On the continent again

It’s 21:14 now and I’m back home in Leiden (well, I’ve been home for a few hours now but I had to do stuff such as get groceries, do the laundry, unpack my stuff and cook dinner). My England trip was fabulous, only too short.

On Thursday evening two of Paul’s friends came over from Southampton to have dinner with us at Baltic, a wonderful Eastern European restaurant with a snazzy lounge-like interior. Afterwards we had drinks on a rooftop nearby, as it was still quite warm outside. Oh, my lunch was cool too, so near Bloomsbury there are lots of fast-food places and I picked up some sushi and noodles at one of the many Japanese take-away places. What’s cool is that you don’t have to get a box of sushi of which you might like some less than others but you can put together your own sushi box, kind of like in a sweet shop where you choose different things. We need places like that in The Netherlands, affordable ones!

On Friday I only worked in the morning. After yet another great lunch (Hummos with warm chickpeas and a falafel salad from Hummus Bros) in Russell Square. After lunch I fell asleep for a bit. Around 1500 I woke up and decided to call it a day and go see some of London. So I wandered around the corner of the hotel to the British museum to see the Rosetta Stone and some sculptures from the Acropolis (happy that I now saw some of it as I was very annoyed with the New Acropolis Museum not being open while I was in Athens) and then I walked to the Seven Dials shopping district, which I’d already passed through during a run. It was a lot more crowded with the shops open and there was also a huge queue in front of an ice-cream shop (Scoop), and I figured I’d put three of their ice-cream flavours (white chocolate, tiramisu and raspberry) to the test to see if it was worth queueing for. It was 🙂

Then I walked around Covent Garden for a bit on my way to Somerset House to pick up Paul to go out for drinks. While I was waiting in the courtyard I played around in the fountains a bit and taking advantage of the fact that my camera is waterproof 🙂

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Around 17:30 Paul was done working for the week and together with Simon and Jens we walked to the Viaduct Tavern where we met up with other people from King’s college, as well as some of the Southampton crew and also one of my friends (Ashley!!). I had my first encounter with sloe gin, which is definitely a drink I want to have more often 🙂 Around 21:15 there were only a few of us left (Ashley, Laura, Martin, Mischa, Paul and me) and we were a bit hungry so we tried to find some food. By that time most places were already closed but we found an Italian place on High Holborn that did a great spicy seafood risotto, which went very well with the red wine :).

On Saturday we could sleep in a little bit, because we were renting a car to drive up to Malvern and Bristol late in the morning. The drive went pretty smoothly, even getting out of London wasn’t too bad and around 14:15 we arrived at the Hunts. Alan took Paul and me for a little peek at the bluebells, and after that we went for a stroll up the Malvern Hills with Alan, Dave and Heather. Although I had a great time in London, it was nice to be out of the city for a bit. Then Heather cooked an absolutely lovely dinner (this trip has involved a lot of good food actually :)). At around 20:15 we left Malvern to go to Bristol, where we stayed in yet another hotel (not as nice as the one in London, but I’d booked it, and somehow I’m not very lucky when it comes to booking hotels) but it was in the city centre, and it had an enclosed parking so our rental care was safe (as long as you managed to squeeze it through the rather narrow gate). Sunday morning and early afternoon were pretty relaxed, we walked around town for a bit, bumped into some people Paul knew, had drinks and lunch with them and at around 14:45 we set off to the Mansion House for the wedding of two of Paul’s friends. The weather was lovely so the ceremony took place outside, as well as the drinks before dinner. After dinner there was a Céilidh band so everyone got up to dance (thankfully no ballroom dancing as I can’t do that and the reels were pretty easy to pick up). Around midnight I was happy to go to sleep and give my feet some rest. Only for a few hours though as we had to get up at 7 to drive back to London and make it to the airport. At 10:15 we dropped off the car, had a cup of tea in Bloomsbury again and about half an hour later  I had to say goodbye to Paul because he had to take the Picadilly line to Heathrow, and I the Central Line (and then the Docklands Light Rail) to London City Airport… But luckily it’s only for a few weeks and with more good memories than when we started this trip 🙂