Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Operation Easter Bunny Pt. 2 - Escape From London

The Thursday night...

I'm at The Albany pub in Great Portland Street, chatting to my friend who we'll call Birch. Birch has been living in Sydney for a little over a year now and hasn't been back in London since August. It's been ages, and he's assembled a group of lovely people, some who I've met before, some of whom I haven't. It's getting on for 10pm. I know that we have an early train to our secret Easter destination the next morning and it's going to take me at least 40 minutes to get home. I'm chatting away and trying hard not to check my watch, because I'm having a good time with all of these great folks, but I'm also keenly aware that at home the Mister is already packed, waiting to get an early night so we can wake up refreshed for our adventure, and that as usual, I'll burst in late, shattering any semblance of peace and throwing the house into turmoil, as I look for clean clothes and make myself instant noodles.

I say my goodbyes and rush to the tube, thanking the Victoria line for its efficiency (when it works, it's the best line. Really.) Without too much of a frenzy, I pack, shower, and we're in bed by 12.30. We're tired and fall asleep almost instantly. My body braces itself for the 6.30 alarm on Good Friday.

Good Friday...

We're up early and we have some pastries for breakfast warming in the oven. I've been instructed that our train leaves at 8.30am and that there's a taxi booked for 7.30 to collect us. We move around, fuzzily-headed, gathering our wits about us, and checking for the taxi at every 10 minute interval. All of a sudden there's a horn tooting outside, the pastries are hastily bundled into foil, and our bags are over our shoulders. We leave a little late, but finally, we're off!

Halfway to the station we realise breakfast is still on the kitchen counter. Bugger. Oh well, we're on the move! We'll get something at the station! Maybe even something fatty, sugary and loaded with additives in an international coffee super-chain! I'm giddy with excitement. The minicab sails through West London. I slowly come to realise that we're heading for Paddington.

'The West!' I think. Where could it be? It must be far, if it warrants such an early train. We pull up and it's nearing 8.10am. Perfect, I say. We've got 20 minutes to grab some coffee and a croissant. Then we can get the scrabble out and start this bank holiday as we mean to go on! So where are we heading then? Which platform is it?

The Mister gives me a sly sideways glance as he wriggles his bag out of the car. He smiles. He looks at his watch and says, "It's platform 8." Then with a giant smile, he adds, "We're going to Cornwall. We're going to St.Ives!"

I couldn't have been more overjoyed. St.Ives was one of my family holiday destinations between the ages of 12 and 21. The last time I had been there was my 21st birthday. It's a gorgeous seaside town of artists and surfers, famed for its incredible views, ever-changing light, marvellous seafood, beachside Tate gallery and quirky boutique shops. We'd discussed going back there a few months previously, as the Mister had some memories of being on a holiday there with some friends when he was 18 or so, all wide-legged surfer dude pants, badly-rolled joints and acid jazz records.

Then I noticed the information board for platform 8. The train wasn't due to leave until 9.20. We had a full 40 minutes. He'd allowed lots of extra time for me, and my notoriously late, lazy arse. Suddenly my early morning caught up with me all at once and I became very, very petulant and childish at having my morning begin earlier than necessary. Much earlier. I think I may even have said, 'You got me up this early to have 40 minutes to wait here in the station?!' How very ungrateful of me. I shudder a little as I write this. But yes, my sleep on a day off is sacred, I'm afraid. I sat down and faux-sulked a little next to the statue of Paddington Bear.

Well, after that little moment of infantilism, I saw sense. Paddington Bear sorted me right out. We went and got some fatty sugary goodness from Starbucks and waited it out.

And here is what awaited us when we arrived.

Of course, it was all totally worth it.

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