A last-minute and hastily-put-together plan for the weekend resulted in us going into London yesterday. Sadly, we'd wasted about 30 minutes of our lives stuck on the platforms of Gunnersbury and Kew Gardens waiting for a severely delayed District line service, only to bail on that plan of action and use the London Overground to pursue some convoluted way to the library and some lunch on the way at Rossopomodoro on Finchley Road.
A cocktail-or-two-after-lunch later, we found ourselves making our way round to Kentish Town, where we walked from the London Overground station to the Thameslink line down to St Pancras. It was only the one stop, but we rarely have a chance to get to see or use this service and alighting at St Pancras International does have the feel of perhaps being in Central Europe, what with the long and spacious platforms. St Pancras does have a special place in my heart. I love the way the light the floods in from the magnificent roof of the Barlow Sheds, even on a grey day the upper concourse never feels gloomy to me, and seeing the statue of Sir John Betjeman looking up in wonder never ceases to make me smile.
Part of the reason for turning up at St Pancras in the first place was down to a visit to the British Library in search of some texts for some upcoming work for an essay. Seth had never visited the British Library before, so I took the time to take him into the Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery. If you appreciate the craftsmanship of bookbinding and ornate sacred texts, it's a pretty cool place to go, and there's quite a lot to look at, the bonus being that it's all free. Sadly, the Magna Carta portion of the gallery was shut, and we couldn't get access to the texts that we needed for research for our essays, so after exiting via the gift shop, we made our way back to St Pancras for some coffee, people watching, and more wanderings.
We headed back to the Thameslink to go home via Blackfriars. This was around the time I'd noticed that the sun was starting to set, but it had only just turned half-past five. :( That said, we stood on the platform at Blackfriars to allow for me to bask in the last of the dying rays of autumnal sunshine for the day.
As it happens, it turns out you can get a pretty good East London view on Platform 1 at Blackfriars, though it was a shame about the overcast at the time.
We wandered downstairs to get a Richmond train back home. I'd forgotten that the Underground part of Blackfriars had been all refurbished, and so it was slightly bizarre to go down to the platform and find it wasn't quite the hove of a station that I remember it to be. With the ample platform lighting, high ceilings and spacious platforms, Blackfriars Underground seemed to take on the Central Europe railway look too.
I forget how long the District line takes, but we made it back to Gunnersbury at some point in the early evening, and just in time to miss the egress and carnage from the rugby down the road at Twickenham. The rest of Saturday evening was fairly sedate, the only excitement provided through making dinner together and settling down to watch Scream on the TV, only to get to bed late and subsequently only end up falling asleep at around 3AM. Which wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't have to get up early to meet one of my dearest friends for Sunday lunch in Soho.
Polpetto is a rather charming restaurant tucked away on Berwick Street, specialising in small Venetian dishes. The menu is simple and designed in such a way that you pick a few dishes and can share them with friends. My dear friend Woodside arrived about ten minutes after myself, and by this point I'd already had an espresso and ordered in the Prosecco (it appears to be an unspoken tradition of ours whenever we meet for Sunday brunch/lunch). The food was very good once it had arrived – I thoroughly recommend the zucchini fries and the anchovy and caper dishes.
We ordered quite a few plates as well as a sweet each, all very moreish, and we spent much of the time laughing and catching up as good friends do. That said, Woodside had another engagement to run off to, and I didn't want to stay in town for too long, but he accompanied me on a brief run up to the Japan Centre, where I stocked up on favourite snacks and treats I remember from childhood (and I like to wind up the creepy weeabo blokes you sometimes find in there that just loiter and blatantly look like they're trying to find themselves a Japanese girlfriend). We didn't stay long though as it was absolutely manic up there and given I was hyped up on espressos and Prosecco, I would've ended up bulldozing a whole load of people in the aisles.
Quickly popped into Whole Foods to pick up some rice milk and fruit tea, before getting the Piccadilly line straight home. Arrived to find Seth had returned home from some fruit picking in Iver, and he'd brought home some lovely fresh apples and a bottle of freshly pressed apple juice. :)
So that was my weekend in London, as view through my Instagram feed.
Anyway, now that I think about it, I hardly go into Central London these days, so spending two days of the weekend in town is pretty unusual for me. Having gotten used to being just a 5-minute bus ride away from Chiswick High Road and the hustle and bustle of that particular district means that I find Central London fairly overwhelming. I also think that it means that I'm getting (or at least feeling) old. The other reason that I don't go into town much is because I pretty much detest most people that travel on London's public transport. Though I get my travel in London for free, it's bad enough that I have to put up with commuting on public transport to get myself to work, so having to rely on it in order to get around town in my spare time means that half the time I just don't bother anymore. I've guess I've enjoyed keeping things local and discovering things based on locality, especially as there's so much on my doorstep.
(Yeah – definitely getting old.)