So, then my trip. I haven’t been on a plane in about two years. Imagine. There was a time when I used to fly weekly for work and think nothing of jetting off for a weekend but now I almost never travel for work and haven’t flown for holidays since we’ve moved home from Brussels. I haven’t missed it.
I took myself off to the airport in very good time for my midday flight and it all passed off uneventfully. The plane was, as predicted entirely full of Leinster rugby fans. Travel by train and tube to my city centre hotel was lengthy but straightforward. But yet, on arrival, I was absolutely exhausted. And I had not even travelled with a child. Partly, I think I was so tired because everything was just a bit different from when I had done it last and the novelty made it tiring and partly because it IS tiring and you don’t notice it so much when you have to do it regularly.
Our hotel was free thanks to my sister’s travel points (hurrah for her) and we were upgraded (hurrah again). Once recovered from my journey, I went to the National Portrait Gallery which was having an evening thing. Then on Sunday, we both went to the National Gallery. My friend Michael says that going around the National Gallery is like constantly running into old friends – my goodness, are you here too? And I have to say, both the Portrait Gallery and particularly the National Gallery have the absolutely superb collections. I had never been to the Portrait Gallery before. As Irish history and English history is very closely entwined before 1922, the Gallery is full of people who had a very significant effect on Irish history also. But Ireland gets scant reference – at least it features in the description of Cromwell who plays a very large role in every Irish history book.
We met my sister’s friend and my sister-in-law the author (have you bought her book yet? Have only been paid cup of tea for this endorsement) and her boyfriend who is from London. We met then in Fortnum and Mason and he had never been there before. “Well,” we said to the Londoner, “what do you think?” He looked around him at the ridiculously expensive stock and said in slightly disapproving tones, “Pretty much as I imagined.”
After some thought, we decided that we would go to see “The Mousetrap”. This was a mistake, I fear. Longevity is the only thing that is keeping it on the stage. I was, however, smug as I guessed who the murderer was before the interval.
As far as I could see, London’s attention was equally divided between the Queen’s jubilee (who knew?) and the forthcoming Olympics (yes, we all knew that). And it was much fuller than I remember from previous visits. The homogenisation of shops in Ireland and the UK meant that there wasn’t much point in going shopping as all the shops were the same (insert your own text here about globalisation, demise of independent retailers etc.)
The best thing about the weekend was having a chance to talk to my sister which is surprisingly difficult most of the time. She’s busy. I’m busy. I hope to make a weekend away with her an annual event, if my loving family can face it. My domestic credit is currently close to zero as while I was away, Mr. Waffle nobly spent the weekend ferrying children to various events (including an early morning GAA match in Meath which nearly sent him to an early grave) and keeping them from murdering each other. All this takes its toll. He’s almost recovered now but, somehow, I see this weekend being a busy one for me.