London, Feb 2020 – heavy metal and museums

I’ve not posted anything on here in a while and wanted to document my recent trip to London with Austin (my son) to see his favourite band… Sabaton! We hopped on a train on the Friday and got to London in good time for a KFC once we’d checked into Clink261 where I stayed last year on the way to Germany. A cracking hostel, a very short walk from Kings X / Euston.

The weather wasn’t great – one of those named storms came in – but we got pretty lucky with the weather. Most of Saturday was free, so we walked down to the British Museum and then on the Imperial War Museum where we had lunch with a very long-standing friend (notice that I avoided saying “old”), Alison. It must be a decade since we last met up, and it was great to finally see her again. We grew up together and have literally known each other all our lives.

With Sabaton’s Pär

Austin and I made it to Wembley Arena in good time for our interview slot (just!), and I used his questions to find out some details about the band from founder member and bassist Pär Sundström. It’s the third time I’ve interviewed him, so I was glad of the help coming up with the questions!

The gig was amazing. Everything we’d hoped for and more. The review is over on the Moshville Times site. We even got an invitation to the after-show party! OK, so the raucous days of Motley Crue and the like are kind of gone (especially when you involve lovely guys like the Sabaton crew) so it was OK to take an 11 year old with me. We had a quick drink each (lager for me, Coke for him), wept over the fact that it cost over a tenner, got an autograph and left. The time was well spent as it meant that the Tube station wasn’t packed by the time we got there. Oh, and thanks to Kaie for the McDs at dinner!

I’d opted to spend an extra day in London rather than heading back on the Sunday, which turned out to be a good thing as almost every train and flight was cancelled due to the weather. We popped down to the Natural History Museum which was rammed with people avoiding the bad weather. The dinosaurs were, of course, the first stop and then we walked around The Cocoon which shows a lot of behind the scenes stuff. Really interesting.

Imperial War Museum

For lunch, Austin opted for a Burger King so we walked along the road in the weather that seemed to be freaking out a lot of the locals. Honestly, you can tell they’ve never been to Glasgow. I mean, it was wet but hardly much more than a heavy shower! After lunch we went back to the NHS and explored the Human Biology exhibit. Which opened with “creating life”. Which led onto that talk… Hey ho. Every day a learning day!

We had enough time to go to the Science Museum before it closed, and I was really happy to find they had a decoding / encryption exhibition on in the basement. I wonder if we have time to organise a school trip before it ends…? Austin had been a little bored just looking at things, but got absolutely buried in decoding messages in the activity area to the point that they had to usher us out at closing time!

For dinner we completed the “set” and had a Subway each, and used the rest of the evening to chill out. Unfortunately we couldn’t shower as there had been a blockage in the pipes at the hostel and only the ones on the ground floor were working. Likewise the toilets… Not a major problem if people aren’t selfish, but I did have to yell at two guys who had hogged the cubicles in the gents for 15 minutes. Come on, if you’re taking that long to poo then you need a doctor not a lavatory!

Monday was a challenge, though. I signed up to travel alerts from Avanti West Coast as I knew there was still disruption from the Sunday. The first email told me to watch for more alerts. Then I was told that trains could get to Preston and a bus would cover the rest of the journey due to flooding. Then I was told all trains were cancelled from Euston and to go home via Kings X and Edinburgh. Then it was updated again to tell me that the train would leave from Euston after all, 27 minutes late, and go via an altered route to be back on schedule from Crewe.

At the show!

So off we walked to Euston only to find that the train wasn’t on the board. Or any others to Glasgow. Checking at information, we were told to go to Kings X, which contradicted Avanti’s email and website. Of course, we’d walked past Kings X so get to Euston… A hurried plod back there and we waited for the platform announcement we needed. And then we ran like hell to get a seat. Credit to Austin he flew as we headed for the front carriage (most people obviously went for the nearer ones) so we could grab a table, which we did. Teamwork!

On the way up, my phone kept buzzing. WordPress was informing me that our traffic was somewhat higher than normal. Sabaton had shared out review on facebook and it got a ton of views! A nice ego boost as the weather went from bad to worse outside.

We made Edinburgh in good time, Austin stopped me getting off in Newcastle when I felt homesick, and we managed to get a ScotRail train through the light snow to Bearsden so I could drop him right back with his mum. As a bonus, his big sister happened to be on the same train! Small world!

As it stands – this is the Friday after – my “Delay Repay” for the journey down has been refused by Avanti and I’m appealing it. They claim that the ticket I provided wasn’t valid for the journey I was on. Which is crap as it’s the exact same ticket their conductor scanned, and he’s the one who told everyone to claim as we were almost half an hour late arriving. I’ve also got a claim in for the Monday as we were over ninety minutes late getting home then. Of course, there’s no claim option for “train cancelled, had to get alternative service” so we’ll see how that works out.

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