Christmas 2019 Part 4

Friday 20th December

Proof that there’s no rest for the knackered came on Friday as I was on my travels again, not with Patsy this time but on the train, putting my faith in Greater Anglia for lunch with friends in London.

I was up at silly o’clock – in holiday terms anyway – and heading for the bus stop soon after nine, the leather duster coat and brolly – not leather sadly - keeping out most of the rain and the bitterly cold wind.

Rush hour traffic had started to ease and I was at the station in good time and procured a bacon roll and coffee for the journey.

The train could best be described as tired, at least inside. Low, unsupportive seats that had clearly already given of their best, no doubt after taking daily poundings on what is a very busy commuter route.

The journey passed quickly enough however and after a few stops we were soon pulling into Liverpool Street, a station I’d not visited since I was a kid on days out with my parents. Within a few moments I’d hooked up with my companions for the day, Richard and Michael from Caravan insurance specialists Cover 4 Caravans. As we walked to the exit a group of workmen noticed my attire. In that truly British way of talking loudly about someone, ensuring that they hear, some comment was made along the lines of “**** me, look at the state of that fellas”. I ignored it.

The weather was still inclement so a cab was hailed for the short trip to the restaurant called Smiths on the banks of the Thames. The fantastic views, dominated by Tower Bridge and a massive gin palace moored close by were eclipsed only by the food.

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The sirloin with big fat chips followed by banoffee cheesecake was absolutely superb, accompanied by a good old chin-wag with Richard and Michael. Although we talk on social media I hadn’t seen them for over a year and there’s nothing like a face to face catch-up. Many many thanks to Richard for another great choice and for picking up the considerable tab too. Very generous and much appreciated.

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The skies had cleared somewhat so we took a gentle half hour walk back to the station, passing through the re-developed St Catherine's Dock. It’s an area I’ve not really visited so far on my numerous trips to London and there were a number of very appealing pubs – sorry – research venues on route.

We said our goodbyes at Liverpool St, Michael heading back to the office in Southend and Richard heading over to West London to see his Mum in hospital. There’s was only a few minutes to wait for the next train back to Cambridge, albeit a slow, frequently stopping one.

I was back at Patsy around 5pm and decided on a nap after getting her back up to habitable temperature. The following cuppa really hit the spot and, deciding that traffic would by now have eased, headed out to the supermarket for supplies and, most importantly diesel for Rosie, rewarding her relative frugality on the run across from Henley with cheap supermarket fuel. She gets used a lot less these days when not away. I don’t need her for work and without a run out once a week to check all is OK, her duties would almost be entirely confined to towing. Hence I’m happy to generally keep her fuelled with something better, but convenience overtook this time.

The shop was mercifully quiet and whilst I didn’t fancy turning out again that night, the alternative would have been going Saturday or Sunday morning. Neither of which appealed given the upcoming festive period and folks needing to shop, seemingly for a month.

Some fresh bread was procured, along with the usual ‘supplies’ - ale and wine for the uninitiated – and a delicious sarnie was enjoyed along with one of said ales back in Patsy.

The night’s telly was good – Have I Got News For You and Would I Lie To You are two of my favourites. I do enjoy sharp wit, particularly at the expense of those in power and influence. Given the recent election there was lots of ammunition.

After I adjourned to the laptop, fancying a bit of music rather than an early night. Not the usual playlist of tear jerking sad songs that were once a staple of my Friday nights but a whole array, plucked from YouTube, of disco and dance classics. A friend joined me online and we swapped suggestions of our favourites, neither of us realising the passing time. The lengthening line of empty beer bottles on the cooker top would have given a hint however and it was nearly 2am by the time I closed the lid of the laptop, the process of making up the bed proving somewhat more challenging than is usual. Completely unplanned but fantastic fun. Some of the best nights are like that.

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