Sometimes an ill wind leads to a fresh way of thinking. Ever since moving to Hag Hill Rise I’ve always thought the best way of getting into London involves a leisurely stroll to Taplow station, a train into Paddington and then an exploration of the underground which may or may not be a success, depending on my navigational skills. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with this concept: no parking to worry about; no traffic to tackle; a sense of autonomy. But then a tube strike strikes and you think to yourself: there has to be another way.
Serendipity also plays a hand – this scenario happened just when I was thinking about a trip into London with an overnight stay, something never done before (when you live so close, why pay for a room?). What follows is a different way of doing things and, do you know what, a belated New Year resolution to make it happen – this spring.
- Get ‘him indoors’ (senior or junior) to drop off myself and pal at Eton bridge, taking the back route to avoid the traffic
- Take a five minute stroll to Windsor and Eton Riverside, grabbing a coffee and bite to eat if needed
- Catch train into Waterloo – train likely to be sat there ready and waiting; seat guaranteed as it’s the end of the line; dinky little table that you don’t get out of Taplow; slow but scenic route – yep, you stop at every station including ones you never heard of, but in just under an hour you also cruise past all the great London sights as you go right to the heart of the Southbank
- NO NEED TO EVEN LOOK AT A TUBE MAP!
- Stroll out of Waterloo (which is, incidentally, a surprisingly sophisticated station with a decent bookshop – Foyles – not to mention a range of other tasteful shops and eateries) and either head immediately over the Thames towards Covent Garden or …
- Head for a cheaper hotel on the Lambeth side of the river, ideally still with a view of the Thames booking.com
- Once checked in, the options are limitless …
- Use the hotel facilities, if there are any, quaff a glass of bubbly and/or
- Nab a couple of free tickets from Son Number Two and go on the London Eye (10 minutes from the station) or head over the river for the market in Covent Garden (15 minute walk) for some retail therapy
- Take in a show: these are the current options on londontheatredirect.com
|Kinky Boots||2.30pm or 7.30pm||£63 Dress circle (more choice currently for evening performance)|
|Mama Mia||3pm or 7.45pm||Rear of stalls, £63 either show, more seats for evening performance|
|Dream Girls||Fully booked||Both performances|
- If the weather is good, enjoy cocktails at the roof top Radio Bar (may need to book), just across the road from Mama Mia (which is, incidentally, just down the road from Kinky Boots)
- Have a light supper of tapas at the cellar place two doors down from Kinky Boots (Tom, what was it called?)
- Drink and be merry
- Enjoy a restful night in your hotel and either have breakfast there, or head back over the bridge to the many eateries on the other side – full English with mug of tea spotted for £4.90 and the place looked really cool!
- Follow this with some culture, perhaps? Tate Modern right on the doorstep; or walk down the Southbank to the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, etc – the best of London is stretched out before you
- Eventually, head back to the hotel, reclaim your bag and stroll back to Waterloo
The perfect plan!
How can it fail?