Returning to Blighty to surprise the Birthday Girl

Six Hours. That’s how long it took between me sitting at my desk in Munich on Wednesday evening and me standing outside Betty’s student flat in the heart of London. Not bad going at all if I do say so myself.

So what was the point of this trip? Back at the start of February, I got a Facebook notification inviting me to yet another of my close friend’s 21st Birthdays; a weekend in London. Seeing as it was the start of the month and I’d just been paid, my bank account was looking rather healthy and after a quick logistics check I was all booked! All I had to do now was to keep it a secret for a month and a half. Credit where credit’s due Betty, Warrick & Ollie all performed admirably to keep the news to themselves which added to the surprise when Birthday Girl Liv finally did arrive on the Friday. More on that later, but first was Thursday.

After a restless sleep and a lie-in for me (Betts had to get up for a 9am lecture unfortunately) I headed to Covent Garden in my new Doc Martens to meet up with the one and only Sophie Perkins. She was looking radiant and we slipped straight back into the usually silly/occasionally serious friendship that we have. On the recommendation of Hattie we headed to the rather scarily named “Meat Market” a pop-up Burgeria serving, you guessed it, bloody awesome burgers. And Puppies. Sophie ate puppies.

After soaking up the burgery goodness we headed north to Camden, the main purpose of which was for me to get my ear pierced. Arguably my most #YOLAO (a clever play on words created by us Leeds lot, it stands for ‘you only live ABROAD once’ and should only be used ironically) moment of the year, even if it wasn’t even technically abroad. Having collected a few flyers, we found a suitable place and having been “shown next door” to the basement of a takeaway a heavily pierced spanish man stuck a needle through my ear. Job done.

A quick pint and another chat about the birds and the bees and we said our goodbyes and departed. As I was only back in England for a short amount of time I’d prepared a Bucket List. It was as follows:

  • Cordial
  • English Sausages
  • Rubicon
  • Ale
  • Fish & Chips

After Betts and I had made our way through a dinner of English sausages and pasta with a drink of peach cordial I was already well on my way. We settled down and half watched Robin Hood, half chatted about future prospects, friends and the like.

I received an Oscar for my efforts

It took Liv a few minutes to even recognise it was me but once she had it was clear that she was pleased to see me. At least I think they were tears of happiness… An afternoon of catching up and relaxing at Betty’s parents’ Pimlico pad then followed, along with the arrival of Matt and Comic Relief, of which we managed 6 of the 7 hours of broadcast…

Saturday started lazily before Liv headed off to Harry Potter World and Betts went to the Library, leaving Matt and I a full afternoon for learning in the Science Museum. Apparently Science isn’t as exciting as natural history as we didn’t have to queue to get in. For such a large museum we didn’t learn much – the majority of the museum is now interactive and aimed at children so we spent much of the day playing games against kids. However, we did both learn from a so-called “Brain Analyser” that we both think like women.

A quick bob to the shop and we were back at the flat, just as Ash, Nikki, Ollie, Hollie and John were arriving. Hugs all round before the serious business of the birthday night out. In order to keep the price of entry down, we had to be in the club before the ludicrously early 10pm. It didn’t help that just as we stepped outside, the heaven’s opened, creating rivers on the street. We hailed the nearest black cab and weaved our way to the Piccadilly Institute.

It was an odd atmosphere in the club, as rich twenty-somethings mingled with students. Once we’d all arrived, the drinks started to flow, especially as I’d got myself into buying rounds of bottles of wine with John and Ollie. It was the cheapest way when a vodka coke would set you back over  10 quid.

Hartford hits London

Many a photo was taken, including one of John, Nikki and I which we tweeted to our favourite twitter account, @Hrtfrdheadline to let them know that our small village was representing in London. There was to be one more incident before the night was over. Liv, Ollie and I were all dancing next to the stage when a bouncer came over to me and inquired “Is he bothering you?”, signalling at Ollie. At this point I was too far gone to comprehend and just danced at him a little. The bouncer then changed tactic and confronted Ollie, telling him to back off. Apparently I look like a vulnerable homosexual, ready to be taken advantage of and Ollie looks like a big, butch, aggressive, gay fellow.

Waking up in a bed was an absolute treat and after heartfelt goodbyes I left, ready to make the final visit of my journey. I travelled to Spitalfields markets where I met Kie (cousin and editor of The Good Review) and his wife Sarah. I’d not spoken to them since Christmas so it was great to catch up over a Wagamamas. Kie is about to hit the road with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Sarah is settling into her new job in events management for London Zoo. One final pint of Guinness (it was St. Patrick’s Day after all) and I headed, with a heavy heart, back to the airport to catch my plane back ‘home’. I enjoyed my time in England much more than I expected and for the first time in a long, long time I feel a bit homesick. Work, football and partying over the next week should sort that out though – los geht’s!

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