Friday, 20 July 2012

London's Calling...

Well well well it does seem I have been super bad at keeping my promise of being more up to date with my posts! But the truth is as soon as I said that the very next day everything just seemed to happen! 
I suddenly had a windfall of commission work and sales(which is obviously fantastic!) But to top it all off my friend Nicola Semple (from our one and only Ma Bicyclette) told me (in the middle of us scoffing our faces with battenberg at our ma bicyclette group meeting/ tea party) that she happened to have acquired some free tickets to see Paul Simon at London's Hard Rock Calling festival! So when she asked if any of us were free to go- I literally nearly choked on my lemon tart! I have loved Paul Simon since I was young girly, and what is sadder is my ring tone happens to be 'Call me Al' which I think helped my case a little because she clearly felt sorry for me and let me come!
Anyhoo it was so last minute that I had to put all my work on hold, pack my bags and print out our coach tickets within like a day- and then we were off! 

Now the last time I went to London was when I went to see Pop Idol on tour (with Gareth Gates- oh yes) so it was quite a shock to suddenly be in London town with our heavy bags and a diet coke can filled with rum (A la Nicola's hipflask!) So much so that when we got back home again on Monday night it has actually taken me until today to get my strength back again! 

Nicola is going to be doing a full on post on Ma Bicyclette about where to go in London, and all the useful details we accumulated whilst on our mini adventure, and that will be well worth a look, because we would have found this information very useful ourselves before we booked.
But for now I would just like to share a few pics from our brilliant weekend!

So when we first arrived at 1 pm after out 5 hour coach ride from Manchester Piccadilly, we had to work our way around the underground to get to our hotel! This literally involved us buying an all day travel ticket, jumping on the nearest train and seeing where it took us!



If you don't know what you are doing, the underground can be a bit fast pace and scary. (We decided to go to White City thinking it would be interesting, but it is literally just like Media City in Manchester, so don't go there there is nothing to see!) However, otherwise it all went quite swimmingly (Purely because of Nicola's instinctive skills, she is like Pocahontas!) We managed to get some nice pictures and some how ended up at the station near our hotel...

The hotel itself was a budget one, clearly made for backpackers and travelers alike (it was about £45 for the two of us for the night) but it had everything we needed and was situated in the most beautiful building on the most beautiful street, just walking distance from Hyde Park (Were Paul Simon happened to be playing!)

So after stocking up on a few more of our 'home made' cuba libres, we set sail about London town in search of some food to get us going for the festival.


After walking for what felt like most of my adult life, we managed to find a lovely little bakery just down a sneaky off center street called 'Bonne Bouche' that did some smashing baguettes and cakes that were pretty darn cheap. (When you are on a budget, like we were, we established it is fairly difficult to find somewhere nice and reasonably priced to eat in London- so this place was a godsend!)I would advise the apple crumble slice- it was delicious :)

After regaining our energy and feeding a few pigeons, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the festival. A quick hairbrush and a shot of cheap brandy later we were back on our feet again heading out to Hyde Park.

When visiting London, I would advise taking a map, as when we finally reach Hyde Park we had walked a zillion (ish) miles longer then we needed to. However the stroll was quite nice, but shortcuts clearly are the way to go when you have a good walk back ahead of you too!



We arrived just in time to see Alison Krauss and Union Station playing. I had never heard them before- but will seriously be buying each of their albums. I couldn't manage to get a video in time but could manage to find one on you tube! The also sang 'Man of Constant sorrow' from O' Brother where art thou. So great- Love them :)

So we larked about a bit, bought a couple of ciders for £5 a pop (Seriously!) And enjoyed the nice weather that seemed to be on our side all day.


Then Paul came on and we danced like loons!
He started with some well known classics and then went on to 'Me and Julio down my the schoolyard' were by I couldn't NOT record it! (Sorry about the dancing...)

Then he brought his 'mate' (casual like) Jimmy Cliff on he sang a few classics too (and I hear through the grapevine that he is in his 70s? In which case he looks amazing!)

Then of course there were his other 'mates' Lady Blacksmith Mambazo on, and they were just ace! We both said we could have literally died there listening to them, the whole place was in awe! Plus they were throwing around some seriously stylish moves...

Paul and his group must have been on for at least 3 hours, so when I had to 'nip' to the loo half way through I missed 'Call me Al!' Which was pretty gutting, but I could still hear it through the cubical walls which was an unusual feeling to say the least.
Still I managed to catch him doing his Simon and Garfunkel stuff, which was uber exciting. Me and Nicola just stood there in the dark, phones out recording with everyone singing along around us
(before my memory rand out and it got cut off!)  

All in all it was awesome, A truly once in a lifetime thing. And the walk home through the town with all the crowds was quite awesome too- even if our feet were literally nearly ran down to nubs! Still we had the next day to explore too so we couldn't rest too much! 

The Next day we woke at 8 (to get the free breakfast from downstairs) and head straight out with all our stuff to see more of what London had to offer. We were taken a back with the beauty of the houses, and even managed to get a sneak peak into some of the mansions that windows happened to be on the main road. We also got slightly obsessed with the doors, they were almost magical! (But probably very ordinary to your every day London folk!)

We then head onto the main street and did some shopping (window and otherwise!) I don't know why it is but every shop seemed more exciting, even Primark seemed more elegant! This is just one of the window displays we saw, it was like a mini London town!

Then we headed over to meet some friends (another Ma Bicyclett-er Bekka! And her boyfriend who were celebrating his birthday.) Who then took us to Camden town to see the markets and stroll through the streets. It is a seriously cool side of London, famous for its groovyness. We found some brilliant vintage and handmade shops, but have to say prices in Manchester seemed a lot more attractive!

Before you knew it, it was time to go home. So we headed back along the underground to the coach station at Victoria. By the time we sat down we realized how tired we actually were, in fact we hadn't even hardly set off and I was throwing up my 1 meal of the day in the coach toilets (Yes I was THAT person!) Still we managed to fill the rest of the 5 hour drive home with some good chatter about new Ma Bicyclette ideas... So watch this space because there is definitely more to come!

Time now for a hot bath and some more Paul Simon tracks to take me back...

Have a groovy day x

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