The display of fireworks over the Thames was as always spectacular. This year was even more fantastic than last year. I’m quite a fan of pyrotechnics of all kinds as most of you know but the crescendo of this particular display was quite intimidating. The photographs below really don’t do the event justice but do give you an idea. Continue reading
Sometime in late 2005 Mr Jonathon Green came up with the idea of going for a Monopoly board pub crawl round London (too much watching Red Dwarf if you ask me). To add an extra dimension of challenge to the idea, he also suggested attempting this feat on New Year’s Eve when every other person in the world would also be in London. Jonny invited comments from the rest of us about his idea. My response contained just three words “You’re a nut”. That’s not to say that I didn’t think that it was a good idea and, having received a slightly more enthusiastic response from the rest of the group, Jonny, Liz and I got together to work out a route.
At this point I really must mention and thank Graham Bennett whose website was invaluable in both planning our own route and proving that it is actually possible (see the hall of fame on the same website). We might have been able to do it without you but it would have been a lot more stressful, thanks.
Very early on, we decided on the addition of the “almost” that you probably noticed in the title of this page. The reasons for this were, firstly that there are 40 squares on a Monopoly board and even if you discount the corners, the utilities and the chance/community chest squares, there are 26. Being novices we felt we probably would not be able to manage that many stops. Secondly since we intended to be relatively sober for the fireworks at midnight we thought a drink on each square would be a bad idea so instead we came up with the plan of a purchase of some kind or a challenge or photo opportunity on each stop.
As soon as we set out to work out how to travel from one square to the next, we realised that an “in order” route would require a lot of doubling back on ourselves and so decided to re-order things a little to cut out as much unnecessary traveling as possible. We then dropped any of the stops that seemed very out of the way and not very interesting.
The first draft route we came up with as a result of this was as follows:
- Old kent road
- Tower of London (jail)
- Fenchurch Street station
- Liverpool Street station
- The Angel Islington
- King’s Cross station
- Euston Road
- Bow Street
- The Strand
- Fleet Street
- Trafalgar Square
- Leicester Square
- Coventry Street
- Regent Street
- Oxford Street
- Marlborough Street
- Bond Street
- Marylebone station
- Park Lane
The route described above received a little last minute tinkering from people more intimate with London and in light of the threatened 24 hour tube strike due to start at 12 noon on New Year’s Eve and we started out bright and early on December 31st.
Old Kent Road
We almost did not go to Old Kent Road but Jonny insisted as he said he knew a song he wanted to sing there. Since it was early in the day we stopped to buy breakfast in a cafe.
The East Street library was the most interesting thing we could find on the Old Kent Road so here we are having breakfast outside it.
Tower of London (Jail)
Although we had decided early on that stopping at the secondary squares (Jail, Free Parking, utilities etc) was not necessary, the Tower of London is on the way between Old Kent Road and third stop at Fenchurch so it seemed like a good idea to stop off for a bit of jail action.
We decided it would be appropriate to buy something from the souvenir shop and consequently ended up with an inflatable axe and a communal ball and chain. As you can see, Jonny was very proud of his axe and decided to do some impromptu executions before we moved on to Fenchurch.
Fenchurch Street Station
Those of you who are Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans will be disappointed to learn that we did not set the challenge of procreating in the ticket queue but settled for the much simpler challenges of “buying a cup of coffee” and “taking flash photographs whilst talking to a person who is explaining why flash photographs are forbidden on the station”.
Liverpool Street Station
On our way from Fenchurch Street to Liverpool Street, we swung by the Tower again to pick up Liz and Laurent who had just got in by train to join us.
Not a lot happened at Liverpool Street. The challenge there turned out to be finding sufficient change for everyone to use the coin operated toilets. Don’t ask me why it was necessary to use the loo there but apparently it was. I’m sure that more interesting pictures than the one below were taken there but I don’t have them so anyone who has any more they would like me to put up, please let me have them.
The Angel Islington
There were no Angels in Islington (not that we saw anyway) but we did manage to find what we are reliably informed (by me at any rate) is the residence of the world’s greatest mouse detective.
Kings Cross Station
King’s Cross is the home of the famous platform 9 3/4 which we completely failed to access but we did manage to find the sign which is a good start. Jonny boy got all excited about the Duke of York pub but entirely failed to explain why, still, there’s a picture of his excitement to prove I didn’t imagine it. As you will see later on he was in for a bit of a treat.
There was not much on Euston Road, hence the not too exciting pictures just to prove that we were there. The purchase on this stop was a postcard which we intended to write jointly and send to someone who had not made it to join us on our magical mystery tour of London.
Fleet Street was the designated place to stop for lunch and the first stop at a pub on this so called pub crawl. There were 2 pubs we intended to visit on Fleet Street. The first was Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese which we had to visit having such a massive cheese fiend as Jonny with us and the other was the Tipperary which we had to sing about on the way to but did not have time to actually go in. As you can see from the pictures, Katherine was also somewhat taken with one of the other pubs, she maintains that it was the Santa trying to break in that she was interested in but I’m not so sure.
We had to walk down the Strand to get to Bow Street and Trafalgar Square so just a quick picture here to show that we actually made it.
We just kind of passed through Bow Street on our way to Trafalgar Square so only a proof of visit picture here.
Trafalgar square was getting ready for the festivities of the night ahead although it was only about 4pm by the time we got there. The barriers were already up and there were quite a few people already there. Since it was early the fountains were still on and there were the traditional crazy people swimming in them despite the freezing atmosphere. Jacqui joined us just before the square and Katherine managed to snap a picture of her here to prove it.
At Leicester Square we found the traditional funfair and spent rather a lot of time riding the rides which was actually more fun than finding pubs and drinking. Laurent took some good pictures of us on the rides.
Not much going on at Coventry Street, just passing through to get to Regent Street and Piccadilly.
Many pretty lights on Regent Street meant a bit of a pause while Katherine and I took more than a few pictures. Unfortunately due to lacking a tripod and the large number of people inconsiderately getting in the way, I had to throw quite a lot of the pictures out.
It really was like Piccadilly Circus there and so we just snapped a couple of pictures and headed off towards Oxford Street. The end was in sight.
Oxford Street was very very busy and we were all getting a bit knackered by this point so we decided that it was time to find somewhere to sit down and have a drink or two what with this being a pub crawl and everything.
The pub we were looking for was off New Bond Street rather than Oxford Street and we eventually ended up at the Duke of York which was a great pub on Dering Street. It was so comfortable that we decided to remain there and drink and play games rather than try to make the final 3 stops of our itinerary so we missed out on Marylebone Station, Park Lane and Mayfair.
…and that was the end of our first attempt at a Monopoly “pub crawl”. Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time and I hope that we will have a go at doing it again, probably in the summer when the nights are lighter and somewhat warmer. Now all there was left to do was go home, change, have tea and be back out in time for the fireworks at the embankment.
Once again that time of year has rushed up on us and it is time to start thinking about stockings, trees and big fat men in red suits and of course the annual Nottingham get together where I attempt to cook Christmas dinner for as many people as I can convince to brave the journey and the results of my cooking. This year was a little trickier than it has been in the past as my current house is not ideal for hosting such gatherings. Fortunately at the last minute my good friend Lance decided that he would be able to tidy up his house a bit and have room for the party to be hosted there. Continue reading