Thursday, November 10, 2005

London Guy Fawkes - day 7

We do a bit of Web sleuthing (free wi-fi at the hotel, although frankly you gets what you pays for - it's intermittent and dodgy), and pick up a car for the South Coast to Cornwall leg, next week. Then off to the Musuems again, thus time with a card in the camera..... But first a leetle snack at Harrods, just by the gloriously over-the-top Egyptian Escalator. Serenaded by live orchestra and operatic selections from somewhere on a lower floor, which echoes up the escalator. Then light a candle at Brompton Oratory, and back to Natural History. Photos of the dinos, the terracota, and the main Hall.

We've been invited out to a North London address for fireworks and a Greek meal, so off we toddle to Finsbury Park via Victoria tube. And then the fun really starts. We buy Brit Rail tickets for Palmers Green, and wait an hour for the train. Serenaded by evening prayers from the now notorious Finsbury Park Mosque. The platform fills up, fills up more, we look at each other and wonder when it will stop. It doesn't. There is a lot of Arsenal merchanise being worn or toted - we have struck a football match buildup.... Train arrives and the entire platform (now full of football fans) tries to squeeze in. We're literally hanging out the doors (we haven't developed that London pushiness), and no amount of 'move on down the coach' will actually let more people on. So we drop off. Bloody Arsenal supporters.....

We catch a bus instead - the Oyster cards work on these too, it seems. The bus (surprise, surprise) is defective. Every couple of stops or so, the low-air warning sounds, the driver, worried about running out of brakes, stops to rev the motor to build up the air pressure again. Just for comic relief, the motor actually stops twice. We take ages to get to - Wood Green! But the destination sign had clearly said Palmers Green..... We are three stops short of where we need to be. Still, we have seen a cross-section of surface London we wouldn't normally have seen. Or now ever wish to see again.

So another bus, and we are there. A charming house, a great Greek meal, and being at some altitude, we hear Guys Fawkes celebrations across London. If a revolution needed to get rolling, this would be the night to do it: no amount of noise you made would be even faintly noticeable against the barrage of fireworks from 8 to late.

Trip home is by contrast a cakewalk: Piccadilly tube from Arnos Grove to Finsbury Park, walk across the platform to the Victoria line tube, and home to Victoria, all within 30 minutes. The trip out had taken 90. We are left with unused Brit Rail tickets. Consider a refund, but the need to take a number, queue, explain the situation to your average Brit Rail staffer, and go out of our way to do all this - nah. Only 14 quid. Life's too short. Chalk it up to experience.

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