Bomber Command Memorial

Monday 5 November 2012

I counted out that we needed to get back to the hotel 16:30 today to be able to get a taxi to Victoria, get on the Gatwick Express and check in on time. And perhaps get to look a little in all the shops before taking off for home at 20:25. I set my alarm clock early again but was up an hour before it rang, since I needed to go. We had left the light on all night and thereby the fan in the lavatory but it was still stinking in there. I went and unplugged the phone charger and started to charge the camera instead and then went to rest for another hour. But then, an hour later, I discovered that the phone had not got charged up at all, during the night, even though it was plugged in. Our entire plan for the day was wrecked by this fact. I could not leave Britain with an un-charged phone! It was close to dead and last time, I went to London, I stood at one terminal in Copenhagen waiting for T. and he at another terminal. Only thanks to the mobile phone, did we get contact and I could walk over to the terminal where he was waiting. I did not want a repetition of that so we had to sit at the hotel room till the phone was fully charged. I tried to SMS home asking T. to phone the hotel phone which he finally did and we sorted out meeting spot for this evening in case the phone would not work. I got undressed and stood naked, ready to go in to the shower, when the fire alarm went off. It was only on for about half a minute and then went quiet. My guess is that the hotel guest that made our hotel a stinking hell hole all evening, night and morning, probably went out in to the hall way smoking and set off the alarm! On his or her way down to breakfast. But “Cookie” became hysterical once more and wanted to rush out. I got angry and said that IF there was a fire, the alarm would continue being on like at the Imperial War Museum and that I was not going anywhere naked. She went out in the hallway and saw some people out there and told me, “we must go down”. I told her, they were out there to go to breakfast. She would not give up so I just walked in to the stinky shower.

When the mobile was charged 100%, we headed down with our luggage to the lobby and checked out, leaving our luggage in a luggage room. Cheeky hotel. Charging 4 pounds for each piece! We had four pieces so that was not fun! We started at Boots, getting an Atkins bar each and then we headed for the Tower of London that is the furthermost away! I was not happy! I had got my pre-period a whole week too early! And while I had bought sanitary napkins at Boots, I had nowhere to put one on, just having a piece of lavatory paper there, that I had put in my underwear, in the hotel room. So half my mind was on that. Was it my real period? Would the paper stay in place? Would I bleed through? And it took forever to get to Tower Hill. When we got there, we both felt depressed. It would have been so much fun to go in. But I pointed at the queue and told “Cookie” that if we wanted to go in, we would have to stay all day and see nothing more of London, especially not the changing of the guards. She of course wanted to see everything that I had planned for this day! And while the Tower of London pamphlet says that one should count on a three hour visit, I know that a visit takes all day if one wants to walk with the audio guide and see everything. We walked around looking at as much as we could and took photos of the Tower and the bridge, close by, and at the same time, searching for a lavatory. We did not find one! And then suddenly, we were running out of time. I had to break her heart and tell her that we had to leave and that we might even miss the changing of the guards.

We ran to the tube, me wondering about the condition in my trousers. It seemed like we would never get to Green Park. When we got there and out in to the open, we could hear the music and I told “Cookie”, “never mind me, just run for your life, I’ll find you”. She said she didn’t know where to run and I said “just run towards the music, follow everyone else”. She ran and I tried to keep up. There were some Italian men running as well, one of them with a suitcase, that dropped and the contents spilling out all over. I could not stop and help though since I had a little girl to catch up to. I caught up to her when she did not know how to get over this wall thing. We got up to the fence and ended up by a Swedish couple of all things. No sign of any soldiers. But we heard music and I re-assured “Cookie” that some would come out at least, even if we missed everyone going in. She was looking forward to seeing bear skin hats but I had told her that she could not count on that they would be wearing those. So imagine how happy I felt when a group came out from Buckingham Palace, wearing those hats! And they came marching right in front where we were standing. We remained there till 12:30 which was not good! I had planned to show where the guards stay but there was not time for that. Even worse, I had to strike off going to St. Clement Danes to see the Arthur Harris statue and RAF church. That was something that I really wanted to go to and every day I have tried to get close to there but… Now, “Cookie” had to be first priority and her getting to see the things she really wanted to see. I had talked to her about the Bomber Command Memorial and how all Fighter Command pilots were regarded heroes after the war, but all bomber pilots made to feel ashamed because lots of civilians died in Germany thanks to the bombs dropped on them. Like people had not lost their lives in the Blitz! And not just loosing their lives, but houses and sleep for an entire year! And what about the V1 and V2 bombs? I mean, there was no other way to put an end to the madness in Germany, there was no other way to bring them to their knees and STOP making war. And this year finally, they have opened a memorial to these pilots as well and we wanted to see it. BUT the maps of green park did not have this new site on them! And the bobbies that we asked, had no idea where it was located. So we had to search all over the park till we found it.

bombercommand1bombercommand2It was way bigger than I had imagined. But they deserved it after all these years and it really was nice. Lots of people had left letters telling about this and that pilot that died during the war and I wish I could have copied down the stories that were so touching. It was tough to leave but we had to and move on to Piccadilly Circus for two reasons. I wanted “Cookie” to get to see it and close to Piccadilly  is the largest book shop in Europe: Waterstone’s. We headed for Waterstone’s only to find out that only the small Waterstone’s have Cath Kidston things! We at least were able to go to the lavatory at last. Finally I could get a sanitary napkin on and be able to relax!!! I wanted to look at books SO bad but there just was not time! I can not begin to say how disappointing this was. Book Heaven and you have to leave without a single book, without having been able to look at a single book even. We headed for Trafalgar Square in a hurry so she could get to see Lord Nelson. Daniel got up on one of the lions but “Cookie” is too tiny so she could not get up on the lion. She is just too short and not strong enough. We got worried she would fall down and hurt herself trying, so she had to be photographed between the lion’s paws instead. I longingly looked across the street at the little Waterstone’s over there, but we had to continue off to St. Paul’s. A must for the Julie Andrews-loving “Cookie”. She wanted to sit on the steps with the pigeons and sing “Feed the birds, … tuppence a bag”. We walked in to the church but I refused to pay 16 pounds and about half that amount for “Cookie” to see the church. We saw enough from the queue, where we heard an American get angrier than angry, since they would not let him and his family in. They had bought tickets on the internet but had not brought picture id with them so they were forced to leave. I could not understand that. It says on the internet that you always have to bring picture id! And who walks around without their passports in a foreign country? If you leave it at the hotel the cleaners can steal it and sell it for a fortune! Insane to not always carry it with you.

We visited the shop before heading to Tottenham Court Road. I had decided that we were going to get on a double-decker bus there and go all the way down to Marble Arch on  it. “Cookie” got so excited that she was going to get to ride a London taxi and now also on a London bus. Thank heavens there was a seat upstairs and in the front. She loved it so much but we could only go to Oxford Circus since they had closed off the street further on. They were hanging up Christmas lights. We ran back and in to HMV to get our DVD of Downton Abbey!!! The cheapest was the box with all three seasons and the one Christmas season. So that is what we bought.

Then we rushed off to Next but we only had 30 minutes to shop so I could not really look that closely. “Cookie” found me this wonderful thing! Unfortunately wordpress has changed how one enters pictures in to the blog post and they make me put this cuddly furlooking fleece dress, at the top of the document, so I can not show how cozy this thing is. That is not where I want it in the document, obviously. It is to be worn sort of like a robe but it’s not open in the front. It has a hood, goes 3/4 way down your leg and best of all, it is striped in taupe and pink so it looks like ice cream or something. I bought that for myself and in the same material, this cute thing for “Boo”, that is brown and is a monkey one-piece. It comes with a tail and hood with ears and everything. He will be so adorable in it!!! And “Sparky” will be adorable in the three pyjamas I bought in white and blue stripes etc. Covered with giraffes and elephants. So cute. I wish we had had more time for shopping. I am sooooooooo disappointed. If we had not gone to Bletchley we could have gone to the Tower of London. And had I booked theater tickets for Thursday instead of Friday, we could have utilized our time in London better. Many museums and most shops, were open till 22:00 Friday. So poor planning on my behalf.

We jumped on the bus again after paying and then had to hurry back to the hotel like the wind. We asked them to phone for a taxi. Today they had absolutely noone speaking proper English in the hotel which was SO frustrating. When the so called taxi showed up, both “Cookie” and I stared at each other and wondered what this was. A private car had pulled up by the curb and it was not even big enough for two suitcases. I was not happy about stepping in to the car at all and the Arab driver that hardly spoke English, was in all probability the girl in the lobby’s father. She had spoken to him in Arabic on the phone. Obviously she is giving this man business but I wanted a cockney driver in a real taxi with a real taxa-meter. Why didn’t we just walk out to Bayswater road and flag down one by ourselves? Now poor “Cookie” did not get to ride in a real London taxi after all and we were both scared. I looked for signs that we were on our way to Victoria. We heard they were turning on the Christmas lights on Oxford Street half an hour later and felt sad that we missed that as well. When we got to Victoria I almost fainted when he told me that this short, very short ride, cost 20 pounds. But how could I refuse to pay? He sets his own prices and we were ripped off!!! He had no taxa-meter, he is driving taxi illegally!! We got in to the station and looked for a place to get something to eat, when we found out that there were problems on the railway tracks to Gatwick. A train was leaving five minutes later but they did not know when the next would run. I got petrified that we would get stuck at Victoria and miss our plane so we quickly bought tickets and ran like never before. The whole train was full and we had to sit far apart and far away from our bags. But we got to sit at least.

At Gatwick we were supposed to check in ourselves and the machines did not work so we all were forced to TRY at the machines first, and then go up the old fashioned way. When we had gone through security, where I had to go through barefoot, we started looking for something to eat. But “Cookie” refused to get a sandwhich, so I had to eat alone with her watching. I bought three books out of disappointment. This was no good day at all! I felt cheated on everything. Not getting to shop at Waterstone’s, not getting to shop for clothes, not getting to go and see St. Clement Danes, not getting to go to the Tower of London and having to overpay for the taxi. The book selection was poor but they had some books from my amazon wish list so… When we got to our gate, half of us had to go down stairs and walk outside to enter the plane from the back. It was bitterly cold and I was not too happy about having to go out there, but then the fire works started in London! Guy Fawkes night, I explained to “Cookie”. So the people that walked indoors to get to the plane, really missed out on something pretty, while we got to see part of the show! Nice send off I thought. And I got to tell my daughter about this British celebration.

The flight home was uneventful except me getting upset at the woman sitting across from me. They told everybody we had to turn off our mobile phone but first putting them on airline mode. This woman turned it off LATE and as soon as we got up in the air, she turned it on again and smuggled it in to her pocket in front of her chair. Her friend tried to persuade her to turn it off but she refused. I who am afraid of flying just sat there thinking, this selfish woman is jeopardizing all of our lives because she is dependent on her phone and why do I always run in to people that believe that rules do not apply to them, only to others. I did not want to die thanks to this cow that also unpacked a computer to sit and watch “Homeland”.  She didn’t even sit and watch the entire episode since she was trying to send SMSs without the air stewardesses seeing her.  And her friend shaking her head at her. I was glad when the plane landed in Copenhagen and we were on our way out to search for T. We saw the end of him, driving off as we came out. It took 10 minutes before he came back. We were late and this meter maid had walked by him several times so he had to be on the move constantly not to get a ticket. I guess in Denmark, the meter maids not only write tickets but they also take photos of the cars. Perhaps as proof that the car was parked illegally? Which ever, he did not get a ticket and we were soon on our way back to Sweden and a good night’s sleep in a smoke free house.

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