We went to the France Show at Earl’s Court in London ten days ago, just for the fun of it and to see if we might pick up any tips for our intended relocation.
We were up well before dawn, deposited Lulu with her granddad for the day and got the train to St Pancras. There was a very nervous half hour after the train manager announced that due to falling electric cables the train MIGHT be terminating at Luton. Typical! I hadn’t been on a train for donkey’s years, hadn’t been to London for two years and I might have to make half the journey by “replacement coach”.
Luckily the problem was fixed in the nick of time and we arrived at St. Pancras only a few minutes late. The first thing we did was to book a table for dinner at Searcys restaurant so we could eat before getting the train back home.
The show was fun but not that useful to us. It would have been more useful for someone who had no previous experience of buying a house in France but even so we made a few interesting contacts and gleaned a few bits of good advice.
There were French estate agents, notaires, ferry companies, holiday companies, wine sellers, sausage, cheese and basket sellers, language holiday companies, seminars about house buying, French lifestyle, French cuisine and all to a background of “Allo allo” accordion music. Most enjoyable but by 11.30 we had seen all we wanted to see and headed into town for a spot of lunch.
We adopted our usual “twelve o’clock rule” and dived into the first likely looking place for lunch. This was a place called “Sophie’s” near Covent Garden and the two photos illustrate the rule perfectly. At twelve o’clock the place was almost empty and we had a choice of tables. By the time our food arrived people were having to wait at the bar for a place. I had steak and chips, Nick had a burger. All quite delicious and very reasonably priced.
With the whole afternoon still ahead of us we visited the National Gallery, something I hadn’t done for probably thirty years. I had taken a couple of photos before it occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t. Sure enough, ten minutes later an announcement came that photography wasn’t permitted. A group of enthusiastic Orientals had arrived!
It was a rather cold, grey day but we enjoyed a walk through the park and an ogle at the Palace before diving into Fortnum and Mason’s on impulse for a cup of tea.
This was one of those impulses that you immediately regret but once committed we decided to stick with it. Thirteen quid for two pots of tea, even if served in silver teapots is, frankly, ludicrous. That didn’t include any cake or even a solitary biscuit.
The place was full of tourists, mostly English and Americans, including a skwarking child who was not quite far enough away for it to be ignorable. Anyway, having done it once, I won’t feel I have to do it again.
By now it was dark so we hopped on the tube to Tower Bridge and did a bit of touristy stuff. All quite magical and I was enthralled. That’s when I realised that I’m very much an unsophisticated country girl and a trip to our capital city is a very special treat.
Booking the table for dinner at the station turned out to be a brilliant idea. We got the tube back to St Pancras and arrived in perfect time to enjoy a really nice meal in a leisurely fashion and then get on our train home. Much, much better than eating at a crowded, over-priced place in town, stressing about getting on the tube back to the station in time. The food was excellent for a sensible price too. Your station buffet with it’s tired sausage rolls and curled up sandwiches, not to mention the grubby burger bar, is thankfully a thing of the past!
The journey home was long but not without entertainment. A bunch of jolly football supporters got on at Leicester and the lights went out a few times but we arrived back at the station on time. We collected Lulu from granddad’s and drove the last three miles home to scramble into bed at around our usual bedtime. A great day out!