Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Five go mad(der) in London

Last weekend was THE BIG ONE......  yup, five slightly mad Expat ladies headed off to the big smoke sans husbands and children for a 'girlie weekend'.  Not that we'd been counting down the minutes or anything, but you could say we got a wee bit excited about the whole thing - and fortunately, it pretty much lived up to expectations.

My fellow Expat Kettwigefrau gives a pretty good run down on how we came to be heading off to London for a carefree weekend in her Blog - so I won't go into much detail, save to say it included a fair bit of wine....  Anyway, tickets bought, bags packed, husbands almost all home (more of that later!), children farmed out and we are ready - London Town here we come!

The first hurdle was to make sure we actually could all make it.  One husband was due to fly in on Friday lunchtime from the US, one wasn't due to arrive until Friday night from China, one was due to pick the children up at 5pm (and had us on tenterhooks just as we were waiting to board as he'd not arrived by then).. Fortunately, everything worked just fine and we could all get away!

Ready for Take Off
I'm not quite sure Dusseldorf Airport was ready for a gaggle of giggling girlies on Friday afternoon - which is what we had morphed into - perhaps marginally over-excited (but who cares!) - and there were some decidedly odd glances at check-in - poor souls praying they weren't on the same flight and even more worryingly in the sixth seat in the row!  KM who'd booked the tickets for us (saving up for a big air miles trip home....) had very kindly pre-booked our seats on the way out and lucky old us - we were in Row 1. Cue much commentary on the crew - the co-pilot who was very young, and our steward Alex - who was 25 if you were even minutely interested, but we managed to find that out - and in 'Lucky Seat F' was Paul (35) from Sussex - I could probably give you a run down of his full life history and vital statistics seeing that post a couple of glasses of wine, KP who was sitting next to him was unstoppable!

So we make Gatwick unscathed - even immigration was remarkably straight forward - the Americans in our party waltzed through with no trouble at all - although I was slightly dubious of the answer to the "what are you coming to England for?" question given by KM "to go shopping and drinking" - and well wouldn't you know she was the first one through!!  Bags collected we traipsed to find our onward connection via the lottery that is the UK rail network, but even that was running smoothly, on time, not overcrowded and even a clean train (wonders will never cease).  And then there we were - London (well Clapham but we won't split hairs over which side of the river counts...) Well for 2 of our party it was the first time in the UK, and London didn't disappoint - black cabs, double deckers, men in shorts - all good for first impressions!!

Coffee and Cake in the V&A Courtyard
Friday night passed in a haze of red and prosecco - quicker for some of us than others - I understand the hardcore were up well past the witching hour!  Saturday - our only full day here - and boy did we have plans.  We may have been up bright and early, but we didn't really get out till getting on for lunchtime - partly due to too much chit chat and partly due to the magnificent Full English Breakfast provided by our hosts - top stuff thank you!  So full of bacon, sausage, egg, beans etc, etc, we hit Sainsburys (an English supermarket) and Oh My God - you've never seen anything like it - D who came with us as unpaid Sherpa/pack horse didn't know which way to look, apparently, our eyes lit up and then we ladies scattered..... Now some of us know Sainsburys and had come with very specific lists, but for our New (to) England(ers!) it was a novel experience - and a proper supermarket not like what you find here.  So about three quarters of an hour later (I only went in for three things....) and with D very laden, we head off for the rest of the day, with strict instructions of where to meet and when.  The 2 Vs and KM headed to the Kings Road for some shopping fun and KP and I hotfooted it to the V&A to indulge in some cultural highlights. We had tickets for the Ballgowns Exhibition which was beautiful and we also managed to see the jewellery, some fabulous stained glass and have coffee and cake outside in the courtyard!

At 'The Club'
We then head up to Covent Garden for a sneaky bit of shopping (us being the non-shoppers) before we all met to go to H's club the Crazy Bear, for some well earned liquid refreshment.  Mine was very definitely earned as KP had insisted we walk up the stairs at Covent Garden tube station (about 10 storeys.....).  We weren't there long (about two bottles worth!) before we were off again for a quick change and dine at the flat as we had tickets for the cabaret.  Us Englanders had been looking forward to dinner - takeaway curry - delivered too - a real treat!  Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to our expectations - the curry itself was pretty good, but the Naan and the Bhajis really didn't make the grade - in fact when we asked D the next morning if he'd enjoyed  his Bhajis (he'd eaten after us once we'd left - sensible chap!) he said we'd not left him any - but that the dumpling things were alright!

So semi sated we head back to the bus for our evening's entertainment - the Crazy Horse cabaret - this didn't get off to a good start as the wine was shocking.... most of us managed to sip it a bit before casually putting the glass down somewhere and sauntering off. For us, not to finish a glass of wine (given that we'd been on the bubbles most of the afternoon) is quite something!  So the cabaret starts and it's all legs and boobs - now, I was expecting a significant amount of nudity - but I was rather expecting a bit more variety in the show rather than just dancing.  I noticed several people around us leave at the interval - and ironically they then missed the only other act which was a fabulous drum/tap number (the applause for that sketch was more than for the whole show at the end.).  Needless to say we were a bit underwhelmed.  What the show lacked in entertainment though, the group of drunk, bra-less, middle-aged women in front of us made up for and gave us all something to laugh about for the rest of the evening - thank you ladies!

Homeward Bound
On Sunday we had the morning to fill and managed a lovely brunch in Clapham at All Bar One (more prosecco and bloody marys) - and even some shopping (on a Sunday!) we popped into M&S for some forgotten essentials and some sausage rolls for KP (had to be M&S - nothing else would cut the mustard!) before heading back to Gatwick and back to Germany.  Now, all I need is to catch up on some sleep and give my liver a rest!  A top weekend, lots of fun and laughter and I can't wait to do it again - where next I wonder?

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