags. From there we set about exploring a bit of Camden. Nipping into the vegan restaurant we had ear marked to try for a lush meal we headed back to get an early night.
Next day we met up with one of my daughters old ship mates & spent a fun day exploring visiting The Angel Islington & Camden Market. When I attended Download festival a couple of years ago I marvelled at the outfits some of the festival goers where wearing & wondered where you bought such items – now I know! I could have spent much longer in Camden Town so think its a place to revisit at some point. Ever the awkward one I needed up ordering a vegan salad with bacon as the standard salad in one venue didn’t appeal. I just was grateful we had to order via an app for that one.
Six, a musical of sorts based on the wives of King Henry Vlll with elements of modern humour was the show we planned to see but as that finished early we were able to snag more tickets to see Jamie at the theatre next door.
As we criss crossed our way around London on the tube I couldnt help but think of the places on the monopoly board as we whizzed by. Indeed the visit to the Angel Islington made me think it would be fun to see if you could actually visit all the places named in that game.
I used to listen to a Radio 4 quiz show which featured a game called Mornington Cresent which I thought was fictitious until we actually passed through the station!
For the final day we opted for a visit to the gardens of Buckingham Palace which was weird for me as I last went there as a guest to a Garden Party in 1990. The weather wasn’t great but we still managed to get a good look around & picnic between the downpours. Remarkably it hadn’t seemed to change over much other than the addition of a shop & toilet block where the marquees that held the tea things had been located previously. In 1990 the Queen, Lady Diana & other royals were in attendance at the garden party however no one seemed to be home this time around.
Our visit done we headed back to the coach station and back to Bristol having had a brilliant little break which was fun provided an escape from the trials & tribulations of what seems to have been the long time cooped up in the various lockdowns.
Hope all reading this are staying safe & will have more to tell shortly as will have hopefully been to a couple of festivals if the music gods are on my side.
As the end of lockdown loomed in England the urge to flee the confines of home grew and the chance to grab coffee with a friend too great an opportunity to miss. So despite the atrocious weather forecast & some other constraints we plotted a quick trip to Wales.
Checking the forecast the night before departure hubby decided the safer option was to take the car so we packed accordingly & set off the next morning. We only got to Chepstow when the aroma in the car turned from ‘fresh linen’ to ‘burning clutch’ which left only one option – turn back rather than risk a total breakdown of both us & the car! Undeterred I repacked in a flurry while the bike was being got ready & we set off once again. Scary probably doesn’t cover the sensation we felt recrossing the Old Severn Bridge in gale force winds but we didn’t get blown off. Relentless rain dogged us which meant we were more than a little damp when we stopped for a cup of tea & chat with a friend before remounting for our final destination. By the time we reached Portmadog it was several hours later than scheduled & we resembled drowned rats. Thankfully the staff at the Royal Sportsman were on the case getting us checked in quickly and hot meals organised.
All thoughts of ‘whose mad idea was this’ were pushed aside the next day as we rode to Portmerion for a look around. Whilst the ground was wet underfoot the sky was blue & by mid morning the sun was blazing. One of the small upsides of the restrictions was that there were not many others at the venue so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Wandering down through the village with the eclectic mix of architecture was relaxing & interesting. Plenty of times to snap instagram worthy shots without having to wait for a vista to clear!
A couple of hot drinks & some sticky buns later we had seen the sights, walked the grounds & bought a picture so were ready to venture on. Collecting the helmets from the storage we hopped back on for a ride around the area soaking up the beautiful scenery & feeling lucky to have escaped the rain. Stopping for another brew ( yes we are truly British & consume way too much tea) we did get caught in a local shower but it was nothing compared to the previous day.
The following day we opted for a ride on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways which winds its way up to the unique spiral at Dduallt where fantastic mountain scenery can be had. The covid restrictions meant that we pretty much had the carriage to ourselves and didn’t have much a queue at the Tan-y-Bwlch Team Room.
The forecast for the return journey home was grim but we set off in the dry with our fingers crossed. As we headed through the spectacular scenery it felt that we were being chased by the rather dark & angry looking clouds but miraculously it didn’t rain.
Earl Grey & Lemon Cake
If you ever are passing through Rhayader then the Swan Tea Room is definitely worth a visit the coffee & cake are lush but you do need cash they don’t take cards. Suitably refreshed we continued onwards and managed to dodge the rain until we reached the outskirts of Gloucester where we got soaked but we were so close to home it wasn’t so bad.
Meanwhile the restrictions in England seem to have lifted a little but we still are by no means back to ‘normal’ what ever that might mean now. Second jab next week means I should be good to go for some of the music events that for the moment still seem to be viable but what last year taught me was ‘nothing is certain’. I remain sad that international travel still seems largely ‘off the table’ at the moment due to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any parity between countries over what is a consistent policy for managing length of quarantine or acceptable paperwork. The traffic light system the UK is a list of ‘countries ok to visit’ but seems ill conceived & likely to change as quickly as you can utter ‘new variant’. Literally you could quite legitimately leave to visit a ‘green country’ to find its turned ‘red’ which would risk you being stranded (as happened to my brother in law) or trying to source a premature return journey with all the nightmarish scenarios that might lead to. So frustratingly for me it seems that the tent will be getting some use if the festivals get the go ahead & UK based accommodation will be the thing. Our next planned visit should be to Scotland to use a voucher purchased nearly two years ago! However its by no means certain we can go at this point as Scotland are still running on a completely different set of rules. It will make travel plans a challenge what ever your destination.
Meanwhile trying to make up for lost time by eating out & catching up with friends and family. The relaxation of some restrictions means its been possible to catch up with some friends & family so in order to support local business we have been eating out more than normal. Out being the operative word as literally most has been in some drafty cold places but largely its been worth it.
So until next time stay safe but hopefully have some fun & lets see where this crazy roller coaster takes us next time.
The danger of being let loose shopping without your glasses is that you end up with a few surprise purchases, one of which was a 90minute foot peel in a bag. Perfect opportunity I thought to give this a go while settled to watch the latest Basement Noise featuring Zack’s set list.
The All Time Low boys were on form, the music was fab & my feet initially felt really soft & silky. It wasn’t however until I actually read the packet I realised that this was far from a gentle foot moisturising treatment but one designed to strip dead skin! Next few days saw me shedding a lizard like trail of scaly stuff all over the place every time I took my socks off. As the home pedi packets were on a 3 for 2 it will be interesting to see what my feet get to endure when the next Basement Noise streams at the end of the week!
Way before lockdown was even contemplated I rashly applied to get involved with a charity fund raising event that essentially was organising some live music in a pub. However by the time the selection process got underway, lockdown was looming forcing other options had to be considered. Two of us were introduced and together we set up a digital fundraising event that put us in a good place to explore what else was possible digitally. A few zoom calls later & we were involved in a pilot scheme in August that went remarkably well all challenges considered so we were keen to participate in a larger event.
As I write the culmination of many months work is currently playing online and I for one am proud of my small contribution in making it happen. The musicians who have taken part have been really great & it has been fantastic to watch their performances from some creative yet covid safe locations. In addition I have gathered a fair few skills along the way too which is always a bonus. So as the somewhat wild digital ride comes to an end who knows what will be next for me to get involved in. Never mind a lockdown life round here is seldom dull for long it seems.
In the gaps between doing digital stuff I have been filling my time creatively with writing & playing my guitars. I probably have mentioned my guitar teacher has the patience of a saint given he has to endure me plucking away & murdering songs merrily as I go but I’m grateful as I really find playing a great way to escape mentally at the moment.
Wishing everyone as stress free time as possible as the festive season approaches & you all stay as safe as you can.
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