After two rather strange events at the end of last week - I joined a gym & bought runners (need to burn energy somehow while I'm off the bike) - I headed up to London for the weekend. Mostly it was to catch up with people I haven't seen for some time. Since I last saw them two months ago just after my operation, Levi & Marki and Jeff have been to NYC, Czech & Turkey in different permutations. So with my Rome trip as well, there was a fair amount to discuss. Time was a bit limited as they were heading off to the O2 to see Kayne & Jay-Z (maybe I'm just boring, but I didn't see the attraction). However, someone had decided that a good way to get to the O2 (which is well away from the centre of London) was to get a ThamesClipper (a pretty fast catamaran passenger ferry) down the river.
I jumped at the chance as while I've walked over, under & beside; driven over, under & beside; cycled over, under & beside; and ridden trains over, under & beside the Thames many times over the last four years I've previously never found reason to get on a boat on the river. It was good fun watching so many landmarks slide by from a different vantage point - I particularly liked going under Tower Bridge.
Meeting up with more concert-going friends in the O2 (I'd never been in before - it really is an incredibly large tent with all sorts of shops, restaurants, a squash competition & of course the arena), I joined them for a very late lunch before riding buses back to Sidcup. Trish picked me up & went out to watch the Bexley Village world go by as we savoured our Moroccan meal. I'm not sure acoustic Lily Allen & Lady Gaga is traditional Moroccan music, but whatever.
Sunday was spent driving north into Essex & visiting various family - the main point of the weekend away. A very pleasant cup of tea with my great-uncle (Grandad's brother) as he regaled me with stories of his travels in WWII as a wireless operator. Still can't picture Blackpool as a place to go & learn Morse code or why exactly Alan was shipped to Brazil, Durban, Bombay, Iraq, Cairo & Libya. But then war doesn't make a lot of sense on much higher levels than that, so I'm really not too fussed. Always a delight to spend time with a very switched older generation (with a surprisingly good grasp on current news) - there's some small hope that I won't completely lose my marbles in fifty-odd years. Plus Alan was interested in my USA roadtrip (particularly Yellowstone) photos, so I got to show some of those.
A little bit back towards London, I spent the afternoon with Carly & her family. One of only two second-cousins on my maternal grandmother's side (compared to the plenty on grandad's side), it's been sometime since I've seen them - the kids & house are now much bigger. As Carly & David honeymooned in Banff, there's always plenty of Canada talk which is good fun; family also is a hot topic, as Carly's brother, father & grandfather are all quite funny (/crazy) there is generally much amusement.
8 hours ago