July 5, 2007

After breakfast today we packed our bags, because we were leaving for London in the afternoon. But since Caroline and Jason were driving there, we all loaded our big suitcases into the back of their car so that we didn’t have to take them on the train. We waved goodbye to them, then we had the rest of the day to look around.

By the time we went to the town, the rain was coming down heavily. Chris dropped us off near the quay and we walked along the river to the shops. We bought a bird feeder at a shop that specialized in metal-working (the feeder had a picture of a robin on it). But then we found out from the tourist information place that there was a free walking tour of the city at 11 am, so we asked the people at the shop if they would hold onto it for us.

The city tour started at the cathedral, in the centre of the town, and went all around inside the walls, looking at buildings of various ages. There were Roman buildings buried underground, fragments of the Norman castle, medieval buildings like the Guildhall, Tudor buildings, and even modern buildings that replaced buildings that were damaged in the Blitz of 1942. The walk lasted 90 minutes, and unfortunately it was raining all that time, but we kept the hoods of our raincoats on. The other dozen or so people on the tour did the same. The walk was very interesting and we found a lot of interesting things that we would never have known ourselves.

For lunch we headed back to the quay, to a restaurant named Mango. It was a cheerful orange place in one of the stone tunnels that used to be storage sheds or something at the dock, and it had been recommended by the Lonely Planet guide. It turned out to be very good. We all had very good hot chocolate, with fancy swirls on top, and we had paninis and wraps, all with corn chips and salad. After all the rain we would have preferred soup, but it was only on the menu from October to March.

By the time we had finished it was 2 pm, so we meandered up through the town in the rain, stopping on the way to buy some saffron buns. Chris picked us up at the Central station at 3 pm and we went back to his house for tea and cake. Then we finished our packing and Chris drove us down to St. David’s station, which is very close to where he lives. Our train to London left right on time at 4:10 pm; along the way to London we stopped at 15 stations including Clapham Junction, but there was nothing really interesting to see from the train. We arrived at Waterloo right on time. Paul’s cousin Pip was waiting for us there and we recognized him right away. He led us through the station and out onto the street, where we caught the 381 bus right outside.

It only took us a few minutes to get to Pip’s place, which is in Rotherhithe in Southwark (pronounced Suvvuck). His wife Val was waiting for us at the house, which is in an enclosed warren of streets. It’s very tall, having four levels, but not very wide. The main floor is the entry way and the mud room, the first floor is the kitchen and living room/dining room, the second floor has one large bedroom and two smaller bedrooms with a full bathroom, and the third floor has two large bedrooms each with a full bathroom. The house was immaculate and beautifully decorated. Normally there are lodgers in the third floor bedrooms, but as it happened they were away, so we were put into those.

We sat in the living room and had snacks while we waited for Caroline and Jason to arrive. They finally got there about 10 pm; not surprisingly, they hadn’t been able to find their way to the house so Pip went to fetch them. Pip went out to the local kebab van and got them some kebabs (which are called “donair” in Canada). We all went to bed around midnight.

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