It’s a bittersweet ending to a ten-day adventure! Michael headed off to Manchester on the Sunday 25th September to meet a friend for lunch and head on to the airport to fly to Edinburgh. Whilst I resumed the university working life, he went off to see the Scottish sights. On Wednesday I knew Michael was due to catch a flight to London at around 10:30 in the morning. so reached out to him when he was due to land in the country’s capital… to receive this:
Note: visa means visa debit card – I thought he meant his visa into the country (even though Canadians don’t actually need a visa to get in due to the commonwealth etc. etc.) I guess it is a “fun fact” if you guys didn’t know!
Anyway, drama aside and in a true “michael cloney fashion”, he booked a plane for the following morning and had a cracking extra day in Scotland.
On the following Saturday Danny, Karmen and I had booked tickets down to London to see Michael before both Ayisha (his cousin) and him were to fly back to Montreal on Sunday morning.
We set out for London at about 9:45am, stopped at a new favourite coffee shop of mine called 200 degrees by the station, and boarded the train easily. We arrived just after midday and met them at the Phoenix Hostel near Edgware Road. It was a slightly weird experience to see a hostel in your own country. Even though I have stayed in multiple hostels in various countries it doesn’t feel normal to have one in our own capital city. It felt as if this hostel should look or feel different to all the other ones I have been to however, as a normal person should expect, it’s exactly the same. The difference is is that I can actually understand everything written down around me. Now that is a novel experience.
We headed to Brick Lane near Shoreditch first where they all took hipster style photos by the graffiti and ducked and dived into vintage markets. We also stopped at a hipster shop for a quick cuppa, waited for a friend to join our crew, then headed on to wander a little more.
This is the point where the day turned into a little mathematics “game” of addition and subtraction. The first to arrive was Danny’s friend:
Next, we caught the 26 bus towards the Strand past St Paul’s Cathedral to show Michael and Ayisha Covent Garden and the more central parts of London. I love taking the buses in London. Why? Even though they can take longer than the underground…
- sometimes it means you don’t have to change lines
- sometimes the journey lengths are the same
- you get to see the streets of London in all their glory whether they are bustling or empty
- you learn more about the city’s layout
- it’s actually cheaper than the underground so saves that student $$
- if you get the front upper deck seat, you have a first class ticket to London sights my friend.
(I’m not being sponsored by London transport, by the way, I’m just rather enthused by the buses over the underground… as you may be able to tell!)
Once we arrived we quickly popped into the courtyard of Somerset House and waited for a few more people to join us. After about ten minutes:
… who I have to say was wearing the nicest rain coat (Danny and) I have seen in a long time. It’s a jacket made by Rains which is a Danish company.
Our growing group of seven headed towards the very busy and popular London borough Covent Garden where our party grew once more to eight people:
… who, by sheer chance, had her birthday that day! 1st October. She had returned from Reading where she is studying a masters to celebrate with her family but also, seeing me as we hadn’t crossed paths in aaaaaages. (I’m full of fun random facts today aren’t I?)
We walked around the markets but Christine, Georgia and I (being London regulars) went on ahead to find a coffee shop to escape the crowds and to be able to chat a little bit easier. Danny, Karmen and the others roamed around the markets a little longer looking at all the little trinkets and memories the stalls have to offer. I found a place tucked away called Department of Coffee and Social Affairs and it was so good!
Everyone else joined us and we were soon sitting, sipping our drinks and chatting. I love being part of bringing people together and watching us all somehow enriching our lives by meeting someone new.
When you think we couldn’t add any more people, another arrived.
However, this is where the subtraction takes place…
(Let me just make it clear that they weren’t leaving because of Dave, but with prior commitments and birthday dinners, they had to head off 😀 )
From the coffee shop, we walked towards Leicester Square, added a…
And you’ll be glad to know that’s the end of the mathematics “game” I mentioned earlier. Wait, I lied.
As it was a Saturday night in London, and I hadn’t had the foresight to find somewhere and book a table for our large crew of … i don’t know how many.. eight? All waiting times were around an hour. I advise anyone who has more than four people in their group to look up places beforehand! Or go to eat at around 5:30 instead of 6:30… the crowds were huge.
We ended up in Shoryu Ramen Restaurant in Kingly Court, Soho and gleefully stuffed our faces with noodles and other little nibbles like edamame beans and gyoza. Once stuffed (exactly like this little image to the right –>)
Unfortunately, it was suddenly close to our train time home and I couldn’t believe the day had flown.
Michael’s visit has reminded me of the value and opportunities that travelling gives us. It’s made me look at my own country and see all the fantastic places worth visiting without having to hop on a plane. Although I want to go travelling to all different continents and places, it’s a reminder of the little things that can be so marvellous without the realisation that they are.
Friendship can mean so many different things and have a variety of meanings. I used to think that best friends were those who share their lives with each other 24/7 when in fact, the 24/7 doesn’t matter. It’s the effort regardless of the distance that does. The fact that Michael and I, wherever we are in the world, manage to see each other, or just send a WhatsApp or have a quick skype call is priceless.
This also applies to many other friends that I have made (you know who you are), both in the UK and abroad, that I share this type of true friendship with.
So… I guess I’m saying: Thank you for coming to visit me, Michael. It’s been an absolute ball having you here and I already can’t wait to see you again.
Until we meet again mon ami.