Having written 37 continuous weekly blogs since September last year,I decided to take a couple of weeks off and have a bit of break and a battery re charge. I’d love to have been able to report that during this time Camelot had been on the phone to tell me that there had been a terrible mistake and that I had indeed got the winning lottery ticket after all or that Lord Sugar had emailed me to say that this year, his boardroom was so full of bell ends that he needed my help in getting rid of them or even that Manchester United had got in touch to ask me to send them my CV but sadly none of these happened. Instead,Bromley council got in touch to remind me that I have received a parking ticket and they’d quite like me to pay it, I sat in a room board at work for 3 hours learning how to suck an egg and in a massive departure from tradition Manchester United have employed the services of a rather grumpy Glaswegian. The other reason for a bit of a Barron spell is that absolutely bugger all has happened to write about. I did consider writing a blog about why I think that people being accused of sex crimes should be able to remain anonymous until proven guilty and was banking on Stuart Hall being acquitted to make my point, but it appears that he was a sicko all along. I had also hoped to write a blog about our plans to hold a party during July in order to celebrate our engagement, but with a guest list approaching 120 people we decided to not bother having one, as it seems that we need to have either the income of Donald Trump, a far more ruthless guest selection policy or a house 5 times the size of the one we’ve got.The final blog that I contemplated writing was to do with a topic that seems to be a perpetual cause for argument in our house,namely the destination for our next holiday.So If somebody could get in touch and let me know of a holiday we can book that is somewhere hot, has something to view other than just simply a beach, can be booked for less than £400 each and can be taken during a time when Terry Anderson ISN’T already booked off, I would be both very grateful and very happy indeed.So with all of these failed attempts to write a blog behind me, last weeks bank holiday weekend presented me with an opportunity to have a 4 day break and get out of the house with the sun shining and actually do something worth writing about.
So last Friday dawned a lovely bright warm nhn sunny day in my neck of the woods meaning that not only could we indulge in our favourite day off activity of having a pub lunch, but we could do so sitting outside in the pub garden soaking up the early spring sunshine. Whether it was the warm sun, present for the first time in many many months, the 3 days off still to come or even the 3 pints of cold refreshing beer that I’d enjoyed, for the first time in many weeks I felt chilled out, relaxed and very much at peace. After lunch the next stop was the fancy dress shop. My very good friend Mike had recently moved into a house which by his own admission was last decorated before decimilisation, and in order to celebrate his birthday, he had organised a 70’s themed party. Given that all of my clothes fail to fit into any fashion era, me and MrsT2b headed off to get suitable outfits for us both,which were befitting of such an occasion and left her looking like the beautiful 5th member of ABBA and me looking like a pedophile. If I had of been a little bit more organised prior to getting changed into my costume I would have bought our drinks for the afternoon before leaving for Mike’s but I wasn’t so I had to visit 2 different shops en route, getting some extremely odd looks along the way. The best of these was the petrol station just outside Crowborough where I went in complete with false sideburns, a half peeling off moustache and a completely unconvincing wig. The guy behind the counter had a look about him that seemed to suggest that he thought he was just about to be the victim of an armed robbery. Everyone at the party was suitably dressed up in their best 70’s gear including Mike himself who was sporting a pair of bright red trousers that closely resembled a wind sock and his brother Leo who, not content with wearing fake facial hair, went to the time and trouble of actually growing some of his own. Sunday morning arrived complete with my customary post meeting up with Mike hangover so the only thing to do was to go to the Bullfinch in Sevenoaks which sells the largest Sunday lunch in Kent have a couple of afternoon pints and follow it all up with a chill out on the sofa session while watching the football. This is what Sunday’s are all about. But the day was to get even better as Cally told me that she had bought tickets to go up the Shard for the following day.
Even though I am by no means a seasoned traveller I have been lucky to be able to visit some of the best cities in the world. I’ve been to Cairo to see the Pyramids, I’ve stood on top of the empire state building in New York and been to the top of the worlds tallest building,the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but there is something special about London. I’ve spent many years of my life commuting to London for work and when you do that you tend to only see the bleaker sides of the capital or regard going there as a bit of a chore, but being able to take a leisurely day trip to see the sights is one of my favourite things to do. When I used to work at Waterloo station in the record shop “Our Price” I’d take an hour out for lunch every now and again and walk through the shell centre and sit on a bench by the Thames on the south bank overlooking the houses of parliament and Westminster bridge. This was the time before the London eye was there so it was a little quieter in those days and when the sun shone it was an amazing place to spend an hour, it actually felt like a privilege to be there. In the last few years whenever we have get the chance, Cally and I like to spend an evening or two during the summer on or around the south bank having a few drinks at some of the bars and taking in all the sights.Recently though,one sight in particular has begun to dominate the skyline of London. As well as The Shard being western Europe’s tallest buildings, it is also one of the worlds best looking ones and although the Burj Khalifa is the tallest, it resembles a load of tin cans stacked on top of one another. As if that isn’t bad enough, once you have endured the 45 minute queue just to get to the lift that takes you up to the top of the Burj, you get there and realise that you are so high up you can’t actually see anything. This is partly because of the heat haze and partly because from 3 sides of the viewing platform the view is just empty desert. So now that the Shard is finally open and an amazing view from the top pretty much guaranteed, we took the opportunity of a sunny bank holiday to go and check it out.
Now, if you’ve read my Destination Dubai blogs you will know that sometimes it can be an utter nightmare doing these kind of trips, so when we turned up 10 minutes before our allotted time at the shard, we were expecting to see long queues and lots of security and delays. However due to a combination of excellent timing by us and great organisation by the staff, this time it was about as smooth as it could possibly have been. We walked into the building, up the Stairs and through the door into the main lobby at precisely the same time as they called our group to go up, which meant that by accident we were at the front of the queue,so I grabbed Cally and we were the first to go through the security and get to the lift. Now, whether it was the gods of queueing looking down at us or just some mega payback from previous bad experiences, within 5 minutes of entering the building,we found ourselves in a lift, on our own,being sent VIP style to the top of the building without the inconvenience of being bothered by the stinky breath Germans that normally accompany us on these trips. And what a view it is when you get there. From three sides of this viewing platform you get a birds eye view of all of London’s premier landmarks, including St.Paul’s, the London eye,Buckingham palace,Hyde park and Wembley stadium out of one window, to canary wharf, the tower of London,tower bridge and Olympic stadium out of another. The fourth side is a view stretching out over south London and to brutally honest, unless you like a view of bugger all apart from two tv transmitters, don’t bother spending too much time looking out of this window. What the good folk of Dubai failed to take into account about the burj is that whilst those eager to get a view from the top will pay good money to make the trip and view it, there has to be something worth viewing when you actually get there. And the view from the shard is worth absolutely every penny so next time you plan to go to London pre book this trip and I’m sure you’ll have a great time.