For my quarterly trip to Europe to our office in France I extended the trip to do some work with our team in the UK. This mean a few days in London, which is always great. Justine decided to meet me in London, and we added on a few personal days to go and visit with her family in Wales.
The first part of my trip was all work and no play, and also has no photos to make this part of the post more interesting. I spent the first week in France at our office in Toulouse, doing a lot of product roadmap work and trying to advance a few projects. It was overall very effective time spent. I was there until Friday, and then flew to London on Saturday morning, arriving into Heathrow at about lunch time.
Justine arrived at about the same time as I did, into a different terminal so it took us a bit of time to catch up with each other. From the airport, we took the Heathrow Express into the city, then grabbed a taxi to our hotel in South Kensington. When I was living in the UK, I did this trip from the airport more times than I can count, but as I’ve been away for 10 years (how is that possible!), things had change. For example, they moved the taxi stands at Paddington on me. Very weird.
Our hotel was a Residence Inn, and was fine for what we needed. It was located in South Kensington, which was a pretty good spot, with good Tube access and walking distance to many sights. Not that I was going to have a lot of time, but it was good for Justine. After getting settled into the hotel, we decided to head out for a walk.
As we headed out, we went generally north and wandered up through Holland Park. It was a bit overcast and cool, but not too bad of a day for wandering.
We were probably about 2-3 weeks early in being in the UK. It felt like the trees and flowers were all on the cusp of blossoming, and we were just missing it. As we were fairly close by, Justine wanted to walk up to Notting Hill to look for movie locations. We found what she wanted to see, and by that time it was getting close to dinner time.
We found a local pub that was playing the 6 Nations Rugby, and watched a crazy game between England and Scotland with the locals. It was a like watching two separate games - England was up 31-0 by the half, then Scotland came roaring back to tie it up, which was how it ended. Wales had secured the title earlier in the day (which we heard about a lot later in our trip), so it didn’t really matter, but the Scottish dude sitting next to us was pretty excited as Scotland fought back for the draw.
We didn’t make it a late night. Justine was still adjusting to the time zone, so we headed back to the hotel. Sunday, we took the train out to Royal Tunbridge Wells to spend the day with my friends Mark and Rachel and their daughter Arwen. It’s about a 45 minute train ride from Charing Cross train station, heading southeast from the city.
Much to our surprise, they were having a bunch of friends over for a little party, with meant the place was over run with small children. Still, it was good to catch up with them as it had been a couple of years since I had been able to visit, and Justine had never met them. We hung out at their place and had (as usual) a huge amount of very good food. Their friends were all very nice, and we spent the afternoon chasing small children about. Later in the afternoon we headed to the park at the end of their street and the kids played for a while until the weather turned on us. We had just made it to the local pub for a drink as the skies opened up and it started to hail! It didn’t last long, but I was glad we were inside.
Eventually, people started to leave, and we ended up as the last ones to go. It was a fun day. We took the train back to the city, and it was dark by the time we headed for the Tube. We called it a night as I had work the next day.
The original plan was to have customer meetings Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That got disrupted a bit, as one of the Partner meetings fell through. I was left with a customer meeting Monday just after lunch, and a Partner meeting Wednesday up in Lincoln. More on that later. While I was doing my meetings on Monday, Justine got to tour around. Her stuff is up on Facebook, if you want to see what she got up to.
After my meetings were done, we met up and wandered a bit more. We didn’t have a lot of time, as we were heading out on the train to meet up with Justine’s Godparents for dinner that night.
We were taking the train from Waterloo so we ended our wandering at that point and went to the pub in the station, as we had about an hour to kill before our train. It reminded me of old times, as I took almost that same train out to the offices in Woking when I went to the office.
We met up with Justine’s extended family at a very nice pub called the Old Plough. I hadn’t seen them since we had done our big trip to Spain in 2011 (I think that’s right). We had a great meal, and had a great time catching up and visiting. It was really nice to see everyone.
We had to catch our train about 9:30, and so headed back into the city. It was a really nice evening.