18 April - The day the Great Fire almost returned to London!
Saturday here in London , our last day here and we made the most of it. Up early and after breakfast caught tube to Borough Market, we were there about 8.15, so the stall holders were in some cases only just getting set up. It was however a great time to be there, no crowds and therefore you could just admire the fresh cheeses, meats, fruit and vegetable etc. The hot food from the stalls was tempting but a bit early so settled for a coffee and croissant.
Back to tube and off to Fortnum and Mason (famous and very traditional English food store on Piccadilly), again due to the early start we were there before they opened so spent a lovely few minutes browsing the large and again very traditional book shop next door.
After browsing Fortnum and Mason (and a couple of strategic purchases) we again got the tube up to Oxford Street. Absolutely packed with people all out enjoying the beautiful London spring day. Had a look around a couple of stores including the Rugby World Cup shop. Interestingly the All Blacks jumpers are £60 whereas at home (in the land of the ABs) they are $165, so about $40 cheaper here, go figure!
Then wandered home via a cafe for lunch. Did a bit of housekeeping preparing for tomorrow's departure then Dad went for a long time walk and Rod called in so we could complete a bit of work.
Dad reported he went down to Westminster then back along the South side of the Thames. There were multitudes of people and buskers on the promenade and Bob had a very enjoyable couple of hours just wandering along and taking in the atmosphere.
We then adjourned to the Ship Tavern in Holburn where Dad had his usual couple of pints of Guiness and Rod and I a couple of pints of the local ale. Rod then went off to a show and Dad and I adjourned to the Indian restaurant around the corner from our apartment. It was here the fire event occurred.
Like all near or actual disasters there is more than one version of what caused the fire. Actually in this case exactly two versions, Bob's and mine. You be the judge.
The ingredients are, a smallish table, a small candle (lit) and a paper wine and drinks menu. In my version the waiter when he seated us placed my menu over the candle, I left the table after only a minute or so to use the bathroom (consequence of the ales at the tavern, which perhaps introduces a third possibility and that is it was Rods fault for forcing that second ale upon me??). In the alternative version, possibly more likely I'm afraid to admit, I looked at the menu then on getting up to go to bathroom placed it on the candle.
What is not in question is that during my absence the menu caught fire, waiters rushed over, put out fire but in the process everything was covered in ash. This was what I returned from the bathroom to! Luckily the fire didn't spread as the restaurant did appear to be limited in emergency exits and the ceiling was covered in hundreds of Indian puppets and dolls which would have burnt pretty well I think. Anyway, all swell that ends well and the only long term consequence of this is Bob's ongoing ribbing of me over it!
After an enjoyable Indian meal we wandered home to the apartment for our last night in London.