A couple of months ago I was contacted by my brother’s partner Ger, asking if Clare and myself could help with a birthday surprise for my brother Peter.
Unbeknown to Peter, Ger had booked a surprise weekend in London for his birthday (it’s worth mentioning here that Peter and Ger live in Dublin). The plan was that we’d ‘appear‘ unexpectedly as part of the trip and spend the day together.
And so it was that Clare and myself travelled down to London on Saturday in time to make our appearance at the Nag’s Head pub in Covent Garden.
I was a little nervous as we got closer to the pub, as the street’s were busy and I didn’t want Peter to spot me before we got there and ruin the surprise. I was also conscious that being six foot three, I hardly blend into the crowd that well – I don’t think I would make a good spy!
Not far from the pub, I glanced down a side-street and to my horror looked straight at Peter. I quickly ducked down, grabbed Clare and dragged her round the corner, “he’s there, Peter’s there, I just looked straight at him but I don’t think he noticed me.”
We rushed down the street knowing that Peter and Ger would turn round after us any minute. Clare shouted to go into a shop but the doorway next to me was a Paul Smith shop, “I can’t afford anything in there!“. Clare pushed me in.
After a short period pretending to be interested in a very expensive shoe, we ventured carefully outside and crept into the pub. The pub was packed but there he was on the other side of the bar. I crouched down and squeezed forward through the assorted drinkers like a lion stalking its prey – or possibly a man with a serious back problem trying to get to the loos.
What I couldn’t see though in my hunched-down position, was that Peter had his drink, and was now walking straight towards me. The crowd parted and Peter was confronted by this strange man squatting and creeping towards him. I looked up from his feet and said the first thing that came to me, “oh, hello. D’you come here too?“.
We had a great time in London with Peter, Ger and Ger’s brother Derek (Derek lives in London, he joined us later). We had a few drink’s in the Nag’s Head and then met up that evening before travelling to Soho for more drinks, a beautiful meal in a local Tai restaurant and then on to the Hippodrome Casino.
Now I’ve been to casinos before and to be honest I’m not really a gambler. When I’ve gambled in the past I’ve proved to be fairly incompetent and extremely unlucky, so I’ve learnt to simply keep the money in my pocket and not bother. So the lure of the casino didn’t really work for me, but I happily watched as Peter gave Ger encouragement and she went onto more than double her money, I think Derek did even better, so a good night had by all – it seems gambling does pay. Just not for me.
Good company, good food and a great location. In fact we had such a good time, I forgot to take any pictures.
The next day we met up for a debrief on the previous night before Peter and Ger had to catch their flight home. Always a pleasure to see them, we bid them farewell and wondered what to do next?
As we were south of the river we walked to the Globe Theatre, which I’d always wanted to see, and did the tour. The Globe is a recreation of the theatre that Shakespeare’s plays were first shown in, and is a very active venue with live shows throughout the summer. The Globe is open air so they only use it during the warmer months and then they use the new, candle-lit, Sam Wanamaker theatre next door, which is undercover (apologies for the photos, they’re all taken on my phone).
The tour was interesting and we got to explore a little bit, though I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t actually go onto the stage. It did, however, make me really want to see an actual show there. We didn’t have time this trip, but we both promised ourselves that we’d book something in the new year and make a special effort.
As we finished the tour, we discovered that a surprise, free, event was arriving. A procession of performers in a variety of costumes came into the theatre and we were encouraged to follow them. It’s hard to describe what was going on but it was a kind of theatrical, Elizabethan harvest festival with singers, actors and morris dancers.
We watched it for a while and then the procession left and made it’s way onto Borough Market. We decided to get a bite to eat and then make our own way to the market, as it had been recommended to us.
After the market, we headed home.
Travelling by tube we arrived at Euston only for Clare to hear an announcement that she recognised as a coded alarm. This was shortly followed by an instruction to evacuate the underground station. Luckily we were where we need to be so we quickly climbed the escalators out into Euston station, only to discover that the trains were disrupted as some idiot had thrown something off a bridge and it had hit a moving truing damaging the train and the tracks.
Again, we were lucky. We managed to find a train home and get seats – all part of the adventure, eh.