I slept in this morning then had a messenger call with my daughter Kelly to catch up on news at home. Then down stairs into the breakfast dungeon. The ceiling is really low which makes the place look even more crowded than it actually is. As it was just after 9:30 am it was not as busy as yesterday.
Today’s plan was going to Kings Cross Station to Platform 9 3/4 (where Harry Potter catches the train to Hogwarts) then off to see Shellbe in Teddington where she is nannying.
We walked to Kings Cross station. On the way there were more beggars, one called Tim had a sign saying he is a person and no donation is too small. I can’t help wondering how each person I see begging ended up where they are, what went wrong in their life to bring them to here. I can imagine with the price of rent in London you would need a pretty well paid job to be able to afford somewhere decent to live.
Just before Kings Cross there was a big old Hotel called St Panras, established in 1873 when rail ruled the travel industry. Situated by St Panras international train station and Kings Cross station.
To get to Teddington Station we had the choice of trying to catch 2 tubes to Waterloo and then a train, or catch a taxi to Waterloo and then the train. I hadn’t been in a London Black Cab yet so we decided to catch the Cab. I hadn’t taken into account how busy the traffic is. It look about 35 minutes to go 5.5km, we could have walked. There was one light that took 7 traffic light changes before we got through it.
The taxi driver was friendly and was telling us about the cabs. Like NZ they can only stay on the road until a certain age and then need to be replaced. The replacement cabs in London all need to be electric. They will cost £65,000 and with their range will not be able to get through a day without being charged. The driver lives 100 km out of London, so will already have gone through a lot of electricity just getting in. A lot of taxis are rented and driven constantly 24 hours – as soon as one driver finishes the next starts. Having to charge cars is going to take much longer than filling up with diesel. The cabbies view is it’s a great idea in principle but is going to cause huge problems, and he and a number of his cab driver friends will find it is not longer economical. The black London Cabs are made in China.
We got to Waterloo – what a huge station! Numerous boards of train time tables. We found the one for Teddington – Platform 18 going in about 15 minutes. The train was 10 carriages long and I was concerned that only the first few carriages would be going, but I spoke to the driver and he said no the whole train was going. He asked where we were going and when we said Teddington he advised us to get a middle carriage as a number of the platforms are currently too small for the new trains, and if you catch the first or last couple there is no platform to get off onto. I was surprised to note that not all platforms are wheelchair accessible.
Looking out the window we passed row after row of houses looking like a set for Coronation Street. There are also a number of individual gardens with sheds and veges and flowers.
When we got to Teddington Shellbe was waiting for us with Matthew, one of the two boys she nannies. Mathew was delighted to see me again and jumped up and gave me a big hug.
We walked through Teddington and Matthew told us about the barber where when you get your hair cut you get a lollipop, and then turned and looked speculatively at Brett and said “Brett you should get your hair cut” no ulterior motive I am sure. We stopped at a café and had a panini and Matthew had a chocolate ice-cream.
When we got to the house Matthew was very keen to get me outside playing swing ball. Then it was Brett’s turn while I chatted to Shellbe.
The family that Shellbe is nannying for are South African and one set of Grandparents were currently visiting. They arrived back from a walk and while Shellbe went to get the other boy Asher from school we chatted to them. Asher is 6, so being a bit older than Matthew is a bit more reserved but he soon warmed up and wanted to play chess, and went into great detail about two games where he bet his mum.
We decided after about another hour that while Shellbe was bathing and feeding the boys that we would go to one of the last local pubs and have a pint. We went into a pub called Hogwarths. While we were there Shellbe’s friend Polly joined us. Shellbe met Polly in Dunedin, and as well as living together there Shellbe stayed with Polly went she first got to both Sydney and London.
Last weekend they were in Las Vegas celebrating Polly’s 30 Birthday. Although I have hardly meet Polly I have heard a lot about her over the years and vice versus, so we chatted really well. Polly’s family is the opposite of Shellbes, in Polly’s there are 4 boys and girl, versus in Shellbe’s with 4 girls and a boy. At the pub I also got to hug a really cute 4 month old puppy, a Labrador-spoodle.
We then went to a pub called The Angler to celebrate Shellbe’s 31 and Polly’s 30 birthdays.
The weather was nice and warm so we sat outside. We got a couple of entrees, Polly doesn’t eat fish but we wanted to try the mussels so we got them and a platter to share. The mussels were ok but tiny by NZ standards.
I had seen fish pie on a number of menus so decided to give it a go, it was pretty tasty. We had a great time and all to soon it was time once again to say goodbye to Shellbe. Always hard but not as sad as last year as Shellbe is coming back home to live at least for awhile towards the end of the year .
Shellbe came to the train station to see us off. Polly also lives in London so we were able to catch the train and make the tube change with her. It was after 11pm at night and the tube was packed, hardly any room standing. We got off at King Cross and said goodbye to Polly who had another two stops.
When we got off the train and went across the road, Tim was in the same spot that he was in about 11 hours earlier. We gave him some money and wished him well. We walked back through the streets to the hotel. Like last night it was pretty busy still. Tomorrow we are off again.
Waving goodbye to Shellbe