Before the family arrived, and since Martin was still having his round of golf before joining us, Laura Wayne and I took the boys up into the woods for a bit of a walk first. They both had a fab time climbing hills covered in roots, shuffling along huge fallen tree trunks and even stepping up into the wide branches of an accommodating low slung tree.
Although the service in the pub was a tad slow the meal was very tasty and there was plenty of food. A great start to all to come.
We continued to celebrate Martin's birthday with an overnight stay in London. We chose the Kingsway Hall Hotel in Covent Garden and Kinky Boots from a deal on Groupon.
Not having used Groupon before we were unsure of how or even if it would work but we had a great experience. We included train travel in the deal so we wouldn't have to worry about parking, our upward journey covered by the high speed rail due to engineering works. We arrived in good shape (even though we had forgotten to bring our Oyster cards) thanks to Laura giving us a ride to the station, and had soon covered the underground transfers and walk to our hotel. Situated between the Strand and Covent Garden the hotel was although a little tired, very comfortable and the staff very pleasant.
After dumping our luggage we decided to walk back to Covent Garden but found (as usual) little going on there and continued walking to the Adelphie theatre to find out where it was for later. As we were standing outside a political protest march organised by the trade unions passed us so we spent some time watching and waiting to be able to cross the road. A little unexpected show for us while we were there.
We treated ourselves to a meal in TGI Friday (our fav. place to go when in London as we don't have one near us and got the taste when we were in Florida) before wandering over the river and checking out the London Eye as we had booked to have a ride on it the following day. We also finally find where all the eating places are (in the past I had bemoaned the lack of restaurants around theatre-land). We had always headed to Leicester square and made our way to Covent Garden but it seems all the eateries are on the other side where we had never walked before. Now we know and will be having lots of gastronomic choices next time we are up. I was a bit disappointed that there didn't seem to be anything going on to celebrate May Day. I had thought the place would be full of morris men and may fairs but it may as well not have been a bank holiday. Oh well.
We had no idea what Kinky Boots was about having chosen a musical at random, but it was really good, some fantastic singing and we had a wonderful evening.
After a Full English the next morning at the hotel, we followed up with a stroll through the sunshine, over Waterloo Bridge back to the London Eye. We walked along the river for a bit and had a drink in a pop up open theatre/bar.
It was only when we joined the queue for the London Eye that Martin spotted we had booked the tickets for the previous day. I had bought them on the 2for1 railway deal online and had had trouble with the site timing out. At one time I had spotted it had changed our booking time but did not notice it had changed my chosen booking date!!! Martin, who had not been on the Eye before and was looking forward to it, decided we would stay in line and bluff our way on. Surprisingly our tickets scanned, no one noticed the date and they didn't even check we had rail tickets to confirm the 2for1 deal. So Martin got his ride
and really enjoyed the views.
Our trip did not finish there though as we had decided to pop over to Camden Market for a look around there. The contrast between Camden (North London) and the West End was very noticeable and from quiet strolls along the river bank to the vibrant and colourful Camden High Street was an exciting shock to the system. I was fasinated by the decorated shops.
The market was huge and like a rabbit warren, we aimlessly wandered up and down various alleyways, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells. Although we had hoped to find a watch for Martin we eventually only ended up buying a new hat for me!
I reckon we walked around 8 miles in the two days so exhausted but having had a really good time, we returned home. More celebrations to come.