Of all the things I miss about California, it’s my friends I miss the most. And of all the friends I miss from California, it’s my running friends I miss the most. And of all my running friends from California that I miss, it’s my Crazy Cat Ladies and my beloved early-morning-run-buddy Lisa that I miss the VERY most. So when Lisa emailed me last month that she was coming to London, the squealing was so loud that the cat shot out the cat flap!
I met up with Lisa yesterday and we had the most fantastic morning. I enlisted my Dad to do morning duty (it’s half-term and the Husband was away). Dad slept over the night before to take the Dude to cricket camp and I packed my bags for the adventure.
4.30 am. Alarm goes off. Ugh. Not quite sure if I love Lisa enough.
5.am. Leave the house in the slightest hint of dawn. Drive 40 minutes to Andover.
6am. Train to London. (I always allow too much time).
7.15. Arrive in London. Walk across the Thames to Lisa’s hotel.
7.30 am. Massive hugs in a hotel lobby. Totally worth it.
Our plan for the day was basically to talk a lot and go for a run, so by 8am we were outside and hit the streets. I’d planned out a 6-mile jaunt around London seeing all the sights. Please find below some really crappy photos which won’t win any awards but might show you the utter joy of being reunited with one of your very dearest running buddies on a grey day in a fabulous city.
From her hotel near Horse Guards, we ran east along the river to St Paul’s Cathedral. We’re both of an age when the wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was a pivotal childhood experience, before we realized the true horror of two people being married to the wrong spouses. But the cathedral is beautiful and we were allowed to go in, sweaty already in the humidity, and stand in silence for a few minutes looking around.
From there, we headed over the river across the Millennium bridge which the Death Eaters shook so badly in Harry Potter….
….as far as the Tate Modern and the recreated Shakespeare’s Globe…
…and then along the lovely South Bank as far as the London Eye.
From there we ran over Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben…
…to Westminster Abbey, where William and Kate got married.
We were too early to go in and it costs a whopping £20 per adult which frankly is obscene, so we ran on through St James’s Park to see where Her Maj lives!
Up through Green Park to Hyde Park Corner and then a little loop through Hyde Park where we found the lovely cafe overlooking the Serpentine lake, so we stopped for half an hour for tea and cake!
Our legs were super-creaky when we came out but we ran back to Buck House and along Birdcage Walk where the Foot Guards were doing their morning drills, which was pretty cool.
Back through Parliament Square and one final half mile past Downing Street back to the hotel. But then the most crazy thing happened. Downing Street is gated off, as a security measure. We were stood peering at No 10 and I heard a member of the public ask one of the security guards where he was from. ‘Wiltshire’, he told her. Never one to miss an opportunity to chat, I said I was from Wiltshire too. ‘Which part?’ he asked. I told him Marlborough. ‘Oh I’m from Durrington.’ he told me.
My jaw dropped. I grew up in Durrington. It’s tiny, about 5,000 people. Spluttering, I told him I lived there as a kid and went to school there from 5-18. ‘Me too’, he told me. I asked him his name, he told me and WHAT THE HECK, WE WERE IN THE SAME SCHOOL CLASS FROM THE AGES OF 5-11! Once we’d exchanged names, it was obvious it was him! (I did get a lovely photo but it’s probably wiser not to put it online).
Our run ended a few minutes afterwards. We showered, changed into decent clothes and went for lunch for a few hours until I had to get my train home. We’d basically talked solidly for six hours and there were still many things that I’m kicking myself now that we didn’t talk about.
So there you are. Utter bliss for a few hours, running round London with my lovely friend. If your running buddies are nearby, give them a hug!
Here’s the link to my route in case anyone’s after a lovely run round London. Thoroughly recommended.