I spent yesterday in the nation's busy, bustling, noisy, exciting, overwhelming capital. I don't head up to London often - it literally exhausts me - but do enjoy the opportunity when it arises.
I've been up TWICE in two weeks this month!
The first time was the bank holiday weekend at the beginning of May to meet with a woman who was one of my instructors at school - not technically a 'friend', but most certainly an acquaintance - and who I've kept in touch with since graduating. We spent most of the day in Regents Park, walking around and catching up. I hadn't been to Regents Park going on 30 years, I'm sure, although I don't remember anything in it so it was new to me! We saw the Princess Diana memorial fountain, opened 2004, by HM Queen Elizabeth.
image courtesy: Gustafson-porter.com
It's very low profile, but the water flows around it over a variety of textures and it's very pretty and relaxing.
We wandered over to the Royal Albert Hall and saw the magnificent Albert Memorial, sitting down for a tea in full view of both (the below is what we saw, only missing the sunshine).
image courtesy: royalparks.org
It was great to see her - she, her husband and parents were off on a 37-day cruise to Singapore! - and catch up. Walking was the perfect way to catch up. Afterwards we sat down for a proper tea for an hour before I headed back to the coast.
Yesterday I returned to the city to meet another friend. Ines and I have been friends for over 25 years but this was the first time we ever met in person! I met her through a penfriend organisation out of Ireland, back in the day when snailmail was the only way to do things (early to mid-90's). I can't remember if she was one of my first (I joined consistently for about 5 years), but she is among only a handful I'm still in touch with. I have a friend in Nottingham I've been writing to since we were 17, but have yet to get up there to meet him. Soon, I hope.
Ines was in London with her family (husband and two sons) and I went up to meet her. We met at the London Eye (along with about 5 million other people) and spent the rest of the day on open-top double decker tour buses taking in the sights, chit chatting, etc. We had a stop for lunch in between - finding an empty bakery to sit down in for an hour to get some peace and quiet - before ending the day walking across the Millenium Bridge and along the South Bank to get to Waterloo.
It was so wonderful to finally meet her! She's not the first penfriend I've met - I've been lucky enough to meet several others - but certainly is one that I've had the longest. It was quite an easy transition from 'pen' to just 'friend' and I'm so glad the chance arose to meet her.