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A Celebration

September 16, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today I awoke – or, more precisely, was awoken by a thunderstorm and torrential rain – to the thought that I am now 63. I’ve never been this old before! But we are told that ‘age is just a number’ so who’s counting? Three years ago today, I retired from a lifetime of work, on my 60th birthday, and to celebrate my milestone my two wonderful daughters arranged a special day out for me in London. I had commuted into the capital to work for more than 35 years, and this marked the beginning of my re-acquaintance with London as a place to enjoy, rather than somewhere I was happy to escape on a daily basis. During a comments ‘chat’ with a fellow blogger a few weeks ago I realised that I had never written about that day out. I would have laid odds that I had but when I checked I found several photographs in my Facebook and Instagram feeds, but no blog posts. I decided that I would write something as part of my celebration of three years’ retirement – so here it is.

Due to their work commitments the girls arranged the day out for the weekend, Saturday 14th to be precise. This had the bonus of there being lighter usage of public transport than on a weekday,img_2695  which made it easier to get into London and get around while we were there. They knew that I had a longstanding desire to take a ride – or ‘flight’, as it is officially known – on the London Eye, so to be honest I wasn’t surprised to be taken to the Southbank Centre, adjacent to the Eye. And yes, that was where my grand day out was beginning, with a flight in one of these:

img_2696And in case you haven’t seen it before, this pod is part of a much bigger structure. This, in fact. I don’t have a head for heights, but didn’t at any time have a problem. The Eye moves very slowly, and the only real sense of movement that you have is the changing scenery around you, as the ground disappears further into the distance!

 

 

London has centuries of history and many famous landmarks, most of which are visible from the Eye. Here as an example is the Shard, one of the more modern buildings

img_2693

And this is Elizabeth Tower, previously known as St Stephen’s Tower, until it was renamed in 2012 to mark QE2’s Diamond Jubileeimg_2691

Before anyone corrects me, Big Ben is the name by which the clock goes, not the tower itself. A common misconception, which the pedant in me (I am, after all, a Virgo) takes delight in correcting! The ‘guide book’ to your flight is an iPad, suitably encased in a stand to prevent theft, which is programmed to show you where all the landmarks are as the flight progresses. A nice touch.

Having had a wonderful time, we then went into a nearby bar for a light lunch, before the next part of my treat. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any more but shortly afterwards we were climbing img_2690onto one of these

Spot the operative word: ‘amphibious.’ Believe it or not, this little bus worked both on land and water. Apparently they were originally designed and built in the Second World War for troop movements, and the actual bus that we travelled in was 70 years old. After a trip around some of the landmarks by road, which covered quite a lot of London’s history, we were driven to the side of the headquarters of MI6 – appropriate, I thought – and down a ramp. Moments later, we were in the Thames

We've fallen in the water!

We’ve fallen in the water!

We then went for a ‘boat trip’ along part of the Thames, which was quite an experience. To prove it, here’s a shot of the Parliament buildings – the Palace of Westminster – as seen from the river. As it was a weekend nothing was happening inside, but I’m reliably informed that on a working day you can see the hot air rising from here

We all bowed in reverence, of course :-)

We all bowed in reverence, of course 🙂

Until that day I’d not been aware of this service, and it really was an unusual experience, which I felt very lucky to have enjoyed. Doubly so a few weeks later when one of the vehicles caught fire while on the river, causing a suspension of the rides until thorough safety checks had been undertaken on the entire fleet! There but for the Grace of God…..

After all of that excitement, we ended the day in a lovely restaurant tucked out of the way in Camden, where to my further surprise I was treated to a cake, and a candlelit rendition of Happy Birthday To You from staff and customers. Truly, a lovely day and a perfect celebration I’ll always remember, made special for me by these two beautiful young women

img_2687

As you may have noticed, I have for some reason I don’t understand been looking back to three years ago quite a lot this week – my Facebook friends have been treated to reminders of my week of songs for the day which I posted in the lead up to my retirement, so count yourselves lucky to have been spared that! I don’t think this means that I have been wallowing in the past, as some might say, and I feel it important that we don’t lose touch with our past. It is, after all, a part of who we are now. I’m intending to do a post or two on linking the past with the future, when I’ve worked out what that means for me. For now, cake is beckoning, so I bid you adieu until the next time.

 

 

 

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  1. September 21, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    What a lovely day, Clive, worthy of many memories and recollections! I had seen distant pictures of the Eye but did not know about the Pods or any to the other details. In Hyannis, Massachusetts (on Cape Cod) they have something they call “Duck Boats” that tour the town and then go out into the Ocean to view the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport. I have never tried them, but it looks like you had a lovely adventure. Hope you enjoyed your birthday and your cake this year as well, my friend!
    Happy belated Birthday! Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks Jo, it was a lovely day and still seems so fresh in my memory, even though it was three years ago. If you’re ever in London I can thoroughly recommend both trips! I wonder if the Cape Cod Duck Tours are similar vintage? They did tell us that there were some in the States so they could well be. Best take a trip before they finally collapse!

      Thank you. This year was much less eventful but the cake was lovely! Hope all’s good with you 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

        Thanks, Clive, all is well…Doug is retiring at the end of the year so we will be buying a house in Raleigh and moving and lots of preparation looming! So much to look forward to! Jo

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm

        That’s great! I hope it all goes well for you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. September 21, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    I am glad you made this post. You have lovely daughters ! We have never taken the flight in the Eye of London or done the bus/boat trip so we have new things to try next time

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks Maria. I think they’re lovely too, but I’m biased! I hope you can do both of these trips next time you’re here, they’re well worth it 😊

      Like

  3. robjodiefilogomo
    September 21, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I think it’s the funnest thing to treat your city like a tourist. It’s totally different than the normal days of work & home!!
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      I agree, Jodie, and it only took me 35 years of working there to realise it 😀

      Like

      • robjodiefilogomo
        September 21, 2016 at 2:56 pm

        Ahhh, but it’s never too late!! we just get so much smarter as we get older!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 21, 2016 at 3:09 pm

        Indeed we do, all that experience of life doesn’t go to waste!

        Like

  4. September 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I spent a good part of a year in London in 1987/8 and every weekend I explored some of the city on foot. I walked for miles and saw all the major sites. I was never on one of those amphibious crafts but I did go down to Greenwich on a bigger boat…

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 18, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      I’m glad you got to see so much of London – you’ve probably seen more of it than I have. A proper boat was a wise move 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. September 16, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Braver than me – no head for heights at all! Glad you had a wonderful day! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm

      You should try it, it really isn’t anywhere near as scary as you might think! Thank you, it was a memorable day 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 16, 2016 at 9:43 pm

        What’s the saying? Oh yes, when hell freezes over! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 16, 2016 at 10:02 pm

        You’re really missing out but I can understand your reluctance. Maybe the amphibious bus then, if they haven’t all caught fire yet 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 16, 2016 at 11:09 pm

        😂 keep going, I’ll let you know when you come up with something vaguely attractive!

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 16, 2016 at 11:32 pm

        A stroll along the riverside by the Southbank, maybe with a box to stand on so you can get a better view? 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 16, 2016 at 11:52 pm

        😂 no boxes, afraid of heights remember?

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 17, 2016 at 12:30 am

        I thought you might manage a box at least! I take it you only wear flat shoes? 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 17, 2016 at 10:31 am

        Seriously, I do. Bad back. Wear trainers all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. September 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Happy birthday! What were you doing in MY London! Ha ha, I love it! I’ve also been on the Eye many times, and we always have a river trip up to Westminster to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Living in Suffolk, we have lots of tractors and beautiful countryside, but not much culture. Next trip will be to The Royal Festival Hall to hear Messiah by candlelight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 16, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you! I’ve spent so much time there that I’ve long since lost my Kentish accent and people think I’m a Londoner. I’ve grown to appreciate it more over time, love the Festival Hall, great acoustics even if the architecture is a little stark. The Messiah will be fabulous, one of the things on my wish list when the doctors let me travel again. Have fun! And don’t forget Aldeburgh 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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