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In and out of London on February 14th

In and out of London on February 14th

After a long day which started at 8am with:
– walking past suburban London to find it full of Colin-Firth-esque fathers driving mini-vans packed with screaming kids inside, presumably taking kids to football practice
– walking past a long line of (presumably Polish) men just standing forlornly outside a Polish delicatssen, waiting in vain for some freelance building work
– having to jump on three mis-labelled trains before finally finding the one that got me to Heathrow Airport
– a very stressed lady at an airport car rental desk who kept pointing at a non-existent silver door
– getting to the car rental place, and waiting in a portakabin to rent a car while planes flew by overhead. Almost romantic.
– driving 100 miles north of London past snowy fields and the wilds of Lincolnshire
– wrestling with two sat-nav systems on a mobile phone to get me to a country village, both of which failed
– eventually getting to the picturesque country village with snowy fields. Very romantic.
– walking up to a mews cottage. Very romantic.
– hearing dogs barking loudly, and opening the door to find a family of five and two dogs crowded inside a living room. Not so romantic.
– Picking up an LCD TV which I’d bought from the guy on eBay. Despite his burly sinewy muscles helping me get the TV to the car, this wasn’t remotely romantic. Unless you’re into burly sinewy muscled guys with tattoos. The wonders of eBay, eh?
– Driving 100 miles south back to London, listening to commercial radio endlessly going on about Valentines Day. No wonder I hate those kinds of radio stations.
– Having the bright idea of switching to Radio 1, which at least had a sense of humour about Valentines Day.
– Pulling into a Chinese supermarket en route (well, I’ve got the hire car, might as well make the most of it), which is full of families buying their weekly groceries and sparking huge nostalgia memories. More of that in a future blog post…
– Coming out of the Chinese supermarket with 20kg of rice and 50 packets of instant noodles. That ought to do me for a fortnight.
– Navigating the traffic jams to get back to my place, and transport an LCD TV, 20kg of rice and two boxes of instant noodles up three flights of stars.
– Huge disappointment that the TV – which came promised with 3 HDMI sockets for the TV – only had two. Damn.
– Eventually make it back out to the shops I can’t get to normally – mostly Homebase, B&Q and the huge Tescos Wembley.
– Stunned to find that Tesco Wembley is exceedingly busy, AND that due to not having any change, I can’t use a trolley.
– Stand in line for 10 minutes at Tesco Wembley, with two Eastern European men in front waiting with 3 cases of Fosters. Romantic night for them, presumably.
– Head to the petrol station, only to find it packed and have to wait in line for ten minutes. Shouldn’t all these people be home or out in lovey-dovey restaurants on Valentines’ Day?
– Take all the groceries back, head back out to Heathrow to return the car. I’m a sworn environmentalist, but I love how Heathrow looks at night.
– Return the car, and wait forever for a tube train back to West London.
– Now it’s 9pm, and I’m starving. But stepping into a pub or restaurant for food on this day would be a disaster.
– Fortunately, I spot a Chinese buffet and walk in. After all, what kind of romancing couple would be spending Valentines’ Day in a buffet?

Ah. At least two elderly men with their rather young wives, and three yuppie couples. Has the Chinese buffet become the new great place to eat out and be seen in?

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