17.02.2012 - 17.02.2012 9 °C
This was to be my day in London. I was up early to get to Heathrow Airport lost property office to recover my lap top which I had inadvertently left at the security check when I was on my way to Scotland. However I was able to locate it and retrieve it. After the challenging flights from St Petersburg to Glasgow where I had to do the 'Boots, belts and belongings' gig three times I must have been a little distracted and so discovered when I got to Scotland that I no longer had it with me. However I refused to get upset over it and even if I had lost it with all my pictures on it; I would just move on and besides this 'Bucket List trip' was not about the pictures but about the memories. However; Heathrow are used to people like me and they have a fantastic process for dealing with found articles. There is a website where you can actually check to see what they have found and I did find it so Day 20 started with a trip to the lost property office to retrieve it.
I bought my Oyster Ticket and joined the 'underground crowd' commuter traffic and rally enjoyed the trip into town. There was not only the joy of people watching where so many people read something to remain in their own little world but I was struck on the number of people who had their phones plugged in and were either texting or checking their online lives. I felt positively alone in that Mine was not in my ear. We passed some familiar stations and made it to London in good time. When I got to London; I of course had a little celebration on my success but it was a quiet one where I went and had a coffee and an all day Breakfast Panini in Starbucks.
I did a bit of Oxford Street and marveled at the number of people in this amazing place and of course I had my camera and pretended that I was a tourist. I met a former colleague for a coffee who I worked with in Birmingham, in Burrough and it was a great time catching up on our lives. We have kept in touch over email and the internet but there is simply nothing like sitting across the table with a coffee and you guessed it; across the road in a Starbucks.
I did some more of London and found again how easy it was to get around London with a map of the underground and an Oyster Card. I went and bought my ticket to Brum for tomorrow and then just went to a few places because I could. No matter where you are in London there is always something interesting to see, and today was no exception. When I got back to the West End I saw these two guys all dressed up and I just had to go and ask what they were doing. They were members of the 'Welcoming London Team' and I had quite a long chat with them. The guy had a little UK Flag on his badge but the woman had about 6 different flags and when asked about them she indicated that she spoke all those languages. They were very good ambassadors for London and the Welcoming London organisation should be very proud. They asked me about my trip and there were no raised eyebrows but the woman was very keen for me to visit one of the places represented by one of her flags, Cosovo; but I indicated that possibly in another life, but not in this one. I was again struck by amazing world we live in and affirmed my desire for a 'One World Passport', if it is ever created
There is always something interesting to see in London and I sat for a while in this little garden area where there were these statues in the park and an old Gardeners Cottage and again spent some time watching the passing parade of people. In the evening I met up with Graeme 'Thunderchest' Randal a former SAO who I had never met in real life but we recognized each other immediately outside a Starbucks in Soho. We went and had a vegetarian meal at the Hare Krishna and caught up on our lives and our shared history and spent a couple of good hours together sharing our mutual background and our hopes for the future. It is an amazing experience to be able to connect with people for support and encouragement. Graeme told me that if we had been here during the day we could have had a free meal upstairs with the Krishna's, all we had to do was list to their Philosophy for a while. We recognized this from our shared back ground and it could have been an interesting interchange given our theological backgrounds and philosophies. We went to a 'normal' very classy coffee shop around the corner and had a great coffee and a rich cake that I believe reflected our fellowship together.
Then it was the Tube to Heathrow and the 'Hotel Hoppa' to my digs for the night. It was a great day in London with so many memories of our time in the UK which was now a few years ago but the memories are still as precious.