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5 May 2012

the mother has landed

*warning - this is a long post*


so.. monday was our last day of work before we were off for over a week to entertain my mum on her first leg of the great british tour. it could not have gone fast enough. the day itself was quick, but knowing it was merely hours before i got to see my mam, i just couldn't focus on anything! i wanted the day to hurrrrry but then when it did, it hardly mattered as we had tickets to the the comedy store  (again) this time to see king gong - basically, there are about 35 acts, all unknown comedians, who have to get up and aim to stay on stage for 5 minutes to qualify for the final round. if the audience likes them, we laugh, clap, etc. if the audience does not like them, we boo and jeer. simple. for the first few acts, we played nice. cos i felt like i should do, and that we should be nice as this was their dream! but.. after a few really crappy and usually tasteless jokes, i gave in and started bullying them with the rest of the crowd. it was sooooo therapeutic! the show ran quite late, and i was staying at bex's that night cos her house is a lot easier to get to heathrow from there, so by the time i got to hers after the show it was nearly midnight AND I HAD TO GET UP AT 5.

for the last week or so, there have been tighter security and passport control measures at heathrow, meaning that people have been waiting for upto 3 hours to make it 'into the country'. i was panicked that i would be either too early to meet mum and could have slept longer, or come later and have her be waiting for ages. i compromised and allowed an hour for her to land, get through security, customs, etc.. i ended up still waiting another half an hour, but all in all, 90 mins is not too bad considering some people have been waiting double that.. it was soooooo good to see my mum!

we sorted out an oyster card for her travels and then i introduced her to the underground. i gave her a few simple instructions for tube use:
1. stand on the right
2. don't block the doorway
3 don't make eye contact or talk to anyone
within the first 5 minutes she was talking to people, lugging her baggage up and down platforms, apologising for being in their way, making jokes with people...ugh! so uncool! haha i did have to defend her a bit cos she was being bullied a bit with her luggage (it was peak morning travel, but we were on the line FROM THE AIRPORT.) so i had a few words with a woman who felt the whole world should understand she had to get to work. i could have cared less. my mum is little and polite and expects people to be nice to her. i didn't want to sully her view of londoners, but i did want to make sure the city didn't eat her alive in the first hour of her visit.

i must admit though, besides a few snotty glares, we came across a few really lovely gents who offered to pull her luggage on and off the trains (3 of them) for us, so all in all, not too bad for the first journey! we got back to the house to find boyfriend up and the flat smelling of cupcakes and fresh scones! he'd been baking! i wanted some typically english treats to feed her, so stocked up on rhubarb crumble, clotted cream and custard only to find mama on a strict tiny-person diet which does not include the aforementioned treats! to humour me and not insult boyfriends obvious attempt to win her over, she was suckered into a scone with the tiniest amount of jam and cream and a nice big cuppa rosie (tea - boyfriend is a cockney. i should explain that for those who don't know him. rosie is cockney for TEA). just what the doctor ordered! we sat and chatted for a few hours, were handed presents (read food and clothes and essentials from home), and planned what we would do with her for the next few months!

although she had been in transit for over 24 hours, she was in incredibly high spirits. she was not tired, and she was raring to go. we allowed her to bathe and enjoy her tea then we were off! thankfully the rain had subsided by about midday, so we headed off to the royal borough of greenwich - home of GMT, the o2 arena, the queens house, greenwich park, the royal navy college, royal maritime museum and the setting for the olympic equestrian arena - just to name a few! we hopped the train to lewisham, then the DLR to cutty sark where we stopped and took in the rebuild tea boat that was burned a few years back. the restoration was only completed recently and it is truly amazing.

we didn't pay to go in, as it was about £12 just to go in and have a look in the bow and on the deck. not really all that amazing as it isn't the original ship - it's all new decking and has been restored recently. if it were in original condition then we may have thought twice about it. still, really good to see what they've done  to preserve such a relic. our travels to cutty sark meant that mum got to see her first real views of the thames, which she was incredibly enthusiastic about. although, she was making reference to it (and a lot of other things around us too) reminding her of the yarra in melbourne... i can't think what she's on about. they're both rivers, and that's about where the similarities end. i also can't see any of melbourne in the houses or local towns, but she's sure she can. does she know that australia was only invented about 40 years ago and that most of london is older than time itself? silly woman.. 

next we headed through the village itself, and checked out some of the market that was open, on our way up to the observatory at the top of greenwich park. as it was mid-week, not a lot of the market was open sadly, but in the park mother was introduced to a huge range of critters that she's never dreamt of meeting previously. she met some squirrels, a woodpecker, robins, a geordie in hi-viz who basically asked her on a date, and - being the botanist she is, had fun being captain obvious and pointing at flowers like; "roses! ivy! awww holly! are they stinging nettles? wow!" haha, bless! 

at the observatory, we showed mum the greenwich mean time clock and the meridan line (where place and time officially begins) and showed her the skyline from on top of the hill. she was asking "what's this place, what's that place?" and pointed out things we could see like the o2 arena, the new olympic stadium and torch in stratford, canary wharf and isle of dogs, and things in the city like the shard and the gherkin. she was asking lots of questions, and it was still early, so we took her into the city. we headed for canary wharf for some lunch, and boyfriend got to show both mum and i canary wharf  as i had never officially been there and seen it myself. once we had stopped an refueled, we headed off again, this time into central london to visit the south bank and see us some token hotspots!

leaving canary wharf we headed underground to waterloo and once there discovered mother had not swiped her oyster at one of the places we'd visited that day, and the £20 she had put on that morning had been charged a full day fare PLUS every single trip too. fool! foolish system! she had to put a few extra quid on it to get home, but we said we would walk around for a bit then walk to london bridge and go home from there to save her getting penalised any more. we walked from waterloo to the southbank to show her the london eye and also see parliament and big ben from across the river. it had turned into such a nice afternoon so we just started wandering.. we ended up under ben and taking pics, and mum was so enamoured by the city that we just strolled...and strolled........and strolled. so. much. walking!

we walked past all the bridges.. i think there are 7 or 8 in total. mum was naming them as we walked past them (she's basically read the whole lonely planet guide to london on the plane over), proving YET AGAIN how little i know about the city i live in. (i do know the important onces - promise!) we were taking off layers of clothes and (i was) complaining of sore feet when there in the distance was a beacon of hope! tower bridge - the last bridge! except... from tower bridge we had agreed to walk back again to london bridge to get the train home.. all hope of stopping was lost! it was now about 5 pm and we had been going for hours - some of us on not too much sleep (me mostly it would seem)(whinge whinge bloody whinge!), yet mother was determined to push on!

we stopped at the tower of london for a moment as there was an army cadet regiment training there and they had all their proper kit on with their instruments, furs, et al, so we thought something cool was going to happen. turns out it was only a discipline training... to hold position.... for ages. so we watched them stand still for about 10 minutes before we decided that nothing was going to happen and we headed off to the bridge. it's sooooo pretty! i love this bridge. we walked back towards the train station, headed for home after a long day of sight seeing!

after a nice hot rosie (*wink*) and releasing the poor feet from the grips of cheap shoe hell, i started on dinner. i adapted a jamie oliver recipe from his 30 minute meal show and made a moroccan lamb salad on a bed of cous-cous with baked chilli and cheese portobello mushrooms...... deeeeeelish! mother was sure she wasn't tired, but within a few hours of dinner she was falling asleep in front of the telly. i know "speed" is a rivetting film, so i am almost certain that it was actual tiredness finally having set in. as soon as she admitted defeat, i felt comfortable to cave in too and goto bed. mum is an early riser and decided that if by some miracle she defeated jet lag that she would go and investigate the heath out the back of our house. we left her some house keys and headed for bed ourselves.... knackered!

what a day! so good to see the mum and a busy day was had by all. it was great to show her around, and for her and boyfriend to officially meet. they got on like a house on fire - which i knew they would. obviously they have a shared love... me! heh.

i will leave it there for today.. i have many more days worth of scribing, and this has taken me about 14 hours as it is (no exaggeration. i started during the voice (7:15) and i am now watching britain's got more talent. (10:45)(ok, slight exaggeration, but..) hopefully you have been mildly entertained by this. if not.. why are you still reading it?

until tomorrow...

erica x