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Monday, November 01, 2010

Day trip to London- Part 1

We went to London on Friday. The car hasn't been taxed and insured for around a month, which will explain why it has been sitting on our front drive going nowhere for the past few weeks, even if Carol has been off for Half Term. We woke early and decided to go to get the car fulled up and do a bit of shopping in Asda. 24-hour opening does have it's advantages after all, I suppose. The petrol station is one of those places which has no staff on duty, you put your card in a slot in the pump, key in your P.I.N. and then fill up. The car almost breathed a sigh of relief when it got it's drink of petrol.

As we drove round and into the Asda car park, a lorry came hurtling towards us through the empty car park. Had it not been for the fact that there was a shopping trolley in the way, I swear we would have been run into and there would have been a really nasty accident. I very much doubt whether either of us would be here now to tell the tale. The driver was being totally reckless. I presume he'd been to unload his goods somewhere in Asda, or had been to buy something and was in a tearing hurry to get home, but in all honestly it was really dangerous. Had we been able to see his registration plate we could have reported him, but as it was under-lit where we were and there was very little light we could see nothing and the lorry sped off before we could read the number. We just sat and drew breath before we went into the supermarket  and  got milk and breakfast cereal, so we could go home and have something to eat before we went to the train station.

We went to the bus stop, which is just over Saxon Street (over the bridge and down some steps, very near the Academy where Carol works) and waited for a bus. There was a youth tuned into his iPod standing and waiting when we got there, but very soon the bus appeared. You always know when the bus is approaching as they now have these digital displays, very like the system they use on Underground  and mainline railway stations. The bus turned up and we paid something like £1.20 each for our journey into the Milton Keynes Central station. Having lived in Milton Keynes for nearly four years it's the first time I've been on a bus. I suppose that's what comes of relying on a car for your means of transport. Perhaps we ought to use the busses far more. Anyway, the journey took no more than 10 minutes.

We went into Costa coffee and bought two coffees to drink on the train and then went to book our tickets. There is currently an offer on through the internet to get your return ticket into London for £10 each. We had to sign up to the train company's website (London Midland) and then download the voucher and get it printed, which we had done and then queued for some time before we could actually reach the ticket booking window in the concourse of the station. Once we'd paid for our tickets we walked down to the platform to wait for our train, which wasn't due for twenty minutes or so. It wasn't too clear which platform it was coming in to, but there was quite a crowd of people standing and waiting on Platform One, so we assumed it would be from there, but, as there was a train already on Platform Two we got on that train. I think the other train was a faster train which went straight in to Euston, whilst the other train took longer, as it stopped at all the stations along the way, but even then we got there relatively fast. I have to say we were somewhat surprised by the dirty state of the carriage we sat on, as it was littered with old unread newspapers, coffee cups and other litter.

On arrival in London we had to purchase another ticket which allowed us to use the Underground within the centre of London. We then had to get onto the Underground and go to Embankment. We got off the train and walked over the Thames via a footbridge at Waterloo Bridge, at least, I think it was Waterloo Bridge.  We could see the London Eye quite clearly as we went over the footbridge. Nothing would get me to go on this huge wheel thing, contraption. And neither would Carol, as neither of us has a head for heights. We walked along the South Bank of the Thames, past the Royal Festival Hall towards Tate Modern, which was to be or destination.

It was a fairly mild day, surprising considering the time of year. There were a great many people walking along the path, looking in the shops which lined the route and generally enjoying themselves. We went past The National Theatre and then eventually reached Tate Modern. This has been open ten years and was converted from a former power station which was used to power the London Underground. It has become quite a good attraction mainly, I would say, because it is free to enter.
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