Monday, September 21, 2009
As I've mentioned before on three or four occasions, I live in Biggleswade.
It's a quaintly pretty market town in Mid Bedfordshire next to the River Ivel and half an hour from Cambridge, Stevenage, Bedford and London
(on a good day.. on a bad one it takes 45 minutes and shudders to a creaking standstill at every small town between Biggleswade and Kings Cross)
If you ever catch Biggleswade on a bright Autumn Saturday, when the market is alive with the animated flurry of early risers, you will see it at its best.
Grab a steaming Latte and an almond croissant at the market square cafe, before settling back for a spot of people watching. This is cafe culture Biggleswade style !
We moved here because of its practical proximity to London (for work) and the M1, which helps when we visit relatives ooop north. That, and the very pertinent fact that a move to Biggleswade
makes it possible to buy a decent house in a good area but on a mainline service into the capital.
Just a few miles down the road in Hertfordshire, house prices shoot skywards and the towns there hold no greater appeal
( except perhaps that the train journey shaves a handful of minutes off the journey to London and you can choose between a Costa, a Nero and five or six Starbucks )
Anyway, where is this all leading ?
Last weekend, my American cousin Lynn came to visit and we headed off to London, home of Queen Elizabeth II, that most resilient sovereign, who endured many an annus horribilis (in the past ) thanks to her errant offspring.
There's something quite magical about being in the company of a spontaneous person.
I'm often paralysed to the spot in my desire to plan ahead, just in case this or that might occur, but never does.
So you can imagine my consternation when we jumped off the tube at Covent Garden and after climbing (dragging our weary selves) 200 steps to daylight
( the lift was out of order ) stumbled upon a ticket office selling half price tickets for Wicked, Chicago, Avenue Q, etc. Serendipity in motion.
We picked up cheap tickets for Hairspray in the Royal Circle with a perfect view of the stage. When Brian Connolly (Edna ) and a superb Wilbur understudy performed 'Timeless to Me', they both lost control for a few minutes of body wracking hysteria somewhere around the lines ' You're like a broken down chevy, all you need is a fresh coat of paint'. The audience of course loved it, and it added to the authenticity of the unpredictable live performance.
We strolled around Covent Garden, browsing the Apple Market and all the cute stalls selling everything from original art to handmade chocolate to sex toys and an assortment of yet weirder items.
We passed the living statues and a heavily tattooed man trussed up in heavy chains Houdini style and the clown and the street dancers and Kenny and Karly from Big Brother, who seemed totally at home in this bizarre scene.
We caught the tube to Green Park and peered in through the windows of the Ritz, grinning at an amused looking security guard. We asked some bewildered looking German tourists for directions and strolled across to Buckingham Palace through the beautiful Green Park. I've been there a dozen or more times, but it's always a delight to see the Queen's splendidly stern sentry guards, the ornate palace gates and the mass of foreigners outside grasping to get a better shot of their group in front of this iconic building.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
My lovely, vibrant American cousin just spent a week chez nous and it was the busiest, most entertaining week I've had for ages and ages. We spent 48 hours in London and saw Hairspray and Thriller Live and a couple of reality TV stars (Karly and Kenneth from Big Brother ) hanging out at Carllucio's in Leicester Square.
I'll do the London blog later. Tonight, Cambridge.
We drove to Cambridge, whose ancient majestic halls of academia are just 30 minutes down a newly built dual carriageway (not yet available on Sat Nav, alas) from our house. We went 'punting' down the river, escorted by an affable young surfer-dude guide aged v.early 20's, who had recently graduated from the world famous Trinity College. In awe of this marvellous achievement,a degree from the worlds highest acclaimed College, I asked what his future plans might be. I'm only 36, so not quite old enough to have given birth to him, so strenuously avoided a maternal tone. God Forbid that I might patronise the youngfolk!
He informed me, in an impatient 'this-is-not-the-first-time-I've-been-asked-that-question' voice that he had:
'No Plans' and that he 'didn't want an office job' and that he just 'wanted to travel for ten years'
Back up and steady on there just a second Mister.
You graduated from Trinity College Cambridge, possibly the most academically esteemed Hall of Learning in the whole hallowed history of Learningdom and you have no bleeping plans ?
Not good enough, surfer dude.
Please try explaining that to the many failed applicants of the toughest College in the country whilst you are backpacking around Phuket.
Call me old fashioned, but you don't spent three or four years at Trinity College Cambridge to exit stage left with no-effing-plans.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The inevitable post holiday blues have kicked in.
But what a wonderful wonderful holiday.
We flew Easyjet. If you ever catch the programme 'Airline' you would be forgiven for thinking that Easyjet= Machiavellian cowboys hellbent on nicking your hardearned so you can wait several long hours more than originally intended in a depressing departure lounge before getting on a faulty AirbusA319 and sit sardine-packed into tidy rows of pissed off passengers before being deposited, several hours later, into a stuffy Meditteranean aeroport.
But you would be wrong.
Because the flight was good. And the trip was better.
We arrived, after a few hours of travel and the disconcertingly simple collection of a lovely Seat Leon from the shockingly well organised Alicante Aiport, to Casa Vista.
And what a view indeed!
Corny cliches aside, it was like stepping inside a holiday villa brochure. Since we hired it out for a snip, I assumed it must be faulty somewhere, but it couldn't have been more perfect. Winding steps, littered with bougainvillea led up to a raised balcony with the most incredible view of a cerulean sea, complete with cliched white yachts and larger liners drifting past in relaxed slow-mo.... But, peace disintegrated into cries of 'where's my swimsuit' and ten minutes later, two little girls were jumping into our swimming pool like they owned the place. We don't. Sadly.