Three birthdays, two weddings, one baby, and Oxford Street. An unusually successful shopping trip; Friend and I had found everything we needed by lunchtime. Just the excuse we needed to have a long and rather liquid lunch here. Hummous and french bread, olives, mushroom bruschetta, an aubergine-based mystery bake for Friend and moules frites for me. Yum. Afterwards, we rolled our way along Tottenham Court Road and found a tube back to Friend's house, where we spent the rest of the day
That was yesterday, Wednesday. On Tuesday we did pretty much the same thing, without the marathon shop. And on Monday, we got here. It started, in typical "Friend and I decide to meet up" style, with complications - Friend's boss forgot to book Friend's days off. Easily sorted but meant Friend has had to go back to work this morning, Thursday, whilst I
As a general rule, when Friend and I decide to meet, this is the cue for trains to become derailed, bus drivers to go on strike, bomb threats to hit the underground, and general transport mayhem to hit the country. I have spent many a four-hour delay shivering in Preston or Lancaster railway stations, Friend has watched many trains depart without her as she wrestles with the ticket barrier. But gales and terrorist threats and general commuter insanity cannot keep us apart. Perhaps they should. Perhaps we should accept the fact that meeting up is a ridiculously complicated process, and just give up. But no more; this trip has been the exception and possibly the start of better things?
Friend made it down to meet us on Monday without a problem. We dropped the girls off and made it to the train station without major problems. We found a decent parking space, we found a decent train leaving in a pleasantly unhurried 10 minutes, there were seats on the train, and it wasn't delayed. Minor hiccups, such as realising the instructions at the carpark had said "buy train ticket, read notices on platform one and make short call to pay for parking before boarding train" and had not in fact said "forget all about parking ticket until you are on train and then realise you don't have the phone number nor the special 4 digit parking code" being resolved (Friend's phenominal memory recalled the number, and after 12 minutes of pressing various keys the automated service put us through to an operator who was able to help), we had an otherwise uneventful journey. Most unlike us.
This may be about to change. I have stayed here with Friend before, but always before Friend has accompanied me to Paddington and pointed me in the direction of the trains. I'm a big girl now; I can do this by myself. I will be leaving the flat soon, remembering to pull all the doors closed behind me, and heading for the tube station, muttering "Central line to Oxford Circus, Bakerloo to Paddington" as my mantra as I go. And wondering what's wrong with Liverpool Street - it looks like a much shorter run. But since this is the journey Friend does to and from work most days, I'll take her word for it. And I'll be leaving very shortly. Stepping out of the flat, and away from this alternative life, every step both pulling me back to Friend and to this break, a smal voice saying "But I'm so relaxed, I don't want to leave, I've had such a good time and other people have more than three night's holiday a year", whilst a louder and more urgent voice says "And soon you'll see your girls again". I know which voice I'm listening to!