Up early and a quick breakfast before saying goodbye to Ash and aunty Jane. Geerlof drove us to the airport and we said our farewells before he raced back and headed off to his brother’s 50th wedding anniversary bash 2 hours away from Leiden. It was great to able to stay with the Los’s and we appreciate their generosity in looking after a family of five who lobbed up and filled their home to capacity. Ash is staying for a few more days till he sorts out what he’ll do next.
We caught an Easyjet flight to Gatwick and then caught the bus to London’s Victoria station and then bought a day bus pass (₤3:50 and good till the next day at 4:00 pm) to get to Paddington and our accommodation. Checked in at the Belmont Hotel and dumped our bags and headed for Paddington station a block away.
Bought some lunch (bagels, cream cheese, ham, juice and some sushi) at Sainsbury’s and ate that in a nearby park before we split up to do our own thing. The boys headed off to Soho, Oxford St. and Portobello Rd. while we headed for the Victoria and Albert museum. A great museum and spent a few hours there enjoying an eclectic range of exhibitions (casts, photos, medieval, ancient, sculpture, modern and the rest) and a nice coffee in the rooms.
We’d negotiated to be back at the hotel at 7 but we were half an hour late because we’d caught the return bus on the wrong side of the street and headed the wrong way! We were too stingy to invest in a ₤3 map of the bus routes but really didn’t buy one out of protest, because there was no good tourist info anywhere except in the centre of London. Everyone we asked though, was very helpful. The boys were waiting for us and had had a very successful shopping expedition. We freshened up and went out for a pub meal around the corner at the Fountains Abbey and sat across from St Mary’s Hospital where Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. A plaque on the pub wall credits the spores from ‘this ale house’ floating across the road to activate the bacteria that led to the discovery. The meal and the drinks were a pleasant way to end the last day abroad and Matt found out what mushy peas were (I actually got asked if the boys were over 18!).