The coach arrived and we boarded. Thursday 10:30pm. It was barely alive (only around 5 others seated), peaceful; the driver was polite and friendly; we took our choice of seating. First impressions of our first ever coach trip was looking great.
My phone had died a few minutes before and there were charging points between the seats. Unfortunately, these ports had other ideas and having stealthily jumped from seat to seat in the dimly-lit walkway in an effort to find a port that worked, I was almost to give up in frustration when I found a working port from the seats in the opposite isle. My stubbornness succeeded, and thank God – I had an 8 hour journey to survive. I hooked up my phone and left it to charge in the empty seat across from where we sat.
Despite the on-going wrath of Storm Doris we didn’t get struck by lightening nor blown off a motorway bridge and we loved the drive. We stopped in Manchester around 11:30pm and had around 30 more holidayers join us on our journey. Before they boarded, I woke Brody and changed seats to where my phone sat charging.
I was in an excellent mood, enjoying every minute of our journey, extremely excited to be on our way regardless of the truths of a confined coach journey and the new arrivals having shown no consideration for other passengers and the early hours. The new recruits took all forms of peace away – talking loudly, phones constantly ringing, bags of crisps being crumpled all night, babies crying, and lights switched on and off. No chance of sleep now then. Having been enlightened with this fact I have decided that any future coach trips it would be wise to also pack the following;
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask since the curtains in the coach still allow light in (I slept with my jacket over my head haha)
- Blanket for comfort
- Hot water bottle for extra warmth (hot blooded passengers had control of the cool air-conditioning)
6:30am approached and I was exhausted having had so many broken naps, had a dry throat from the air con, aching body from being seated for 8 hours straight, and was in need of a coffee and food to keep me awake until check in at 2pm.
Then we arrived! The sun was starting to rise and the town had already got there. People were already crowding the streets, busying themselves to work and play. Runners were geared up and pacing the pavements, cyclists side-lining the curbs – it was an active girl’s dream!!
My face lit up, eyes widened.
Everywhere I looked people were active, healthy, and damn they were happy!
I was in love.
The streets were clean, houses grand and pale in contrast against the blue skies. I felt like I was abroad.
Drivers pulled up, jumped out their cars, threw their keys to the chaufers waiting on the pavement and walked off proud and primed. They didn’t even have to park their own car! I was in richville here. A complete comparison from the home town I resided.
This was the life.
Everyone I met was so polite and friendly, approaching with warm smiles, more than willing to offer help.
We gathered our bearings, went back to the coach station and collected our Oyster card. Then we set off to find the B&B so we knew where to return to once our room was available. We were to stay at New England Hotel for the next three nights.
We paid our booking and left my rucksack in their storeroom, collected our keys and went on our way. 8am; 6 hours to go.
I love getting lost in a foreign town and that is exactly what we did – just wandered by the help of signs and familiar place names.
First we ended up at the most stunning park, Green Park, which features the spectacular Buckingham Palace. We watched the Changing of the Guards, took photos, met patrolling police armed with a type of machine gun and was offered photos taken by strangers. That’s a perk of being a solo parent – everyone knows it’s your only realistic chance of having a photo of you and your kids stood together with the full background of the thing you want to feature in full glory behind you.
Brody and I chased each other through the park, slingshot back around on ourselves and were met by a couple of extremely tame squirrels willing to climb on our knee and take nuts from our hands! Oh God, could London be any more perfect?!
The swans were giant and beautiful, the parks stunning and full of various foliage, the lake vast, and the magnificent St James Palace was just that!
After going to Sainsburys and gathering our goods, we found a bench and parked our cheeks, munching hot chicken wings, chicken tika, and a pepperoni pizza slice, whilst watching the planes fly low as we passed the time.
We got to our hotel for 13:40 and thought we would chance an early arrival. The receptionist allowed us entry and we took to our room with a 1 day WiFi pass for an additional £3. I must say the room was shabby and couldn’t be any smaller. A single bed led beside a small table and single chair, with a bin in the far end and clothes rail above. On first glance I thought there was mould around the window but turns out it was just flaking paint. The shower room was compact, but what do you expect for three nights in the middle of London Victoria on a budget of £155? That was the whole point of budgeting more on activities and experiences, a result of ageing accommodation.
No regrets – various parks, the wide stretching River Thames, and plenty of famous historical landmarks are all within minutes of walking from our hotel. We chose very well!
I jumped in the shower which was well received, scrubbed my teeth and re dressed, then Brody followed. We went on our way before I fell asleep on the bed to get my third white chocolate mocha that morning. P.s. Caffe Nero can not be faulted for their white choc mocha – it’s a dream!
It is so surprising how quickly one can familiarise themselves with a new area.
Tomorrow we explore further afield. Stay tuned…