London – Christmas Lights

First of a few posts featuring photos taken in London on a trip between Dec 3-8th. This one shows the Christmas street decorations – Oxford Street, Regents Street, Bond Street.

Photo catch up

Assorted other photos from Berlin, London & Warsaw.

Late night reflections

Having reached the oasis of clam (typo, but I like it) that is my smoking room at the second hotel mentioned below I reflect a little on my no-smoking day and night in good old London town before drifting off to the land of nod.

There is a tendancy to overdo things in the UK that annoys me intensely and is one of the reasons I’m glad I live in Poland. The smoking ban is just the tip of the iceberg but is symptomatic of the general diseases of treating the great unwashed like they are five years old or of going “over the top” just because you’ve run out of better things to do.

Take the train journey from Heathrow to Paddington on the ‘Heathrow Express’. A wonderful service, fast and by London standards, resonably priced, but consider this; why, on a 15 minute journey does anyone really need:

  • A television news service
  • Wi-Fi availability
  • First class carriages
  • Quiet zones (no TV and you are asked to think before using your phone…)
  • Profuse apologies if the train slows down momentarily to avoid hitting the slow train in front

I mean, blink and you miss the entire journey and yet somebody thought there was demand for all of the above ‘enhacements’. The worst thing is that I’m sure there are people who would be complaining if these things had not been made available to them, which leaves me uncertain to whom I address this particular rant; the puffed-up train operators or the pampered (this is how we lost the empire) customers.

Why do ATMs (cash machines) need to have large signs above them saying “Hole in the wall”? Is that supposed to be amusing enough to make me want to use the thing or is it genuinely aimed at helping people find these large, illuminated and very bleeding obvious devices?

Did I manage to find a lift that didn’t talk to me? Of course not! The hotel lift proudly announced everything, with gusto even. She, it was a she, had obviously been taking lessons from my Sat-nav system on how to wind me up. “This lift is going up” – is it now. Let me see, I’m on the ground floor, I pressed 2 so now, instead of closing the doors and getting a move on, you’re telling me we’re going up. Why do I need this information? Shut up and move!

Rubbish. What are people supposed to do with rubbish in London when there are no, as in zero, rubbish bins in the entire city? In Warsaw I know that within a very short time of generating rubbish, I will find a suitable repository into which I can put it. My last few trips to London have mostly consisted of trying to find a rubbish bin. In future I think I’ll resort to carrying around my own plastic rubbish bag and then take it all home with me to Warsaw.

What’s wrong with water, or juice? Why do I need to be tempted by things called “Thirst Buster” (or whatever it was) which cost three times the price, promised the earth and delivered something that tasted like water with a hint of old socks. This tendency to just keep ‘enhancing’ food and drink is obscene. Nothing can be straightforward anymore. It has to be eco-friendly, organic, fair trading water, lovingly wiped from the backs of sustainable Llamas as they climb the majestic paths on their way to Machu Picchu. Please! Stop! What makes it worse is that you just know what’s coming next, don’t you. “Water, plain and simple, just like grandma used to drink.” (and before we started buggering around with it!)

Don’t get me wrong. There are some good things that come out of this, just surprisingly few considering the amount of human effort, time and money that must be wasted creating all this junk.

Still love London though. Always will. If I ever have a couple of million quid spare I will be first in the queue for a converted toilet in Notting Hill.

Got to mention the Da Corradi restaurant, 20-22 Shepherd Market, just off Curzon Street. They served good old fashioned plain, well cooked and very tasty food. Minestrone soup, Lemon Sole with broccoli and roast spuds, some Italian cake called something like Della Nonni (??), cafe latte and a beer. The service was perfect, I was left alone to read The Spectator (no I’m not an upper class tory twit, I just like the magazine) but when things needed to be done, they did so, quietly. The whole lot came to just over 30 quid. Well done to them! A good experience and I’ll be back.

Picked up DVDs on the way out of terminal uno – “Rome” season 2, “Soparanos” season 6 and Michael Palin’s “New Europe”. Going to need to lease a warehouse soon to store all these boxes I keep collecting. :)

Budapest is cold and wet but this hotel is magnificent and has free and fast internet connection hence this post. What is quite sick is that I’m sure this place costs less than the one in London which was average at best… but it had London outside the door and this place doesn’t. You gets what you pays for.

Intermission #1

I’m travelling this week. Off tomorrow to London and then Budapest, back here Friday evening. It’s going to be a busy time, work work and work, but there must be some reason that money’s deposited on my account each month, surely?!

Not sure why I’m telling you this, or even who I’m telling, but in the event that there are people who check back here from time to time and having read a prolonged discourse on the “rules of blogging” recently, I thought it best to explain that I have not yet abandoned this blog and all who sail in her.

By way of added excitement and interest, if anyone can find me at the Washington Mayfair or Grand Hotel Royal hotels this week, they should come up to me and say “You are 20 east and I claim my $5” and I’ll be glad to buy you a beer.

Grand Hotel Royal. How many superlatives does one hotel need? If I ever open a hotel, I’m going to call it the “Fine Magnificent Grand Amazing Hotel Wonderful California”.