16 October 2003 – London’s Calling and The Walk!
An amazingly refreshing sleep, a hearty breakfast and a good shower saw me set off for London central at about 9:30am.
I took my walk up to Seven Oaks station and purchased my Travel Card for the day, which i would spend site seeing and in the late afternoon make my way to Wimbledon to spend a few days with a good friend Matthew.
Got on the train and made my way to Charring Cross. As I emerged from the underground I was in absolute awe of the sites I witnessed as London came to life in that split second. Like the proverbial “Kid In A Candy Store” I raced from one end to another, one after another the sites came and went.
Trafalgar Square,Nelson’s Column (whats black and slides down Nelson’s Column? – Winnie Mandela….aah…love that Office joke),Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, The Cabinet War Rooms, The Queens Guard (where I caught the changing of the guard”, London’s Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Carnaby Street and of course Hamleys Toy Store.
Now I must be honest, I was disappointed by Hamleys, everyone said I would love it, and yet I was not impressed. Sure it was 6 floors, but bare in mind, it was basically a floor for each age group. There was nothing of interest there, so all I came away with was lunch, 2 sausage rolls to be exact (oh and a Pink Panther PEZ dispenser)
Some shopping at curio shops and a few more sights and sounds followed. I did a time check as i wanted to be in Wimbledon at 5pm. It was only just on 1pm. Plenty of time.
As I put my cellphone in my pocket I realized I had squashed my travel card rather badly, so badly in fact that every time I had to catch a train I needed to get someone to let me into the station as the card was now invalid. Most people where rather helpful but I got tired of asking all the time.
Made my way to Leicester Square. Considered catching a theater show but was way too early for that, so decided on a movie instead. Cabin Fever was the movie of my choosing at the Odeon cinema. An amazing movie experience. A world class cinema, perfect seating, which gave me a chance to rest up and put all my bags down. The movie itself was fantastic. With an amazingly talented young cast, it broke the mould for me in terms of teen horror/slasher flicks. I recommend it when it opens in SA.
Came out the movie just after 3pm and decided to head off to Wimbledon for the rest of the day.
Made it to Earl’s Court which would give me access to the connecting train to Wimbledon. I decided to phone Matthew to confirm which train i needed to take. Dialed his number and… Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
The number was 2 digits too short!!!!
Despite this…I remained calm…confident I could make it there all the same and just find his address without any major hassles. I have a natural born instinct for finding places.
5 incorrect attempts and 2 and 1/2 hours later I eventually reached Wimbledon station at about 5pm. My body was broken…my mind was spent.
As I walked out the station darkness began to set in as well. I need to either take my chances and go left or right. I chose left.
About 20min down the way I asked a man and the bus stop where to find Richmond avenue. I should have gone right according to him, to his credit he gave me the best possible advice he could and I turned around and made my way back.
6pm came I was still lost.
7pm came…I was still lost
8pm came I was still lost.
I decided ok…need help. So I sms’d Rory back home and my cousin to log onto MSN and try and contact Matthew via MSN to get him to find me. My cousin was at dog school…erm…with his dog of course, so he took a while to reply
9pm came…I was still lost. Rory,in an attempt to save my life, managed to sign in but no luck, no Matt online
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My cousin phoned me at about 9:30pm and sent me directions to Richmond avenue via sms. The 6 part sms guided me through until 10pm.
Bumped into a South African who tried to guide me as far as he could.
Then I spoke to a tram line security guard on a dark dodgy road, who also tried to help me, but was more interested in discussing the upcoming Rugby on the weekend once he realized I was South African.
At about 10:10pm…I found Richmond avenue! After over 12 hours of walking, 5 of which had taken place in Wimbledon, I literally ran to number 7 and frantically rang the doorbell. Lights came on, footsteps were heard, then… they opened!!!
A semi-irate old lady informed me there was no Matthew there.
Ever seen those Daffy Duck cartoons where his jaw literally drops and hits the floor? That was me.
After I said I was from South Africa…she said oh… you want the South Africans…They down at number 18.
My mind was baffled a little bit…then I realized number 7 was the number of the house I was staying at with my cousin, I had indeed written down number 18 on my notepad. I sheepishly apologized…and ran down to number 18.
Matthew’s roommate welcomed me and went to wake Matthew who had assumed I wasn’t coming and went to bed.
He woke up and welcomed me, we then went out and got some food and caught up 3 years in a couple of hours until I passed out on the floor from pure exhaustion…