Great as in really good and great as in just enormous, fitted quite a lot in. Clare was out in London Friday night, and had got a hotel so I was planning to meet her later and we'd stay over so as to have a nice Saturday there too. Work is busy as ever and I was not intending to leave early, but the trains worked out that way so I snuck out at half four. Not sure what it is about the trains to and from work, if I miss my regular train in there is a 90 minute gap in service, and if I'd not got this 5pm from Westenhanger to London there would be a similar sort of wait. Planned to meet Camilla (of Popbitch) at 7.30 at The Lord Nelson and then maybe try and find Kosso somewhere, I knew he was at the FOWA conference in the day. Pleasant ride up, the train did get busy, I watched and listened to podcasts and things all the way, catching up on Collings and Herrin and Diggnation. Love the Richard Herring and Andrew Collings one, chaotic and interesting and probably most importantly British so I feel I can relate to it. I don't like the Diggnation one at all, but there is something compelling about it, I can see why it is popular. Anyway as I was watching it, they mentioned the FOWA conference and said they'd be doing a live broadcast from there, come along, free drinks for all etc, it was actually on that Friday at 7.30. Had made plans for that time and did not go, but it made me wish I'd investigated what was going on in town before that point...
Had a great evening, met Camilla in the Lord Nelson in Southwark. Looks like a frightening estate pub, very close to where I used to live on Nicholson Street. I never went in there then, and don't think I would have now if it weren't prearranged, but it's great inside. Real ale, cocktails, food probably, cool, really very nice. Interesting mix of people too. The owners were people I'd met before, we were plied with their cocktails, including an interesting Frangelica and lemon concoction and a home made Fox's Glacier Mint shooter. Plus the beer there was good, which I'd not have guessed from outside, Black Sheep.
Leaving there I stopped in at Gordon's Wine Bar for one to see what it was like now, I remember it being very smokey before. It's a cellar bar near Charing Cross, a proper wine bar too, though they seem to concentrate mostly on sherry and port now. Nice, but I was on my own so didn't hang about. Instead of trying to meet Clare with her friends for last orders I headed back to our hotel, the Radison Hampshire on Leicester Square. Yes, five star luxury, get us! Hard to beat that location for the kind of things we like to do in London. Small room, but fully equipped, and the view was amazing. If only Clare hadn't lost the camera (she says it was me) I'd have some great pictures of the view, not sure the phone pic will come out.
Saturday was a good day too, a reasonably early start with a view to having an early lunch so we could try to do the double - each time we're in London for the day we think we're going to have lunch out and dinner out, but tend to fill up at the first sitting and go home before we've managed two meals out. We shopped a bit and went to The National Gallery, which I really like. So much to see and all for a voluntary contribution. Not sure of the order of the rest of the day, but we also fed squirrels in St James' Park and had lunch in Covent Garden Wagamama. The park was heaving, nice sunny day, the squirrels were friendly, but oddly different on either side of the park. Over the East side where we went in they were mad for the monkey nuts we'd brought but on the West side they were very fussy, makes you wonder if there are different tribes of squirrels or something.
More shopping in the afternoon, thought about buying a new coat, maybe one of these but dawdled about it and now can't find the one I liked online. Spent quite a while in Selfridges which is always interesting, and then stopped for a break in the Pontefract Castle. England vs Kazakhstan was on but we sat down in the cellar bar. I've mentioned it before, it's a nice relaxing spot for being so close to Oxford Street. We regrouped for a while then finally headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags, nice to not have to lug them about all day but also not have to pay a mint to leave them in left luggage. I could have probably managed with mine, I travel fairly light, but I wouldn't fancy carrying Clare's makeup bag around all day (just seeing if she's reading down this far).
Train back was busy but bearable. Great weekend, like I already said.
Oh at some point we saw [abe]Michael Gambon[/abe], think it must have been in the morning. I am in trouble with the nephews for not getting his autograph, they are going autograph crazy at the moment, and with him being in the [abe]Harry Potter[/abe] films now it would have been a good one, gah.