Homeward Bound

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If I were a bunny rabbit, I'd have my own epic movie.

We went to G's family for Christmas. They're all the way on the west side of London, and they invited us to stay the night because 'trains can be a pain at this time of year'. Plus, there was a tube strike planned, and we didn't want to get caught in it so we graciously accepted and made our way westwards for the festivities. I had (still have!) a terrible cold which has rendered me pretty much useless, but we had a wonderful time filled with delicious treats, family movies and festive fun. It wasn't too Christmassy, and we were very, very comfortable. Come Sunday, we were ready to face the empty boxes awaiting us at home as we prepare to move in to our new flat next week. Yes! We're leaving Baker Court; it's the end of an era. More on that later.

The journey from West London to East London would typically take just under an hour, trains permitting. So imagine our surprise when we arrived, packed and ready, at the train station on Sunday afternoon to learn that the trains had been cancelled due to strike action. What now?

We caught the only bus running from Ruislip to Harrow. Then, at Harrow, we changed onto the 'special service' metropolitan train that took us to Baker Street. From Baker Street we took a bus to Oxford Circus. There we were convinced that we'd find a bus home - or near to home, at least.

We were wrong.

We stumbled upon the worst event in London History - the Boxing Day Sales. People were pushing, shoving and fighting to get into the stores on Oxford Street. You know that age-old comic skit where two women fight over a sale item? It's not a joke - that actually happens here. The photo above is not to illustrate how busy the road was (and it was busy) but rather to show you how many people are waiting at the bus stop for our bus home. Our Bus. 

We watched a few buses go by before we both threw our arms up in despair, gave up, and went to go find our favourite Italian restaurant nestled behind Oxford Circus station. After a quick refuel, we headed back out.. only to find that the queues had doubled and there was no chance of us getting home anytime soon. So, we started walking.

We stopped every now and then to find a bus stop that was facing the right direction, but the buses were always too full or going the wrong way. Eventually, a little after St Paul's Cathedral, we saw the magical bus number 25 which was pulling up at a bus stop a few metres in front of us - so we ran. And we got on.

There was much heckling on the bus; people were pushing and shoving and listening to really loud music. It wasn't pleasant. But, bus = fewer blisters and less tiredness. It took us all the way to Stratford where we were able to catch another bus home. The whole trip took us just over 6.5 hours. Here, I've illustrated it for you so that you can see at a glance how difficult the whole process was:

New year's resolutions?
- Avoid Central London Shopping at all costs
- make excellent use of online shopping facilities with coffee in-hand
- sight-see during the day-time for better photographs
- don't make jokes about Fleet Street Butchers/Barbers when there is nobody else around, the street is cold and empty, and there is an odd whoooooing wind noise
- always wear walking boots when travelling further than 20 minutes away from home
- carry a compass at all times.

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