Monday, April 11, 2011

In praise of the 87 bus

London, England - 12-March-2011

We love the 87 bus; it leaves from just outside our house and goes all the way to Aldwych (Map of the route, PDF).

We use it regularly to get in to the West End on a Saturday, getting off at Charing Cross and walking up into Covent Garden and theatre-land. Even better we use the N87 to get home afterwards. Why spend £25 to get home in a black cab when you can snooze on the bus for £1.30.

Wandsworth - East Hill from the top of the 87 bus
Wandsworth - East Hill

I love to be in the front, right seat upstairs - it is the only place to be on a double-decker - from there you get the best views. From the 87 you get to see some of the great tourist sights of London.

Houses of Parliament from the top of the 87 bus
Houses of Parliament

Big Ben from the top of the 87 bus
Big Ben

From Parliament Square you go up Whitehall, past the Cenotaph, Downing Street and the Horse guards on sentry duty in full ceremonial uniform.

Nelson's Column from the top of the 87 bus
Nelson's Column

Visitors to the UK spend a lot of money to get here and see these and we get them all for less than two of your English pounds. Result!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Commuting from Wandsworth Town

London, England - 28/30-March-2011

This is why I prefer to commute by bike when I can. Living in Zone 2 is great for getting home late at night but the commute to work in the morning is not as much fun.

The 07:40 is generally the last train you can be sure of getting on but not this Monday. From 07:47 onwards you are often have to let one or two trains go before you can squeeze on.

Wandsworth Town rail station 07:40 on 28-March-2011
Wandsworth Town rail station 07:40 on 28-March-2011

The Thameside path is a different matter - no crowds here - and the river's ever changing moods. One day gray with the tide out, another day sunny and the tide is high (cue song).

Thameside path 07:40 on 30-March-2011
Thameside path 07:40 on 30-March-2011

Maybe I should take a series of photos from the same spot to illustrate - no matter - the point is that it is quicker to cycle to work than take the train (seriously), cheaper than the gym (saves me money) and you are there in the moment - no slug-like dozing on the train but all senses alert for the traffic around you - that wakes you up for the day!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Edinburgh - Scotland vs Italy

Edinburgh, Scotland - 19/20-March-2011

We went up to Edinburgh for a short city break based around the six nations Scotland vs Italy match.

Flying up on Saturday morning we had no time to do anything but dump our bags at the hotel and head straight for Murrayfield for pint of Guinness.

The atmosphere at rugby matches is always welcoming and the crowd friendly. Many of them take the opportunity to dress up in fancy dress - we've seen all sorts: Hawaiian grass skirts, nuns, school girls, Ali G, vikings and Smurfs...

Rugby supporters dressed as Smurfs
Rugby supporters dressed as Smurfs

What I liked was that both squads got an honour guard of a pipe band to escort their team buses round the stadium.

Bagpipes welcome Italian squad
Bagpipes welcome Italian squad

We needed lunch so wandered round the various fast food stalls seeing what was on offer. I just had to go for this particularly Scottish healthy and nutritious offering.

Deep fried haggis and chips
Deep fried haggis and chips

The evening meal, I am glad to say, was much more sophisticated - Cucina at the Hotel Missoni. As you might guess from the name an Italian restaurant and high quality it was too. The sommelier was particularly accommodating. Our red wine had the faintest hint of cork taint at that borderline level where it is hard to decide whether it is returnable. After a discussion the sommelier tasted and opened a new bottle. Marginally better and the other side of the borderline.

Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh castle

Sunday we did the castle - took the free half hour tour to get a basic orientation then spent another hour and a half wandering round.

To recover from a hard morning's touristing we had lunch at Monteith's in The High Street. The Top Table deal was a free glass of wine which they very kindly swapped for a glass of prosecco (as we were going to order more wine anyway). Excellent food, service and value, I would happily go back there again.

Sparkling aperitif
Sparkling aperitif

Then home for a quiet evening.