Once we were on the road things went well. After our traffic problems right after leaving the house had been solved we barely seen anything that could be called traffic most of the way down the motorway. In fact the only time we seen anything that would come close was just as we stopped to get a couple hours rest at a service station. The road on the other north-bound carriageway was clear and then a few cop cars flew up with their lights flashing and then about 500 metres after that all three lanes were completely full with cars and trucks just sitting there. I hadn’t see any accidents on the road so I’m assuming one of the cars that had still been moving was being chased. I like to think the worlds like the movies that way.
Anyway the service station we stopped at turned out to be where most of the buses heading to London stop for a toilet break and so as soon as everyone in the car but myself got off to sleep the buses turned up and the noise everyone was making was enough to keep me awake. After a couple of hours and a hot chocolate for me and some caffeine for Vonnie later we were off again. We hit the outskirts of London at around 5.30am and started panicking about the congestion charge. Or rather I did and Vonnie had realised that it didn’t kick in until 7am or something like that. We basically had an hour and a half to find the hotel, dump our bags and make it over to Clapham to get a parking permit for our car.
We had a print out of the AA directions which I thought were to Zara’s house but it turns out they were actually for the church. Thankfully the hotel was almost on the way and with my map of Britain in front of me turned to the Street maps of Central London I took one look at it and thought this would be easy. What we hadn’t realised was the map we had missed out about 70% of the roads we passed. If it wasn’t a main road it wasn’t there which is clever when your trying to say,’it’s the second left’ whilst directing someone and it’s actually something like the seventh left thanks to 5 other streets in there. We ran foul of this problem just as we got to Baker Street but we eventually found a road we recognised to we made it around Marble Arch with ease. We hit another snag as we drove towards Kensington as I took us off the main road a couple of turns too early but we got there in plenty of time. The hotel kindly let us dump our bags about 7 hours early and we zoomed off to Clapham.
Once we got past Battersea Power Station I again thought this would be easy. It wasn’t until I tried to find the map for that part of London that I realised the scale had changed and where we had all the main roads and some of the minor road before we now barely had all the main roads. I could get us to Clapham Common, which I did, with ease but from there we didn’t have a clue. It was round about this point that I realised the directions weren’t for Zara’s house and after driving for a bit we stopped to get our bearings and feed Greer. It was at this point that I remembered I had Google Maps on my phone and within a couple of minutes I’d tracked down where we were and after Vonnie pointed out that the invites had Jamie and Zara’s address of them I had a route marked out on my phone and within another 5 minutes we were turning onto their street. We couldn’t find their house though! We did however find a McDonalds and stopped there for breakfast just as it hit 7am. Zara and Jamie came down to meet us and direct us over to the parking spot. It turns out the parking spot was almost right on the Common in a private street where Jamie’s mother lives. Very swish.
Findlay recovering from the shoe shopping
Once that was dealt with and we’d got everything we were likely to need for the day out of the car we headed off to the tube station. First stop was Oxford Street as we needed to get shoes for Vonnie and Erica whilst sheltering from the rain in McDonalds for the second time that day and then we headed back to the hotel to check in early and get a sleep. I’d got us to change at Earl’s Court onto a train that took us to Kensington (Olympia) but as those trains are only every 20 minutes or so we sat for ages and then had to walk back to the hotel using Google Maps as our guide. It wasn’t until we got to the Tesco at the end of the road that we clocked the two Celtic supporters we’d met on the tube that got off at Earl’s Court. It turns out that We’d spent all that time waiting on that second train only for it to takes us further away from the hotel than we already had been. A lesson learned.
After a snooze we had hoped to get back out to Clapham to catch up with Zara after the rehearsal but by the time we made it into to Westminster where we’d have got the tube out to Clapham it was too late. We wandered about looking for somewhere to eat and crossed the bridge to find a noodle bar place called Aji across Westminster Bridge in Lambeth that was a lot like Wagamama but better. The place was dead but at closing time on a Friday night I’m not surprised but the food was fantastic so I’ll need to remember that place in future. We sauntered back towards the Houses of Parliament where Findlay had commented early, yet again, that Big Ben wasn’t as big as he thought it should be and Nairn surprised us by remembering it’s the bell that’s called that and not the tower.
Anyway it was a late night but the kids had been great so we headed back to the hotel wondering how the next day was going to pan out.