We set off almost as soon as Ann got home – around 6pm. I knew from yesterday's experience, that the M25, where it joins the M11 was going to be bad (because of long-term road-works) and the Tom Tom planning service online confirmed that! So, we headed down the M11 to the A13 heading for the Blackwall Tunnel. That wasn't much better either! In fact it was a pretty poor journey all round. We eventually stumbled into the B and B at 10.30 – that's four-and-a-half hours to cover 150 miles… bonkers! Brian greeted us as soon as we arrived, and we went straight to bed!
Birthday Boy! 21 today!! :) I slept well (mainly through exhaustion, I think!) and got around 8 o'clock only to find that the clock in the room was an hour fast! We tucked into Edwardian Dreams legendary 'full-English' and then I opened all my cards and pressies that we'd brought with us. Thanks everyone – very much appreciated!! I just realised, I forgot to pack the camera! :(
This year, I got cards from:
- Ann (obviously!)
- Mae and Denis
- 'Shadow' and 'Glade'
- Neil and Debbie
- Roger, Jane and Oliver
- David and Val
- Humberto and Lee
- Ian and Ann
- Ian and Sharon (just the envelope!)
- Jo and Janet
- John, Trish, Sean and Conor
- Margaret and Alan
- Nick and Celina
- Paul and Karen
- Paul and Sue
- Pete and Diana (Ian and Sharon's friend)
- Ralph and Karen
- Stefan, Debs, Laura and Alex
- Tom, Julie, Nick, Lewis and Georgina
- Ann – Books: 'Lost in Translation' and 'What on Earth Happened…' Chocolate: 'Caramel' and 'Chilli' (yum!)
- Bev – CD: 'E=MC2' by Giorgio Moroder
- David and Val – Book: ‘I Never Knew That About England’
- Jo and Janet – Molton Brown gift set
- Mae and Denis – Books: 'World Registration Plates' and 'Do Not Adjust Your Set'
- Mum - £50 JL voucher
- Nicki – Selection of cheeses
- Paul and Karen - Bottle of Port
- Roger, Jane and Oliver: DVDs: 'Torchwood, Children of Earth' and 'The Italian Job' (the original) – both Blu-Ray
Then it was back to the B and B for another snooze before Ian and Sharon picked us up for the Chinese meal at 7 tonight. Initially, there was a blip where it looked like the whole thing was off because Sharon would still in hospital, but they discharged her and we were back on!
Ian, Sharon and Julia met us outside the B and B and Ian drove us into town and to China Palace, probably the largest Chinese restaurant we've ever been in. Spread across two floors it must have seated around 400 people in total. We ate on the upper floor (confusciously called 'Far East') and settled in for a night of feasting. It was quiet when we arrived, but soon filled to capacity.
Price-wise, they charged £15.90 for all you can eat and rather than have a buffet where places like this often turn into 'pigs round the trough', this had a waiter service. We did well between the seven of us. Two rounds of starters; a duck course and then Ian and I forced down a main course. Three hours later, we were all fit to burst and ready to leave. The portable card-paying machine had other ideas though, and various waiters faffed-around trying to coax it into life after it conked-out mid-transaction. Finally the Manager resolved the problem and we duly paid-up.
It was now 10.45 when we stumbled onto the street. The whole area was packed with 'young-things' congregating on the pavement, strutting their stuff, drifting from one pub to the next before, according to Ian, hitting the Clubs. We all decided we felt very old, seeing girls who seemed to be trying out-do each other by wearing the shortest of skirts and the highest of heels. In one case, a girl's heels were so high (Switch to fetishist mode: Sharon reckoned 5 inches), she was having to hang onto a tree to stand-up – or maybe that was the alcohol! I guess some trees are just born lucky :). The ultimate insult for us was when we walked past a bar and the hostess standing outside DIDN'T offer us a drinks voucher and an invitation to go inside!
Oh to be a teenager again (he said in a Les Dawson type of voice).
We were up about 7ish, and whether-wise, it looks like another hot day down here.and started to pack. We wanted to be away by 9am to get a good run to Mum's. We also needed some time to get through the B and B's 'big' breakfast! After a quick scoff, we were away by 8.45 and heading up the A27.
We had a good journey to Mum's (just over the hour). She was in good spirits although her back was playing-up. We left around 10.45 and headed home. The traffic was amazingly light and as a result, we were home by 12.35 – a record!
It's been a great weekend! We’ve done a lot, seen a lot and the cards and pressies are great! Thanks everyone!