My Christmas present from Jennie  and GG was a trip to London and tickets for Hamlet.  GG drove us to the station, on Sunday, where we boarded the GWR train and, contrary to the bad publicity I had read, we had a comfortable clean journey departing and arriving on time.

Although I had lived in Paddington 30-40 years ago I had not been back for many years so I saw lots of changes, the first being the station itself. It is now a large airy mall with several cafes and snack bars, newsagents, pharmacy and florists etc. The trains are almost incidental. 🙂

We decided to look for a church holding a Carol Service (the one I attended in the 60s and early 70s had long been closed) but only found one with a service half way through so we wandered down to Hyde Park and saw from a notice there that there was a “Winter Wonderland” with ice skating, Christmas market and carols at Hyde Park Corner. What a disappointment! all we found was a rather frantic, crowded funfair. As my gammy knee was reminding me how far we had walked we decided to get the tube back to Paddington until I discovered that it cost £4 each! so we crossed the road to the Hilton and took a taxi back to the hotel–it was cheaper, isn’t that crazy?

Monday we bought day tickets for the tube which was far more economical. We went to look at the square in Holland Park where my gt grandparents lived when they were first married. After taking photographs and speculating on where they had actually lived (the number wasn’t on the marriage certificate) we went off to a rather smart tearoom for coffee and then went off to see Kensington High Street. It is still very smart, but the two departmental stores (one of which had a lovely roof garden) had been replaced with a Boots and M and S. We were horrified when we looked in the estate agents windows and saw the price of houses and the weekly rental for quite modest property!

We went back to the hotel for a rest before setting off for the West End. Trafalgar Square hadn’t changed much and the buzz on the Strand was just the same. The production of Hamlet was superb (despite David Tennant not being there!) so we had a lovely evening. It is a long time since I have seen a professional production of Shakespeare and when I saw them they were still being performed in original type dress etc, so I had quite a surprise when it opened with the main characters in modern dress, but soon adjusted and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We checked out of the hotel at 11am and went straight to the station for an all day breakfast in a very comfortable cafe bar. Jennie left me there with a large capuccini and the newspaper while she went to explore the shops and stalls.

As usually happens when you have considerable time to spare, we only just caught the train! By the time we found our reserved seats they were occupied. The young man in my seat immediately got up and moved over to another free seat, but the large lady in Jennie’s seat steadfastly ignored us and carried on reading her magazine and chomping her way through her food store. Luckily the fourth seat at the table was empty so Jennie sat there and I sat opposite said large ladyand tried to manoeuvre my feet into the small space left by her large legs and food bag!

When we got to Swindon she gave us a rather baleful stare, gathered her belongings and said, “No offence, but I am moving where there is more room!” I managed to mutter “No offence taken” without collapsing in giggles.

Once again the train was on time  arriving in Cardiff, where GG and the boys met us and drove us home. We had had a glorious couple of days, lots of giggles, a bit of culture, a bit of genealogy and an eyeopener on London prices. I am truly blessed to have a daughter who is  friend.

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