It was with some sadness that Linda and I departed our little home in Portsoken Street, Aldgate and took the Tube across town to the fashionable surrounds of Kensington to our new domicile in the Capthorne Tara Hotel.
Tomorrow we begin the second part of our tour, a swing through western Europe, and some of the great cities of the world, in a twelve day rush job courtesy of Trafalgar Tours.
It was a little bit disconcerting to find that our wake up call will be at 4.45am and we will be aboard the bus and on our way to St Pancras International railway station by 6.00am. No matter. The next twelve days will be hectic I’m sure but I fortify myself with the notion that this could be the first and only time I venture to the continent. I may never be back. Who knows what the future may hold?
London has been great. In some ways a little different to what I remember it to be or what I thought it might be like but the history and culture and the accumulated grandness of twenty centuries of recorded history holds an allure that even the meekest will find alluring.
The most interesting thing I have found over the last week is the lack of English accents in the streets of Westminster and the City of London. There have of course been reams of tourists populating the streets, not surprising in one of the most famous places in the world, but the interesting thing has been the non-English speakers employed in many of the tourist haunts and information booths around the city. Many of the shops and commercial businesses are owned by immigrants and menial jobs seem to also be the realm of the non-native population. It was a treat to do a river cruise on the Thames yesterday and find the crew onboard to be very much the “cockneys” of legend and we listened spellbound as these average Englishmen, the Watermen of the Thames, gave a running commentary on the sites and legends of the river as we wound our way down to the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
England of course is very much a modern multicultural nation much like Australia so it is not a mystery to have so many different faces in the streets but the number of German tourists in London has been amazing and the many eastern Europeans working on building sites and elsewhere is intriguing.
Perhaps with the European economy languishing in the doldrums, England is an oasis in the desert for those from the east who are looking for more out of life and look to the far horizons to try to improve their lot. Good luck to them.
I have to admit it has been a little disappointing not to be able to mix with the average English, whoever they may be at this point in history, but we will touring by car for ten days in October and no doubt we will meet plenty of locals through our endeavours next month.
So, with that thought, I will sign off and prepare myself for the next phase of my trip. With an early start beckoning it is off to bed and I will fill you all in whenever I can, from wherever I may be.
Take care all.